A few hours after he was inaugurated as United States President on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump declared that he would seek re-election in 2020. In fact, he actually submitted the Form 2 paperwork that same day.
A few weeks later, the campaign structure was up and running. Brad Parscale was already named campaign manager. But that is America.
Back home in Nigeria, however, we have to reinvent the wheel on every matter. We have to make the simplest of tasks look so tedious! Yes! So that people can appreciate that “it isn’t easy.”
Back here in Nigeria, we, first of all, elected a presidential candidate who had promised to serve only one term, yes! The same man who swore that the 2011 election would be the last time he would stand election.
Soon after his inauguration, everything went dead. Nobody was talking to us. We were all trying to read and interpret the legendary “body language,” even as they tried to make us believe that President Muhammadu Buhari was not really interested in hanging on to power.
And so, suddenly, I guess, with less than a year to the elections, the President tweeted (the same way Trump tweets) that he will seek re-election.
So, was anybody surprised at Buhari’s declaration?
If anything, the announcement is at least one year late in coming. Or to put it better, we have been made to look like fools for, at least, one full year now. A re-election machinery has been in place now for at least two years. Not too many people were in doubt that PMB would run. That is why all the APC people eyeing the presidency had been confined to clandestine moves. Even at that, their ambitions were not premised on the event that Buhari might decide not to run, but in the vain hope that he would drop dead.
But like my people say, when you expect the dry tree to fall down, it’s often the one full of life that comes crashing. For PMB will surely outlive many of those hinging their presidential dreams on his dying.
I also concluded that the President was going to run when everyone who had been touted as having presidential ambition, across the two big parties, suddenly began to have problems. Kwankwaso today, Saraki tomorrow, Atiku the next day, and Sule Lamido the day after. And while all that was going on, the looters list kept expanding. Yes, an APC that had yet to project anybody else, with less than a year to the presidential election, was busy cutting down prospects left right and centre.
And then we began to go through the ritual again, rented crowds, faceless organisations, government contractors, government prostitutes and all manner of do-gooders began to march and earnestly yearn for Buhari. One governor said he would go to court if PMB did not run. Another said he would jump into the fire, and yet another, who is known to have always had his own presidential campaign organisation waiting to be unleashed, suddenly started telling us there was no alternative to Buhari. Meanwhile, one other one who claims to be speaking for a forum of governors told us that the governors had met and adopted Buhari. Of course, it was a lie. But did it matter, really?
While all this was happening, one minister clandestinely announced himself campaign coordinator (or is it campaign manager?). Another opened a Buhari re-election campaign office in his state. He even went to the extent of printing memorabilia, which he had wanted to share in, of all places, the Villa.
None of them was ever really called to order.
Finally, the writing on the wall became very clear when Buhari began to re-woo APC’s election talisman, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whom they had dropped like hot coal after riding to victory on his back. The rest, as they say, is history.
But then, what is this Nigerian idea of keeping us guessing when, actually, we are not guessing? We can see through it all. We already knew the answer even before they posed the question. Nothing was left to the imagination. We always knew Buhari was going to run. The only surprise would have been if he said he wasn’t going to run.
But, like I’ve always said, this is not about Buhari. It is about those around Buhari, who are actually the ones enjoying the perks of office on behalf of the President. And don’t look in the direction of First Lady Aisha Buhari, for she’s not the one.
Unlike the wives of our last two Presidents, Hajia Aisha is not one of those pulling the strings in the Villa. If she even had any time for Villa politics before now, she had pulled away even more, since her son’s near-fatal experience.
Now that APC has put forth Buhari, let’s see how easy PDP (and the other parties too) intend to make this victory for him – by the calibre of candidate(s) they bring out.
Or is anybody still thinking the ticket has not been closed in APC? Well, APC would be passing a vote of no confidence on itself if it ever tries to deny Buhari the ticket. For its best chance of winning the presidency without Buhari was to prevail on him not to seek re-election. Now that he has thrown his hat in the ring, however, the case is closed.
As one American writer, Robert Orben, once asked, “do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the last polls were?”
As for me, I take solace in the evergreen words of Richard Nixon: “There is nothing wrong with this country that a good election can’t fix.”