" />
Published On: Sun, Jan 7th, 2018

Politics in 2018: Back to the soap box 

By OBINNA EZUGWU

The penultimate election year, 2018 will, without a doubt, witness intense political activities and campaigns. President Muhammadu Buhari has made clear his intention to seek reelection in 2019; he has started out by re-appointing his Transport Minister, Chibuike Amaechi as his campaign director general. As was the case in 2014/2015, 2019 will be a two-horse race between the ruling All progressive Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But in many ways, it is going to be remarkably different.

The last election pitted a Southern Christian from a minority Ijaw ethnic group, Goodluck Jonathan against a Muslim Hausa/Fulani candidate, Buhari. It was an election fought and won, largely on the basis of religion and ethnicity with allegations of corruption used as a convenient cover. Once two of the country’s three major ethnic groups; Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba, as well as the country’s substantial Muslim population turned against Jonathan, the odds were against him.

The political tension was palpable. Had Jonathan won by any means, mayhem was predicted. Thus, while many, including international observers predicted a chaotic outcome, Jonathan lost and unnaturally conceded defeat leading to a peaceful outcome. It was a great relief that the election came and went without major incidents.

This time however, it will be a contest between two Hausa/Fulani Muslims and although many are predicting a heated contest, it would be nothing close to 2015. First, the two key factors of ethnicity and religion which defined the very polarizing 2015campaigns are already eliminated. Second, while President Buhari entered the 2015 race on a high horse of strong leadership, integrity and incorruptibility, much of this has been eroded as his government continues to perform far below expectations on both counts.

Therefore, while there was a demigod factor in Buhari the last time out, this time, it is a largely demystified old general who will have to work extremely hard to convince the electorate, especially the country’s impatient youthful population.

Buhari has lost, and continues to lose a number of those who supported him in 2014/2015, the latest being Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, the vociferous Enugu based Catholic priest who had endorsed him in 2014, but who in a New Year message last week, berated him for failing to deliver on his promised change and asked him not to re-contest in 2019. Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and Pastor Tunde  Bakare among others have also at one point or the other voiced their displeasure with the president.

READ  Bongo: No cause for alarm over failed MPC meeting

Across the Middle Belt and some sections of the core North activities of Fulani herdsmen who continue to murder people with impunity and general poverty in the land have started to win the president more enemies, especially as he appears to have no solution to either. In the South West where he had strong support base going into 2015, many people no longer seem keen on him, while his fortunes have not improved in both the South East and the South South. In fact, it has further declined.

The above scenarios point to the fact that Buhari will be vulnerable going into the next election. However, a lot will depend on how the opposition PDP will play its politics, especially the candidate it will choose in its primary later in the year.

Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; the immediate Chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido and Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo are some of the potential candidates to watch. But it would appear that only Atiku and Dankwambo are the only ones who can indeed pose serious threat to Buhari’s re-election bid.

Atiku, because he has the wherewithal, the political clout and the reach to pull off a great campaign; Dankwambo because he is a respected technocrat who is adjudged to have performed creditably well as governor and has little or no corruption dent on his name. The Gombe governor’s credentials was attested to by no less a man than Mbaka who praised him profusely in the said New Year message and called on the North to make him available to Nigerians.

Nonetheless, with the APC having control of the state apparatus, it is expected that key opposition figures like the ones mentioned above would be hauled to jail or simply kept busy by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Indeed, this year will witness an onslaught against the opposition by the anti graft agency.

READ  Emefiele dismisses fears over MPC meeting, insists economy is strong

Again, with most of the governors, especially those of the PDP going for second term, it would not be unexpected that a number of them will be forced into a compromise by the APC led federal government.

Thus, while not much would change in terms of performance, and while mass discontent with the government will grow going into 2019, the PDP may not rise to the occasion of providing credible opposition and the APC will largely still run the show.

Nonetheless, increased political activities this year would also mean that more money will be in circulation as politicians will spend a lot for campaigns. This would mean there will more money in circulation to cushion hardship. On the flip side, inflation may also set in.

Critical for the APC, however, is its ability to manage itself and cater to the varying interest within its ranks. With the party’s convention coming up this year, chances of implosion are high and will to a large extent, define the cause of the political year.

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the acclaimed National leader of the APC has seen his influence wane considerably since Buhari took power. Many have suggested he would probably pull out or secretly oppose the president. Both scenarios, which could mark a turning point for Buhari, possibly the beginning of the end for him, seem very unlikely.

The former Lagos governor is not a man noted for political confrontations, and with concessions to him already in the offing, especially the Oando financial crisis being swept under the carpet, it is unlikely that he will want to rock the boat.

Overall, 2018 will be a year of politics, but in terms of tension; in terms of bitterness, it would be nothing close to 2014.

 

 

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • FG grants PPAs of 14 solar projects another 6 months extension

    For the second time since 2016, the Federal Government  has extended by another six months, the deadline for the execution of the power purchase agreements (PPAs) it signed with investors for 14 utility solar power projects to be built in some states of the country. According to OGN reports it was reportedly rolled over after […]

  • Dangote Sugar targets 25% sales volumes in 2018

    The acting Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, Abdullahi Sule, believes the company’s  sales volumes could rise as much as 25 percent in 2018 after last year’s downturn. Nigeria’s economy, which contracted in 2016, is recovering after the government relaxed some currency controls implemented after the price of oil, its main export, crashed in […]

  • Emefiele dismisses fears over MPC meeting, insists economy is strong

    The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has allayed the fears of Nigerians and the international community over the inability to hold the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for January. A statement signed by Emefiele in Abuja on Monday, said that the meeting, which was earlier scheduled for the day […]

  • Nigeria, Angola crude overhang could pressurize Asian crude

    Traders have said that unsold barrels of crude from West Africa could put pressure on the premiums of Malaysian crude cargoes for March loading.   Platts reports that weaker demand, particularly from independent refineries in China, for February-loading Angolan and Nigerian grades has resulted in an overhang, traders said. Traders indicated that these grades were […]

  • NBS: 77.5m Nigerians engage in economic activities in Q3

    The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says 77.55 million people are engaged in economic activities out of a labour force of 85.08 million in the third quarter of 2017. The NBS disclosed this in a “Labour Force Statistics Volume 2: Employment by Sector report for Third Quarter of 2017’’ released by the bureau on Monday […]

  • Lassa fever: Schools reopen in Ebonyi

    Public and private schools in Ebonyi shut on Jan. 18 to check the spread of Lassa fever outbreak in the state have reopened the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. Prof. John Eke, the Commissioner for Education, told NAN on Monday in Abakaliki, that the schools were reopened as no new case of the disease […]

  • Four major markets in Nigeria need 36.27MW to grow efficiency – REA

    A baseline survey of the energy needs of four of the major markets in Nigeria, which the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) conducted, has indicated that with 36.27 megawatts (MW) of stable electricity provided to them, economic productivity in the markets could expand and bring more prosperity to about 50,900 shop owners there, OGN reports. The […]

  • ALSCON: Nigeria, Russia sign Share Purchase agreement

    Nigeria has signed the Renewed Share Purchase Agreement with Messrs UC Rusal of Russia in respect of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON). The agreement was signed in in Abuja on Friday by the relevant government stakeholders, including the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi. Present at the ceremony were the […]

  • Slimming drugs: Expert calls for stiff regulation

    Dr Bamidele Iwalokun, a medical researcher with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Yaba, Lagos, has called for stiffer regulation of slimming drugs to safeguard the health of consumers. Iwalokun made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Sunday. He said there was the need […]

  • Derivatives trading: US expert speaks on the pluses and pitfalls

    As part of strategic initiatives to enhance the efficiency of capital market operations in Nigeria, The Nigerian Stock Exchange and Coronation Merchant Bank invited the former Chair of the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission (US CFTC), Mr. James Stone to deliver a special lecture on ‘Pluses and Pitfalls of Derivatives Trading’ at the Nigerian Stock […]

  • Ajimobi: Oyo set to increase institutions subventions

    The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has appealed to the striking state-owned higher institutions that his administration is prepared to increase their subventions. The governor said this would be achieved as soon as government’s renewed efforts to improve its revenue-base begin to bear fruits. Ajimobi, who made the appeal while inaugurating the governing councils of […]

  • SEC’s e-dividend free registration ends Feb 28

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has extended period for the free e-dividend registration to Feb. 28, to encourage more shareholders participation in the initiative. The commission in a statement obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, indicated that the extension was part of its developmental role. It said that the extension […]

  • Nigerian equities market goes bearish after hitting over nine year high

    FELIX OLOYEDE Profit-taking caused the Nigerian Stock market to go bearish for the first time this week after reaching over nine year high on Wednesday. The All Share Index declined -0.08 per cent to close at 44,848.74 point on Thursday after hitting 44885.24 point the previous day, the highest since September 2008 when it closed […]

  • 2019: Wike gets second term endorsement

    Residents of River state have endorsed the Governor, Nyesom Wike, for another term of four years. They declared their support for the governor when over 15,000 non-indigenes of the state visited the Government House on Wednesday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Channels TV reports. Wike urged Nigerians irrespective of their linguistic and religious affiliation […]

  • Banks enjoy improved liquidity as overnight rate drops three consecutive days

    FELIX OLOYEDE The redemption of Treasury Bills by Federal Government has helped to improve liquidity in Nigerian banking sector as overnight rate declined three consecutive times this week. Overnight (O/N) rate dropped -0.75 per cent to 5.75 per cent on Thursday, while Open Buy Back (OBB) rate was down -0.92 per cent to 5.25 per […]

  • Lassa fever: Ebonyi Schools proceed on forced break

    Schools in Ebonyi State have been directed to close for a week following the outbreak of Lassa fever in the state. The state government said the directive was given as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease in the state. Commissioner for Health, Umuzuruike Daniel, also confirmed the death of three victims […]