Opinion: Of Obasanjo,2023 & APC Succession War
By Surukusku Dalori
Nigeria is experiencing feverish political changes.The rebel of the old now constitutes the establishment of today. Expectedly,old forces are to be dismantled for the new forces to establish command and rulership .The leader of the old forces is Olusegun Obasanjo and the new force is led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
For now, the old forces are routed.President Buhari who has never been a friend of the old establshment has created a new power platform.Those who refused to bend are crushed and those who realign are re-integrated. There is no doubt that the old owners of Nigeria are out of the show;a new Sheriff is in town.
But the power contestation is always a continuous process. As much as President Buhari has solidified his old on power,the defeated caucus appears to be scheming a long haul game.Ahead of 2023,the new establshment is faced with internal contest for succession.Unanimity appears non-existent.The incumbent has even openly declared his desire not to anoint a successor or allow candidate to deploy federal forces to advantage in the succession battle.
The old guard may reason that the new forces may be divided in the struggle for succession.That perception is real considering development within the political space. Additionally, the dissolved Nigeria PLC may have concluded that returning to the centre stage can only succeed through endorsement of a member of the new establshment for presidency.This is also a correct reading as the stake in 2023 may be so high not for President Buhari but for members of his inner caucus who are now divided along succession lines.
For the various APC caucuses too,securing support of the defeated old forces may increase chances of gaining upper hand come 2023.Thus ,the Tinubu caucus may be looking the way of Atiku Abubakar for collaboration or the El-Rufai team may court the dare devil in Otta farmer ,the Chairman of the old Nigerian cabal.But both possible realignment are fraught with risks and dangers.
For both sides,it is not like there is a beautiful bride.All are simply engaged in political risk undertakings.What may sway the balance is probably final decision on where the new powers think the Presidency should hail from.If South West is favoured ,then a straight three way battle may ensue among Asiwaju Bola Tinubu,Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi.If the PDP also dump Atiku to look South West,Governor Seyi Makinde may be promoted by some new age political lobbyists.
But assuming the equation changes and the North decides to retain power,the field will be rattled and the recent display of realignment may materialise sooner than expected.The new scenario may then see PDP fielding either Aminu Tambuwal or former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.The like of former Defence Minister ,Rabiu Kwankwaso may also be well placed.
The challenge however may be a new romance between Chief Obasanjo and certain powerful elements within the new establshment.There are signs that the former leader does not trust underground plans to field Atiku Abubakar again in 2023.New signals also reflect that there is a growing consensus that only a member of the new cabal can be used to regain power especially considering its overwhelming control of state power.
Again,all the above are mere conjectures although all political scheming are like that at the beginning.Let read through the statements of President Olusegun Obasanjo when he visited Governor El-Rufai in Kaduna.What the media pointedly picked out was Obasanjo’s assertion that the nation needs a character like Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
While commending El-Rufai for his pan-Nigeria character and his commitment to good governance,the former president who was a special guest at Kaduna State Executive Council meeting said he was happy with El-Rufai’s approach to governance especially in giving opportunities to women.According to Obasanjo, the governor’s cabinet reflects a mini-Nigeria and has been striving to restore the past glory of Kaduna as a melting point of all Nigerians.
The former president recalled that El-Rufai, who served under his administration as Minister of FCT, was “one of the best persons to work with, he is a near-genius.We need a character like this, a man that you know where you stand with him.Any job given to him will be well done,’’ Obasanjo said, adding that “the people of Kaduna state now “have a good leader to work with.”
Ignoring the above or attributing any significance to it may still not remove certain underlying facts. What ever took Obasanjo to Kaduna to openly praise an El-Rufai must be extra ordinary.Is the old forces preparing to adopt the governor for 2023 race?
What ever the truth of the development,Obasanjo appears to have launched a political card to regain the initiative ahead of 2023.The Otta farmer seems determined not to back a Bourdillon mandate ,hence the apparent overtures to Kaduna House.
Nothing is clear even as the game gets more cloudy.
*Dalori is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja