As 2019, another election year in Nigeria draws nearer, many politicians are covertly putting strategies in place to promote their chances, or that of their preferred candidates for various positions.
And despite the present physical indisposition of President Muhammadu Buhari, calls for him to run for a second tenure are already gathering momentum.
While some of his aides have openly held that the president will take a shot at another term of four years, his supporters in Makurdi recently took the call for his continuation a step further by flooding the Benue State capital with 2019 presidential campaign posters of Buhari.
Several Nigerians however are averse to another four-year term for President Buhari. With a plethora of reasons, they keep calling on the president to jettison calls to run for another tenure, and even tagged those calling on him to run again as his enemies.
Some Nigerians in fact, are even demanding that he resigns his present position in order to adequately face his health.
But taking a holistic view at some of these arguments, six major reasons keep popping up why President Buhari may not run in the 2019 presidential election:
1) Age: While many argue that 74 is not too old an age for one to be a president of a country, the president himself had while addressing Nigerians resident in South Africa in June last year after taking part in the 25th assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Johannesburg said, “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.”
Already, there is growing agitation among the dominant Nigerian for a paradigm shift in the age of those who are elected into certain offices, including that of governors and the president. And with the emergence of a 39-year old Emmanuel Macron as President of France, Nigerian youths may just decide never to throw their weight behind Buhari again in 2019.
Several members of Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) including Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna, as well as Senator Dino Melaye, have all reportedly called on Nigerians not to vote persons above certain ages come 2019.
While El-Rufai has denied any such comment, his counterpart Okorocha is yet to refute saying that nobody above 50 years can rule Imo state again.
2) Perceived insincerity: Applauded for his administration’s efforts so far in the war against corruption and insurgency in the North-East, the present administration is however accused of insincerity over the same issues.
A good number of Nigerians, according to a political analyst, now seem to take with a pinch of salt, news from the present administration even as a minister of the government has been nicknamed liar.
Many Nigerians were recently left aghast at how the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and spokespersons of President Buhari; Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina, took turns to tell them that President Buhari while on a medical vacation to London, was hale and hearty.
The president on his return confessed that he was seriously ill, and even had to undertake a blood transfusion.
Nigerians are also skeptical over the administration’s fight against corruption. While there have been several accusations that the war is targeted against members of the opposition, many queried the secrecy surrounding several million of raw cash in different currencies purportedly recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Also, there is a perception that government might not be telling the whole truth in the war against terrorist group Boko Haram. Claims of Abubakar Shekau being either killed or wounded on several occasions, have turned out to be false.
3) Failed promises: The many failed promises of the Buhari government have led to some christening All Progressives Congress party as “All Promises Cancelled.”
With the ‘Change’ of the APC, Nigerians had bought into the idea of seeing a country of their dream where there will be progressive change in employment, electricity supply and education among several others. In its campaign, the APC itemised what it termed one hundred day contract with Nigerians. In that contract the party listed what Nigerians should expect in the first one hundred days after inauguration.
However, soon after inauguration, the administration disclaimed some of those promises. The failure of Buhari’s government to name and shame Nigerians who looted and returned funds to the national treasury is also viewed as a failed promise by many Nigerians.
Nigerians also rued the day they voted APC, and Buhari when the pump price of fuel rose from N87 to N145.
as a chieftain, allegedly said that with Buhari as president that fuel will sell as low as N45 per litre.
4) Reccession: According to the Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, the current economic situation in Nigeria and its resultant hardship is worse than what was experienced during the civil war between 1967 and 1970.
The governor stated this during an interaction with reporters in Lagos sometime in July last year while giving reason his state has been unable to pay, up to date, salaries of its workers.
The governor had said, “Even the civil war was not as biting as what we are facing in Nigeria now. Because they did not declare economic state of emergency in Nigeria does not mean that Nigeria is not near to that.”
He however blamed the current hardship on the inability of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
But, Chukwuma Soludo, professor of economics and former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently noted, that “Buhari met a very bad situation when he assumed power, but he has made the situation worse. Nigeria today is a fragile state with a failing economy. Some say failing state; some say failed state.
“The economy is not just in recession; we are suffering from massive economic compression. Saying it is recession trivialises the issue. It will be a miracle if after eight years, by the time it leaves office in 2023, the current administration is able to return the economy in dollar terms to the exchange rate it met when it took over.”
5) Hunger: Despite all the efforts of President Buhari and his APC party to blame the present recession and its consequent strain on former President Jonathan’s administration and the ones before it, many Nigerians, especially the uninformed majority, seem to hold only one man responsible for the persisting hunger in the land and that man they reason is President Buhari.
This was evident at a recent Town Hall meeting put together by the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed. At the event, when it was time for questions and answers, some participants held on to the microphone, and called on ministers in the administration to stop their rethorics, and kept shouting that Nigerians are hungry.
In October 2016, northern elders in a gathering in Kaduna at the Northern Group’s Summit organised by the Northern Elders Forum told President Buhari to work harder at fixing the nation’s economy because there was hunger and starvation in the land.
A former secretary of the INEC, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of the northern elders said, “We will not join those who say President Buhari should stop reminding us of a past that is haunting us today. But we will join those who remind him daily that hunger is stalking millions of homes. Inflation is making life difficult by the day. People are losing their jobs. Businesses are closing down. Infrastructure is decaying. Young Nigerians are losing hope of being employed. Our hospitals are full of people who suffer mysterious illnesses, and they cannot afford the fees.”
Also in December 2016, when President Buhari presented 2017 budget to the National Assembly, Senate President Saraki had said, “Mr. President, the feedback we get from our visits to our constituencies is that there is hardship in the land. We can see it. We can feel it. This recession therefore commands all of us as government to greater essence of urgency.”
6) Health: While there could be several other reasons the president may not run in 2019, it is widely believed in many quarters that his failing health may play a major role in determining whether he goes for a second term in office, or whether Nigerians will be confident enough to freely give him their mandate, in 2019.
Since coming to office two years ago, the President has embarked on several medical trips abroad including seeking medical attention for ear infection outside the country.
Before embarking on his fellow-up medical trip to London on Sunday May 7, President Buhari spent 49 days in the United Kingdom for medical treatments.
His present stay in the UK for follow-up treatment according to the Presidency is indefinite. President Buhari will only return any time he is fit and upon the advice of his doctors abroad, his spokeman Adesina had told Nigerians in a statement announcing his trip back to London.
With the president’s health status, many of his supporters are worried if he would be able to shoulder the responsibility and strain associated with ruling a complex country like Nigeria for another four years. The failure of the government to disclose the nature of the president’s ailment has not helped matters.
It is also pertinent to note, that many die-hard supporters of Buhari are of the view, that he is still the right man to bring Nigeria out of the woods, and will dawn all arguments to stick with him, come rain or shine.
In all, the days ahead will tell what happens in the political history of President Buhari, who was overwhelmingly accepted in 2015, as the messiah who will right the wrongs in the leadership quagmire Nigeria has had to contend with for so long a time.
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