A divided presidency and the road to 2019
In two years time, Nigeria will go through another election process and the political atmosphere is already getting charged as aspirants to elective offices have started to signify their intentions across the political parties subtly or publicly.
The political parties are girding their loins and there are rumours of alignments and realignments in the preparations that could bring a new colouration to party politics in the country. But in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidency, the seeming camaraderie among members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is just a facade, if emerging events gleaned from the unfolding developments in the polity are anything to go by, prompting many watchers of event to be asking whether things have fallen apart or if the center can still hold.
This may justify the reasoning of the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari that some unnamed persons whom he described as saboteurs, have infiltrated the rank of the APC and are making concerted efforts at frustrating Federal Government’s plans to transform the country.
As the 2019 general election draws nearer, the political atmosphere will continue to heat up with the gladiators trading tackles to undo one another in order to sway and curry support for themselves and against their opponents.
Minister of women affairs Aisha Alhassan, was the first to rock the boat when she openly declared support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should the latter indicates interest for the 2019 presidential contest. Alhassan had told the BBC Hausa Service that she would support the former vice president even if Buhari will re-contest because Atiku has been her godfather. She equally declared that Buhari would not sack her because of her declaration.
And just as the dust raised by Alhassan was beginning to subside, another crisis reared its head within the president’s inner caucus with members trading argument and exchange insults.The recent altercation between Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, National Publicity Secretary of the APC and the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay further exposed the underbelly of the facade of teamwork in the ship of state.
Abdullahi had described Sagay as a rogue elephant in a statement issued in response to an interview the professor granted a national newspaper. In the said interview, Sagay described the leadership of the APC as “the most unprincipled group of people” who are “encouraging and accepting rogues” in the party.
Abdullahi said, “When I say ‘rogues’, I don’t mean stealing. In literature, when you say someone is a rogue elephant, it means people who are running riot and destroying the party.“The Webster dictionary defines ‘rogue elephant’ as “one whose behavior resembles that of a rogue elephant in being aberrant or independent.”
The Abdullahi and Sagay face-off came on the heels of public outbursts between the professor and the leadership of the National Assembly, which of course belong to members of the same ruling party.Last week also, the nation was jolted by a revelation by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, of allegations of irregularities in contract awards and top appointments in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) where he indicted the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the agency, Maikanti Baru, of sidelining due process.
The disagreements between the two top employees of the Buhari administration has not only exposed the fact that top members of the presidency work at cross-purposes, it showed that the government may only be playing lip service to the anti-graft war, which is claimed to be a major pillar of the regime.Although efforts are being made to douse the tension and control the damage, the picture of a divided presidency where Buhari himself appeared to be under the influence of a powerful group, is being etched in the public consciousness.
For the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an opportunity to redeem its image and show Nigerians that the ruling party is more corrupt, was provided by the revelations, which allegedly involved a whopping $25 billion dollars.
Earlier on, there were similar public disagreements between the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Hamid Ali over who should have the last say in the affairs of the major revenue-generation agency although the custom boss should, under normal circumstances, be answerable to the minister.
In the same vein, there were suspected disagreements between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.Observers of the unfolding scenarios and the expected political chess game are concluding that there is, indeed, a collapse in the President Buhari’s grip on his lieutenants in the APC despite his long search for “the saints” who constitute his cabinet.
Inside sources disclosed that behind the public glare, the division and bickering characterized by animosity, discontentment and bigotry among some of the members, might cause the APC the needed unity to prosecute a second term tenure for the Buhari presidency. Indeed the current wrangling has the potential to reduce the chances of the party in the coming election unless they mend their ways and make peace with themselves to avert the mistake of the PDP in the build up to the 2015 polls.
Otherwise, as 2019 beckons, only time will tell what will remain of a party that was once the darling of the electorate who saw candidate Buhari as a Daniel coming to bring judgment and rescue the country from corruption and impunity.
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