The 2019 general elections took place barely 10 months ago, and those declared winners were installed a little over six months ago. Yet, it seems the politics of the next general election year 2023 is already in play. One of the founders of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is reportedly eyeing the presidency, come 2023, visited Aso Villa last week and told newsmen that it was too early to be talking about the next election because “the time is not now”.
However, this opinion does not derogate from the fact that some groups have been openly campaigning for him to succeed Buhari come 2023. There is this notion that in a democracy there should be times for politics and governance. We have just done with intensive politics, it is now time to deliver electoral promises to the people through focused governance.
There is no beating this logic. But several factors are responsible for this seeming early start. Most Nigerian politicians and their supporters do nothing else but politics. That is how they earn their living and make their wealth. Downtime politics means no business, no money. This is why busybodies are campaigning even for putative candidates who are still smarting from the bruises of the 2019 elections. Secondly, the question of succession to the presidency in 2023 requires some clear answers. It helps very much that Buhari has assured he would no longer be contesting when his tenure ends in 2023.
He has said the right thing, but we must all hold him to this. Also, the issue of power rotation between North and South is not settled in the major parties – the APC and the People Democratic Party, PDP. It is difficult to stop people from wanting to know which way the cat should jump. Talking about it will help in generating broad national consensuses around these relevant political issues. We see nothing wrong in engaging in robust discussions around succession 2023, both at presidential and gubernatorial levels. But we must not allow the heat of politics to distract those we just elected a few months ago to lose focus in governance. They, in particular, must guard against distraction. The worst kind of distraction is if clear successors become known this early in the political cycle.
It will render those we just elected early lame-ducks. We advise President Buhari that, having concretely disavowed the tenure extension hoax, he should return our collective attention to efforts to rebuild the economy and our national infrastructure, secure the country and rid the system of corruption. We expect the President and the Governors to start commissioning the projects they built in the past four years and touch the lives of the people in a meaningful manner.