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Issues, persons and scenarios likely to define 2019

Issues, persons and scenarios likely to define 2019
FILE PHOTO: Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki arrives for a news conference at the National Assembly in Abuja, Aug. 8, 2018. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

It is here already. The 2019 Nigerians have been thinking, talking and dreaming about. The clock is ticking away and, in no time, the New Year would take a regular pace of time. In the reckoning of most Nigerians, 2019 is a unique year. For some it is a magical year that could sweep away the troubles of the last three years and shelter them from the vagaries of insecurity and declining socio-economic wellbeing.

As a nation, 2019 holds much meaning to Nigerians for the singular reason that it is an election year in which they would redesign the nature of national politics or reinforce the status quo. It is the possibility of injecting fresh ideas into the system that makes democracy both alluring and popular as a system of government.

However, as the year 2019 begins its journey, there are a number of issues, persons and possible scenarios that could make it eventful for weal or woe. After 20 years’ practice of undulating democracy, Nigerians have begun to notice the intricate correlation between political stability and economic progress.

general election meets the mark of expected international standards as well as help in preserving the unity and stability of the country.Most politicians believe that the level of relationship between a candidate and the police helps to determine how far the candidate can go in an election. Usually, the ruling party always falls back on the illegal use of police officers to undermine the electoral process by either making way for political thugs or providing cover for the diversion of election materials.

Governed by a command structure, therefore, the IGP could make his men keep to their statutory duties to protect lives and property and eliminate threats to peace and safety.

Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai
THE fact that the COAS is enjoying a bonus in service also suggests that he can ingratiate himself to the president whose benevolence kept him (Buratai) beyond his terminal date. If Nigeria’s democracy would be truncated in 2019, the COAS has a role to play either in averting it, or ensuing that.

The widespread impression among Nigerians, particularly members of the opposition, is that the incumbent kept the service chiefs for electoral purposes. The recent declaration by General Buratai that the Nigeria Army would commence a nationwide Python Dance III operation among civilians seems to accentuate the speculation that the ruling party has some devious plans afoot against the forthcoming election.It is also believed that the idea of a nationwide Python Dance is to prevent expected public outrage against possible breach of the electoral process and outright display of garrison method of electoral heist.

Those who hold this view say that the speed with which the military pounced on unarmed IPOB youths was to exterminate any source of resistance in case of expected protests in the aftermath of the general election.

Bukola Saraki/ Yakubu Dogara
FOR the first time in the history of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly, the president was heckled as he tried to present the 2019 appropriation bill before the joint sitting of the two chambers. Although some lawmakers excused the heckling as part of legislative manners, some Nigerians believe that the booing was the climax of the frosty relationship between the Eighth NASS and the Buhari Presidency.

Yet analysts believe the action of the lawmakers was to get even with President Buhari, who they accuse of holding the parliament in disdain, a development they argue was instigated by the president’s refusal to do the traditional obeisance before the mace at the plenary.Other commentators said some of the lawmakers, including those from the ruling party that lost their return tickets, were incensed by the president’s cheeky demonstration of ‘4 plus 4’ symbolic gesture alluding to his possible second term of four years.

However the NASS episode is interpreted, it is a declaration of final showdown with the Presidency. Depending on what becomes of the general election, it is likely that the 2019 budget and other Executive bills would suffer neglect in the hands of the federal lawmakers.Senate President, Saraki and House of Representatives’ Speaker, Dogara, have central roles to play in the emerging 2019 politics and governance. Should the appropriation bill become a pawn on the chessboard of Executive versus Legislature gambit, the economy would suffer further stress to climax the deplorable state of the nation’s economy.

Adams Oshiomhole/Bola Tinubu
IT is not clear how far APC’s national chairman could go in stoking crisis through his off the cuff use of trigger words. Although divisions within the ruling party have been blamed on the former Edo State governor, parties to the division have been pledging allegiance and loyalty to President Buhari.

However, it is not known how far those verbal assurances could go in eliciting tacit support of the protagonists during the election. What if some of those displaced by Oshiomhole’s strong arm approach decide to work silently against the party on February 16, what remedies are available to the party at that eleventh hour?

Some APC chieftains have accused Oshiomhole of pandering to Tinubu’s whims to ensure that in the event that President Buhari loses the election, the party platform would be left at their disposal for Tinubu’s eventual 2023 presidential ambition.Not that alone, how far could Tinubu go in preserving his electoral fiefdom in Lagos against the background of sudden displacement of incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode? The question that arises against the proposition that Tinubu is not so much interested in Buhari’s victory as preserving APC is, if Buhari loses on February 16, how far could Tinubu’s protégé, Babajide sanwo-Olu go in the March 2 contest?

Prince Uche Secondus/Ike Ekweremadu
DEPUTY Senate President Ekweremadu started noticing his declining relevance immediately his pal, Saraki rejoined PDP and became the highest-ranking official in the party. Again, losing the position of presidential running mate to former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, meant that even if PDP wins the Presidential election next month, the likelihood of Ekweremadu having substantial influence seems far and remote.

Then hobnobbing with the ruling party in anticipation that, like the former PDP Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, if Buhari wins he would have access to the Presidency and get shelter from anti-graft harassment does not seem exciting for the four-term Senator. Like Ekweremadu, the position of Secondus seems to be dependent on the benevolence and ascendancy of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. In the event that Atiku becomes president, would Secondus behave like Wike and switch allegiance?

These politicians have roles to play in the days to come and that would go a long way in defining the character of the magic year 2019. Most importantly, what becomes of PDP or APC if it wins or loses the Presidential election?

What manner of Presidency
ONE big question that 2019 will help Nigerians answer is, what manner of Presidency will come into play from May 29, 2019? If Atiku wins, how long will it take him to announce a tentative cabinet, knowing that that would help inject much needed hope and vitality into the political economy?An immediate challenge, which an Atiku Presidency could face is how to requite the numerous political IOUs awaiting his attention. Having been accused of unilaterally choosing his running mate, would a President-elect Atiku seek the input of PDP governors, some of who must have behaved like the biblical Nicodemus or hunted with the hunt and ran with the hare?

On the other hand, should the verdict of voters retain a Buhari Presidency, would he have the nerve to dispense with the ubiquitous cabal? What happens to Lawal Daura, who was axed to save the Presidency’s face in the aftermath of the invasion of NASS by masked men? What about Maina-gate?Which ministers would Buhari retain and which would he dispense with for renewed vigour in his administration? Would there be a refreshing style or a continuation of ‘go-slow’ style and buck-passing? There are more questions that 2019 would provide answers as the days run to weeks and weeks turn to months. The journey has just begun.

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