By George Onmonya Daniel
As rumors of illness and tiredness surround the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari and disenchantment for his lack of performance by the Nigerian populace from all over, it is becoming clear that President Muhammadu Buhari will not be seeking a second term. Pundits have opined that the only way to keep what is remaining of his good name is to conduct a free and fair election in Nigeria and handover quietly. Coupled with rumored health problems, politicians within his party are beginning to scheme and counter scheme.
The major players here are Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Governor Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Governor Yari of Zamfara State, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State and Governor Dankwanbo of Gombe State who is a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party.
One would ask why are we discussing 2019 in 2017, when President Buhari has not even spent 2 years in office? The fact is that there is already a clear picture of the Buhari adminsitration, from where it came from and is heading, it is obvious that the problems of the nation has overwhelmed the president. He has simply lost touch with reality. The masses voted him hoping he would fix and country and make their lives better but Nigeria has never gone under such hardship under President Buhari as it is going through today throughout its history since independence. And politicians know and are hoping President Buhari would step down in 2019. He has alienated himself to a small group of trusted friends who have pushed everyone away. Even the like of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Lagos State Governor and today leader of the Yoruba of the South West has quietly withdrawn and is reduced to making political statements of being closed to Buhari but it is obvious there is a strain relationship.
These Northern governors who see Buhari’s second term bid as a chance for the north to rule for eight years are all waiting for the time, except for Governor Dankwambo who is not in the same party with them.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai has always nurse a quiet ambition to become president. He may not be loud about it but it is conspicuous and everybody can see it. He will be on the front if and when Buhari steps down. But Nasir El-Rufai has lost a lot of goodwill over the way and manner he went about the Fulani herdsman incident which has led to some Christian leaders outrightly condemning him. Governor Nasir El-Rufai may just see that Nigerians may not be ready for him in 2019 and just go ahead and contest for a second term as governor.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal also has the ambition and he is quite popular as well. But how close his Governor Tambuwal to the President Muhammadu Buhari camp? That would determine a lot.
Governor Yari of Zamfara State is ending his second term as governor in 2019, he would either retire in a very competitive senate or take his chance for the presidency. Governor Yari, even though is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum is not very popular in the nation.
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State is a minority governor from the South East and not a Fulani man like Atiku Abubakar. Will the Hausa/Fulani north give their support to a Kanuri minority president? Governor Kashim Shettima may nurse the ambition but it is not going to be an easy one. Is Governor Shettima close to the powers in Abuja? The cabal in Abuja, the people very close to President Muhammadu Buhari, will determine the choice for the next president if President Buhari is not coming out to contest.
In fact Talatu Bako reporting from Kaduna State captures the atmosphere at the recent meetings of Northern leaders in Kaduna. In fact like vulture they are all waiting for the carcass of the Buhari’s administration to devour. This is what Talatu Bako observed.
The Northern States Governors (NGSF) meeting which held in Kaduna on Monday succeeded in posting the picture of regional unity.
The apparent seamless interactions, photo ops, group lunch, dinner and other meetings as well as lining up behind one another for briefings created a perfect scene of camaraderie among the 19 governors.
But a deeper look at the event, would expose all the niceties guffaw and back slapping as managed stunts to cover up big sores.
In the real sense of it, the event is only similar to Rome’s Capitol on the evening of the ides of March when Caesar was chaperoned into a seeming cosy ambiance only for him to be stabbed at the back by friends and associates.
The same way that Julius Caesar was betrayed by close friends and associates who conspired against him was the same the governors who converged on Kaduna on the 23rd and 24th had daggers concealed under their white shiny robes.
And from all indications most would not have hesitated to pull out the concealed weapon and drive into the heart of one another if only a situation with a perfect alibi had presented itself.
Or better still, because 2019 is still far away.
At the NGSF meeting were no less than five governors who have presidential ambitions.
All the five are deeply suspicious of every move made by one another and would do anything to undermine the other person just to enhance their own chances.
Closely related to this but to a great extent detachable are those who are just not comfortable with the domineering personalities of others and would have preferred that the klieg lights beam on them alone.
It is no longer a secret that second term governors like Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, who is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, his colleague in Bormo, Kashim Shettima who is the chairman of the Northern State Governors Forum as well as Ibrahim Hassan DanKwambo of Gombe all have presidential ambitions.
Others with similar ambitions who are in their first terms but with equal desperation are Nasir el- Rufai of kaduna and Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto.
At the meeting, held together with traditional rulers from the region, one could hardly detect the conflict of interest as each governor tried hard to be politically correct.
Though a great number of them belong to the APC, their allegiance to the different camps within the party intensify these rivalries.
El-Rufai of Kaduna for instance tries to sell himself as not just belonging to the Buhari camp but as the closest to Buhari. This does not sit well with many of the governors who see that as a ploy to undermine them.
The claim is subtle being challenged by the likes of the Zamfara governor who until lately tried everything possible to get a better mileage in the heart of the president ahead of the El-Rufai.
As it is, Yari seems to have let go the desperation to be in the Buhari camp.
Others like Tambuwal however are well known to be with Tinubu and his claim to the presidency lies both in his national acceptance and belief that he would have won the APC presidential ticket if he had not stepped down for Buhari.
He views every move by El-Rufai as mere opportunism and an affront to the sacrifice he made for the party.
Kwara’s Abdulfatah Ahmed on the other hand is one hundred percent pro Saraki and by extension belongs to the Atiku Abubakar political camp.
Lalong of Plateau is trying hard to beat the minister of sports, Solomon Dalung to be the closest person to Buhari but his loyalty is conditioned by how well his godfather, Amaechi is able to manage the relationship with Buhari.
There is also the issue of those not considered north enough and who are hardly in the picture of what is really going when such meetings hold.
They include the likes of the Taraba State governor, Darius Ishaku and his counterparts in Benue and Plateau who are merely figures to give credibility to predetermined positions.
Kwara and Kogi are stand alone cases as they do not fit within the two other blocs.
Taraba too has another peculiar plight as it is the only PDP State in the entire north, hence cannot be trusted.
Hence the meeting that held in Kaduna is only high on pretence which outcome cannot go beyond mere platitudes.