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(Opinion) Too early for 2019 politics By Bola Bolawole

President Buhari
President Buhari
It is not up to one year that the present civilian dispensation was inaugurated on May 29 last year; but the air is heavily pregnant already with the politics of 2019. Who will be who in 2019 in the two leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, is already taking shape. Who is moving where is already also forming before our very eyes – with more than three years to go!
I can hazard a guess: Many politicians are not very comfortable with happenings in the polity. This is not only in the opposition PDP; it is also the case with the ruling APC. APC especially harbours a lot of disgruntled and, therefore, restive politicians. The earlier they sorted themselves out – even if they will still keep their hands wrapped in the closets for strategic reasons – the better for them. The in-fighting over positions in the APC is responsible for the restiveness in the party. A little over a year ago, the then opposition party pulled off a miracle by coming together to form a formidable party that eventually succeeded in wrestling power from the PDP. The PDP was stunned. Few ever believed the APC could pull off that stunt. Almost immediately, however, the APC started to unravel. It has been unable to mesh but has broken into opposing camps. Nothing is more dangerous than the enemy within. That was what killed the PDP. It may be what will also kill the APC if great care is not taken.
The PDP is trying to take advantage of the schism within the APC. The new opposition party is trying hard to woo back its former members who had defected to APC as well as shop for new disgruntled elements within the ruling party. Some names have been popping up. One of them is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. His problem with the leaders of his party is the way he ambushed them to torpedo the party’s apple cart. He was not the party’s choice for the plum post he now occupies but he stealthily stole into the saddle. He is facing trial for false assets declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Whether he wins or loses his case, it is certain he cannot continue in the same boat into 2019 with the party leaders opposed to his Senate presidency. Either he leaves for them or they quit for him. If Saraki returns to PDP, he is likely to pull some of his stalwarts with him.
Another big fish being mentioned is former governor of Kano state, Rabiu Kwankwaso. Politics is tricky; politics is deceptive; politics is dirty! You can never be too sure of anything and anyone. I was in Kano when Kwankwaso held fort there and saw the chemistry between him and his political ally or godson, who later succeeded him as governor of the state, Abdullahi Ganduje. I had celebrated the alliance between both, especially when Ganduje was supported by Kwankwaso to step up. Where any other deputy governor had become governor, it was “over the dead body” of Oga. But things are no longer at ease between Ganduje and Kwankwaso; both are said to be fighting like cat and dog. The reasons for the sad turn of events need not detain us here, though.
Kwankwaso is on the radar of the PDP – that is the big story. Kano is big; in the last election, it returned nearly a 100% vote for APC\Muhammadu Buhari – and that was well in excess of a million votes. It was a game-changer. If PDP barges into that in 2019 by the grace of Kwankwaso, and it also swings Kwara state into its kitty by virtue of Saraki, the game could change; more so if the South-west is no more enamoured of APC\Buhari while the South-East and South-South remain solidly PDP. Kwankwaso is said to harbour presidential ambition; but it will not be in the interest of the South to allow any other Northerner than Buhari to have a shot at the presidency in 2019. Any new Northern presidential candidate, if he wins, will want to do two terms; and that will mean gifting the North an interrupted run of 12 years. That should not be allowed to happen since the North already holds the advantage over the South on the number of years it has ruled this country. Extending the advantage further will marginalise the South.
A desperate PDP, intent on returning to power by all means, may be ready to take this gamble or make the sacrifice. The ball, then, will be in the court of the South-West to concur or object. If it objects, then, it might be testy and dicey. In the zone already, political re-engineering is reportedly afoot. Former APC chieftain and erstwhile governor, Chief Segun Osoba, who defected to SDP, is back to the APC. I understand a lot of scheming and re-alignments are being worked at underground. Will the enigmatic Gov. Ayo Fayose remain in PDP or will he go “main-stream”? He had seen it all and everywhere could be home to him. Same for Gov. Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state, a “progressive” who has also comfortably co-habited with the “reactionary” forces.
Some analysts and political watchers say a re-alignment of forces across board may be in the offing. Expect new political parties, new defections; new “progressives” and new “reactionaries” in the months and years to come. Let me hazard another guess: Political activities are on the upbeat so early in the day because many politicians appear suspicious of the Buhari administration, many of them members of his political party. If the Buhari government is perceived to have lost or will lose the confidence of the electorate on the road to 2019, then, expect that party leaders will either ship him out or abandon a sinking boat to him.

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