The much expected 2019 presidential election is fast approaching and as expected, political parties and their candidates are doing everything to ensure victory and upset one another.
As with the traditional Nigerian politics and elections, the 2019 presidential is a two-way horse race squarely between the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Permutations have been going on among political analysts, with many predicting victory for either of the two based on what are considered strongholds for both parties and candidates in the different geo-political zones of the country.
While the historic nature of the strongholds and their voting pattern may hold some water, at least going by previous elections in the country, current happenings and actions of leaders of the Southeast zone may just change the permutations.
Already, there are tell-tale signs that the south-east which is considered a stronghold of the PDP, may do a volte face, as far as the presidential elections are concerned.
The bad blood generated among the governors and leaders of the zone over the choice of former Governor Peter Obi by Atiku showed the first sign that all may not be well with PDP in the coming presidential election in the zone.
The PDP candidate was accused of betraying an agreement he had with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to have the choice of first refusal for the VP slot. He was also accused of not carrying the leadership of the party in the zone along in choosing his running mate.
This led to insinuation that Ekweremadu, the highest ranking government official from the zone, was on his way out of the party. He however denied leaving PDP but has curiously stayed aloof in the current build up to the forthcoming presidential election.
Events following this has left many doubting his commitment and that of the governors to the election of Atiku.
Governors’ visit to Buhari
The visit of Ekweremadu and governors of the Southeast zone to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, sent confusing signals to many, especially supporters of the PDP and Atiku.
The timing of the visit and the utterances of the visitors suggest a veiled endorsement of the president for a second term in office.
The visitors, led by Ekweremadu, praised the president for the projects he is doing and has promised to do in the zone, begging him to ensure their completion few months to the expiration of his current term and less than three months to another election!
The projects, which are major ones, included the multibillion naira Second Niger Bridge and the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
It remains to be seen how the president will complete these projects if he does not secure a second term in office.
Governors’ absence at Atiku’s birthday
The absence of Ekweremadu and all the governors elected on the platform of the PDP at the 72nd birthday celebration and installation of Atiku as the Wazirin Adamawa is another indication that they are not on the same page with the PDP candidate.
The event, held in Yola, was seen by many as a major political event and one to help boost the standing of the former vice-president for the nation’s top office. It attracted many from different parts of the country, including former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. But curiously, Ekweremadu and the Southeast governors stayed away without any cogent reason given.
Atiku’s policy document
The Atiku Plan, a policy document launched recently by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as his plan of action in office, has also raised dust, questioning the sincerity of Atiku to spend just one term of four years in office as he pledged.
Curiously, the Atiku Plan has a six-year gestation period, which is fours years of the first term and two years into a second term.
This has raised fears that the PDP candidate, if he wins, may renege on his pledge to spend just one term in office to allow power to go to the Southeast. Vehement agitators for power to go to the Southeast for the first time, have pointed this out as one reason the zone should look the way of Buhari.
The APC, content in drawing political dividends from this, has consistently said the Southeast is better off with Buhari’s reelection to be able to produce the country’s president in 2023, when Buhari’s second and final term ends.
Ugwuanyi’s open display of support for Buhari
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is currently in Poland with President Muhammadu Buhari as part of an entourage to the climate change conference in that country.
Though it is not out of the ordinary for a governor traveling with the president on a foreign trip, as that is customary, but a disturbing picture tweeted by the President’s aide on social media, Lauretta Onochie, showed Ugwuanyi adorning Buhari’s second term badge, which speaks volumes.
Onochie, who would not be caught napping with such an opportunity for political dividend, tweeted the picture, marking it to make it conspicuous, leaving her followers to make their conclusions, which may not be lost on anybody!
Gov Umahi’s love for Buhari
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has always professed his love and admiration for President Buhari and has remained unapologetic about it.
Umahi, who many had thought would defect to the ruling APC before now, was the most vociferous antagonist of Obi as Atiku’s running mate, accusing the PDP candidate of marginalising his state in his choice of VP.
Except something gives, Umahi may surely queue behind Buhari for his second term ambition.
Gov Obiano’s fight with Obi
The Anambra State governor, Willy Obiano, though elected on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is also, for obvious reasons going to likely support President Buhari.
His party has a relatively unknown presidential candidate that does not, both on paper and in reality, stand any chance of making a positive impact in the 2019 elections. So supporting such will amount to a waste of time and resources.
Also the current bad blood between himself and his benefactor, former Governor Obi may have completely ruled out a brotherly support for Atiku and the PDP, though his party has always traditionally supported PDP for presidential elections.
Governor Ikpeazu commends Buhari’s fight against corruption
Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu has once express gratitude and appreciation of the seriousness of President Buhari in fighting corruption and affirming the rule of law.
The governor went out of his way to issue a release signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, commending how the president was working tirelessly to “stop corrupt individuals from using illegally acquired wealth to buy immunity from prosecution through the backdoor”.
Many feel that such coming from an opposition governor says a lot about where his support is likely to go when the chips are down, especially given the disposition of governors in the region to Atiku’s election, against Buhari’s reelection.