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Lessons from Kogi and Bayelsa polls

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Hold on to your seats, it’s 2023 ladies and gentlemen – well, that would have been the title of my article, but I didn’t want to be equally guilty as those stoking the fires of 2023 politics, or better still, the question of 2023 presidency. It’s too early isn’t it? Hmm… I have long been schooled to the fact that the 2015 senate/ presidency fracas has always been about 2023 and who succeeds PMB, whenever he vacates the seat, as feelers were at the time, that his health may not permit him to stay beyond 2019. That is history now as the man himself has just at the recently concluded APC-NEC meeting, swore and solemnly declared that he will not be seeking another term, after the constitutionally provided two terms in office. That is not to say that Nigerians are not at liberty to clamor for another term of 5 years for PMB, with a constitutional amendment – giving a single term of 5 years for local government chairmen, governors and the president. Maybe even a step further, in affirming a rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones, to put to bed, the whole marginalisation outcry from certain zones of the country.

Lessons from Bayelsa and Kogi elections are very instructive in understanding what to expect in 2023. The numero uno lesson is that PMB will have non of it, and will be glad to retire home to Daura, as a pensioner that he once was. Buhari’s foray into politics has been accidental, not withstanding the four time contest, with series of supreme court battles. Buhari has never been keen about politics and if anything, actually despises it. Key decision making instances where politics is being deployed, have never been Buhari’s strength and when he speaks, you know he has never been a politician. He says it raw as it is, and it is left to you to either cook to taste, or have it as he has given you. PMB never went to Bayelsa, neither did he go to Kogi to campaign, as the most I saw, were images of Yahaya Bello, doing the four plus four insignia with PMB, inside the confines of the presidential villa; which is a signal that he is unlikely to travel the length and breadth of Nigeria to campaign for any candidate that the APC is likely to field, either as presidential candidate, or as a gubernatorial candidate. Buhari would be staking his integrity and the ‘political brand’ BUHARI. The question is, who in the APC, amongst its front runners for the coveted seat of the presidency, can he vouch for, and not live to regret supporting that candidate? How will he escape the rhetoric, is it not Buhari that gave us this man? He is Buhari’s legacy nna!

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I have seen where Buhari has categorically stated that, were it to be left to him in picking a successor, he would have handpicked Osinbajo, but that alas, politics and party nomination do not happen that way. This sounds like those plain truths you will hear when Buhari speaks from his heart. I believed what he said, hook, line and sinker. Obviously, he has enjoyed a stupendous amount of loyalty from the pastor, and has had a most harmonious working relationship with him, against all odds. Infact, the bromance between pastor and PMB never ceases to rear its head, whenever the two are together in public, most times giggling away, to one of PMB’s jokes or the other. The Emir of Daura, Buhari’s hometown, recently spoke most sterlingly about Osinbajo and his legendary loyalty to Buhari. Osinbajo’s body language around Buhari has never betrayed his loyalty. (unlike a certain SP I used to know). I can only guess that, were Osinbajo to clinch the APC presidential nomination, then Buhari might help his Vice President, and go on a nationwide tour with him, afterall, he has been a loyal second, and what better way to repay him for his loyalty? Buhari would also be comfortable to the fact that Prof. is a pastor, a man of God, and that Nigeria as an entity would be safe with him. Aside Pastor, I don’t see Buhari worrying himself, as he sees through all those clamouring for the ticket, perhaps has their dossiers!

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Bayelsa is not a surprise, neither is it a gift. It has been a long time coming. It has been, since the APC long understood that there are south-southerners and south-easterners that deeply route for the ‘RUGA’ party, but certain establishment factors, never allow their mandates to see the light of day. Rivers for example, where the APC were contentiously denied the right to seek electoral office, via judicial judgements, which have robbed Rivers citizens the right to contest and to vote. The governorship seat might have remained PDP, but certainly a senator or two, a few state assembly members, and some house of representatives members, may have gone the way of the APC. This would have perfected the in-roads that the APC would be making in the south-south and they would perhaps increase their head-count to two states in the south south, come 2023. From the looks of things, a south eastern state is not off the table.

Kogi was a do or die affair, and it lived up to its expectations of a do or die contest. The parity in the results showed that the PDP received a ‘shellacking’, a real beating, and Yahaya Bello stood strong, courageous and politically witty enough, to subvert the PDP machinery, including the ethnic cards that were heavily thought to go against him. The Kogi elections are more a reflection, of what is to come 2023, especially the states that the PDP feel they can snatch, maintain or regain back to their fold. As for the APC, it is no longer going to be as complacent as it was in 2019, where it lost thoroughly APC states like Bauchi. It is clear that the party is not going to lose any of its states to the opposition. As it is, APC has the aces.

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Buhari cautioning the APC about disintegrating after he leaves, leaves much worry in the heart of the APC faithful, as they say, there is no smoke without fire. The rumbles from Edo state, are a deal-breaker for the APC, and it is feuds like that, that can degenerate into a whole house of commotion. The party chairman is at the centre of this crisis, and I believe he should have the temerity to subdue all challenges, as he has withered the APC storms so far. The president did give him his vote of confidence, along with the VP’s vote of confidence, and from the NEC meeting so far, it is a one house. Woe betide the APC, should they lose Edo state, hayyaratata! An exclamation from my late dad when he sees ‘sheet’ hitting the ceiling! Losing Edo will be a bad omen, a bad signal, an an invitation to anarchy in the APC! To be fore-warned, is to be fore-armed!

Tahir is Talban Bauchi

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