As it seems all other activities are in lockdown all around the world with the Covid-19 pandemic taking centre stage, politics is still finding a way to thrive. It has been a difficult period all around the world. Economies are suffering and more disturbing, lives are being lost. In the midst of all these, just as it is human nature, lots of people are already making plans for the post-epidemic period, just as ‘politicking’ has not stopped. Particularly in Nigeria, politics has shrouded the sharing of palliatives, the treatment of the sick and the various supports expected from the government to manage the effects of the pandemic.
Nigeria has had her fair share of fatalities. It is regrettable that those precious souls have been lost and condolences to their loved ones. Probably, the biggest scalp the pandemic has taken so far in Nigeria is that of the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari – Abba Kyari. As his treatment and burial showed – all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others. Kyari was a popular figure in Buhari’s government, probably one of the most powerful Chief of Staff in the history of Nigeria.
Kyari was Buhari’s right hand man.
Prior to Kyari’s death and even after, the performance of the federal government in taking care of the pandemic has been in question. The leadership the federal government has provided in the face of the pandemic is at best confusing. It appears that Nigerians are not comfortable having a leader that is not seen to be everywhere, showing that he is in charge in speech and in deed. It brings to the fore, the type of leader and leadership Nigerians will be leaning towards when it is time to choose in 2023. One of the names that has not stop popping up whenever this discussion comes up is that of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. A political gathering of who is who in Nigeria today is not complete without the mention of Tinubu.
While Tinubu has not publicly declared that he will be running in 2023, he is expected to have a huge say in whoever succeeds Buhari. The APC is made up of two major power blocs. The CPC bloc, consisting of Buhari acolytes, most of whom are Northerners. Then the ACN bloc, most of whom are Tinubu’s acolytes in the South. It is expected that after the Buhari Northern bloc completes their eight years, it will be the turn of the South and Tinubu.
Will Tinubu patience be rewarded in 2023?
For most of Buhari’s almost five years so far, there seems to have been an attempt to silence the Tinubu camp by a certain cabal. Buhari’s health challenges and seemingly aloof style has left a chasm in leadership. In that case, the Vice President – Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, a Tinubu protege, was expected to have filled the gap and probably reduce the apprehension. But it seems there is a cabal running the government in the ‘absence’ of Buhari. This much was confirmed by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who once accused the cabal of hijacking the government. Kyari was seen as one of the strongmen of the cabal. Kyari had Buhari’s ears and wielded so much power. He was mischievously tagged as the Vice President admin, while Osinbajo was tagged Vice President academics.
Kyari was said to wield as much power as the VP.
In the first tenure when Osinbajo was acting President in Buhari’s absence on some occasions, he took decisions that made his popularity soar but he seems to have been cut to size afterwards with Kyari assuming more powers. Most of the decisions Osinbajo took were seen not to be in favor of the cabal.
The reaction, which can be best described as mixed, that greeted Kyari’s demise says a lot about how the people feel about the government of the day. Maybe it is a result of their performance or the perception they have created due to how they communicate, it is a discussion for another day. But the fact that Nigerians knew little about Kyari’s qualifications and persona until after his death says a lot about the perception the people have of the government.
Tinubu’s ambition – whether to run or push forward a candidate is very much tied to the performance or perception of the present day government. As he is expected to run as a candidate of the APC, he can not disassociate from the party or the present government. He is or was a huge factor in the emergence of both.
Tinubu can’t disassociate himself from the present day government.
After Kyari’s demise, what next?
It will be interesting to see how President Buhari performs henceforth. Is he going to allow Professor Osinbajo have more say and become the face of the government? Is he going to bring in another Chief of Staff and vest in him as much power as Kyari?
The expected post-epidemic period is going to be a trying period. How well the Buhari government stare Nigeria in the face of expected economic recession will prove very important for the APC and its candidate in 2023. If Tinubu will be that candidate, his ambition is directly or indirectly tied to whoever replaces Kyari.
Tinubu’s ambition is tied to Kyari’s successor.
Tinubu has not played the role expected in this government as he seems to have been faraway from the president. Even those that are not on his side can not deny that he has created leadership in Lagos. After steering the ship of Lagos State for eight years, his foresight in planning a roadmap for Lagos that subsequent governments are expected to build on is noble. His choice of successor and the brilliance of some of the men he has around him in his team is also envious. He was expected to play a more prominent part in the present government but it has not seemed so. Will the absence of Kyari allow him to be closer to the presidency?
While 2023 seems like a long time away, politicians and political observers know it is not. As stated earlier, ‘politicking’ has been prominent in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and most of them are geared towards 2023. While we make all these postulations and analysis, no one knows what tomorrow holds. But as humans, we will not stop preparing for the future we are unsure of.