Whereas President Muhammadu Buhari has not openely declared whether or not he would be running for another term of office in the forthcoming general elections, his body language is in the affirmative. MUYIWA OYINLOLA in this report writes on the reasons being canvassed by those urging him to run and those opposed of it.
One parlance that Nigerians have come to term with under the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari is that of ‘body language’. The parlance emerged from the blues shortly after the president was sworn in on 29th May, 2015.
Immediately he assumed power, a lot of things started falling in place even without saying a word or before acting on certain issues. His ‘disposition’ was what was doing the job for him and that is what Nigerians started referring to as ‘body language’.
Shortly after his ascension, power electricity became a bit stable and many people who had acquired wealth by stealing from public coffers either scampered for safety or fled the country for fear of Buhari. Some even returned part stolen fund.
In the unfolding political development, especially as regards to whether or not the president would run for a second term or not as the 2019 general elections approach, whereas he has not come out to speak on the matter in plain terms, his ‘body language’ is apparently tilting towards the affirmative.
Whereas his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has repeatedly maintained there is no blank cheque check for the president in 2019, it has not cautioned or sanctioned those canvassing for his return to power come 2019, from the party.
Barely two weeks ago, some governors on the party’s platform from the Northern part of the country endorsed him for re-election in 2109. Apart from that endorsement, he was also openly endorsed by the Kano and Kaduna states governors, Abubakar Ganduje and Nasir el-Rufai respectively, during his recent visit to those states.
Recall also that some youths in his Daura, Katsina home state have also indicated readiness to purchase normination form for his re-election.
Also at the weekend, APC governors from across the country endorsed the candidature of President Buhari, to re-contest in the 2019 presidential poll.
Chairman of APC Governors’ Forum and Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, while giving details on the endorsement said APC governors met and resolved that Buhari should re-contest, opining that he has done well to deserve a second tenure.
According to the governor: “Four years is not enough to show what the President can offer. We believe that another four years will bring out the best in him.”
He disclosed that the governors in their meeting resolved that the governors should be ‘’up and doing’’ in their duties towards the president’s campaign issue by putting up a credible team.
“So, we urge all South-Easterners and all of my brothers and sisters, the Igbos, to come together now and let’s change our story and play the national politics.”
In the same vein, it was also gathered that some politicians loyal to the president have constituted a campaign group, allegedly headed by Transport Minister and former Rivers State governor as Director General with el-Rufai and a host of others as members to ensure Buhari’s re-election.
This was alluded to by Okorocha who stated that the governors on the party’s platform also okayed the re-appointment of Amaechi as the Director General of Buhari Campaign Organization, noting that he did very well as the DG of the President’s campaign in 2015, requiring his repeat work.
While a number of reasons have been canvassed by the anti-rerun group, sources from those championing the Buhari-must-run campaign indicate that bringing back the former military head of state for another term would be in the interest of the nation.
Among the issues being raised by those opposed the PMB running in 2019 is his old age, that at 75 years or thereabouts, he would have been too old by 2019. They are also of the view that things are rather tough under his administration while they also opined that the killings recorded on a daily basis from herdsmen/farmers clash has made a nonsense of the victory recorded in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast.
Another issue of concern to the antagonists of this cause is the heath condition of the president which they feel is not in stable condition.
However, the protagonists of Buhari for second term, according LEADERSHIP findings, claim they are being driven by national interest. They are of the view that “the challenges that Buhari not running would throw up will be more than him not running”.
On this premise, they are afraid of the challenge or the set back that the nation would be thrown into should the present North/South rotational arrangement of two terms for each zone should collapse.
According to them, if Buhari does not run, another Northerner would run and spend eight years, thus altering the North/South arrangement of two terms for each zone. The fear is that Northerners are not likely to vote for a Southerner after Buhari’s first tenure because of their experience after former President Umaru Yar’Adua (a Northerner) died in office in 2010 and was succeeded by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (a Southerner) who insisted on spending eight years in office. The crisis that followed was part of what made them vote for Buhari in 2015.
There are also fears that in the event that Buhari does not run, APC may disintegrate, not only because it got majority of its votes from the North but also because he is a major rallying point in the party. In other words, they are of the view that the moment PMB does not run, the space would be open to every Tom, Dick and Harry, and that the party might be turned into tatters because of the ambition of certain individuals who may not be favoured at the end of the day.
One major challenge this present democracy is facing which the APC appears to be enjoying is the lack of virile opposition. But this may also not be good for the party at the end of the day, even as it is not healthy for democracy. Thus, all eyes are on the APC because as at today, this appears to be the only party where people can realise their political ambition at the centre. And this might be responsible for the heightened call for Independence candidacy.
But whether or not Buhari stands for election in 2019, the APC would have to mend fences and put its house in order for victory at the poll as feelers indicate the all is not well with the party. More so, political watchers also fear an implosion in the party should Buhari decide to run and the party gives him automatic ticket, thus putting a pay to their ambition. Another possible scenario according to them is a situation where the contest is left open but conducted in a way to favour the president.
In the area of economy, pro-Buhari people do not agree with the antagonists. According to them, the economy is doing better with about $40bn in the foreign reserves as against a little above $20bn when this government came to power in 2015.
Speaking on his support for Buhari’s second term in office, his special adviser on media, Femi Adesina at the weekend disclosed that: “If the president wants to run, he can run. I will support him. I will always support him any day.”
He also said Buahri has done enough to get Nigerians’ support for re-election, noting that: “The things he has done are apparent: security, despite the challenges of the moment, you can’t rule out what he has done in security. Economy: economy went into recession, stayed there just for one year, it has come out and the indices are are good. Even the World Bank has projected 2.5% growth for Nigeria this year. So, in the economy, the government is doing well. The economy is like a plane with its nose up. As long as you have a plane with its nose up when it’s taking off, it’s good news.,
“Anti-corruption, no friend, no foe. That goes on. So, those three things he appointed for himself, one, to secure the country, two, to fight corruption, three, to revive the economy, they are going well”.
While reacting to comments on Buhari’s heath, Adesina stated that “The president is not a frivolous person. If he thinks that his health cannot carry anything, he will not do it. So, of course, his health will matter a lot. It will be very important but we need to give the glory to God for the way he is now.”
“Every day you see the president, you see a glow about him, you see a freshness about him. I think he’s even in a better state than when he came in 2015. It’s all to the glory of God.
“So, once he assesses that his health can carry it, there’s nothing wrong if he steps into the fray. But he had the final decision”.
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