Buhari, despite his self-induced political inertia and operational impotence has announced he will run again. He is on track to seek re-election for the presidency of Nigeria. Despite his mind-numbing failures and with nothing to show for almost three years in office, except his botched anti-corruption fight, his appointed cabal has propped him up for another run. Despite, spiraling insecurity, unrestrained nepotism and cronyism that have come to define his presidency, despite the fake anti-corruption fight and ill-health, he is set to run again. It is actually happening, before our very eyes. Buhari’s intent to run, is a deft maneuver by his cabal. Of course, there is so much disaffection in the land, a feeling that has swelled the rank of millions of those who want to stop his second coming.
There has been a lot of noise about who is the alternative to Buhari? That is an insult to 170 million Nigerians. We know the power of incumbency. We understand what it means for an anti-development and desperate cabal to stay in power. We know how powerfully they can deploy the federal might to intimidate opponents and rig elections. But we have seen it all before, haven’t we? Whoever is coming on board to challenge Buhari and his cabal, need to know what they are up against. The plan for Buhari to run a second time had been on from day one. With an eye on re-election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was re-engineered as a conclave for cronies, the nation’s entire security architecture was put in his pocket, but due to no fault of his, the judiciary has evacuated its own consciousness, the opposition has been in disarray and whatever is left of them is struggling to stay awake.
What then may we look for in an election in the Age of Buhari? Given the fissures in his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), escalating insecurity in the land, questions about Buhari’s deteriorating health and his incurable tribalism, Buhari’s second-term prospects are less than bright. Of course, 2019 is around the corner, but it is not difficult to see how Buhari can lose. The need for fresh faces and a fresh approach to governance in 2019 looms ever larger. Buhari’s insensitivity and the general unease about his administration of Nigeria through surrogacy has activated a portion of the electorate with deep dislike for his sectarianism. Many who supported and campaigned for him are angry at the turn his administration took and the huge disappointment he has been. Who might these new faces be and what might those new approaches be? The opposition might be well advised to skip over aspirants who cannot set our pulses racing. What is needed to challenge Buhari is a younger politician stocked with potentials but without any rapsheet of corruption, on a party platform with a programmatic appeal that will highlight Buhari’s ineptitude. The opposition need to get their acts together. Who are those left in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)? Who are the masquerades behind SDP? Opposition to Buhari should not be about who Fayose or Femi Fani-Kayode is insulting nor where President Obasanjo is tilting. It should not depend on what time of the day it is. Opposition should be the alternative to the killings in Zamfara, the robbery in Offa that left thousands dead, Buhari’s naked sectarianism and slow cooking failures. Opposition should be about popular propositions that will make life easy for the majority of Nigerians.The challenge for the opposition is building a good coalition and creating a populist slogan of opportunity, accountability and responsibility. Nigerians want an easy to understand, coherent economic view and aggressive reforms to make governance better. We all want jobs, education, power, infrastructure, health and security. We want a party who will put forward able candidates, who will eloquently put these ideas in the front and centre. Buhari will have no energy to traverse this country, shake hands, knock on doors, visit churches and mosques in canvassing for votes. While we wish the president good health, drawing voters attention to his health issues and how it has affected governance is fair game. We should make his absence from governance and his self-confessed lack of awareness on issues subjects of concern. Nigeria is too big and consequential in the region, in Africa and indeed the whoke world, to be governed by feckless surrogates.
All a winning candidate needs is a robust economic platform with a vision for government accountability and responsibility. The forces responsible for Buhari’s victory outside the North-West and North-East are fed on development and hypermodernity. Millennials are growing as the largest generation of eligible voters in 2019. They want development NOW and are impatient. What the opposition should look for is a candidate who will split votes in Kano, Sokoto and Maiduguri in that order. With the exception of Niger, the North-Central is up for grabs. The battleground is the South-West and it is ground zero for discontent against Buhari. Buhari can be defeated. What the opposition needs to do now is to start reaching out to every Nigerian, pointing out Buhari’s failures. They should be telling Nigerians that with Buhari, Nigeria is a killing field, but with them, Nigeria will become a safe place to live and thrive in!
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo