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Nigeria and the ‘realities’ of today and 2019 elections

By Fred Chukwuelobe

I have been thinking since last night about Nigeria of today and of 2019.

The focus of my thoughts is on two fronts: the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as they’re today and what will happen in 2019.

Let me begin, as a digression, by saying that the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, threatened to sack labour and employment minister, Senator Chris Ngige, from the party “if he failed to constitute the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund” (NSITF).

A fraud of over N48 billion was uncovered in the agency by an inquiry set up by the minister. Oshiomhole was board chairman at the time part of the alleged fraud was committed. His cupboard may have cockroaches in it. That’s a reality.

Several weeks after, Ngige has not done that. He has not been sacked. He responded to the chairman’s threat and called his bluff. Today, Oshiomhole is still APC chairman and Ngige is still minister. That’s a reality.

Second, the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, was alleged to have forged her National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) discharge certificate. She has not denied it. Several weeks after she’s still a minister. That’s a reality.

Lai Mohammed, the minister of information and culture, boasted that Nigeria is currently a tourists’ choice. The last time I checked it’s not true. Lagos, the centre of excellence is filthy. The roads are full of potholes. The city is having a tough challenge disposing refuse, maintaining roads and there’s no regular power supply in the country. Tourists’ don’t go searching for pain. They look for fun. Nigeria is not fun. That’s a reality.

Come 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari will be re-elected for another four years unless he does not run. That’s another reality.

Reason: It’s not because he’s done so well. It’s not because Nigerians are better off. It’s because there’s no credible opposition to challenge him. None! That’s a reality.

Forget the PDP. They’re not mounting any challenges. Everybody who’s leaving APC for PDP is looking for a ticket. There’s only one. And all are desperate to get it. Those who fail to get it won’t work for the party. Those who get it won’t match Buhari. That’s a reality.

Presidential election is decided by northern votes. Northern leaders gerrymandered the country over time to give the north that advantage. Yorubas and Igbos were busy fighting and allowed them to get away with it. Today Buhari is still popular in the north. He will carry the zone any day. That’s a reality.

Buhari has everything that can be used to win election in Nigeria at his beck and call: the security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), financial war chest, many hungry voters and riggers who are willing to be purchased, hungry people who are looking for food and are “buyable”, thugs, name them. That’s a reality.

Many of the decampees from APC to PDP are moles. Their duty is to make sure the PDP is not stabilised to mount any serious challenge to the APC. There are many desperate presidential aspirants. Who is willing to step down for who? They’re northerners as Buhari. He’s more popular in the north than they. That’s a reality.

Those with plenty of looted funds have taken shelter in safe haven. They’re unreachable to the PDP and untouchable by their hosts. They’ll deploy their financial war chest for their hosts. And money contributes to a large extent in winning elections. That’s a reality.

You can post anything you like on Facebook from January to December. The Nigerian political landscape is murky. It’s not easy to beat an incumbent. That’s a reality.

Forget that Goodluck Jonathan was beaten; he was weak. He was sabotaged. He didn’t understand the power dynamics. He was not desperate. He was content with his luck. He never expected to be president. He was afraid. His wife was a serious hindrance. That’s a reality.

Buhari is the opposite in every material particular. That’s a reality.

So come 2019, Muhammadu Buhari will be re-elected for another four years unless he refuses to run, or is stopped from running. That’s a reality.

 

*Chukwuelobe, a veteran Nigerian journalist, sent this piece from vacation in New York, USA