Who exactly is after Tinubu’s job?

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By Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu

The news report in the Nigerian Tribune of Monday, March 18, 2024, titled “PDP, APC Stalwarts Mull Mega Party’ caught my attention and left me thinking about Nigeria’s brand of politics and politicians. Reading the story left much to the imagination. If the contents of the story and the innuendo therein are to be relied upon, it suggests that the political class in the north has already written off President Bola Tinubu’s administration and is working to ensure that he does not get the chance to preside over Nigeria the second time in 2027, which is some three years ahead. Tinubu is yet to consummate his first year in office. Well, that was not surprising because it is said that the plan for the next election begins immediately after the last one.
The report alluded to meetings held offshore, specifically in “a North African country” and other meetings within Nigeria all aimed at finding ways to ensure that the Tinubu train does not go beyond 2015 with the planned registration of a ‘mega-party’ planned to come on stream before the end of the year. The report also pointed fingers at a former northern governor as the arrowhead of the new quest. The report reads: “The aim, according to them, is to prop up a former governor from the north widely known for his radical views and disposition on national issues as presidential hopeful against President Bola Tinubu and his deputy, Kashim Shettima, in case they decide to seek a second term in office in 2027.”
In itself, the story concludes that Tinubu would not recontest in 2027 where it said “in case they decide…” This suggests that those behind the plot have either convinced themselves that Tinubu and Shettima will not recontest in 2027, or, that they have the capacity to stop the two in 2027 if they put themselves forward for the election. This conviction stems from the understanding among those involved in the plot, as captured in the story, that the Tinubu government has delivered more hardship and spread more poverty than anticipated. Indeed, public opinion is that the Tinubu government has successfully recycled more administrators from the ages and put them in charge of critical sectors of the economy as well as expanded the size of government beyond what available resources can comfortably accommodate. He is also accused of successfully delivering more pain than joy within its first year in office through his tactless pronouncements and experiments with policy and state matters. The government had presented itself as unprepared for task for which it campaigned and sought the vote of Nigerian though it garnered only 36.6 percent of total votes cast on Election Day 2023. The percentage represented about 8.8 million people out of a population of over 200 million. Several analysts say the election numbers make Tinubu’s mandate weak.
There are feelings that Tinubu’s policies may have disconnected a lot of people who believe that they are entitled to political patronage from the presidency and some of who had looked forward to appointments from him as well as other forms of rent-seeking. It is said that the disconnection he had caused, is now fuelling some level of sneaky rebellion within his APC and creating the platform for internal opposition which is expected to blow open anytime soon. The interesting thing, however, is the connection to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which seems like a deliberate attempt to drag PDP leaders in the north into the plot. This is because the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Outlook on Nigeria for the month of March, dated March 8, had predicted an “APC coup” against Tinubu. It said “constitutionally, it would be hard for Mr. Tinubu to be removed from office, but there is an outside chance of him being ousted in an APC coup”. So, whatever plot there is against Tinubu’s government has to be internal. That clearly puts PDP out of any machinations against the Tinubu government. PDP should be now more focused on rebuilding itself in preparation for 2027 with economic experiments by Tinubu providing the logical argument for it to return to power.
This is why the Tinubu administration must watch its back and act cautiously. This is moreso with the allegation of the plan to float another political party that could upstage the APC in the next general election. The fact here is that more Nigerians have become disappointed with APC. Among them are some governors and ministers of the class of 2015-2023 who may have deep financial war chests arising for the unaccounted management of state and federal resources under their watch. From the experience of power and its allure in Nigeria, politically exposed persons, who had enjoyed public office and been around it for too long, often find it very difficult to stay out of power. They always seem to want to get back. And, with high level of financial comfort, they are more likely to bankroll opposition to the ruling party because there is always available fund to dispense on remaining politically relevant. This is the experience that the PDP suffered under President Goodluck Jonathan with the formation of the APC in 2014 which led to its eventual defeat in the 2015 general election. There are insinuations, however, that Tinubu may not play the Jonathan card as he presents himself to be firmly in control of his government to allow dislodged and disappointed party men and party women from the north to upstage him like Jonathan did.
Robert Greene, the author of ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ had said “power is a game, and in games you do not judge your opponents by their intentions but by the effects of their actions.” The PDP obviously played this card in 2014 and can now look back to see the effect of the intentions of those that it ignored when they began the plot to form APC then. The lessons of that era ought not to be lost on the incumbent administration because in the quest for power, every move begins as rumour and are mostly ignored.