An apologue is told of a farmer, who went to his field one day and met a snake trapped in a copse. The snake begged the farmer to help get him out with a promise not to bite him when he is out, as the man had expressed fears.
No sooner had the man released the snake than it began to threaten to bite him while the man kept reminding it of its earlier promise, which the snake said it didn’t plan to keep.
While the argument ensued, a dog came along and asked what the matter was. After hearing from both parties, he said he needed to see how it was from the beginning to be able to judge, so the snake had to go back and entangle itself in the copse.
When the dog was sure that the snake could not come out on its own, except it was helped, he turned and said to man that the case had been judged in his favour so he should go on his way.
This apologie is usually told to tell the moral lesson that one good turn deserves another.
And this is the message President Muhammadu Buhari was trying to pass across when he met with governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC will hold a convention to pick it’s presidential candidate for the 2023 general elections in a few days and there have been speculations about who the president will choose to succeed him from a long list of aspirants, who are all equal in terms of the N100 million they all paid to get on their marks in the race to the presidency.
For the APC, it has been a difficult journey getting to this point. What the party said it intended to achieve by fixing N100 million as cost of the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms was obviously not achieved, with the number of aspirants it now has to contend with.
It must, therefore, have been relieving for the party, which had yet to put in place a convention committee or screen its aspirants a few days to the earlier deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), when the commission, in a surprising twist, gave a one week extension.
The extension is alleged in some quarters to have been at the behest of the government, this calling to question, the independence of INEC but I digress.
At the beginning of this year, President Buhari had, in a television interview, said he was not willing to reveal the identity of his anointed candidate to succeed him as he feared for the life of the person.
“It is (a) secret. No, I wouldn’t say because he may be eliminated if I mention. I better keep it,” he said.
Even if anyone was in doubt, one thing became certain on that day – that the president has an anointed successor.
It was for this reason that not a few people were flumoxxed when some of the president’s appointees, including the vice president and some ministers bought their party’s presidential nomination forms. While others said it smacked of confusion in the president’s camp, wondering why the president would allow such a thing to be happening, others said it was a decoy to take attention away from the main person.
Recent events have shown that the president may likely pick his successor from among his appointees, most of who resigned to pursue their ambitions.
And to ensure he has a smooth sail with his choice, the president has asked governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum to reciprocate the goodwill he extended to them in choosing their successors, by not interfering and giving them a free hand to operate and of ensuring that many of them got re-elected in 2019, while first term governors who are going for a second term also got their tickets.
Buhari said, “In a few days, the Party will be holding its Convention during which primaries would take place to pick the Presidential Flag Bearer for the 2023 General Elections. This is a very significant process and its outcome should prove to the world, the positive quality of the APC regarding democratic principles, culture as well as leadership.
“As we approach the Convention, I appeal to all of you to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community. Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections.
“In keeping with the established internal policies of the Party and as we approach the Convention in a few days, therefore, I wish to solicit the reciprocity and support of the Governors and other stakeholders in picking my successor, who would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023.”
President Buhari’s appeal to the governors, the way I see it, is laced with subtle blackmail.
Some of the governors who are in their second term, had no record to run on when they sought reelection but only won because the party, led by the president, wanted it that way and did not interfere with the process.
Even in the just concluded governorship primary, it was clear that the governor’s choices prevailed even for offices where some of the president’s men had contested.
If Buhari didn’t allow that free reign, there are some governors who have nothing to show for their time in office but got tickets to re-contest.
The whole country is now waiting with bated breaths to see if the progressive governors will give the president the cooperation he seeks, considering that some of them also either have vested interests in the contest or are directly involved as contestants.
Will they fold their hands and watch the president scheme them out without putting up a fight, in the event that he does not choose from among them?
Will they submit themselves to party supremacy?
Are they going to be like the snake that chose to harm the man after saving it?
Sitting presidents, just like governors are wont to have a preferred person to succeed them so it is no surprise that President Buhari has an anointed successor.
In 2007, we all saw how much former president, Olusegun Obasanjo campaigned to have the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua succeed him. Who can ever forget the famous phone call to “Umaru” to confirm if he was dead or alive.
Apart from appealing to their emotions as he did in the Monday address, what other strategy would the president be deploying to have his way, in the event that he meets opposition from ambitious governors?
Is it going to be a stick and carrot approach?
The coming days hold a lot of interesting things and it’ll be nice to see how it plays out, especially in the light of what the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has done, by choosing a northerner to fly its flag.
Whatever happens, that which the president has held to his chest would be revealed only in a matter of days now and I hope he gets the support of the progressive governors without having to wield the big stick.