The familiar political storm clouds that presage a major political crisis in Nigeria are gathering.
As President Buhari’s mandatory two term tenure winds down the signs are clear that we are nowhere near the resolution of the existential challenges that we expected him to tackle when we first elected him to office in 2015. Indeed since his coming, some of the issues he met have not only increased manifold, new challenges resulting from his administration’s acts of commission and omission have joined pre-existing ones to assume even more dangerous dimensions all adding to an uncertain future for Nigeria.
Politically, economically and socially the country istottering inexorably to the brink. By whatever contrivance, this cannot be covered up as some have sought to do, nor ignored as they are borne out by objective factors on ground.
The polity is in disarray. The clearest indicator of this is in the abysmal state of the two major political parties; the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and President Buhari’s ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Both parties are riven with deep, irreconcilable and irredeemable issues of similar constructthat could only lead sooner or later to their implosion. It is all about the egos, greed and lust for personal power and above all the incapacity of the political elite to develop and sustain the noble ethos that would guide the conduct of politics in pursuit of the national interest.
Since losing the 2015 election the PDP having found it strange and difficult being in the opposition has gradually lost its relevance as an effective political alternative to the ruling APC. It is no longer the cohesive political party that held sway over the country for sixteen years following the return of the civilian democratic dispensation in 1999. The PDP is now prisoner to the power play of its powerful and influential figures in their bid to subject the party to their electoral ambitions in the 2023 elections. In this regard very few Nigerians including PDP members themselves expect the party to be intact in the coming months.
The ruling APC will also suffer the same fate sooner or later.
The APC’s greatest challenge at the moment is how to manage the succession to President Muhammadu Buhari in the run up to 2023. All these years since coming to power in 2015, neither President Buhari nor the party has been able plan a succession plan for the party once the president serves out his mandatory eight years tenure. There has been the assumption and talk that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who played a major role in bringing President Buhari to power in 2015 will succeed the president, but there are a good many grandees of the APC who are not only indifferent to that, they are ready and willing to work to scuttle it. And the APC will
Let us not be mealy-mouthed about all this; the address post to which all the anxiety and uncertainty now pervading the nation should be directed is none other than President Buhari. In 2015 when this country was in dire straits and we had gotten fed up with the PDP administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the political elite around him, it was to Muhammadu Buhari we turned to salvage the situation. We did so because we needed a new lease of life and we thought he will oblige us because of his antecedents as a former military ruler. And we were willing to go to the ends of the earth to support him in this endeavour.
To say that President Buhari has betrayed Nigerians and Nigeria on this expectation is to put it mildly.
His failure to reform and reposition the APC to play the role of the new political platform that will institute the needed ennobling ethos for Nigerian politics has robbed the country of the opportunity to lay the foundation for a solid political future. We would not be in much of the political tenterhooks that we are now in if he had done that.
Under President Buhari’s watch the economy has gone south with hyper-inflation, plummeting purchasing power and mass unemployment for a country and economy whose productive capacity is still under-utilized.
The social situation in the country is supercharged with an ever widening socio-economic gap between a tiny elite and a vast majority of poor people. Objective studies attribute the rising incidence of insecurity and crimes in the land to this very factor as those increasingly left behind in the access and distribution of national resources seek self-help in their bid to remedy their desperate situation.
Let Nigerians not be deceived or lulled into a false sense of expectation and belief that our political elite can resolve these hydra headed contradictions. They have failed to manage their political parties and the polity; they have failed to manage the resources at their disposal to make life meaningful for the people; they have failed to provide the necessary leadership to position Nigeria where it should be in the comity of nations.
All these failures will come to a head in 2023 and will shake Nigeria to its very foundation. Because the political elite have not provided the leadership to build enduring institutions that could withstand the periodic crises that states like ours face we are likely to go into a prolonged political upheaval and the search for solutions will task all of our political will. Let us not deceive ourselves; 2023 will be a political smash and grab and the weakened institutions in the country will be inevitably sucked in to the ensuing maelstrom.
As we now have but a tiny window left to head off the inevitable political headwinds we need to begin the search for new leadership in earnest. The search for this leadership should be wide enough and we will need to train, orient and equip the new leadership to specifically anticipate and cope with the expected political crises heading our way.
President Buhari should lead the way in this endeavour. This is both a national emergency and a matter of urgent necessity which requires a non-partisan approach. And it will not be the first time that we invoked this in our political odyssey. The president and top political elites in the country should come together and take a collective decision in their enlightened self-interest and in the overriding interest of the country and forego their political ambitions. It is their unbridled ambitions and lack of political statesmanship that is at root of the current political uncertainty in the country. They should instead agree to support and nurture the new leadership into the future.
President Buhari cannot afford to abdicate this historic responsibility. He should not entertain the thought that he will adopt the usual indifferent posture about the political situation in the country. Nigerians will not allow him finish his tenure without resolving some of the mess that has piled under his watch. A preponderant part of his life on this earth was spent in continuous service to this country. He cannot now walk away from it leaving us to our own devices when he asked us to invest hope on him which we did. He must take vicarious responsibility. It is not a matter of choice or his whim. It is both for his sake and that of the country.
Was he not the one who once said that Nigerians have no other place and that we must all stay here and salvage it together?
Well this is the time to walk that talk with him leading the way.
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