The NNPP is a deliberately birthed political vehicle with a clear and undisputed leader as against a Labour Party in 2023 which was essentially a vehicle borrowed or hired for a journey in which the renter has a differing ideology from the owner’s. It is more than likely that the owners would retrieve the vehicle as the renter did not achieve the main goal for renting the vehicle, which was driving to Aso Rock
Dr Uche Diala
There is no doubt that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (APC) won the 2023 presidential clean and clear. That fact is crystal clear to even his main opponents who are crying foul. That is altogether not unexpected.
The second runner up in the election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (APC) equally needs to be congratulated. He really has nothing to complain about as he performed as expected in view of the many odds against him and his party, some of which were self inflicted.
It is also clear that Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party did well. In fact, to his credit, he did much better than many expected so much so that I am sure that he even surprised himself. For that, he, his supporters, INEC, and indeed Nigerians should be congratulated. It shows that our democracy is maturing. Any shortfall from the election could be addressed and improved upon.
I want to however state that one person who maybe many have not paid much attention to what he has achieved so far in this election cycle is Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, both in terms of realising his set goals for the election and his political strategy especially in setting a solid foundation for his political journey going forward.
Aside from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who achieved his only goal of winning the election so as to govern Nigeria, Engineer Kwankwaso in my humble view is the only other presidential candidate who achieved his set goals. Except maybe for the plethora of other presidential candidates whose only goal with all due respects was to have ‘one-time presidential candidate’ added to their resume.
I said severally before the election that Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was ‘not really running’ to win the election or to become president at this time. He is more politically savvy than that. I said he was aiming to strengthen his political party, the NNPP and his base with a view to future political exploits, and he achieved that in a decent, strategic and respectable manner without ruffling much feathers and courting undue enemity especially outside his base. What with his sterling performance in his politically strategic home base Kano state which all but settled the election.
At the last count, of the 98 Senate seats out of 109 so far declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC got 57 seats while the PDP got 29, LP 6, NNPP 2, SDP 2, APGA 1 and YPP 1 respectively.
In the same vein, of 325 out of 360 seats declared for the House of Representatives so far, the APC won 162 while PDP won 102, LP 34, NNPP 18, APGA 4, ADC 2, SDP 2 and YPP 1 respectively.
While it is instructive to note that the Labour Party won more seats than the ANPP in both houses, astute political watchers recognise that the wins by NNPP to borrow the street parlance were more ‘organic’. They stemmed from a deliberate political strategy and plan as against a band wagon effect occasioned by instant sentiments and even mistakes. It means that the gains by the NNPP are more likely to be more enduring and to be built upon, which was actually the plan by Engineer Kwankwaso and the NNPP.
The case of the NNPP is not a hurriedly contrived marriage of convenience, neither is it an amalgam of strange bed fellows aimed majorly at clinching the Presidency which birthed some mostly accidental wins in some other positions.
The NNPP is a deliberately birthed political vehicle with a clear and undisputed leader as against a Labour Party in 2023 which was essentially a vehicle borrowed or hired for a journey in which the renter has a differing ideology from the owner’s. It is more than likely that the owners would retrieve the vehicle as the renter did not achieve the main goal for renting the vehicle, which was driving to Aso Rock.
This briefly brings me to the point I have made elsewhere over time. Why did Mr Peter Obi not choose APGA, a party which he had a more organic claim to for his historic journey? Some would argue that he would not have achieved the same feat but methinks that as it were, he would have had a similar run on the platform of any other party. APGA has more structures even outside the South East.
I sincerely believe that if the plan was not just for a presidential win today and if thought was given to a possible loss, which is always a possibility in politics and if there was even the slightest consideration for building on the movement for the future, a party like APGA (since there was no plan or time to build a new party or a coalition of parties), would have been a better bet. However that is a matter for discussion on another day.
What Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has achieved so far and intends to build or achieve could be likened to what Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu did for over twenty years, along with other progressive elements, deliberately and tenaciously engineering, re-engineering, evolving and navigating the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to what it is today – a powerful and enduring block in the All Progressives Congress (APC), first, by building a solid base for the party in the south west, then spreading out.
It would be quickly recalled that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), formerly known as Action Congress (AC), was formed via the merger of a faction of the Alliance for Democracy, the Justice Party, the Advance Congress of Democrats, and several other minor political parties in September 2006.
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) itself was formed in 1998 to promote the cause of the Yoruba people in the Nigerian federation following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election widely believed to have been won by Chief M. K. O. Abiola.
Bola Tinubu’s political pragmatism and years of persistent hardwork is one reason objective political watchers had little doubt that he would win the 2023 presidential election or are not surprised that he won in spite of the historic dynamics that characterised the just held presidential election.
Another and even a more fitting analogy for Kwankwaso’s current run is the case of President Muhammadu Buhari who as then General Muhammadu Buhari, as a result of an unsavoury experience with the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), formed the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2009. The CPC originated in The Buhari Organization (TBO), which was itself formed in 2006.
General Buhari ran for the presidency in 2011 on the CPC platform and garnered 12,214,853 votes, as against president Goodluck Jonathan (PDP)’s, 22,495,187. Another matter for another day’s discussion.
Even as Buhari and the CPC lost the presidential election in 2011, the real deal was that the party won 6 Senate seats and 21 seats in the House of Representatives and also one governorship seat.
With clear and defined ownership, leadership and ideology, the CPC was to become formidable enough to become one of the strong building blocks of the APC, which unseated a sitting president and the then PDP behemoth in 2015. Even with his intimidating credentials and mass appeal, it was not until the APC coalition was birthed that Muhammadu Buhari got third term lucky and won the presidency, building on his achievements with the CPC.
These two stand out examples go to prove that reasonable and sustainable success and longevity in Nigeria politics, especially at the national level, requires persistent, consistent, strategic and long term planning, engineering and execution. It is not an overnight, knee jerk or impulsive undertaking, no matter how popular a politician or candidate might seem.
It would be interesting to see how well Engineer Kwankwaso’s NNPP performs in the forthcoming governorship and house of assembly elections. That would be a further pointer and maybe one that we would be talking about in the years to come. All that said, however it goes, Kwankwaso and his NNPP are surely serious political players to watch in the coming years. Keep an eye on them.
Can and would any of the other presidential candidates build on the gains they have made themselves in this election cycle? It remains to be seen.
• Dr Uche Diala writes from Abuja email@example.com