The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is yet to announce plans for the 2019 presidential elections. But Nigerian politicians are already getting set for the epic battle.
Interestingly, the north, the region, where the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari hails from, is also getting agitated by the day. The Professor Ango Abdullahi-led Northern Elders Forum, NEF, was the first to stir the hornetís nest, when in October last year it declared that it would be ready to back Buhari, should he present himself again in 2019.
Specifically, former INEC Secretary, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of NEF, at the groupís summit, said: ďSo, those who are disposed to listen, please listen. Northern votes were not wasted in electing President Buhari. In 2019, we will also use our votes in a manner consistent with our interests as northerners. We did not make a mistake in putting up a solid, united front as northerners in spite of our ethno-religious differences.Ē
But barely a week after the summit, Dr. Junaid Mohammad, who though attended, declared in an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun that in 2019, Buhari, was no longer going to be an option, adding that ďI think those who are bothered about 2019, should please start getting alliances across, and start planning how to bring down the APC government, through constitutional means, and to also make sure they deny the PDP, a second chance of ruling the country again. APC is not doing well; I donít think Buhari is going to do any better. The crowd around Buhari has nothing to offer.Ē He declared that even if Buhari was to present himself for election in 2019, he would neither campaign nor vote for him.
Since then, however, the names of two northerners, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, have dominated the media space, as possible challengers to Buhari, should he decide to run again. In fact, Adamawa State governor, Senator Jubrilla Bindow, who is of the APC, has since declared ahead of APC primary that it was either Atiku or nobody else