Everything happening in Nigeria now is about 2023 even though this is 2020. It is clear that Nigerians are now doubting the health, the capability and the thinking of would have been savior of Nigeria, President Muhammad Buhari. But the top tier of aspirants to the presidency, Tinubu, Osibanjo, Ekweremadu, Peter Obi are fully aware that Buhari’s support is very essential. It does not matter whether the candidate is running on the PDP platform or on APC’s. Especially on APC’s platform.
This political calculus is obvious in the actions of the top candidates. For Osibanjo, the calculus demands his silence over ALL the things PMB does. The silence is such that some people speculate that he has died, even though this is not the truth. Osibanjo knows that his SW base is not secure because of the presence of his mentor, Tinubu in the presidential equation. He cannot afford the anger of both Tinubu and PMB against him.
The very same problems face Mr. Tinubu. He cannot afford combined opposition from Mr. Osibanjo and PMB. Therefore, the two must first settle between themselves who is a better candidate. And even in this private conference PMB will loom large.
Mr. Ekweremadu faces similar challenges. He cannot hope for PMB’s support but he would be better off if PMB does not appear to oppose him as much. He too has Mr. Peter Obi in the wings. PMB’s preference of one over the other would make a difference. This deference to PMB could account for Ekweremadu wearing the Nigerian Coat of Arms to his Germany trip. He saw the need to appear as a proper Nigerian and not a Biafran.
Peter Obi has exactly Ekweremadu’s dilemma. He must run as a proper Nigeria or the anger of PMB and his cabal will be on him and with Ekweremadu in the equation carefulness is commanded.
The possible tie breakers in these internal warfare are Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former president. And who eventually becomes the head of APC.
Mr. Jonathan still commands a huge influence in SS and SE affairs. Both Mr. Ekweremadu and Obi are popular in SE but Ekweremadu is owed a debt by Jonathan. He led the coalition that made sure he assumed the presidency after the death of Yar’ Adua, Ekweremadu made the survival of Jonathan’s six years in office possible. One good turn deserves another. GEJ Will put that into consideration as he ponders on whose corner he would land.
Obi cannot afford to take Jonathan for granted.
No such debt is owed Mr. Obi, but the fact that Mr. Atiku chose him as his VP candidate cannot be ignored by Jonathan. He is from Anambra as much a political state as there is in Nigeria. JEG will necessarily put all that into consideration as decides on whose corner to land.
Whoever gets to be the APC’s party chairman will play the same role in APC as GEJ in PDP given the silence of PMB.
This brings us to the nature of elections in Nigeria. In most other parts of the democratic world, there are no king makers. An unknown governor of Georgia (Jimmy Carter) could take on the Democratic Party and win the nomination of the party as president just as a first term black senator (Barack Obama) repeated several decades later. In the Republican Party Trump demonstrated the same feat. But in Nigeria, there are king makers whose support are absolutely necessary.
Until Nigeria overcomes King Makers her democracy must be followed by an asterisk.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
June 18, 2020