The anti-Buhari alliance formed to stop President Muhammadu Buhari has five main hurdles to cross to accomplish its goals, checks by SAHEL STANDARD have revealed.
The hurdles include: fielding a common presidential candidate, breaking Buhari’s holds on the core north, overcoming agitation for change of name, the race against time and single term presidency.
Common Presidential candidate
The alliance, faced with an array of presidential hopefuls numbering close to 30, has to devise a strategy to screen and reduce numbers of aspirants before finally adopting a consensus candidate.
Many analysts are unsure how the alliance can achieve that feat as top contenders are already in the field. Many of such aspirants regard 2019 as their last chance due to age question and the zoning of presidency.
While Atiku Abubakar appears to be the most prepared, the coming of Rabiu Kwankwaso and Aminu Tambuwal may complicate calculations.
This is more so as the alliance may have to resolve whether the candidate must come for the North East or from the North West.
Will Kwankwaso step down for Abubakar or vice versa? Will SDP push for new blood like Gbenga Olawepo? Will the Senate President step in as the race hot up?
Many analysts are also worried that the alliance may not be able to achieve all this without a sort of primary election.
Even if the number is trimmed down to two or three, there must be a mechanism to select an eventual flag bearer. How can that be done when the alliance is not a single united organization?
Buhari’s hold on core North
Ever since he throws his hat into presidential politics, Muhammadu Buhari has had a sort of cult-like followership across core north spanning, North West and parts of North East. His popularity appears tied to his perceived politics of the poor and the ‘talakawas’, which led to masses of northerners seeing him as their leader.
That image gave him millions of votes even when PDP was in charge of the government. That image propped him up to win in 2015. By then, Asiwaju Tinubu and others were looking for an aspirant who can deliver bulk votes of the core north. It was at that point the Lagos caucus and others settled for Buhari.
While questions are being raised whether Buhari still controls the core north, the real hurdle for the alliance is to discover a candidate who can break Buhari’s hold on the North.
Such candidate must have ‘street credibility’ and must be charismatic enough to throw millions of northern talakawa voters into ecstasy during campaigns.
Who among PDP aspirants has that personality? Is it Kwankawso or Abubakar?
The above is imperative for one major reason – winning the presidency demands two criteria. First is having majority votes and second is securing 25 percent of votes in two third of the 36 states.
Any candidate who can sweep votes of the core north may have little challenge winning 25 percent across the two third of the 36 states.
Change of name
The leadership of PDP has insisted there will be no change of name because of time factor. The reality that the party remains the biggest opposition party strengthens that position. As right as that position is, agitation for such change of names continues to be a key demand of some power caucus in the country.
Olusegun Obasanjo had requested such change as a condition. If that is done, the Otta farmer had pledged to be part of the new grand coalition.
While Obasanjo may not be a politician of the street, his influential network can do a lot to swing direction during presidential polls. Any alliance formed that excluded Obasanjo may have also omitted an important arm of the military political elite.
Having only Ibrahim Babangida in and Obasanjo out may still be a bad plot in the scheme to oust Buhari next year.
But changing name now is almost impossible.
Race against time
The alliance has little or no time to perfect her plot. In the next two months, the electoral body will issue details of agenda for 2019 polls. The anti-Buhari coalition thus has limited time to sort out internal differences.
As at now, the APC already has her presidential candidate in person of the President seeking re-election. The alliance now has to do double run to select a consensus candidate, unite structures and integrate multiple interests.
That seems a tough task, which alliance leaders have set themselves to overcome.
Winning confidence of Nigerians
A critical area is the time needed to win confidence of Nigerians. Alliance leaders appear to be part of the failings and successes of the Nigerian state.
Most voters are finding it hard to differentiate among politicians across the parties. The alliance leaders then have huge task of showing how they are different from the incumbent.
A voter at Gwarinpa in Abuja asked pertinently when the alliance was announced: “Are they not the same people that said Buhari is good?”
Alliance candidate for single term?
A question nobody is asking is sure to be a trouble for the alliance. Any candidate presented by the alliance from the north must be ready to serve only a term so that president can move to the South based on the unofficial two term rotational plans.
The APC caucus is dangling the carrot of presidency going South after Buhari. South Easterners have such hope of securing ticket after Buhari.
South West has equal thinking with Asiwaju Tinubu as a candidate. The hint of presidency moving south is a strong ploy many South Easterners are drumming loud and clear.
Has the alliance told her presidential hopefuls that they are expected to serve only one term? Will Abubakar,Kwankwaso, Tambuwal,others agree to a single term in the spirit of rotation?
Many observers are however of the view that alliance leaders can overcome any challenges especially if they all see a Buhari second coming a real threat to their survival.
As an opposition leader put it. “We are ready to make all necessary sacrifice. It is no longer about personal interest; it is about our collective survival. We will sort ourselves out and flush the man out next year”.
The next few months will show who is smarter-the Buhari presidency or the opposition alliance?