Events of the Year 2017: Politics

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Atiku
Atiku Abubakar

 

The Year of Power Show 

 

THE political showdown leading to the 2019 general elections appears to have started in earnest. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the main opposition party in Nigeria, which started the year on a rancorous foot because of divisions within the party shamed its distracters when it held a smooth elective convention on Saturday, December 9.

Uche Secondus, a former deputy national chairman, was elected national chairman in an election contested by seven other interested candidates, six of whom came from the South West. Since the election, members of the party have been rallying round Secondus to form a formidable opposition in order to wrest power from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2019 general elections.

Secondus
Secondus

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a chieftain of the ruling of the APC, swelled the ranks of the opposition PDP, by formally joining the party on Sunday, December 3. Abubakar had resigned from the APC on Friday, November 24, declaring that the crisis led to his exit from the PDP had been resolved.

On its part, the APC leadership has been on the mend trying to resolve its internal crisis which prompted some leaders of the party to ask for the resignation of John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the party.

That notwithstanding, the likes of Bola Tinubu, national leader of the party, and Bisi Akande, a former governor of Osun State and former interim national chairman of the party, have disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari would not get automatic ticket to contest the 2019 presidential poll.

In Akure, Ondo State, on Wednesday, December 13, where he met with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Tinubu said the leadership of the party had not endorsed President Buhari as its sole candidate for the forthcoming presidential election.

He told journalists after the meeting, that “No governors can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves. Buhari is a believer in the process. The Buhari, I know, believes in the rule of law. We wanted him even before the last convention and primary of the party and Akeredolu is here standing with me, he was not the governor then. He was one of the leading delegates that voted properly and Buhari was a clear winner.”

Buhari
Buhari

His statement was against the recent endorsement of President Muhammadu as the sole candidate of the APC for the 2019 election by the APC governors.

Akande made a similar pronouncement in Ibadan, Oyo State capital on Thursday, October 12, while briefing newsmen after a meeting of the leadership of the APC in the South West, held at the Executive Chamber of Oyo State Governor’s Office.

Reacting to a question on whether the South West would endorse Buhari for 2019 general elections, he said if the president indicates interest to re-contest in 2019, he would have to slug it out with other presidential aspirants in the APC for the party’s ticket for the poll.

“He has not told us. Anybody in our party is free to become the president of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interests, we will set a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he (Buhari) is lucky to have the ticket, then we will have no other thing to do than to present him as our candidate,” Akande said.

While the APC could be forgiven for trying to toe the constitutional path, its resistance against the call for restructuring of Nigeria was largely blamed for the revolt by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which agitated for the state of Biafra for several months before the clamp down in September. According to the IPOB, Igbo were being marginalised in the current composition of Nigeria.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group, who was standing trial for treason, was granted bail in April on health ground. But instead of lying low, he simply took charge of affairs of the IPOB making inflammatory statements, leading to the killing of some supporters and members of the group on peaceful demonstration in the South East by the Nigerian military.

The group seemed to have its cup full in September when the federal government used the military might to crush the group in the South East and declared the organisation as a terrorists group. On September 20, the federal government gazetted the order of the federal high court in Abuja, which proscribed the IPOB and declared it a terrorist group.

Kanu has since disappeared from the scene. He was said to have been smuggled out of the country but some IPOB leaders claimed that he was arrested.

However, in the height of IPOB agitation, some prominent Northern youth organisations, on Tuesday, June 6, rose from a joint meeting called ‘Kaduna Declaration’ to issue a serious threat to the Igbo residing in the region urging them to begin making arrangements to relocate out of the North.

The groups gave the Igbo up till October 1, to leave the region.

The declaration was premised on the shut-down of major towns in south eastern part of the country on May 30, by members of the IPOB who complied with a sit at home order to mourn Biafrans who died in the civil war after 50 years.

Abdulazeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, who read the statement on behalf of others, at the popular Arewa House Kaduna, on Tuesday said, the region was tired of the marriage hence the need for restructuring as being pronounced by many prominent Nigerians.

But after widespread criticism and months of intervention meetings both by the federal government and the governors of the country’s 19 northern states, the coalition withdrew the quit notice on Thursday, August 24, at a press briefing at the Transcorp Hotel in Abuja.

In an announcement that was made by Suleiman, it said despite the withdrawal, the group would not relent in pursuing petitions to the United Nations and the federal government to sanction Kanu and other IPOB sponsors for their disruptive activities.

Apparently irked by the threat of political conflagration, on September 8, eminent Yoruba leaders, supported by the leadership of the South-East and South-South, demanded an immediate restructuring of Nigeria through regional lines, for the country to experience real peace and development.

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