Barely a week after former President Olusegun Obasanjo advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019, campaign posters of ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, yesterday flooded the cities of Abuja and Lagos.
T he campaign posters of Kingibe, the running mate to late Bashorun MKO Abiola, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential candidate in the June 12, 1993 election, emerged amidst growing concerns over President Buhari’s reelection bid.
In Abuja, the posters were seen at some major spots, including the Federal Secretariat. It had the inscription: “Sai Baba for President 2019.” In Lagos, the campaign posters were cited in the Ikeja area, especially around the Lagos State Secretariat in Alausa, Agidingbi and Acme roads as well as other major points of attraction. “Sai Baba” slogan was used by Buhari in 2015. Kingibe had employed the phrase in 1993 during the SDP presidential primary.
But, a presidency source confirmed to New Telegraph that the development is causing disquiet in the All Progressives Congress (APC) because there is an agreement within the party that no one should challenge Buhari until he decides either to run or not.
According to the source, unless Kingibe quickly denies his involvement in the campaign posters, it is likely to renew the rivalry between the Fulanis of the North-West and the Kanuris, who are predominant in the North-East.
The former SGF, a Kanuri from Borno State, was former National Chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was appointed SGF by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adu in 2007, but was given the boot in September 2008 over alleged disloyalty.
He, however, staged a comeback to government last November, when Buhari appointed him to head a panel to review operational, technical and administrative structure of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the aftermath of $43 million belonging to the agency found in an apartment in Lagos.
According to the presidency source, the former SGF is reportedly reaching out to his close political associates in the defunct SDP on his presidential ambition. It is believed that Kingibe’s decision to reactivate his old political network will have only one effect – to divide the core North.
His ambition may shatter the cohesion Buhari has struggled to build across the North. Meanwhile, there is uneasy calm in the North following the controversy over whether Buhari should contest the 2019 presidential election or not, but political leaders in the other geopolitical zones are of the view that restructuring of the country rather than the polls should be the priority.
While opinions are divided in the North on whether the President should seek for a second term or not, most political leaders in the region are waiting to see how events pan out.
Among those who would not want to be drawn into discussion on the issue include chieftains of the apex northern body, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF). However, a source at the Sokoto road headquarters of the ACF told our correspondent that “the responsibility to field candidates for elections is that of the political parties, so it is left for them to choose whoever they want.
“It can be President Buhari or another person depending on what they want, either young or old. As you know, many members of ACF also belong to different political parties,” he said.
But speaking on the issue, former Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said Nigeria is in a desperate situation as credible leaders are in short supply in the North and across the country.
His words: “Nigeria is in a desperate situation or even more than that. If you remember, those who voted Buhari and the APC in 2015 said anything but Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Are we now saying the same thing, anything but APC and Buhari because we are disappointed with their performance?
“I think we should attach relevance to our judgement, we should not just judge without an alternative. If we said the same thing about Jonathan and PDP and we are now saying the same thing about APC and Buhari, then we are in a very dangerous situation.
This time, we should be critical about our judgement, let it not be anything. If we are dissatisfied with Buhari and APC, it should not just be anything, we need to take our time to look for an individual who is qualified and distinctively different, else we will be in a worse situation.”
Elder statesman and former presidential adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, on his part, said: “There are so many competent Nigerians in the North, just as there are in the South, but because of the way we practice our democracy and governance, the same thing that happened under Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, is now happening under Buhari.”
First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, also stated that what Ndigbo want ahead of 2019 general elections is not different from what other Nigerians want, which, according to him, is restructuring of the country.
Amaechi said that under the present socio-political and economic situation, anybody who thinks he can perform magic in terms of moving Nigeria forward developmentally is a joker. He said it is not in the interest of the South-East or any other zone to be talking of the 2019 elections, when they cannot do much to lift the country if they produce the president.
He said: “There is too much concentration of power in Aso Rock, which has made it autocratic. Nigeria needs to be renegotiated. We must redefine the basis of our federal structure in order to decentralize power as we had it during the First Republic.
Under the present structure, any president that takes over cannot achieve anything. So what the Igbo want is what other Nigerians want.” Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke on the issue, also harped on the need to restructure the country before the forthcoming polls. His words: “The question of the North producing president in 2019 is not the issue; what type of northerner is going to be there should be the concern.