· Region’s power elite starts consultations
· Concedes that Buhari ‘lacks capacity’
· To clone pan-Nigerian script that sacked Jonathan
The fear of losing power to forces outside its control has compelled the group of Northern political leaders who midwifed the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari to start intense consultations and seeking a pan-Nigerian platform for his replacement in 2019.
This imperious, very influential group believes that once this body takes a stand, defeating Buhari, if he runs, “would not pose any problem.”
Explaining that the North is definitely looking beyond President Buhari for the 2019 presidential elections, it stated that the same pan-Nigerian political calculation gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a vehicle for “defeating” an incumbent administration.
A source who was part of North’s strategic group constituted to defeat President Goodluck Jonathan in the run up to the 2015 presidential election told The AUTHORITY that President Buhari, using the APC as a vehicle for defeating an incumbent, more than “his capacity,” informed the support for the President in the 2015 elections.
The source stated that then the North needed a candidate with a “solid and fanatical base,” with President Buhari fitting the bill. This, he explained, was why after three previous attempts at the presidency and being roundly rejected by even the North, his support base widened and he claimed the crown.
The source further told The AUTHORITY that “this was the first hurdle for us. But we also knew that Buhari lacked real capacity beyond his provincial and clannish tendencies. But we needed to defeat Jonathan.
“To defeat an incumbent in Africa is not a joke. We felt and rightly so that fielding former Vice President Atiku Abubakar or any other candidate would have been a walk-over for then President Jonathan.
“Hence, we needed to pull all strings right from the presidential primary to make the contacts that ensured this worked out. We worked to ensure that all major Northern groups found common grounds towards the delivery of this agenda.
“In previous elections that Buhari ran, he didn’t get the support of the North, because of his known limitations, especially his penchant for ceding too much powers to those around him.
“With the good knowledge of Buhari, the strategic think tank came up with “minimum deliverables” expected from him in order for the Northern leaders to swing their support to him.
“Top of the agenda was restoring ‘sanity’ to the polity by waging an all-out war on corruption and giving Boko Haram a bloody nose. This necessitated motivating the military to wage an all-out war against the insurgents and generally keeping the country united.”
Pointing out the reservations this group had, the source said: “Quote me. We had serious reservations about the Buhari Campaign Organisation and the people around him, which was why nobody took a look at him in previous elections.
“What we feared would happen then is what is happening now, that the people around him would hijack power for themselves.”
According to the source, the corruption allegedly being perpetuated by his close relatives and appointees especially the cabal has dampened “all expectations” that Buhari would tackle corruption.
Citing an instance specifically on the downside of the Buhari presidency, the source said: “For example, have you wondered why the Director-General of NEMA is still on seat or why a Managing Director has not been appointed for FERMA?
“It is corruption. Some people pay to retain their seats while others haven’t been appointed because they are looking for someone from the South with tonnes of money to buy the office.
“The Emir of Kano has spoken eloquently about the foreign exchange deals. So, to this extent Buhari has failed on this key issue of corruption.”
The source regretted that the country is today more divided than it was in 2015.
“Look, it is unfathomable that a loan of about $30 billion dollars could be in the works and yet, not a kobo would be spent in the South-East. This is an example of the divisive politics of the President and those around him. “Worse is that the APC itself has collapsed due to internal contradictions. And yet, the President and those around him are pretending that all is well with the party. Is this not like behaving like a giraffe?” he queried.
The situation, the source noted, explains the scramble for power ahead of 2019 presidential election which culminated in the cabal trying the largely ineffective effort to drag Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, into the presidential race.
Continuing, the source stated that, “The aftermath of the Presidency’s political engineering is that today, governors of the APC have on their part become increasingly combative and assertive; this is largely self-serving.
“They successfully battled the President on the issue of ambassadorial nominees. More of such actions are expected from the governors and other entrenched groups within the party.
“There is an open rebellion coming from the governors and they are not going to defer to the president as before. They are openly discussing options. “Also, note that the economy has demystified the President. It is true that past decisions precipitated the recession.
“But the fact that nothing has been done by the federal government to stem the negative effects of the recession has made the Nigerian masses poorer.
“For the first time, the refrain is that yesterday is better than today in Nigeria. It is not good when the testimony of people is that their yesterday is better than their today.
“And for the masses, what have they gained? When you see some influential Northern traditional rulers speak, they are speaking for their people. What do you make of the raid on Bureau de Change and open markets for foreign currencies just to force down exchange rate?
“It is a big problem for him. Look, this President is not as popular as when Kano gave him over two million votes. Things are not as they used to be. The masses are suffering and can’t be swayed just by slogans again.”
For now, The AUTHORITY gleaned that the two early names under consideration for 2019 include former Governor of Kaduna State and interim chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Ahmed Markafi and former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso.
But the sources added that “the list is fluid and new names may emerge. The South East is not yet organised and ready for national leadership, otherwise, some names were considered initially and dropped.
“So, the second quarter of 2017 will be interesting in Nigeria. Hopefully, the South East will use the coming years to forge a strong force and make a credible go for the Presidency”.