Why APC Presidential Candidate Must Be an Authentic Opposition Leader By Okoi Obono-Obla
The Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the forthcoming National Convention of the Party, must be an uncompromising, passionate, tested, genuine and authentic opposition figure that has contributed substantially to the development, flourish and entrenchment of democracy in the country over the years.
The Party cannot afford to nominate opportunistic oppositional figures that have made political harlotry a virtue and an ugly spectre of Nigerian politics.
Undeniably, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and General Muhammadu Buhari are genuine and authentic opposition figures in the country. If not for these two, the PDP would have foisted a one party dictatorship in the Country.
It is an undisputable fact that Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State stoutly and resolutely stood against the tyranny and oppression of then President Obasanjo in the South West Region of Nigeria.
He survived in 2003 General Election as the only Governor elected in the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 after President Obasanjo employed money, guile, electoral roguery and intimidation to send all other Governors elected in 1999 under the Alliance for Democracy, packing.
Tinubu left a compromised and weakened Alliance for Democracy to form the Action Congress (AC) in 2007 that routed the PDP in the South West Region in 2007 General Election to take over the Region from the grip of PDP.
In 2013, Bola Tinubu was in the forefront of the merger of three opposition Political Parties and factions of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC) and make history as the first merger of opposition political parties in the political history of Nigeria. Regrettably the APC has zoned its Presidential Candidate to the North so Tinubu is ruled out but certainly he would have a leading role to play in the post PDP era in the Country.
General Muhammadu Buhari entered politics in 2003 in the platform of the defunct ANPP. He contested the Presidential Election in 2003. He later challenged the result of the election in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and fought resolutely and valiantly up to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
General Buhari contested the 2007 Presidential Election. The election was fundamentally flawed and heavily rigged by the outgoing Obasanjo Presidency in a desperate bid to impose a sickly late President Umaru Yar’adua in the country.
After the election, an apparently embarrassed President Yar’adua was compelled to swallow his presidential pride to admit that the election was not free and fair. He thereafter constituted a Presidential Commission on Electoral Reforms under the Chairmanship of Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais (former Chief Justice of Nigeria). A halfhearted implementation of the Uwais led Reform Commission white paper made room for a fairly better election in 2011.
General Muhammadu Buhari contested the Presidential Election in 2011 and his Party (CPC) challenged the result from the Election Tribunal to the Supreme Court. It goes without saying that Buhari has contributed substantial and fundamentally to the development of the country‘s electoral jurisprudence than any other politician in the history of the country (save maybe the revered late Chief Obafemi Awolowo).
Undisputedly, General Buhari has substantially contributed to the survival and deepening of opposition politics and democracy in the country by teaming up with Tinubu and other opposition leaders to form the APC in 2013.
The Commission in its Report made far reaching recommendations for a comprehensive reform of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Electoral Law.
Atiku was in the PDP. He was a very influential figure in PDP. He was the Vice President of the country. As Vice President he had enormous powers, clout and influence. He was given vital role by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to formulate the policy thrust of the Obasanjo Presidency.
He was the Chairman of National Privatization Council that supervised and superintended the eventually blundered privatization policy of the administration that became a byword for cronyism, corruption and graft.
Atiku Abubakar’s vaulting ambition led him into a collision course with President Obasanjo. Obasanjo side lined him and even made a spirited effort to dismiss him as Vice President when Atiku abandoned the PDP and starting romancing with the opposition.
Atiku fought back and caused the Supreme Court to rule that under the Nigerian Constitution a President has no power to remove a Vice President.
Atiku finally resigned from the PDP and contested the 2007 Presidential Election under the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria. In the election he unexpectedly scored a distant third in the presidential race.
He failed woefully and spectacularly to re-enact his reputed political craftsmanship and shrewdness in the election as he performed poorly in his ‘catchment area’ – the 19 Northern States.
In 2010 there was a spirited effort by opposition leaders in the Country to come under one platform to save the country from the corruption, floundered economy, bad governance and dictatorship unleashed on it by the PDP.
The opposition leaders that masterminded the movement were Bola Tinubu, General Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, and Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa. Series of meetings were held to discuss the possibility of the opposition coming together to form a national mega opposition party that would be an alternative to the PDP. However, Atiku Abubakar chickened out in the last moment. He returned to the PDP to seek a failed nomination under the platform of the Party that left him badly bruised politically and demystified him as a political strategist.
Atiku Abubakar opportunistically jumped camp from the PDP for the second time since 1999 and joined the APC after its formation early this year. He is presently one of the aspirants for the Presidential Nomination but he is surely does not fit in my permutation of a genuine and authentic opposition leader that should be given the Presidential Ticket of APC.
Atiku does not have what it takes to defeat President Jonathan. He does not have a strong support base. He even lost Adamawa (his own State) in the PDP Presidential Primary Election to President Jonathan in 2010.
Another aspirant in the APC Presidential Ticket that does not in my view fit the bill of a genuine and authentic opposition leader that should have the nomination of the Presidential Ticket of the APC is Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
He came to national limelight in 1992 when he was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the botched political transition programme of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Governor Kwankwaso is a founding member of the PDP. He became Governor of Kano State in 1999 and was one of the Governors that introduced the controversial Criminal sharia law in the country after the return of democratic civil rule. He is widely regarded as a protégé of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who would do nothing to hurt Obasanjo. After he lost the 2003 General Election to become a second term Governor of Kano State, President Obasanjo appointed Kwankwaso Minister of Defence from 2003 – 2007.
Again, in 2007, Kwankwaso was appointed by the then President Umaru Musa Yaradua as a member of the governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to represent the interest of the North West Geo-Political Zone. So Kwankwaso is a dyed-in-the-wood political conservative that had enjoyed political patronage of the PDP now masquerading as a progressive after he joined the APC early this year.
A President Kwankwaso would surely turn a blind eye to the controversial investment of a whopping $16 billion investment towards the resuscitation of the comatose power sector by president Obasanjo in 2005 – 2007 that went awry because of graft and corruption.
In 2003 General Election, Kwankwaso lost his re-election bid when he was trounced by Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of the defunct ANPP.
Political pundits are of the view that Governor Kwankwaso lost to an obscure Malam Shekarau in 2003 because of the enormous and tremendous political goodwill and support General Buhari enjoys in Kano State.
Gen. Buhari has consistently won Presidential Elections overwhelming in Kano State. In the 2011 he score 2, 193, 206 votes (82.04%). Gen. Buhari won Kano State in 2003 and 2007 General Elections with wide margins.
It is widely believed that in the 2011 Governor Kwankwaso won the governorship race in the State because he cleverly urged the people of Kano State to vote for Gen. Buhari in the Presidential Election.
Undoubtedly Governor Kwankwaso does not have the infectious follower ship Gen. Buhari commands in the North. So the support base of Governor Kwankwaso in the North is suspect and if he is picked as the presidential candidate of the APC, a President Jonathan with a huge war chest of slush funds obtained from ‘business people’ and individuals that enjoy the patronage of corruption and graft infested Federal Government coupled with the support of the Police, Security Service and the Army would make a mincemeat of him.
In the light of the above, the likes of Atiku and Kwankwaso should humbly step down for Gen. Buhari (who with Bola Asiwaju Tinubu are the grand masters of opposition politics in Nigeria today) in the forthcoming Presidential Primary Election of the APC. Kwankwaso and Atiku are younger than Gen., Buhari. Let them wait until 2019 when Gen. Buhari would have bowed out of politics after cleaning and rejuvenating the country for a younger person.
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