Nigerians And The 2019 Question

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Nigerians And The 2019 Question – Umar Lukman

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As we approach the final laps to the 2019 elections, Nigerians are once again coming to terms with the electoral choices they have to make. From all indications, more than the elections in 2015, the coming 2019 elections promises to be far more complex in terms of which political individuals to vote for in specific cases and which party to choose in general.

This piece was written by Umar Lukman. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Unlike in the 2015 elections in which the choices were clear, Nigerians will be approaching the 2019 elections with a sense of cautious anger underlined by disappointment and disillusionment. Many Nigerians will be voting in 2019 with a sense of careful consideration not just to return a verdict on how the politicians they voted for in 2015 performed with the mandate given them, but more fundamentally to change the landscape of politics in Nigeria.

Let us begin the assessment with the ruling All Progressive Party. In 2015, the political status of candidate MuhammaduBuhari was the dominant factor in the elections. The irredeemably dismal performance of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party rankled Nigerians and gave impetus to give MuhammaduBuhari of the All Progressive Congress party the chance to rule the country. It would not have mattered much what name his party was called, Nigerians having decided on him against the incumbent President Jonathan were going for him. It also followed that with few insignificant exceptions all those who got elected into elective posts from State Houses of Assembly to Governors and the National Assembly under the APC platform rode on the Buhari bandwagon.

Two years on what really are the tangibles of that political development?

The APC has been all about President Buhari and very little else. In terms of direction of the government and the party, President Buharis shadow loos overwhelmingly large. True there has been attempts by the APCs National Assembly members to try in some instances to toe a different line from what President Buhari and the APC wanted. But that does not and cannot be construed to mean it constitutes either a direct leadership challenge against President Buharis control of the party or a tendency towards a deliberate breaking up of the party. Indeed it is observed that even in their act of “rebellion” against the party, the APCs National Assembly members were always at pains to explain and demonstrate with some conviction that their actions were merely in accordance with the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution and not necessarily as a direct challenge to party supremacy.

APCs reliance on President Buhari is a double edged sword. On the one hand his credibility and change agenda rubs off positively on the party giving it the shine it presently basks in. On the other hand as clear as can be seen, giving the Presidents seriously challenging health issues, can the APC run the risks of presenting him for re-election in 2019? Can the president withstand the rigours of 2019 electioneering and be fit enough to run through the challenges and demands of governance beyond 2019 if he wins the election? Are we assured that the president will not suffer another prolonged health relapse as happened twice within the past two years and in the remaining months of his first term? If he somehow manages to weather the health challenges and win the 2019 elections can we be assured that he won’t spend more time on the treatment bed than in effective governance for which Nigerians would have elected him to office?

Although as humans we must show sensitivity to the health challenges of the president, we must also show an even greater sensitivity to the health of the nation. Against the hindsight of what happened in a similar situation with late President Umaru Yar’adua the nation cannot afford a repeat of the constitutional and legal anxieties that occurred. In the overarching interest of the Nation it is expected that the APC should constitute a strong contingency in case this issue becomes urgent challenging.

Waiting in the wings is the People’s Democratic Party. Having been rejected in 2015 on the grounds of its incompetence and its derailment from the principles of internal democracy which saw many of its leading lights desert it in 2015 and which saw some of its rank and file members work against it in 2015, PDP had never been the same since. In its current state of hibernation inflicted by the defeat it suffered in 2015, the PDP has not offered anything to convince Nigerians to turn back to it as an alternative to the APC.  Having no selling points of its own either in terms of personalities with qualities to rally round, or programmes that could appeal to Nigerians disappointed by the APCs less than stellar performance, the PDPs only hope is to capitalize on whatever it sees as APC’s failures. But the party itself can hardly claim to be immune from internal problems. Yes it has managed to see off a tough potentially destructive internal infighting. But it is clear to discerning political observers that more trouble lie ahead for the PDP. How is it poised to cope with the challenge of managing the presidential ambitions of its northern would be candidates? Who will emerge and how will the process be managed so as not to leave behind dangerously wounded egosthat could potentially split the allegiances and loyalties of party faithful. But more fundamentally even if the PDP manages to emerge from all this without a serious body blow, how can they hope to convince the Nigerian people to forget the party’s ugly recent past which is still fresh in the memory?

The indications are clear that the stakes in the 2019 elections are quite high. A lot of political careers of political individuals stand to be either uplifted or rested. The two mainstream political parties, APC and PDP face serious challenges that could decide their fates.

For Nigerians, the choice is to look through political fog that will come with the 2019 elections. First of all the issue should not be about which party to vote for. If experiences and lessons of 2015 is anything to go by, Nigerians should not repeat the mistake of voting for a party wholesale. We have seen how individuals who hardly merited being elected in the first place opportunistically got elected on the bandwagon effect only to turn round regrettably to do something else against the interest of the people who voted them in. Secondly, Nigerians should also know that as in 2015, the power to change things politically lie in their hands. The change that Nigerians started in 2015 should continue and run its full course.

Lukman wrote this piece from Abuja.

This piece was written by Umar Lukman. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of



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