By Amos Esele
Strong indications emerged during the week that President Muhammad Buhari may heed the call of his ex- comrades-in -arms, namely ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, to reject persuasions from his image makers and kitchen cabinet to seek re-election in 2019.
According to a reliable Aso Rock source, the President “decided long ago to weigh up the options available in the 2019 election and as always, he would decide in favour of national interest. His health is Okay but the electioneering of 2015 is going to be different from that of 2019 and he is not getting younger.”
Arguing that the letters from OBJ and IBB has nothing to do with it, the source said the President’s reflections on his 2019 ambition preceded the letters. “Those were merely coincidental. If he decides to run, it is not for him but for the interest of the country. If on the other hand he decides to step down, it is also for our common good”
The source could not affirm if ex-Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who visited the President recently, also spoke along the lines that OBJ and IBB, took in their blunt letters, but simply said “possible”.
OBJ in his recent letter urged the President not to seek re-election on account of his age and the enduring systemic corruption, lingering poverty in the country and rampant nepotism in his administration. IBB in his letter drew the attention of the government to the problem of insecurity arising from kidnapping, herdsmen and farmer clashes, elite mistrust heating up the polity and called for urgent attention to address them. Confusion however surrounded what is now known as IBB letters. His spokesman, Kassim Afegbua had issued a harsh one condemning the administration and called for the need to entrust governance to versatile younger men and women with mental capital to move the country forward. Babangida reportedly denied it and issued another signed by him. The controversy the letters generated too the impact of seriousness out of them, leaving the government to stand by its earlier response to OBJ’ letter.
In a statement issued by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government said former President Obasanjo was too busy to take notice of its giant strides in the core policy areas of security, anti- corruption and transparent economic development.
According the investigation, the movements of governors of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, between the Daura home town of the President, where they paid him a ‘condolence visit’ last week, to condole him on the loss of two relations and the Thursday night meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, has left such a trail surrounding the President’s 2019 ambition that the governors can no longer hide even behind their fingers.
Addressing state House Correspondents after a closed -door meeting between them and the President, the Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said President Muhammadu Buhari would soon address the nation on whether he will seek re-election in 2019.
Okorocha said: “We discussed so many issues that affect the nation, our party and Mr President’s ambition to run for 2019 elections.
“Anyhow, Mr President in his usual manner has requested that we give him time and that he will address the nation and the caucus of the party very soon.
“So we should be full of expectations that Mr President will make officially known to Nigerians his intentions.
“But we hope that his response will be in line with what the governors are thinking,’’ he said.
Okorocah added that “it is the desire of the governors that the President seek re-election in view of his tremendous performances in the last two and half years. We believe that if he continues Nigeria will be better for it.’’
Understandably, some of the governors are pressing Buhari to decide early enough because they also labour presidential ambitions. Okorocha has been reportedly quoted that he would run for the presidency in 2019 if Buhari steps down. His counterparts form the North are keeping their interest close to their hearts knowing that the party would zone the plump job to their zone and should Buhari fail to run, his ‘blessing’ would be enough to get the ticket and probably win the number one seat.