Senator Bukkar Abba Ibrahim, a three-term governor of Yobe – in two dispensations –and the senator representing Yobe East, has warned the APC not to expect victory in the North East as it did in 2015.
This warning from Ibrahim, whose wife, Khadijah, is the current Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, shows the palpable fear across the APC establishment as the 2019 election draws near.
The APC got 78% of the 3.68 million votes cast in the north eastern states of Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa and Taraba in the 2015 elections. This feat, Ibrahim says, is very unlikely in 2019. Ibrahim says the people of the North East are bitter about their worsening conditions. And rigging, the senator says, might not help the APC in the region.
This is not good news for Buhari’s re-election bid. These comments from an influential north eastern politician like Ibrahim cannot be wished away.
The North East and North West have always been seen as Buhari’s strong hold. Even 2011, when Buhari lost to former President Jonathan, he won all 7 states of the North West and 4 out of the 6 states of the North East.
But,it looks like things might not be that rosy for Buhari in these regions
Buhari’s electoral victory in 2015 was cemented with the massive 1.9 million votes he got from the 2.17 million votes cast in the north western state of Kano. Interestingly, the total number of votes cast in the presidential election, which was held simultaneously with the House of Assembly elections, had 1 million votes more than those for the House of Assembly elections.
Of course, if former President Jonathan had the opportunity to repeat the 2015 elections, he would have kept a close eye on the elections in Kano, where the card reader machines recorded over 85 percent failure. Interestingly, the man who helped President Buhari achieve this feat– in Kano in 2015– has since parted ways with the president. Former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso has declared total support for the Atiku/Obi ticket.
President Buhari’s re-election bid is made worse by the widespread discontent from the APC primaries in the North East and North West.
In the South West, which was the swing region for President Buhari in 2015, the minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, is struggling to sell Buhari to the electorate. He even went as far as playing the ethnic card by promising the South West the 2023 presidency if they voted for the incumbent. With this promise, Fashola contradicted Governor Rochas Okorocha, who had been going around promising the South East of the APC’s 2023 presidential ticket if they supported President Buhari in 2019.
The contradictions and incoherence in the APC are becoming more visible as the 2019 election draws near. Perhaps, this has given oxygen to the litany of contestants jostling for the office of the president in the forthcoming elections.
Obviously, the widespread disappointment on the faces of many Nigerians could be because of the very high expectations they had for this government at its inception. And this is not an issue of underreporting the current administration’s successes, as the president suggested. No matter how much you report the achievements of a government, the people must feel the impact on their wallets and stomachs for such reportage to fly.
Nigerians should be more demanding in the next elections. Unfortunately, just as in the last elections, where many vowed to vote for anybody but Jonathan, many are currently repeating a similar slogan. They say they would vote for anybody but Buhari. This is not good enough.
All presidential candidates should be properly interrogated. Anybody wishing to be president needs to assure the electorate that he or she can surmount the problems President Buhari met on ground and those he is trying to surmount. Buhari had complained that he never knew things were as bad as he met it before he resumed office. The last thing Nigerians want is for Buhari to be replaced with a president who would come up with similar complains of how bad things are.