Arewa Beyond Buhari Presidency


¬†Regardless of the performance rating of President Buhari, as he enters his second year in office it is pertinent to begin to look ahead. This is particularly relevant in the context of the political future of the North which, needless to say, is not entirely hinged on the prospects of the Buhari Presidency, limited as it is both by his age and the tenure factor. In some circles of course it is taboo to talk of future politics in the North without President Buhari. But the reality is that discussing the future of politics in the North is not only a continuous issue but also a matter of strategic importance to the viability of the northern interest in the Nigerian political power calculus. From this angle of real politics it is necessary to focus on the prospects for northern presidential “entitlement” even in 2019 because there are some imponderables that must be considered and catered for and 2016 is a timely take-off point.

For the purpose of this submission, the issue of northern presidential entitlement is now more than ever before not an exclusive northern concern or game plan. The Buhari Presidency being the product of a fortuitous forging of a delicate dalliance with the popular front of south-west power politics that is widely regarded as a marriage of political convenience, has seemingly validated the postulation that the north’s politics of population cannot on its own deliver the presidency on a platter of perfection. In fulfillment of this stratagem, the hitherto puritan northern stance of the Buhari political movement willingly embraced the hitherto contrarian countenance of the so-called Lagos-Ibadan axis confident that this was a sure banker for northern presidency, notwithstanding longstanding inherent incongruities.

It should also be accepted that the Buhari Presidency or rather the presidential career of General Buhari is not and should not be the sole determinant of the dynamics of northern presidential entitlement whether for now, 2019 or 2023 for that matter. There is no wishing away the overwhelming siege of age on the General’s political, if not presidential, career. In other words, it is realistic to explore the possibility of a single term Buhari Presidency, not because of political mischief but in deference to human frailty and the wider interest of the northern presidential entitlement which is technically valid till 2023. It would certainly be expected that at a certain stage(if not now), even President Buhari will have to ponder over his willingness and ability to contest the 2019 presidential elections, irrespective of the marital state of the APC political cohabitation. It will all be in good faith though power politics is rarely driven by ethical energies.

The essence of preserving and pursuing the northern presidential entitlement lies more in the feasibility of sustaining the pan-Nigerian (as well as the pan-Northern) political potency of that entitlement than in the destiny of any of its current and potential political leaders. There is no denying the undiminished dichotomies that have eroded and still militate against the now fabled Arewa solidarity since the untimely and disabling demise of its sole architect, the great Sardauna of blessed memory. This domestic plague reared its ugly head in the 2015 presidential elections indicating the crying need for heightened initiatives to frankly and effectively resuscitate the spirit of unity and common interest that still remains the elixir for progress and development of the peoples of the North.

More critical for the northern presidential entitlement however is the sustenance of the pan-Nigerian political rapport on as many fronts as possible. Here again the focus must be wide-angled rather than fixed. The so-called tsunami that swept President Buhari into power no doubt symbolized the spontaneous synchronization of the northern with the south-western strand of pan-Nigerian power politics. The snag is the spontaneity of all tsunamis which are only momentarily tremendous. The political variety we have recently witnessed memorably unseated an incumbent government and momentously actualized the thrice-truncated presidential ambition of General Buhari.¬† These two outcomes were however the jewels in the eyes of the tsunamists whose disparate antecedents and divergent dispositions converged conveniently on the gold-in-the-opportunities. Less than a year after “storming” the presidency, a menacing storm has enveloped the APC.

Fortunately, the reality of our politics for presidential entitlement compels us to look beyond the immediate exigencies of presidential power politics in prospecting for the sustenance of the northern presidential entitlement towards 2019. For now our thoughts should be in the direction of salvaging the sustainable strategies developed in pursuit of northern presidential entitlement across Nigeria which were not overrun in the process of sweeping President Buhari into power or caught up by the emerging imponderables of the future of the Buhari Presidency.¬† Think, northerners, think………….

BASHIR MAIHIDIMA writes from GidanJama’a, Sokoto

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