What if Buhari is truly out of the 2019 race?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

It would certainly make the political atmosphere in the country very interesting if President Muhammadu Buhari decides against running for a second term in 2019.

“Baba Buhari hasn’t told us what he wants to re-contest in 2019”, said Aisha Alhassan, the Minister of Women Affairs commenting on her support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Affirming that she would not support Buhari should he choose to run for a second tenure in 2019, the Minister said that her loyalty will lie with Atiku, who has run for the office of President on two previous occasions in 2007 and 2011.

President Muhammadu Buhari is now 74 years of age, about two years older than Atiku, and speculations about his health have led to calls for him to only see out the current term to May 2019. Buhari was away from the country this year for more than 150 days; in his absence, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo performed as Acting President.

In the event that Buhari does not run, Osinbajo has been touted in many quarters as a natural successor, though there remain those who opine that the second in command does not necessarily ascend to the throne. The extent of Osinbajo’s interest in the job is not certain even if he looked as Presidential as an Acting President could be expected to be in his two stints this year.

If Buhari is out of the picture, it could be that the APC primaries, should they choose to hold transparent primaries, would be between a present and a past Vice President, a scenario that would be unique in its own right in the history of the democratic experience of Nigeria.

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