INEC’s announcement as inconclusive the State of Osun’s gubernatorial election is an event which by itself signposts a tactical framework upon which the 2019 elections would be based. We have been told this much by officials of the INEC, the President and the general body language of the APC apparatus which is hell bent on not giving up Osun. The Osun at-all-cost position of the APC is not unconnected with the permutations for the 2019 presidential elections where local Garrison Commanders guised as Governors would be required to have hands on deck towards the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari who has himself sounded what could pass as a note of warning (for the want of a better phrase) at the Nigerian Bar Association Annual Meeting, a while ago. The retired General who works amidst a beehive of lawyers, from his Minister of Power to his Minister of Foreign Affairs through Justice and more, told a stone-faced audience that national interest trumps the rule of law. The decoded version of that particular piece of commentary from the President’s speech caused outrage and uproar from commentators. But is the comment really worth the backlash? Methinks not, considering the context within which it is framed.
In Buhari’s mind, the PDP sat atop power from 1999 to 2015. And in his famous words: “what have they been doing?” Indeed, what did the PDP do in 16 years at the helm? A lot, I guess. Yet, I don’t think the PDP did enough to truncate what could turn out a foundation builder of leadership in a well-placed and well-grounded country which the APC purports to be doing even as the government borrows on. There are Nigerian political analysts who hold the opinion that the country would have been more stable today had President Obasanjo been granted a further term of office in 2007. In this line of thought, Presidents Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan only emerged in the country’s presidential lexicon as individual triumphs rather than any lasting legacies with impact.
Jonathan’s only legacy is perhaps electoral fairness which cannot really count as a performance measure in spite of its possible impacts. The personalization of the Nigerian presidency since President Obasanjo personally handpicked Yar’Adua while ‘good luck’ fell on Goodluck Jonathan is returning in a different variant through the presidential aspirants of the PDP. To be clear, none of the aspirants has detailed a clear map on what to do with Nigeria beyond embellishing their (auto)-biographies. Indeed, none has really demonstrated any capacity, not even through their previous engagements, for acute excellence. The distance between their individual capacities and that of the President are not miles apart, if any. The PDP and its candidates want power at the centre for the PDP, and not for Nigeria. The APC wants the same, but it appears the lesser evil for Buhari’s defiance to unfavourable electoral will is steeped in the benefit to Nigeria, of sustained leadership (as missed through Obasanjo for the personal stories of Yar’Adua and Jonathan). It is precisely their personal stories, beyond anything else which motivates Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Ahmed Makarfi, Aminu Tambuwal, Bukola Saraki and many others. This is strongly apparent when one considers that the country’s reality with presidential zoning will have far-reaching consequences on their chances in 2023 and beyond, particularly for the septuagenarian Atiku.
Asked on Channels Television what he would do about the Nigerian economy if elected president, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso offered a critique of President Buhari’s 6-month delay in naming a cabinet while he contrasted this with his (Kwankwaso’s) inauguration of the Kano State House of Assembly and the State Executive Council in the space of a week after he won the gubernatorial election in 2011. On his part, Senate President Bukola Saraki has been going about pontificating about how citizens should be proud to say of their President: “yes, that’s my president”. Permit me to say: If all the PDP aspirants are putting up as justification for their challenge are speed of appointments and youthful swagger, then perhaps they could help the APC government in political advisory, chief of staffing, and sports minister capacities?
President Buhari and his APC gang are all too aware that the ambitions nested in the PDP are based more on personal narratives than any vision for Nigeria. And that is why we saw the ruthless and revengeful return of Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti. Now, the strategic State of Osun has resulted in a too-close-to-call after an INEC official reported to be sympathetic to the APC tore up voting materials. This is symbolic of a handy and effective Orubebe, rather than a chanting, static and ineffective Orubebe. We should all recall Godsday Orubebe’s futile cry at INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega’s declaration of the 2015 presidential election in favour of Muhammadu Buhari. One recent phenomenon that has been reminiscent of Orubebe’s rants has been the social media rants of Davido, nephew to the PDP candidate in the Osun State governorship election. And should the INEC return the APC victorious, President Buhari, the APC, and INEC would have served the nation a test-run of the 2019 presidential election where any romantic votes for the PDP, who performed dismally to the nation’s detriment for 16 years, would be subsumed as risks to national security. Behold, it’s Orubebe time! Only, it’s a new, improved, fortified, physical, and effectual brand of Orubebe!