After much dithering procrastination on the role he would play in the emergence of his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to play a decisive role in the forthcoming 2023 presidential elections.
Indeed, rarely has it been seen that a president anywhere did otherwise.
The only idea of a president in Nigeria playing a role in the emergence of his successor was President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is so far, the only one of the four presidents of the Fourth Republic to have completed two terms in office.
Nigerians, indeed cannot forget the viciousness with which Dr. Obasanjo carried out his agenda to foist President Umaru Yar`Adua as his successor.
So brutish was the election that brought in the new president that Yar`Adua on his inauguration confessed that his election was marred by irregularities. That confession was what kick-started the nation’s path towards progressive electoral reforms that have now been severely eroded by the present National Assembly leadership.
Perhaps, the only election that was so marred by malpractise as the 2007 election was the 2019 election. The National Assembly and President Buhari had an opportunity to advance the electoral reforms prior to the 2019 election, but thrice the president vetoed the new Electoral Bill.
President Yar`Adua had kickstarted the process of electoral reforms that brought in credible elements from the civil society like Justice Mohammed Uwais, Prof. Attahiru Jega and Barrister Mike Igini.
It is reflective of the reverses suffered since the advent of those reforms under the Buhari era that it would be suggested that a presidential aide in the person of Lauretta Onochie would be brought in to join the electoral team to midwife his succession.
While many Nigerians in the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC had believed that President Buhari was contemplating being detached from the succession programme, his spokesman, Garba Shehu last Tuesday came out to rubbish that idea.
Speaking to newsmen after the Sallah prayers, Shehu said that President Buhari would take an active role in determining his successor who he inferred would definitely not come from the PDP.
Noting that Buhari would constitute an obstacle to the PDP’s dreams of regaining power, Shehu said:
“We see PDP nursing the false hope of taking over power in 2023. The masses will never abandon President Buhari’s leadership. I’m sure in 2023, they’re waiting for him to show the way,” Shehu had said.
The assertion is one that is loaded with trepidation within and outside the APC.
For the PDP, the assertion presupposes that the 2023 election could go the way of the 2019 or 2007 elections that were adjudged to be among the worst in the nation’s history. If it goes that way, it means that by hook or crook and whether Lauretta Onochie is there or not, that the elections would go the way the incumbent desires.
The claim that the president’s stock of 12 million votes would be available to push his succession agenda is an imagination that is far from reality. It is as such not a surprise that the APC has as a policy adopted the unpopular chorus against electronic transmission of votes and is supportive of the retention of collation centres – the axis of evil where election results are altered with brute force.
It is remarkable that just about the same time that Mallam Shehu echoed the president’s succession agenda, that the national secretary of the APC’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe came out to say that the party would adopt the principle of consensus to choose its candidate.
Remarkably, the option of consensus is one that is built into the constitution of the party. The other options are direct primary and indirect primary.
The option of consensus becomes tenable when all aspirants agree among themselves to the adoption of one of them.
It is a principle that is bound to prove risky, contentious and possibly rupture the party. But with the presidential baton in hand, it is expected that all possible rebellions would be squashed.
The adoption of consensus suggests that those driving the presidential succession agenda have not been able to browbeat those they do not want to succeed Buhari into submission.
It is now universally known that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is about the most potent force that is in the presidential race in the APC. Your correspondent now understands that Asiwaju’s strategies have given him an edge in a free and fair contest to be reckoned with as a possible winner in a presidential primary, indirect or direct.
With support in key states in the Southwest, Northwest and Northeast and the South-South, Asiwaju is about the most potent force in the APC presidential race that the only way to stop him is the adoption of a consensus strategy.
In that direction, your correspondent predicts that in few weeks time more overt moves to curtail the Jagaban of Borgu will commence.