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To understand the machinations…one has to remember that the 2019 elections are around the corner. The incumbent president has been absent for the past two months and might not be able to run again. The notional rotational arrangement in the political space means that the North might push to have another candidate conclude the incumbent’s second term…


My country Nigeria is like a hyper drive Telemundo soap opera at the moment. Blink and you miss some dramatic event. Lekki floods, explosions, kidnappings, realigned budgets, another iteration of corruption, the Badoo gang’s bludgeonings, rapes, militant fights, regional upheaval, presidential disappearance, the appreciation of the naira, and our CBN governor making an appearance in an episode of ‘Billion’. There are just too many things happening on the public scene for the average hustling Nigerian. One wonders how the government can maintain a cohesive direction in all the miasma of daily mind numbing events.

Here is a synopsis of the things that have been getting our attention over the last few weeks; the things that really matter: Nigerian Instagram commentator with no discernable means of income, HushPuppi is fighting Kycee and Phyno over the wearing of fake Patek Phillipe wrist watches (as if many people can truly afford a real one!); renowned kidnapper, Evans is currently suing the Nigerian Police for holding him without charging him to court, despite confessing to every crime under the sun; floods are sweeping through the country and devastating real estate prices from Lekki to Minna. There is a new dancing senator in Osun State, whose dance steps are mesmerising the nation, while there is presently no policy proposal for implementation in his new sphere of operation, the Senate.

Here is a highlight of the real things that should matter to Nigerians. The country has been in economic recession for over a year now. The president of the country is currently recuperating or dying in London, where he has gone to seek medical help. Nearly 40 percent of youth under the age of 24 are unemployed or underemployed. While the naira has rebounded recently, it has fallen almost a 100 percent against the dollar from where it was three years ago. Oil production has slowly started to edge up towards the two million barrels/day mark, while global crude prices have started inching down again, dropping from over $50/barrel to $45/barrel only yesterday; however there is now pressure from OPEC to reduce Nigeria’s production quota. The federal budget has been passed and signed, nevertheless the legislature has, in a sleight of hand, moved various items around (including increasing their own budget to N125 billion by removing funds from federal government projects) and now the executive isn’t executing the budget.

To me, yet the most devastating threat to the nation is the current face-off between the Senate and the acting president of the Federal Republic over the confirmation of the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The background to this is that the EFCC has not had a substantive boss since the inception of this administration. The nominee submitted to the Senate for confirmation, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has never been liked by the Senate, considering the fact that the red chamber is now a glorified retirement home for ex-governors and ministers who are being probed for their past misconduct in office, including the current Senate president. Magu’s name has been forwarded twice and rejected both times, with the Senate refusing to reconsider the name again, while also asking him to stop functioning as the acting EFCC boss.

We should expect to see a lot more madness as the country drifts closer and closer to the precipice. Instead of focusing on what matters, our leaders have started to prepare for the elections, completely forgetting about the welfare of the people who elected them into office.


To understand the machinations above, one has to remember that the 2019 elections are around the corner. The incumbent president has been absent for the past two months and might not be able to run again. The notional rotational arrangement in the political space means that the North might push to have another candidate conclude the incumbent’s second term and that might play out this way: If Mr. Buhari is unable to resume office in the next month or thereabout, the Senate might seek to push for his replacement by his deputy. Remember that it was 78 days after ex-president Musa Yar’Adua left the country for medical treatment that the Senate took power from him and gave it to his deputy. If the acting president becomes full president, he will have to appoint a vice-president from the North. Now, the front runners for the position have started jostling. The early front runners are Mr. Nasir El Rufai, Mr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Mr. Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Bukola Saraki. In all probability, whoever becomes VP will be on the ticket during the 2019 elections and become president by May of that year, most likely.

That is a sizeable price for all the political gladiators and I suspect this is a direct reason for the sudden hyperactivity seen across the political spectrum. The mishmash of political jobbers called the APC is made up of three rumps with different agendas. The nPDP rump is led by the sometimes Yoruba and most times Fulani, Bukola Saraki, and it largely calls the shots from the Nigerian Senate. The old CPC rump is represented by the people around the president (his Chief of staff, etc.) and the old AC has mainly coalesced around the vice president. Two players seem to draw their prospects from across the spectrum: Ex-Governor Kwankwaso and former Vice President Atiku have supporters in all the groups.

Three things happened last week that highlighted Mr. Saraki’s decision to be more aggressive in his push for power. First, the reckless response of the Senate to the recall process of Mr. Dino Melaye. Secondly, the Senate’s decision to stop the confirmation process of the FG’s nominees until Mr. Magu is removed from EFCC (note that the decision is being forcefully pushed during the acting position of a nominee put forward by Mr. Tinubu), and finally the move last week in the Senate while the acting president was outside the country to declare the Senate president as the acting president of the Federal Republic. All these can only be viewed in the context of the coming political fight. Saraki is reminding the man in power that he has significant disruptive power and he intends to use it.

We should expect to see a lot more madness as the country drifts closer and closer to the precipice. Instead of focusing on what matters, our leaders have started to prepare for the elections, completely forgetting about the welfare of the people who elected them into office.

Femi Akinfolarin, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.

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