Hearty congratulations to Nigeria and Nigerians on the swearing in of our new democratically elected President and his Vice, Muhammadu Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo. This is a truly remarkable achievement in our young journey towards becoming a truly democratic nation. I join my voice with others and pray for divine wisdom, strength, harmony and deep resolve to stay the course for our leaders. I wish them success in their term of office and hope they deliver on their promises.
There are a few citizen awareness initiatives also springing up as a result of this transition to a new government, namely; the knowledge that Nigerians votes count in an election and that we can effect a change in government through the ballot box, the value of a qualitative opposition, the good work that the people at BudgIT etc do like the promotion of “The Office of the Citizen” ably driven and supported by Madam Oby Ezekwesili, the Buharimeter, #ActiveCitizen and various other citizen engagement hashtags on social media. All of these will be needed to stay the course for a better Nigeria.
Whilst it may be tempting for supporters of APC to want to take no prisoners as they bask in the victory of recent events, the Buhari administration will do well to realise that the presence of a qualitative opposition is beneficial to them and necessary for good governance but more importantly APC must avoid conflating public criticism as opposition criticism.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the PDP is well placed to be the main opposition party. They will need to get their acts together in double time. Whilst the new Buhari administration will enjoy a honeymoon period, such will not be available to the PDP. If care is not taken and swiftly too, the risk to PDP isn’t just haemorrhaging qualitative members, but its actual future as a political party may be at stake.
I supported Kowa in the general election. The main focus of the party now must be getting one of its members into elective office especially legislative ones. The party must contest vigorously any by-elections that come up in the future. The party can’t afford to still be a “mushroom” party by the next general election cycle. It has to have seats it is defending and must have delivered on its ideological promises in such seats. This will aid the wider public taking the party more seriously during the next general election. I believe our nation needs to see that unencumbered parties and candidates are viable options too.
I have to say that I am extremely surprised we still don’t have details of anyone that will be supporting our new President or be in his cabinet. Whilst I understand that the revelation and nomination for ministers may be delayed until after the 8th NASS is inaugurated on 9 June, shouldn’t positions that do not require legislative clearance have been made public? The APC has been aware for quite some time now that they will be forming a new government come May 29. So Presidential Aides such as the Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Principal Secretary and other special advisers, however few, should have been decided on well before now. The Presidency is a 24/7 job, who has been assisting the President since being sworn in? Surely it can’t just be Vice President Osinbajo? Is it acceptable that members of the campaign organisation have just carried on as if they’ve retained campaign positions? Is Amaechi de facto Chief of Staff with him being DG of Buhari’s campaign? Was that why he was at Eagle Square rather than Rivers State where he should have been handing over to Gov Wike? Or is horse trading still going on even this late straddling into the new dispensation?
This doesn’t look well on the APC in my opinion and makes me wonder how much of a party man the new President is going to be. One of PDP’s undoing is not separating the party from the state. It has to be extremely challenging for a holder of elective office to comply with the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office whilst simultaneously being a principal officer of his party as PDP are wont to do. The obvious conflict of interest being the office holder isn’t just the Governor or President of his party members but of all resident of state or all Nigerians. I imagine that APC is aware of this conflicting structure (at least should be from its current members that were previously in PDP) and will be doing its best to avoid making such basic governance mistakes. So if APC separates party from State, it risks there being ideological divergences between it and the President. How will it handle it? How will it handle the President belonging to nobody?
APC ran a very effective presidential campaign. They clearly had a strategic and forward looking plan that ultimately culminated into victory. If the theory that APC will be looking to separate party from state holds, then it stands to reason or at least speculation that it will already be planning for 2019.
Premature to be already thinking of 2019 with the new administration yet to properly take off? not really if one considers the age of the new president, the obvious toll the presidency will have on him physically and the scale of task ahead of him. Even in better developed countries such as the US, UK etc, the top job takes obvious physical toll on the leaders. More relevant is Nelson Mandela as he was similar in age (76 to Buhari’s 72) when he became president of South Africa and he only served one term in office.
Away from President Buhari and in keeping with separation of party from state, APC will possibly be considering likely candidates to present in place of Buhari in 2019. With the president having only served one term in office, it is likely candidates considered will be Northern. I imagine that Governors Tambuwal and El Rufai will be early front runners. Both have positives going for them e.g. Gov El Rufai has proven he can deliver good governance in an executive office whilst Gov Tambuwal has proven he can work well with others in his stint as Speaker. What both need to do between now and 2019 is prove they’ve got the positives the competition has. By this I mean Gov El Rufai’s successful stint in executive office as FCT Minister didn’t require that he needed to work well with a state legislature whilst being a good speaker and leader of legislators doesn’t confirm Gov Tambuwal will be a good executive.
In proving their mettle, this will hopefully raise the governance barrier, be a marker for other governors and as just reward in getting the party’s presidential ticket. Anything that forces governance barrier to be raised is good for Nigeria as a whole as the opposition parties will need to match this if they hope to be successful in any electoral contest.