Shattered Dreams Of 2019

Shuaib Shuaib presents a roll call of the major political winners and losers in 2019 as the year winds down.

The 2019 winners and losers columns
The 2019 winners and losers columns

In assessing events of 2019, an election year millions of Nigerians had looked forward to, where can Vice President Yemi Osinbajo be placed – in the winners’ or losers’ column?

Certainly, his party won the presidency and he retained his job as vice president. At first, his door to door campaign appeared to be a novelty.

But after a month or two on the campaign trail, it became clear that Osinbajo, in his four years as the number two man had yet to build his own political structure capable of dislodging Bola Tinubu as political leader in the Southwest.

Then came reports of a rift between him and President Muhammadu Buhari with the Osinbajo losing his place as the head of the economic team.

Added to that was the bad publicity surrounding the sack of a number of the vice president’s aides.

There are still more than three years to go and anything can still happen, but the cumulative result of events in 2019 for Osinbajo puts him out of contention for the presidency in the immediate future.

Other politicians are now trying to fill the vacuum he has left and compete with Tinubu for top political leadership in the southwest.

Emir Muhammad Sanusi II has not had a good year. Kano is virtually the only state in the north that the emir shares the same constituency with the governor. That is the whole of the Kano State. And in Kano, the emirate is revered.

Four years ago, the emir, while still the head of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was seen as a national hero for going toe to toe with President Goodluck Jonathan.

As a new emir, he has been slow in learning what most traditional rulers in the country know, you stay out of politics or stick with the ruling party.

Teaming up with Rabiu Kwankwaso, who also had scores to settle with Ganduje, showed an error in judgement on Sanusi’s part. The outcome has been an emirate split into five and a diminished Sanusi

And because he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, there were concerns right from his first days as emir that he could suffer the same fate as his grandfather who was deposed as emir.

So it was inevitable that Emir Sanusi would enter a power contest with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to see who has more clout in a state where they both feel they are in charge.

Teaming up with Rabiu Kwankwaso, who also had scores to settle with Ganduje, showed an error in judgement on Sanusi’s part. The outcome has been an emirate split into five and a diminished Sanusi.

Aisha Buhari came into 2019 bitterly complaining about how APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole had managed party primaries for state and national elections.

Her particular grievance was how her brother, Mahmoud Halilu had been schemed out of the party’s ticket for the Adamawa governorship election.

It was an election the party would end up losing to the opposition PDP. But even as her husband was on the ballot for the highest office in the land, for some unexplained reason, Aisha Buhari was largely absent from the campaign trail.

At many of the event supposedly held by a separate organization she created, Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President filled in for her.

The fights were mostly behind the scenes but she can count some losses in her column.

An incident of 2019 she definitely didn’t want was the rumored plan of the President to take on a second wife during her prolonged absence.

Still, 2019 was the year Aisha Buhari would reclaim the title of First Lady, a role she had previously been unable play.

There, she won a major contest.

In 2019, does Godswill Akpabio come out as winning or losing? He only joined the APC on the eve of the general elections.

He went into the elections confident that he would retain his senatorial seat, his chosen candidate would defeat Governor Udom Emmanuel in Akwa Ibom and that he would deliver the state for Buhari at the presidential elections.

None of those happened. In fact, he lost big. And usually, anyone that loses in such a humiliating way can be considered to be politically dead and buried. That is far from what has happened to him.

He was named the minister of Niger Delta by Buhari.

He got the Niger Delta Development Commission moved from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and domiciled in his ministry.

Now he is restructuring the commission and has even gotten the president to temporarily side with him on the makeup of the board of the commission.

How can we count winners and losers of 2019 without naming Olusegun Obasanjo. In early 2018, he wrote a stinker to Buhari warning of an impending humiliation and electoral defeat if the president chose to seek reelection?

Even though Akpabio is a late entrant to the Buhari team, other ministers from the Niger Delta region are struggling controlling his growing influence. Try telling Akpabio 2019 has not been good to him.

Bukola Saraki had big dreams.

Maybe he still does. But in 2019, he settled for replacing Buhari as president with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, retaining his seat as Senate President and installing a handpicked candidate as governor in Kwara.

All his plans came crashing down. But who can be said to be the most gratified from his fall?

Though he won the most prized political seat in Kwara, there is no known history of personal animosity between Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazak and Sen. Bukola Saraki.

So, it has to be his sister, Gbemisola Saraki that came out most pleased when APC swept all national and state elections in the state.

For eight years, she nursed the wounds and bitterness of being denied the opportunity to be governor by her brother. And when he lost everything in the year 2019, Gbemisola did not hide her joy.

Yet, there could be others even more pleased than her: the people of Kwara. It was the people more than any politician who had really had enough.

How can we count winners and losers of 2019 without naming Olusegun Obasanjo. In early 2018, he wrote a stinker to Buhari warning of an impending humiliation and electoral defeat if the president chose to seek reelection?

He had done the same to previous presidents and mostly came out on top. By January 2019, he had endorsed the president’s main rival. Even after the election results were announced, Obasanjo still refused to accept it and put his faith in the tribunal to hand him victory.

Today, it is unlikely the former president still has ideas he can put his weight behind any candidate and the candidate of choice would automatically become president.

There are no signs Obasanjo is looking forward to 2023 to dictate what happens. He has been brought down to earth.

For the first in the 20 years of experimenting in democracy, Zamfara has an elected chief executive who appears to have a purpose and knows a thing or two about what governance should look like

In 2019, there were no wins for him, not even in Ogun his home state. And for the first time since he served out his two terms as president, Obasanjo appears, in every way to be living in retirement as an elder statesman.

If Abdulaziz Yari had a terrible 2019, Bello Matawalle probably can’t believe his luck. An internal squabble within the APC in Zamfara doomed the chances of the party in state elections.

And the squabbles weren’t helped by a national chairman who also felt the need to meddle in state affairs.

It was inevitable that Matawalle, the PDP candidate would emerge governor.

He didn’t exactly win the election. He became governor by default because INEC, and then the courts disqualified the ruling APC. But here is the irony.

The people of Zamfara are probably the true winners.

For the first in the 20 years of experimenting in democracy, Zamfara has an elected chief executive who appears to have a purpose and knows a thing or two about what governance should look like.

He has even caught national attention by repealing a law that gifts large amounts of the state’s meager resources to past governors in the name of pension.

Ibikunle Amosun seems to be having the last laugh. In 2019, the APC went against him.

Atiku Abubakar may have lost the presidential elections, but in the course of the elections, he has regained the trust of Obasanjo, registered his name in the international community, where he had previously been ostracised, as a top contender for Nigeria’s presidency and also brought Adamawa back to the fold of states governed by the PDP

It handed the Ogun governorship ticket a candidate he opposed, forcing him to support another party during state elections.

And in the aftermath of the election results, which saw his candidate lose the governorship, Amosun was suspended for going against his party.

The only thing he had going for him was the senatorial seat he won under the APC. Even at that, his future in the party and in politics looked bleak.

Then came a string of ministerial and other federal appointment made by Buhari favouring his preferred candidates against those of Osinbajo, Tinubu and anyone else competing with him.

The appointments were not just a blow to the leadership of the party and other southwest power brokers, they serve as a testament of Amosun’s standing with Buhari.

They both waited four long years after losing out in 2015. It was no surprise when Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila were elected Senate President and Speaker respectively. 2019 was always going to be their year.

And in Lagos, Bola Tinubu proved a point that he can still make or break a governor.

His hand may have been forced, but still, to manage disaffections in Lagos, he was decisive in going against a second term for Akinwunmi Ambode as governor bringing in his place, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Atiku Abubakar may have lost the presidential elections, but in the course of the elections, he has regained the trust of Obasanjo, registered his name in the international community, where he had previously been ostracised, as a top contender for Nigeria’s presidency and also brought Adamawa back to the fold of states governed by the PDP.

Normally, the last general elections should have settled the contest for power in the country. But it is now obvious that in Nigeria, the contest is never ending.

The outcome of the elections seems to have only drawn the battle lines for 2023. And if you are Atiku Abubakar or Bola Tinubu, never say never.

Written by Shuaib Shuaib

Shuaibu, a former Editor of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers, is based in Abuja.

Ini Dima Okojie / Photo credit: bellanaijastyle.com

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