ANALYSIS: 2019: When Buhari ruffles political water

That Mr. President declared to seek re-election is not the news. He has constitutional rights to so act. What is newsworthy is the rumbling the act will generate within the ruling party, within the general political class and among the President’s military colleagues.

Within the party, key political caucuses must be meeting by now, to fashion out appropriate response to the declaration. The National Assembly chairperson and Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his caucus must now decide on the way forward.

Within the many rumours is the cloudy question of whether the Senate President will dare the President and throw his hat into the ring or he will quit the party to rejoin the Peoples Democratic Party.

There is also the question of whether the number three Citizen will collaborate with the President to get him re-elected.

The third option many described as unlikely even though those close to the Ilorin political mafia said collaboration after mutually beneficial bargaining may not be off the table.

There are also those who strongly feel the Senate President is too smart to trust the Buhari caucus considering his experience since assuming the Senate Presidency.

Nothing is clear yet even though a source just boasted that Saraki would quit the APC and rejoin the PDP to return to the Senate as Senate President. His real target those sources said was to seek the Presidency after 2023.

Still within the party, the biggest headache is the former Defence Minister, Rabiu Kwankwaso. Known to be hell-bent on running next year, the Senator has not hidden his bid for the top job and a network of structures has emerged working for the actualization of the project.

Now that the President has declared his intention, the former Kano Governor must decide whether to confront his old boss on another platform or stay back within the APC.

If he stays back, then he must have decided to settle his rift with Governor Ganduje, his estranged former colleague. May be a mutually beneficial deal might be struck so that Ganduje returns for second term and Kwankwaso returns to the senate in 2019.

Yet there is another option. What if PDP offers Kwankwaso a platform? What if Kwankwaso run on another platform outside PDP and APC?

A bigger issue is the likely confrontation within the club of ex-military leaders. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida had openly advised the President not to seek re-election.

Now that he has rejected the advice, a stage is set for a likely showdown. When Obasanjo opposed former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, the Ijaw politician was voted out of office. Will the same fate befall Buhari?

Opinions are divided. Buhari is not a Jonathan. Two, forces around Buhari appears more brutal in wielding state power. Three, there is a strong ethnic geopolitics in the power struggle.

Will Buhari round up the ex-president and put them on trial? Will Buhari deploy state power to curtail the influences of the ex-Generals? Is there possibility of such tactics backfiring considering that PDP is likely to pick a candidate from the North West zone?

Beyond the many questions, the political water itself is murky. The President’s men remain undaunted that the President remains popular. Opposition hysterically punctures such claims.

The citizens are sharply divided too. From the fanatical loyalists of the North down to the angry Southerners, the contest is billed to be a battle royale.

All may however depend on whom the PDP presents as its Presidential hopeful. This is also linked with how the process is managed. Closely linked is what may finally happen to the so-called third force. Whichever way, the incumbent must be ready for a tough contest.

Overall, Nigeria is set to enter rough political water. It is going to be full of surprises.


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