Nigeria: Can Buhari Survive The Raging Oppositions?
In Nigeria, oppositions are springing up at the tick of every second against the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari. Whether personal or not, coalition forces are not taking the fight to oust President Buhari at the country’s next general elections lightly, and what happens next is only a matter of time.
In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari was a beneficiary of a powerful coalition force under the platform of All Progressives Congress- the country’s main opposition party then- to oust President Goodluck Jonathan. But barely three years after, Buhari is facing a similar situation: raging forces of coalition parties.
Since the turn of 2018, the country has witnessed the plethora of open criticisms of the Buhari-led administration by those who had hitherto supported him, some of his die-hard fans inclusive.
Critics of his administration have often cited the inability of the government to rescue the country from the numerous challenges confronting it, despite his lofty campaign promises that formed his strength at the 2015 polls and which eventually brought him to power.
Erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and his counterpart, Ibrahim Babangida among other prominent Nigerians have at one point, or the other heavily lampooned his government, alleging he has performed woefully, three years after he rode to power.
Why the swelling oppositions against the President?
Many factors are fueling the rising oppositions against the President. On the one hand is the anger of some individuals who felt sidelined and marginalized by the government. In 2015, four parties merged to form the ruling APC. The parties included: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
President Buhari, until the merger, which went on to alter the country’s political history being the first time an incumbent President would lose out to the opposition in an election, was a member of ANPP- a platform where he contested for the presidency in 2003, 2007 but never tasted victory. Determined to win the nation’s highest political power, Buhari left ANPP in 2010 to join CPC where he contested the 2011 elections against Jonathan but lost again.
However, after APC’s victory, the crisis broke out in the party over-representation of interests of the different parties that formed the merger. Some members of the alliance alleged marginalization in political appointments. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who was once a member of the APC earlier accused the President of sidelining him after he helped facilitate his victory at the polls. Bola Tinubu, a prominent figure in the party, had also at one time, alleged of plans by some cabals in the Presidency to undermine his political relevance.
Analysts, therefore, observe that the current oppositions in the country are more of a personal course against Buhari. They contend those who are not pleased with the 2015 ‘marriage’ among the four parties are the ones spearheading the opposition against the president. Last week Wednesday, some aggrieved members of the ruling party pulled out to form a new bloc christened Reformed-APC.
Disclosing this during a press conference, a former CPC secretary, Buba Galadinma, stated that the new bloc, nPDP, and defunct CPC, ANPP and ACN are members of the new bloc.
“The Reformed All Progressive Congress, the national executive is constituted. We are assembled to address you on the state of our party, APC, the state of the nation and above all the constitutional democracy of Nigeria. I am here before you as the chairman of RAPC. You will recall that in the 2015 general election, some political parties came together to form a brand new political party called APC. This merger was based on the strong belief that Nigeria had come of age that it was severely underperforming and incapable to meet the potentials of good governance.
“The Nigerian people gave power to APC based on its promises and potentials. We are sad to inform that after more than three years of governance, our expectations (have been) completely dashed. The APC run a ruthless and incompetent government that has failed to deliver good governance to the people. It has rather imposed dictatorship, impunity, abuse of power, complete application of constitutional and statutory responsibilities, impunity in the rule of law and constitutionality. It has failed to ensure the security and welfare of Nigerian and elevated nepotism to secondary height,” Galadima had said during the press conference.
Barely some days after R-APC emerged, 38 opposition parties, under the name “Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP)” signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during a meeting at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja on Monday to work against Buhari at the 2019 elections. The parties include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Labour Party (LP), Progressives Peoples Alliance and African Democratic Congress (ADC).
“CUPP is determined to replace the present-day APC federal government with a new and acceptable national unity government in 2019,” a former foreign minister and member of the PDP, Tom Ikimi, said while reading the MoU.
Another factor fuelling oppositions against Buhari is the alleged failure of his administration by some Nigerians. President Buhari rode to power on a groundswell of massive goodwill from many Nigerians. The president’s seemingly impeccable character, then, was one of his major selling points at the polls. Many, rankled by alleged massive corruption that characterized the 16-year reign of the PDP, craved for an exchange of power baton from the party to another. And President Buhari was the ‘right’ candidate for the job, many concluded. Today, however, different factors have modified, if not altered that view.
Commenting on the issue, a Lagos-based public affairs analyst, Mr. Ambrose Igboke said the mounting oppositions against Buhari in the country is indicative that his government has failed many Nigerians.
“I have always said this right from the beginning of this year that APC will not survive as a single entity the way it has been till around August or September when primaries for next year’s elections will start in earnest. This is because there will be a lot of political realignments. APC as a party of is like a special purpose vehicle, a political party of different shades, opinions, and differences which came together to oust the then incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan,” he told CARACAL REPORTS in an exclusive interview on the telephone.
He continued: “When they got power, they didn’t know what to do with it. Therefore, it took Buhari about six months to set up a government. It took him almost three years to set up boards of parastatals and agencies. All these were done for political settlements. And so if the members across the party are not properly settled as they should, what do you expect them to do? They would be disgruntled. So the party realignment and pulling out and forming of the R-APC and all those things are just the disgruntlement of aggrieved politicians.
“Buhari has not done well; therefore, there is every tendency that those within the party are just following the vibes of the general public and knowing that if they still stick to that party, they’ll not succeed in getting their own political aspirations, they decided to part ways.
“In the economy, for instance, Buhari has not done well. Nigerians have lost more jobs than any other time in a very long while; there are lots more of drain-brain than in the last 20 years under the present administration; factories are shutting down. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) gave a wobbling statistics of how factories that have been closed down in the last three years and the poverty index of Nigeria has gone very far below what it used to be. So we have been getting a summersault of all types. Security has been woeful, where a president sits down and Nigerians are being massacred in droves… So what are we talking about? Buhari has been a monumental failure. And it took this long for people in power with him, who mobilized Nigerians to vote him, to realize this. And so because he was a failure, they said failure is a failure is an orphan, it doesn’t have any relative; therefore, they are now leaving him to his fate.”
Oppositions in whose interest?
One primary question in the minds of many Nigerians over the ongoing drama in the country’s political space is whether the formation of various coalition forces are against President is in the interest of many Nigerians. So far, the sole reason given by opposition forces for their move against Buhari has been the need to rescue Nigeria from the ‘alleged incompetency’ of the APC- government. But how accurate is their claim?
Political observers in the country contend that such move has no interest of Nigerians at heart, noting it was only for the personal aggrandizement of the politicians.
“The rising oppositions against Buhari are normal given the cases of the killings by herdsmen men among others, but they are not for the interest of Nigerians,” Mr. Wale Ajetunmobi, a top-notch journalist, based in Lagos said in an interview with CARACAL REPORTS.
In the same vein, Mr. Ambrose while chatting with Caracal Reports correspondent said: “Mark my words, it (the formation of coalition forces against the president) is not for the good of the ordinary Nigerians. It is just for political fabrication, political realignment to gain power for self. So when we realize to that extent that its politicians are doing their things, we would know that it is not for the betterment of Nigerians. That’s the angle am looking at it from.”
Can Buhari walk the tight-rope?
As it stands, the President faces a stern test ahead of the 2019 elections. Some have however argued that regardless of the oppositions, the President still has all it takes to tip the election his way.
“As it stands now, Buhari still remains the best candidate for the Presidency in Nigeria when you consider the political antecedents of those that are likely to contest the elections. He has the charisma to lead this country, regardless of the many challenges facing his administration” says Mr. Wale.
It has therefore been argued in some quarters that the President’s personality would be his selling point at the next polls. To this school of thought, except the ravaging killings in the country, Buhari has fared well and as such stands a chance of being at the corridors of power for the next four years.
Others, however, pointed the alleged nose-diving goodwill of the President, saying until something is done in this regard, he may lose out at the polls.
And there are reasons why they may be right.
Presently, Buhari’s major political strength for the forthcoming elections is in the North- the country’s most populated region- where he enjoys a huge fan base.
Rising calls for secession and alleged claims of marginalization in the South-East have made it difficult for the President to enjoy similar support from the region dominated by Igbos. In the South-South, except some parts of Edo, and some parts of the South-West region, the President’s strength is also minimal.
Analysts are therefore of the view that should the coalition forces produce a formidable candidate from the North who has a national appeal and can split Buhari’s votes in the North- his stronghold, the chances of the President winning at the next elections are low.
Speaking on this, Mr. Igbokwe said: “If they (coalition forces) get a credible northern candidate, who has a national appeal, then when is he going to get the votes from? The president is fast losing his goodwill. The President rode on a lot of goodwill in 2015, but they are all gone. Some of the die-hard fans of Buhari now are those who have benefited from his government in one way or the other or those whose arrogance and shame would not allow them to say anything otherwise, but in their hearts of heart, they don’t even believe in Buhari anymore.”
He added: “Buhari is making a mistake the same that Jonathan made in 2015. What did Jonathan do? Jonathan made sure that he alienated the political forces that brought him to power and then stuck to his appointees. The same thing is what Buhari is doing now. The people that brought him to power are not the ones advising him now. The only person left with him now is Tinubu. Tinubu used to hold the South-West, but as it stands now; he has lost his grips on the region. He is not in control of Ekiti and Ondo States. So it is partially Oyo, Ogun, Osun, and Lagos that Tinubu has supporters. So the political alignments are against the second term ambition of Buhari, and I pity APC because many of their supporters are smearing and gearing at this new formation. Some even call R-APC “Rat APC.” When the nPDP pulled out, the presidency made all the noise that these people are jokers, but today, they’re not looking like jokers. So Buhari should try to correct this, but I think it is too late because the president has shown beyond every reasonable doubt that his administration is not doing anything concerning the killer-herdsmen and that has gone to decimate the goodwill he has all over Nigeria,” he said.
The primary test for the oppositions
Ahead of the next general elections, whether the opposition forces can stick together to oust President Buhari remains to be seen. Analysts predict CUPP may be enmeshed in a clash of interests as regards who to fly at its flag-bearer at the polls, with many politicians in the country already declaring interest for the Presidential seat.
With oppositions springing up at the tick of every second in Nigeria, can Buhari absorb the pressure and prove his critics wrong at the next elections? Will the opposition forces remind the world of the 2015 experience? Time will tell.