By Ehichioya Ezomon
Former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, as leader of the Labour Party faced with the prospect of losing the General Election in 1964, reportedly coined the famous phrase, “a week is a long time in politics.” When the election held, the party won with a slim majority of four seats, and Wilson became Prime Minister.
In the 2019 elections in Nigeria, you can say “a day is a long time in politics.” Why? Because events in the polity are moving, and changing in such rapidity that bookmakers’ predictions could be torn into shreds in a matter of 24 hours due to intrigues signposted by infighting, blackmail, deceit, treachery, trade-offs, and compromises on self-serving interests.
Consider what’s happening in the All Progressives Congress (APC) where chieftains are plotting against each other, and against the party, in their quest to have their way in the primaries to fix themselves or their cronies in executive or legislative portfolios in the 2019 elections.
The primaries has pitted the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, against some state governors, who failed to “impose” their “anointed” candidates on the party, attributing such fiasco to alleged “undemocratic” interference by the former Edo State governor, who should pay for his “indiscretion.”
So, for these governors, and aspirants that missed the lists sent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), even one day is a long time in politics. To them, it’s like the presidential and federal legislative balloting (and the other elections), which heralds the 2019 elections at 8 a.m. (Lagos Time) on February 16 – exactly 102 days away – is holding this morning, November 5, 2018. You asked why, again?
Well, the processes of substituting candidates have been completed, and any aspirants not included in the lists submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have lost the chance to participate in the elections. Except, of course, a very slim chance for the incurable optimists or “The Believers.”
Going by relevant laws/guidelines, the last day for withdrawal by candidate(s)/replacement of withdrawn candidate(s) by political parties is November 17, 2018, for the Presidential and National Assembly, and December 1, 2018, for the Governorship and State House of Assembly polls, respectively.
Those not on the INEC list may require that “Devine intervention” to “induce” candidates for the positions they aspired to, to withdraw or be replaced by the political parties, which shall submit the Nomination forms of the Presidential and National Assembly candidates on December 3, 2018, and the Governorship and State House of Assembly candidates on December 17, 2018.
Any aggrieved aspirants that missed this “golden opportunity” would have to wait till 2023. But for the candidates that “political providence” has smiled on, the “elections have started” even before INEC blows the whistle for campaigns on November 18 for the presidential and federal legislative contests, and December 1, 2018, for the governorship and state legislative polls.
As the countdown to 2019 continues, has the APC stopped the haemorrhaging from its primaries? This is doubtful, as President Muhammadu Buhari tried to pacify them at a dinner on Tuesday, October 30, where he urged members of the ‘APC Aspirants Forum’ to “keep faith with the party, as the future looks bright and promising.”
Days before that event, former Yobe State governor, Senator Bukar Ibrahim, opened another front in the unending squabbles that have dealt some body blows to the once promising “largest political party in Africa.”
Resurrecting the age-long political divide between the North-West and North-East, which most Nigerians erroneously label a monolithic “Core North,” he gleefully turned the knife in the APC gaping wounds, declaring that the party may not win, “even by rigging,” the “progressive” North-East, which, he said, voted in 2015 for the first time for a candidate of the “conservative” North-West.
Specifically, Ibrahim has beef with President Buhari for his alleged non-delivery on the promises that swept him into power, saying, “Simply put, things have not changed and many things are getting worse and the people are bitter. We should not assume that we can win even with massive rigging.”
Like one of the so-called “Abuja Politicians,” who launch, from a safe distance, “missiles” at their home governments, Ibrahim has always criticised the APC government from Abuja. He actually threw his latest barbs during the unveiling of his book, Poorlitics, in Abuja, to mark his 70th birthday.
He doesn’t seem much at loggerheads with his “political godson,” Governor Ibrahim Geidam, except when he proclaimed, “I’m going to be Senator for life,” which the governor challenged. Ibrahim has reportedly “surrendered” the position to Geidam for the 2019 elections.
Imagine if Yobe APC had serious problems with the primaries, and the senator began to throw his bombshell inside the state! The entire party structures would’ve gone to the opposition, where they seem headed, given Ibrahim’s reported “kowtowing” to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
It’s good the senator is firing from afar at the moment, which may not last. Indeed, he’s given the APC and Buhari’s government until the threshold of the 2019 elections, to make amends, or else…, “I still reserve the capacity to ask my people to go our separate ways and do what must be done for good governance to reign in Nigeria,” he warned.
But facing a backlash, Senator Ibrahim has recanted, vowing the APC would sweep the zone in 2019. The party and President Buhari should commend him for putting them on notice. He could have worked underground, and sprung his intentions on the party at the eleventh hour. His criticism is a wake-up call for the APC to quickly settle outstanding issues in the primaries.
* Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.