One thing is certain, the race for Aso Villa 2015 is not going to be one for the faint hearted. You can hear the drums of war from miles down the creek and you can see the silhouettes of the kingmakers prancing around in the dark like leopards waiting to prance on a game in the jungle. And, we’re only talking the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
When the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) took the fun out of the contest by rallying round President Goodluck Jonathan, you had to get on your knees and pray the gods of Nigerian politics let the APC fellas at least unsling some mud. What’s the fun when you can’t watch a reality show-styled contest where the leaders show all of us that, despite their wealth and elite status, we are all scrappy humans looking for the next job?
Not that I blame PDP. When you’re the incumbent, the only play is for the party to rally round the president and present a united front. Nothing is more fun for the incumbent party than to watch the opposition tear into each other like a pack of hungry hyenas. You don’t even have to like your candidate, being in power trumps being out of it any day. Remember the 2012 American elections? The Democrats essentially used the playbook of Mitt Romney’s primary opponents to tear him apart, and that was an election in which many Democrats were not really amped up about President Barrack Obama.
Abubakar Atiku versus Muhammadu Buhari – boy, what a match up! The retired general who wants the world to believe he’s almost dirt poor despite a lifetime on the corridors of power versus the former customs supremo who lets the world know that he’s loaded and it’s all with greens. A man who doesn’t sweat the loose change for nomination forms versus a man who travels in a convoy of multi-million naira SUVs but wants us to believe he took a loan for his nomination form. It may not be a match made in heaven. But, it sure was made at somewhere more elitist than a fancy suya joint.
Of course there are the pretenders led by Rabiu Kwankwaso. But how do you take a man seriously when he takes his presidential bid to the Senate president, a leader if the party you want to dethrone, only to have his eardrums blasted by the truth the only way a retired general can deliver it. Or, how earnest is a candidate who screams that he’s unable to find a place to declare his candidacy? My aunt once declared that us kids were going to get twelve strokes of the whip each in a church’s parking lot on one stormy Sunday afternoon after mass. I’m sure she would have done it in the church but the lord may not have permitted it. But, the lord doesn’t give that much of a damn about whipping in the parking lot!
Normally I would root for Atiku. I like him, he talks a good game, and I’m told he’s richer than God so he may not be tempted to steal. And, having grown up in an era where Buhari threatened the freedom of a country and flaunted his duplicity, I have never really warmed up to the man. I always feel he thinks he’s the last saint and we’re all sinners. But, I’m not really pumped about any man who seeks power with the relentlessness a hound dog seeks a rabbit. What are they really looking for?
But, you gotta pity Atiku. He was sitting pretty in PDP but age wasn’t on his side and the party was treating him like a stepchild. He must have looked at the presidential field and seen only Muhammadu Buhari in his path. With his sizeable wealth and relative youth, he must have thought he could walk over the gangly general in a Lagos minute. But, he’s finding out that a Lagos minute is not always what you think it is. And, Buhari may frown at his youthful claim because both men are literally pensioners
Atiku must wonder what a man has to do to be president. First he thought his time would be after a likely MKO Abiola presidency but the man of hope jettisoned him for Baba Gana Kingibe before Ibrahim Babangida jettisoned everyone. Then, he had an expressway to the throne as Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy. But, he allowed that boat to be rocked. Now, just a few months ago, he felt he was the beautiful bride of the APC and a shoe-in for the race since Buhari did say he was done running during the last election cycle. Now both men have their running shoes on and you gotta believe somehow Buhari is gonna be waving that broom at the end.
You can sense that APC is telling Atiku that he cannot show up and buy their presidential ticket. It wasn’t going to be a fair fight between Atiku and Buhari if both men are left to their pockets. But, with the lords of APC lined up behind him, Buhari is several yards ahead in this sprint.
And, then comes the question – what will Atiku do? The man is going to be swept aside before he gets a chance to run and it would be cold and brutal. Does he run off the pack publicly like he’s done in the last three presidential races or does he simply walk into one corner of the room and watch Buhari run like he’s in a circus?
Ose Oyamendan is on twitter at iam_ose