It is just a few hours to the rescheduled Presidential elections in Nigeria. Another classic battle between the ruling party; All Progressive Congress (APC) and the main opposition party; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is on the cards. The country is on edge, emotions are running high, the economy has taken a back sit and governance has become non-existence. All that matters is self-preservation and utilisation of whatever tricks possible to stay in power. This is deja vu for President Muhammadu Buhari, as he finds himself in practically the same position as the man he replaced barely 4 years ago.
In my intervention in 2015, read here, I noted thus; “In spite of the popular movement that thrust him into power, President Goodluck Jonathan’s goodwill has been so eroded that he has been pilloried by those who feel he has not lived up to their expectations.” It seems to me that President Buhari has come a full cycle from the man presented as the solution to Nigeria’s many problems, to a loathed President who was actually pelted with stones at a campaign rally.
How things change. President Muhammadu Buhari came into power to right all the wrongs of the PDP, who had been in power at the center for a straight 16 years. A tough ask considering the complexity of our unique presidential system of government. Yet, not even his worst critics expected the level of incompetence, corruption, impunity and nepotism that has trailed his government. No matter what happened, the President couldn’t be bothered and it was not until the reelection campaigns started that he found the energy to reach out to those he ruled.
This time around, the opposition PDP went for a seasoned campaigner in former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. A man from the old order, who had been on the scene for the past two decades and has the financial and political muscle to fight the incumbent. Atiku has his baggage, haven been described in uncomplimentary terms by his former Boss; the outspoken President Olusegun Obasanjo. It has been an interesting build up to the elections, with the usual mud slinging, accusations and counter accusations.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has however managed his campaign pretty well. His choice of former Anambra State Governor; Mr. Peter Obi as his running mate, was a master stroke. Peter Obi who had hit the Nation’s consciousness in 2016 after his speech at “The Platform” see here, where he addressed the cost of governance, presents the image of a bold, frugal and financially savvy Vice who can influence the economic direction of the Country. Secondly, Atiku was able to somehow manage to keep all the PDP bigwigs together after his election as the Party’s flag bearer, thereby presenting a strong force that has rattled the APC in recent weeks. He has equally taken measured steps to score huge points by pulling down some of the major talking points, from his endorsement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to his trip to the United States of America.
The major issues that trailed the Presidential campaign in 2015 are still there today. The economy, which has taken a beating under Buhari’s Presidency, remains the key talking point. Security is still a major issue, as the Boko Haram threat is yet to be contained and the new challenge of the Fulani Herdsmen has become a National concern. Corruption has since been elevated to new heights and the Government’s commitment to fighting the malaise, can at best be described as unconvincing.
As we head to the polls tomorrow, one thing is clear; The Nigerian populace has become committed to dare the usual threats of violence and rigging and ensure that their votes count. The Youths, who have become a clear force in this dispensation, are not just excited at the opportunity to exercise their civic rights. They have this time around, taken steps to secure their Voter’s Card and are geared up to withstand all odds and cast their votes. Perhaps, the message will sink to the ruling class, that they are indeed accountable to the people.