Although 2019 is still two full years away, most of the political gladiators that are interested in Nigeria’s top job have not hidden their desires to unseat incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. The brazen attacks on Buhari’s eligibility for the presidency come 2019 is borne our of a number of factors including the unpredictability of his health, the poor state of the Nigerian economy and the very fact that the septuagarian has simply not delivered the goods.
“As things stand currently,” a lecturer in the department of political science at the University of Lagos told Today’s Echo, “Buhari has little or no political capital upon which to run in 2019.” The much touted fight against corruption has generated a lot of controversy, but when it comes to delivering the goods, it has done little to achieve the set out goal.
Also, Nigeria has not been this fragmented in the last 57 years, apart from the days of the civil war and the events that predated the war, at no time in Nigeria’s history have cries for the desolation of the union been louder. With dissenting voices in the East, west and north chorusing a tune that seems to indicate that the tribes and regions that make up Nigeria are fed up with the union.
Given this background, a number of opposition figures have made their intentions clear about their desire to take over the presidency come 2019. The most vocal and like are listed below:
Two time former governor, Sule Lamido Kastina state. Sixty Nine years old, Sule Lamido served as Foreign minister of Nigeria from 1999 to 2003. He was elected governor of Jigawa State in April 2007 and successfully for re-election on 26 April 2011.
A self described leader of the masses, as far back as December 2009 it was reported that Olusegun Obasanjo had started to lobby for Lamido to be the PDP’s vice presidential candidate in the 2011 elections. But he was not given the PDP presidential ticket. Lamido has not hidden his intentions to run for the Presidency in 2019. As a matter of fact he has paraded himself as a president in waiting in the past.
His visits to major political office holders in the South-South and South-East to make his intention know are well documented.
The very fact that Lamiodo is a northerner and that there are some moves within the PDP ro zone the presidency in the party to the north makes Lamido an alternative. His outright show of interest in the position means that he has the first movers advantage since the PDP has no major big wig from the North that has openly disclosed their intentions to contest on the party’s platform.
Lamido also has as his Godfather, General Olusegun Obasanjo who remains influential and has the capacilty to pull and push some major political strings.
However, in 2015 Lamido, and his two sons were briefly jailed after being arrested and tried for allegedly arranging for contracts to be placed by companies that they controlled. Lamido blamed this on his enemies. This scepter of corruption has been hanging on Lamido and his family for quite a while and the fear is that a presidential candidate could be bogged down by the opposition who could use age long cases to discredit a politician who is perceived to be corrupt.
The 56 year old governor of Ekiti state has not hidden his intention to run for the presidential seat in Africa’s most populous country.
Fayose is a self-acclaimed leader of the masses and has shown a penchant for associating with the oppressed and downtrodden. Within his home state he has managed to garner the support of all the politicval bigwigs and has achoveed a remarkable measure of cohersion within his party.
He is one of President Buhari’s ardent critics and has scored a number of points while also misfiring in statements he made about the health of the president. At some point in the life of the Buhari administration, Fayose stood as the lone opposition figure, attacking the Buhari led government and criticising most of the decisions of the government.
Fayose is a Christian but has associated openly with individuals across religious divides, he has been spotted in Christian assembles and in warm embraces with Christian clerics. He has also hobnobbed with Muslim worshippers often appearing in turban at Muslim celebrations and annual feasts. In 2015, an attempt by a Muslim group operating in his state to paint him as a sectional leader was met with a rebuttal but the supreme Islamic leadership in the state which endorsed Fayose as a leader who has worked in the interest of the Muslim community.
In the same vein, Fayose has been spotted marching alongside animist and masquerades in Ekiti state.
Fayose’s attacks on President Buhari is likely to have negative impact on his ambition in 2019. Also, the very fact that he is a southerner may affect his chances because the north remains determined to maintain its grip on power.
Also, outside of his home state, Fayose does not command the respect of a number of political bigwigs in the south west, these could constitute a drag on his political ambition and could totally quash his chance at the PDP presidential ticket.
Although his presidential posters can be spotted as far away as Zaria, it is more likely that Fayose could serve as a running mate to a northern presidential candidate.
A former President of Nigeria, having served from 2010 to 2015. Jonathan now 59, served as Vice-President of Nigeria from 2007 to 2010 and as Governor of Bayelsa State from 2005 to 2007.
He is the Nigerian President whose economic record Buhari has tried to beat. As things stand currently, he has the South-East and South-South under his belt and there are indications that he could still curry and win their votes if he decides tom run in 2019.
Goodluck is reputed to be an individual who waits patiently in the wings and lashes on the weaknesses of situations to make gains. He has not been seen as desperate for power and has been mostly pushed into contesting for positions when there are no alternatives.
His rise from the deputy governorship position of Bayelsa state to the Presidency is a well celebrated story. Goodlucks major strength lies in the calibre of ministers he brought on board during his presidency, which were mostly technocrats that revolutionarized a number of areas of Life in Nigeria including Agriculture, power and infrastructure. Most of his ministers have also gone ahead to take up roles with multilateral institutions. During the Jonathan presidency Nigeria grew at an average GDP growth of 6 percent, with the nation ranking among the fastest growing economy in the world. Some Nigerians have said they yearn from these growth figures again while Jonathan himself has denied any interest in the presidency.
On the other hand, Jonathan comes with a lot of baggage, many Nigerians tout him as a weak leader with good intentions. For one thing, the Buhari administration has managed to paint his administration as one of the most corrupt in the history of the country.
Jonathan is also from the southern part of the country and there are insinuations in certain quarters in the North that believe that he deliberately handled the Boko Haram debacle with kids glovers because he was unconcerned about the welfare of Northerners who were mostly affected by the conflict. This could have an impact on the votes that he could garner from the north should he decide to run for the presidency in 2019.
Atiku Abubakar is 70 years old and is a Nigerian politician, businessman and philanthropist. He served as the second elected Vice-President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, with President Olusegun Obasanjo
Atiku comes with a lot of experience to the presidency. As a two time vice President he comes with knowledge of how Nigeria works and has demonstrated this in a number of comments credited to him in the media. Though Atiku is viewed in some quarters as a despirate politician, he has spoken openly about some of the major issues facing Nigeria at the moment. These include the issues of resource control and restructuring.
It is likely that most southerners will vote for him because he may be the most progressive and most experienced politician of Northern extraction. He is also reputed to have had the most robust plan developed for the country in the last 12 years.
Atiku is viewed by many as a corrupt politician who has enriched himself off the state. His intentions are mostly interpreted in bad light. His recent statement about those northern leaders who do not support restructuring as being lazy put him on collusion course with key norther leaders.
Atiku is also at daggers with General Olusegun Obasanjo who was his benefactors when they both occupied the top jobs in the country. An endorsement from the Northern elite and President Muhammadu Buhari could brighten Atiku’s prospect.
Sixty year old Aliko Dangote, GCON is a Nigerian billionaire and owner of the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities.
Although Aliko Dangote cannot exactly be described as a PDP man. He has none the less benefitted immensely from the party, especially under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
There are indications that some interests within the party have reached out to Africa’s most richest man, Aliko Dangote for its 2019 presidential campaigns. Local newspapers have reported that the PDP is already making plans to woo the billionaire to contest for 2019 presidency under its platform.
But in a swift response, the billionaire businessman rejected the moves. According to local newspapers Dangote declared categorically in a phone interview that he has no interest in politics and nobody or party should tie him to it.
But there is normally no last word on this issues until all is done and dusted. Mr. Dangote is seen across Nigeria as a progressive northern Muslim who have excelled in the area of business.
Given the right platform and opportunity, there is faith that he could invoke some of the master strokes which he has applied to running his private businesses to the presidency and make tremendous impact.
He is also seen as been less likely to be corrupt because of the amount of wealth he has successfully presided over.
Article written by: Ejiro Obodo