Nigeria: As the APC Presidential Candidate Walks Into a Difficult Conundrum

Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Segun James take a look at a possible agenda for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.

By the time you read this, the presidential primary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would have been over and the candidate known. Many pundits, having weighed all the factors critically zeroed the race down to a straight fight between the National Leader of the party, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.A tested political tactician, Tinubu was the first aspirant to take the lid off the can when he formally told President Muhammadu Buhari he wants to succeed him. From then on, he has hugged the spotlight in the media. Osinbajo, on the other hand, tip-toed for a long and kept people guessing about his presidential ambition for a long while, until he finally found the courage to come out in the open. Tinubu went straight for the prize like the fabled Lion of Bourdillon that he is, while Osinbajo kept his intention alive through surrogates.

The race for the ticket has been steeped in multiple controversies and rancour; expectedly so for a contest where the stakes are high. With the party having zoned the presidential ticket to the South, it became clear that the South-west would clinch it as the party had little presence in the South-east and the South-south. And that’s where the crisis began. Of the six South-west states, it is only in Oyo State that the APC flag is not flying in its Government House. In the South-south, Governor Ben Ayade will face his major test this election season, to see if he is a general without troops in the APC. The South-east has two states-Imo and Ebonyi, but it can be argued that APC is not firmly planted either in those two states or the rest of the three states of the South-east.There an APC presidential aspirant from the South-west is likely to command a lot of goodwill. This attractive prospect naturally attracted a good number of aspirants from the South-west into the APC presidential race. Struggling for the APC presidential ticket also were Senator Ajayi Borofice, Governor Kayode Fayemi, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Pastor Tunde Bakare and Mr. Dimeji Bankole. Party stalwarts and elders from the region tried to no avail to go the APC presidential contest with one aspirant. Different meetings convened for this purpose ended in a deadlock.With such a hardliner stance, the APC presidential candidate must begin the process of reconciliation immediately from his region. Everyone of the failed aspirant must be given a sense of belonging and properly accommodated in the scheme of things. How well he succeeds in this task will inform how the rest of the country accepts to work with him.

After nearly eight years at the helm of affairs of Africa’s biggest economy, President Muhammadu Buhari would be handing over a country which is rife in political turmoil and economic crisis. One of the major criticisms of the Buhari-led administration is that he lacked a good economic team. And since this is not one of the president’s strong point as an individual, the country’s has barely remained afloat, bouyed by a rash experimental policies which were not sustainable. The APC presidential candidate must change this outlook. Tinubu has shown capacity by building the economy of Lagos State into the biggest metropolitan area in Africa and has made a name for itself as a tech hub rapidly advancing towards a 24-hour economy, generating 10% of Nigeria’s total GDP of $432.3 billion.No one can take this credit away from Tinubu.

The recent past has brought a steady infusion of grim news about the polity much of it caused by the actions and inactions the president, the presidency or those close to it or from the leadership of the party itself. The overriding sentiment in the country is that the APC government at the centre has failed. Therefore, Nigerians expect nothing short of magic from Tinubu, if he goes ahead to win in the general election.

The primaries today provides a welcome opportunity to take stock of where the it stands in meeting the challenges facing country. And there can be no question that among them is insecurity, the economy, the polity and reconciliation among the people. A situation that has pitted the ethnic nationalities against each other.

Over the last seven years, the nation has been faced by two major challenges in relation to each other – ethnicity and religion. Within the APC, this issue has pitted the people against each other. The APC presidential candidate needs to see beyond his ethnic or tribal nationality and there’s the need to see beyond religious sentiment too.

For both Osinbajo and Tinubu, they will need to tread carefully along these delicate line. In the last few years this has been the main issues that has caused problems among the peoples of the country.Unfortunately, allowing himself to be led into a political war against the man who brought him into public reckoning may have a gulf too wide to jump over for Osinbajo. What is left between both men now is public show of courtesy, other there is no longer any love lost between them.

The controversies that beset politics within the APC today extends even beyond the most basic activities, such as party programmes, speeches and condemnation of people on the opposite sides of the political divide. It is basically ethnic and religious, a situation which has given way to insurgencies.

What was once the preserve of the savvy and a handful of statesmen has given way to incessant and acrimonious face off.

For most of the 2000s and the 2010s, it seemed almost inevitable that the nation would become more integrated and borders between the people less bothersome. There was the dream that the coming of the 4th Republic will represent the yearnings of the people. That was the situation until the coming of President Buhari in 2015. Reality has never been more nuanced.

Nigeria’s political problems has been difficult; and the problem? Bad policies, and it is not about to go away anytime soon. With leaders of the party and government yet to discuss what they would do about it as the race for the presidency becomes very rancorous, they do not seem to realize that now is the time to act, not talk.

For many years, Nigeria had been seen as a land of opportunity, economically and politically. Its teeming population a potential for growth. But this goodwill has been fritered away in the last few years. This is another agenda for the candidate of the party who has the chance to become the next president.

Many pundits have predicted that the race to become the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be especially nasty one, fraught with tribal and religious discord.

Today the leading aspirants out of the 23 aspirants who previously indicated their desire to run for the office are Senator Bola Tinubu and Professor Yemi Osinbajo as others seemed to have withdrawn from the race.

The likelihood of Tinubu flying the APC presidential flag against Alhaji Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is imminent with the number of aspirants who stepped down for him. Abubakar squaring up against Tinubu will be an interesting political fight. Both men have nationwide name recognition and reach. They have the war chest to go all out and enjoy a lot of goodwill across the country. Will this be Abubakar’s last presidential election? Can Tinubu do what vastly endowed Yoruba patriarchs like Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Moshood Abiola could not? Can Tinubu win on his own steam? Will the North support the APC and therefore, the APC presidential candidate against their own man Abubakar?

QUOTE

The recent past has brought a steady infusion of grim news about the polity much of it caused by the actions and inactions the president, the presidency or those close to it or from the leadership of the party itself. The overriding sentiment in the country is that the APC government at the centre has failed. Therefore, Nigerians expect nothing short of magic from Tinubu, if he goes ahead to win in the general election

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