- OBJ, IBB, others consolidate anti-second term campaign
By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The configuration of Nigeria’s political economy in the build up to the 2019 Presidential election, in particular, has kept twisting following the frequency of elite alignment and re-alignment. Curiously, major political forces that aggregated to ensure the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress in 2015 have been working in opposition to the incumbent president in the preparations for 2019 elections, stimulating the gathering of dark cloud against Buhari.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo opened the salvo in his January 23 Treatise in which he made a clarion call to Nigerians to abandon the ruling APC and the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and embrace a Coalition for Nigeria Movement which he identified as a Third Force.
Thereafter, former President Obasanjo had embarked on foreign campaign to the United States and the European Union countries on why President Buhari should not be re-elected.
Subsequently, former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, reinforced the Obasanjo advocacy against Buhari; while other elder statesmen like T.Y. Danjuma, former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar, Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Mbaka, Pastor Tunde Bakare and others, were identified to have joined the league of stakeholders in the polity in opposition to the re-election of the incumbent president.
Deep consultations and negotiations have occurred culminating into the seeming resolution by the new movement to adopt the Social Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chief Olu Falae to sponsor a candidate for the presidential election in 2019.
Leaders of the Third Force have been advocating leadership transition to younger generation.
Consultations have taken place at different times between Obasanjo and Babangida, between Babangida and Danjuma, including others. Babangida had met with Falae a fortnight ago, while Obasanjo held further meeting with Falae on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to strengthen negotiation for the adoption of the SDP to sponsor a presidential candidate in 2019.
At the meeting between former President Obasanjo and Falae, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), at the Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, were Gboyega Isiaka, a governorship aspirant in Ogun State of Yewa clime, Sina Kawonishe, a former Commissioner for Information in Ogun State. Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, was said to be sighted hurrying into the meeting venue.
Former President Obasanjo, who had endorsed power shift to the Yewa zone in Ogun State, had used the meeting to make a case for Ishiaka, governorship aspirant from Yewa for the 2019 governorship election in Ogun State.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo and other stakeholders in the Third force are yet to have consensus on a presidential candidate for 2019. While Obasanjo was gathered to be interested in sponsoring former Governor of Kano State, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, Babangida was gathered to be recommending the Governor of Sokoto State, Right Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
However, incumbent President Buhari is not sleeping over the rising opposition to his re-election. He has been fortifying his political structure for the titanic battle. The president appointed the Minister of Transport and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Director General of his campaign organization in Abuja, and a legal practitioner, Festus Keyamo SAN, was on Tuesday appointed Director of Strategic Communication to further fortify the president’s campaign.
More so, the president is also lubricating his relations with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC national leader, to strengthen the APC political machine for his re-election.
Invariably, the battlefield has been fully taken up by potent political forces in the country for 2019 general elections. Who triumphs, is an outcome Nigerians await.