Let the game begin! President Muhammadu Buhari told the nation penultimate Monday. The overdue message was meant for the general public. Yet, its undertone was directed at the anti-Buhari-for-second-term campaigners. The disparate individuals and groups had vocalized, and mobilized against his re-election.
Thus, the failure of these people, both seen and unseen, to stop Buhari’s ambition, and the frenzied reactions that trailed his expression of interest, provided one Facebook user some comic relief.
The respondent referred to an “announcement,” which asked that, “all the babalawo, alfas, fake pastors and dibias” had asked “all the looters,” who sought divine assistance, so that Buhari “would mistakingly say, ‘I’m not running,’ instead of, ‘Yes, I’m running,'” to come and take back their materials “brought for the spiritual works.”
Signing off, the respondent said: “Sorry to disappoint you guys; the game just ended few minutes ago (when Buhari declared for second term last Monday). So, the spiritualists are calling you guys, to come take the materials you forwarded to various shrines for the job! Hahahahahaha…!”
This anecdote ought to be an icing on the cake for the long wait for President Buhari to make up his mind. Unfortunately, the post highlighted the ungodly practices in Nigeria’s politics: the recourse to diabolical means to win election or cause opponents to lose same, or “force” a willing aspirant to abandon his quest.
Getting into political office, especially elective one, is like doing battle against principalities and powers, which requires physical and spiritual armament to accomplish. So, who would discountenance such a combat, and a counter assault, in the push to have Buhari forego his aspiration, or stay the course?
The physical angle was the crusade in the public domain, expressed or organized by individuals, groups and sections, to dissuade Buhari from consenting to persuasions, and threats, to present himself for president in 2019. This campaign, which predates the 2015 elections, resurfaced immediately he won the presidency.
The fear of his alleged “secret plan” to islamize Nigeria; delay in forming a cabinet; the ill health that took him away to London for over 100 days; an inauspicious economic recession, and its attendant hardship; the Military’s “Operation Python Dance” to stop agitation for a State of Biafra; and the rise in insecurity nationwide, fueled and sustained the clamour for Buhari to “resign” his position, and forego another four years in office.
This culminated in series of rallies, media events, and open letters written by so-called “concerned Nigerians,” the prominent being those of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, urging Buhari to bury his ambition.
But while pro-Buhari campaigners grew exponentially, and the Babangida asking appeared a one-off venture, Obasanjo intensified his de-marketing of the president, and subsequently formed a political group aimed at coalescing efforts to stop Buhari in 2019 “if he chose to disregard our ‘plea’ to go home and rest.”
These widely published actions were in the physical, which ordinary Nigerians could see “with their naked eyes.” Certainly, there were other campaigns in the “spiritual” realm that the Facebook user alluded to above.
These were waged through so-called diviners and spiritualists parading as pastors, imams, prophets, alfas, babalawo, dibias, etc. They were reminiscent of past tales of politicians allegedly burning millions of naira, bathing in rivers, swearing to oaths in shrines, and even engaging in ritual sacrifices to appease the gods of politics for success in elections or appointments.
However, the efforts of these “physical and spiritual fighters” against President Buhari’s dream did not yield the desired result. Hence, he has thrown the hat into the ring, even in the midst of a stormy weather in his All Progressives Congress (APC) platform.
Now, what’s the new strategy, as the “hunted” has literally become the hunter? Surely, it would be the activation of ‘Plan B’ or ‘Plan C’ that was kept in view pre-Buhari’s declaration.
For instance, it means turning the Obasanjo creation – ‘Coalition for Nigeria Movement’ – into a full-fledged political party, or channel efforts into an existing party. It may also include fomenting crisis in the APC, in order to open it to exodus of political heavyweights to the “new party” or the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
This would be a replay of the 2014/2015 scenario, when the disunion in the then ruling PDP resulted in the defection of five state governors and many lawmakers into the nascent opposition APC. The decamping reduced the political firepower of the PDP in the 2015 elections.
The PDP, the Obasanjo camp and other tendencies in the polity were hoping for a similar blow-up in the APC, beginning with the controversial 12-month tenure elongation. But that anticipation fizzled out, as the National Executive (NEC) reversed itself and opted for congresses and a national convention to elect new officials.
This compromise, which gives waivers to current officials to remain in office, and vie for fresh tenure, if they wished; and also allows new comers to contest for any positions, without spending the mandatory periods before they could vote or be voted for, could engender more defections into the APC.
It’s why one party official described the deal as a “win-win for all of us, whether old or new members of the APC.” And what will it be for the anti-Buhari camp? A lose-lose? Well, the guess is yours!
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