By Amah Baldwin
The just concluded 2019 general elections has been adjudged by local and international observers as credible, peaceful and hitch free to reasonable level.
The ruling APC was returned to power, but the opposition PDP is crying foul.
General Olusegun Obasanjo
However, some top players of both the PDP and the APC failed to live up to expectations.
The gladiators simply somersaulted and kissed the dust when they were supposed to stand up and be counted. Some of those who boasted and beat their chests with promises to deliver knock out punches were dazed. Summary: They merely played to the gallery. Empty vessels that gathered no morse.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
Former President (PDP)
Obasanjo caused a stir when without notice in 2016 tore his PDP membership card. He had earlier written a letter to the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan denouncing and castigating his government over alleged misconduct. Letter writing to drive home his point has been Obasanjo’s trademark. The one time military Head of state embraced General Muhammadu Buhari who at the time laboured to wrest power from Jonathan, generally accused of heading an essentially inept government. Obasanjo went about, giving the impression that only him knew solutions to the country’s myarid of problems.
His associates regarded him with contempt for his tendency to always assume the role of the boss, even in the presence of the sitting president. It is believed Obasanjo incured the wrath of the then military Heads of state, General Sani Abacha, not necessarily over any planned coup, but because of his inability to bridle his tongue.
He took on President Jonathan soon after their relationship went sour. In a dramatic and derisive manner, OBJ destroyed his PDP membership card issued him when General Abdulsalam Abubakar opened Abacha prison gate for him.
Acting much like a FIFA graded referee Obasanjo issued Jonathan a red card. He went ahead to despise the already weak President.
Then came Muhammadu Buhari. The gladiator appeared not to understand the body language of the new helmsman. Characteristic of him, General Obasanjo forced himself into a man who was not ready to be subservient or succumb to the whims and caprices of an intruder. In fact, for PMB, OBJ was an intruder. It was not surprising therefore when the erstwhile President resumed incessant outbursts against President Buhari. He campaigned vigorously against Buhari and implored Nigerians to go for Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice president whom he had labeled a misfit with baggage of corruption. Then he forgot, or rather ignored the man whose loyalty enabled him return to power in 2003 as President. However, ahead of 2019 elections OBJ embraced his erstwhile No. 2. That is to say, between Atiku and Buhari, the former was a lesser evil.
As 2019 approached, those who believed he caused the downfall of President Goodluck Jonathan, asked Buhari to start counting his days at Aso Villa.
Then came February 23, 2019, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP lost, not just in Obasanjo’s state of Ogun, but in his polling unit. Buhari of the APC won all.
Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar
PDP presidential candidate
Former Vice president, Atiku conducted what could be reckoned as a diligent campaign. His campaign organizations outsmarted those of President Muhammadu Buhari in publicity and propaganda.
The PDP so heated up the the political environment, with the attendant dusts that the gullible watching public asked Buhari to throw in in the towel. Perhaps, it was only a tough skinned person like PMB that could refuse to cave in.
Historians attributed Atiku’s albatross to two major factors. George Anoliefo metaphorically opined: “Buhari is a cult over there in the North.”
Said he: “Atiku is even struggling with the President for votes in his polling unit.
“Both the South East and South South were not too keen on his candidacy.
“The North appeared not too comfortable with his promise on ‘Restructuring'”.
In spite of everything, Buhari took Atiku’s booth, just as he did Obasanjo’s. The former VP was dazed.
Dr. Bukola Saraki
Senator Bukola Saraki
He was one of the aggrieved politicians who broke away from PDP in 2014 and founded the APC. As a matter of fact, Saraki, more than anyone made president Buhari’s administration almost ungovernable.
His insistence and ambition to be Senate President against APC’s choice of Ahmed Lawan brought Saraki into collision course with the APC leadership, and of course, the Presidency. Many times the government attempted to remove him over his alleged failure to declare assets in line with the provisions of the Code of Conduct for public officers, and many times, like the cat with nine lives he survived. This infant terrible, fearing that the APC planned to deny him another senatorial ticket as punishment for “intransigence” jumped ship. Several times the President Buhari sent names of nominees to the Senate for approval and several times the nominees were rejected. One remarkable case was Magu, appointed to head the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Buhari saw hell in the hands of the Senate President, but he didn’t show it.
He had a date with the son of Oloye, the strongman of Kwara politics. Saraki, the irrepressible boss at the National Assembly, like his friend, Ayodele Peter Fayose, former governor of Ekiti State dared the President, who happens to be the Commander-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
Like in the case of Fayose, Buhari, characteristically kept mute, and like the cat waited in an ambush.
The President’s patience paid off on February 23, 2019. The Oloye dynasty caved in. Bukola lost his deposit in Kwara, but managed to win his polling unit. Consolation prize that has no value.
Senator Godswill Akpabio
Senator Godswill Akpabio is a ranking Lawmaker at the 8th Senate. In fact, the Akwa Ibom born Senator was the Senate minority leader until he ditched the PDP, the party that provided him the platform to make it to the hallowed chamber.
Akpabio had an electrifying rally in Uyo to press home the point that he was moving Akwa Ibomites to APC. Buhari, Bola Tinubu, Adams Oshiomole and indeed APC leadership believed him. The presidential ballot in the South South state came short of expectations.
Even though Akpabio, like Saraki won his poll unit, his balloon of expectations was deflated by a little known candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Akpabio, gnashing his teeth is still sulking, wondering what stung him.
Ayodele Fayose Peter De Rock
Ayodele Fayose aka Peter De Rock
Former Ekiti State Governor
Political watchers insist that PDP lost Ekiti simply because of Fayose’s “uncultured” outbursts. He once declared the President dead. And later announced he was in coma in a London hospital. Before the Ekiti State governorship poll, Fayose warned Buhari not to dare him. Said the boisterous Governor: “Buhari should not dare me. He should be reminded that my other name is Peter, meaning the Rock.
“If you jam the rock, you are in trouble, and if the rock jams you, you are in trouble.”
Buhari waited. On the eve of the election, some security agents were said to have blocked the then governor. As arguments ensued, a junior Police officer allegedly slapped him, for which Peter the rock fell down, shouting the name of the then Inspector General of Police, Idris. “If anything should happen to me, the Inspector General of Police should be held responsible,” he cried out. In the elections that followed, Ayodele Fayose, Peter De Rock was no where to be found. PDP gains in the state were therefore lost through empty boasts and careless exhibitions.
There are others, but those who stood up to be counted are the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara; APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Governor Ortom of Benue State; Lai Mohammed in Kwara state; General Theoplilus Yakubu Danjuma in Taraba state among others.