Editor's note: Ahead of the 2019 presidential election, the author Fola Ojo in this piece talks about the dynamics of the politics of re-election in the country.
A very rich man invited about 20 of his employees to his palatial abode in Texas, United States for his 60th birthday celebration sometime ago. The rich man told his workers that during the private party there would be a swimming competition in his half-an-acre sized royal swimming pool.
What he did not tell them was that the pool was full of alligators. His guests arrived on time; and the ushers seated them all around the pool as soft smooth jazz music continued to play to their delight. His guests changed to their swimming suits and waited for the flag-off of the competition.
As they got close to the edge of the pool, they sighted two alligators making their swirls in the water. The rich man ordered the music stopped; then told his guests: “Whoever will swim from one end of the pool to the other will win a million dollar prize money”. Before, he could finish giving the instructions, a splashing sound was heard in the waters. Alas, one of the workers was in the pool.
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The worker screamed in trepidation, and knowing he was between the devil and the deep blue sea, he had no choice but to keep swimming to escape the impending mobbing and mauling of the alligators. Wow! He made it to the other end! Roaring applauses from co-employees greeted him.
“Congratulations”, the rich man said. “You have won for yourself a million dollars”. The worker, all shaken and rattled responded: “I don’t care about the one million dollars. I just want to know who pushed me into the pool”.
The game of politics, especially in Nigeria, can be likened to the rich man’s swimming pool full of alligators. Understanding Nigerian politics is the equivalence of a four-year university degree. It drills and grills. You don’t learn reading it in books; you get knowledge listening, watching, and staying the course with people who are neck-deep into the game.
Campaigns alone may not teach, you must camp-in with relevant core actors to learn the actions. From there, you decide if you are ready or not to take a plunge into the pool full of venomous alligators.
The 2019 presidential election fever is gripping the nation. All manner of theories and hypotheses about who will win or lose are all over the landscape. It is obvious that sitting President Muhammadu Buhari is running faster than his recent 800 metres’ walk on Sallah Day.
When he returned recently from London, he fired a warning shot: “I have told you several times that these politicians don’t know who I am…I’m not a rich man…Nigeria’s treasury is not my treasury, neither will I allow anyone to steal from it…God will help us”. The thieves he was addressing know themselves.
Candidates who want Buhari dethroned are also not relenting. From a few of them, issues that affect Nigeria and recommendations as to how to wriggle out of Nigeria’s massive mess are front and centre in their campaigns. Unfortunately, however, what we read, watch, and hear from masked surrogates of others is different. It is the same old campaign of vicious hate, execration, and imprecation.
When young people spew out hate, it’s understandable if their immaturity is excused. But when grown-ups and community leaders who should know better join them in the charade, it becomes sad and sorry. “Buhari is bad”. “Buhari is a killer”. “Buhari is corrupt”. “Buhari is sick”. “Buhari will soon die”. “Buhari is a herdsman” “Buhari will Islamise you”. “Buhari must not run”. “Don’t vote for him”.
“Don’t touch him”; and much more, are what we hear. But it’s all about jostles for power. Although many politicians may not have anything to offer, they desire perks and pecuniary benefits of working for the government. They hanker to sit on Nigeria’s gold, diamond, and oil. They salivate to wield power determining which of their cronies get what oil block and what size.
It’s why they are all fighting to get power; especially those who have tasted the honey of public office in times past. A few names we have heard that may possibly be in the run have been stung with the honey bee of corruption. They are flagitious and perverted pooh-bahs holding Nigeria by the jugular; and won’t let go. They are bold and rambunctious unretiring thieves. They have men, means, and money and we know them like the back of our hands. And they are peckish for power.
Has Buhari fulfilled all his campaign promises? Far from it. But what politics has taught me is that the victory of a candidate in any election may not be based on the fulfillment of any or all of his campaign promises. Victory, many times, is determined by some indescribable force of attraction out there that we don’t know.
The dynamics of the politics of re-election can only be explained by the Supreme Being. Voters love candidates for inexplicable reasons; not because of what they did or did not do, and not because they fulfil their promises or promise what makes sense. The narrative I hereby express will come to play in 2019, 2023, 2027, and forever, and ever. That is how the minds of men are fashioned. People choose to like or hate anybody, and they don’t have to have reasons for doing so.
A few people I know like Kingsley Moghalu. The former Deputy Governor of the CBN is a man with structural economic ideas, experience, and network. He is also running, and I like him too. Kingsley communicates his ideas and plans very clearly and intellectually. Will he defeat Buhari? I am not God. The “King” in Kingsley may make Moghalu king, but it will be a tall order to make him president this time round. Kingsley knows it too.
Momentum is a stratospheric movement of the moment. In physics, it is real; in politics, it is a metaphor. Momentum helps win an election. Without it, a candidate is vanquished. A few months ago, the momentum was against Buhari.
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If the election was held then, Mr. President would have battled with a serious headwind. Even with recent defections and counter-defections, the momentum is still in Buhari’s favour.
Momentum is an unpredictable swinging pendulum. It is an unreliable friend and feisty foe. It may stand with you today, and against you tomorrow. Will the momentum swing again, or will it stay the same? The best of climatologists of politics cannot accurately predict this. Can Buhari be defeated in 2019? Yes! With the sway and swing of things as of today, only Muhammadu can defeat Buhari in 2019.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAIJ.com.
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