THE RISE AND FALL OF NIGERIA’S POLITICAL BRANDS

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All hail Nigeria’s new President! No, really, I say, ‘all hail’ because Buhari’s clout in Nigeria’s peculiar politics just got to an all new high. With his victory at the February 23 elections, his political clout has now reached an all new level; at least in the North. And that’s the only place where it matters by the way. To explain the previous line is to break down the regional issues that govern Nigerian politics and how influential a person can be when they have numbers in the North. This upgraded status I speak of is evident in the wild celebrations which took place among tricycle riders, Okada men and others across the country. He already had a fan base but then this latest win just took him into another space.

 

Perhaps it’s the reduction in status of a lot of political strong men in the last few months that makes it feel like he’s the man; from Saraki’s loss, to Kwankwaso’s failure to deliver votes in Kano, to the stories of Akpabio, Okorocha and Amosun which are unfolding as I write this. Their travails make you want to look around and see that only one of the old brands is winning at the moment (okay, minus Jagaban). Will the Buhari brand ever need an endorsement from former President Obasanjo? I know it’s his last term as President but can another open letter really hurt Buhari’s popularity? Doubtful, OBJ’s letters haven’t had the same sting ever since his famous u-turn on Atiku Abubakar.

 

As I write this, there are calls on Atiku to accept the results of the February 23 elections. I disagree with those calls. If Atiku, like so many others believe that there were irregularities in the elections, then he owes it to people who voted for him to challenge the results. It’s just a part of keeping our democracy honest. As long as his comments are conflict-sensitive and won’t push anyone to violence, I’m all for Atiku taking the matter to court. We don’t want any of that, ‘Nigerians won’t accept the results’. No, let the PDP say, ‘ the PDP won’t accept the results’, and that will be sufficient. The first one could incite inappropriate mass action, and it also suggests that a political party can speak for Nigerians. 

 

So many Nigerians won’t admit it but they don’t have the moral authority to cry about the elections not being free and fair. The 11,… didn’t vote for Atiku because they were counting on free and fair elections, are you kidding me? If they expected that the elections would be free and fair, many would have backed a Moghalu, Sowore or a Durotoye. Many chose Atiku because they hoped that his party would be able to checkmate the ruling party. Shortly after the elections on February 23 somebody made a post saying, “PDP, after 16 years of experience you don’t know how to rig elections”. If it’s true that many Nigerians only backed the PDP because they know how to play the game then one wonders how they articulated their prayers to God.

 

Many would say it isn’t true and that they voted for AA because of all the businesses he has run. Nah, I think that if economical know-how was enough to gain votes, then the PDP would have chosen the China-man, Peter Obi as their presidential candidate. Looking back at all the debates, Obi outclassed even Atiku when it came to business savvy, not that it is anything new in Nigeria for one to have a brighter deputy. Obi also has a cleaner record, a younger age and for me personally, a more entertaining voice.

 

Going back to the underdog candidates I mentioned earlier, I am curious about something. What’s up with that twenty year cycle they kept talking about around the time of the controversial presidential debate; something to the effect that every twenty years, there is a drastic change of power in Nigeria? Durotoye said it and so did Ezekwesili. According to this curious theory, in 1959, British rule was coming to an end. Twenty years later, in 1979, the military made way for democratic rule. And then in 1999, we had another sharp change of power. If something similar is about to happen, it should simply be a matter of time because this is 2019 isn’t it? Long live Nigeria!

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