It may not be too surprising that the tussle for 2023 presidency has begun even while the current administration is still in the nascent phase of a second term. Nigerians now must have been used to the ideological character of Nigerian politicians of turning, in most instances, their second term in office to a battle of paving a way to a political son who will succeed them in office. Jostling for who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari may not therefore be so strange to Nigerians, even when the President has scarcely spent a year in his second term of office.
It would be recalled that a close political associate and former running mate of Buhari under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Pastor Tunde Bakare, had earlier this week, took to the stage to intimate Nigerians on why it is essential for President Buhari to determine his successor from now. The cleric who last week visited Buhari had urged the President to set in motion a succession plan ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Advancing his position, Bakare had stressed that determining who succeeds Buhari is important in order to avoid the risk of handing over power to a corrupt successor who will destabilise his legacies. He asserted further that by institutionalizing a system of succession, Buhari would join the league of strong world leaders like the late Deng Xiaoping of China; the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Goh Chok Tong of Singapore who laid strong patterns to determine who succeeded them.
In his assertion he had said: “God is into succession. Anyone in government that does not concern himself about succession is destroying his own legacy because the person coming after you can just mess up everything.
“Let us ask God for grace of accurate succession; that he (Buhari) will not hand over the baton of government and governance to thieves and perverts, to corrupt and power-drunk individuals, but those who are true patriots, who will serve like our founding fathers served; though not perfect, they did their best.
“As the government of President Muhammadu Buhari ushers us into the second decade of the 21st century, the third pivotal objective of governance should be to build a strong post-Buhari legacy facilitated by accurate succession.
“In this regard, Nigeria must learn from some of the best succession examples in recent history. Of note is the legacy of Deng Xiaoping, a second-generation Chinese leader who laid the foundation for today’s China.
“Xiaoping flagged off the ‘Four Modernisations’ programme, which searched around the country for leaders who, in his words, were ‘revolutionary, younger, more knowledgeable, and more specialized.’
“In three decades, that programme gave China a succession of leaders who piloted China’s economic transformation, including the current President, Xi Jinping. Without their foresight, we would not be running to China today to finance our shortsightedness.
“We must also learn from Nelson Mandela who stepped aside after one term, but not without positioning the likes of Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We must learn from the success story of Singapore, whose former Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, once said, ‘Mr Lee Kuan Yew has always emphasized political succession, and when I took over, likewise, I planned for succession…Prime Minister Lee is also working very hard to plan for succession.’
“Therefore, even as we build institutions of democratic governance, a key responsibility that history has bestowed on President Muhammadu Buhari at this turning point in our journey to nationhood is to institutionalize systems of accurate succession that will build and sustain the Nigeria we desire. This is a task that must be done.”
On a seeming counter-note, the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Tuesday came to the public space to declare that it is too early to start moves about who succeeds Buhari.
Tinubu who is speculated on many quarters as a possible candidate for the 2023 presidency, asserted that talks about succession plans should be discarded for the purpose of focusing on good governance until time comes ripe for it. Noting that the current administration just won a second term, he stressed that attention as at now should rather be centred on governance and how to support the President to achieve it.
Tinubu’s words in quote reads: “That time (zoning of Presidency) is not now. We have just finished one election and Mr President is busy sorting out the (2020) budget, working for the people of this country.
“Of course, the restlessness of politics is going to be there, but any lover of this country will not talk about the succession plan yet.
“That’s the truth. Concentrate on working for the country; help the President to help the country. There is nothing more than that.
“Anybody talking about that now is just completely restless and not focused on the agenda of nation building and development of our country.”
Evidently, the grounds on which the cleric premised his assertion deeply give some depths of insight which if critically considered, borders on the importance of system sustenance. Nigerian political realm is known to be fraught with deficiencies that destabilise the flow of continuity and sustenance of government programmes. This has been a major bane anti-productive to socio-political and economic development. The vain-glory psyche to score self-heady political scores among many Nigerian politicians has been a major problematic factor, which has left several grandeur projects to be shelved aside all in the name of change of government with the installation of a successor who doesn’t believe he has to continue the projects of his predecessor.
Indeed, if at the end of his tenure in office, President Buhari is able to have laid foundations of grandiose projects which he is unable to finish, prudence demands that there should be structural arrangements to have a successor who will build on them to actualisation.
However, the search for this should not be at the peril of the state of affairs in the Country. It is practically the truth that everything works with time and timeliness to address situations as and at when due is paramount. Therefore, in as much as Nigeria may need a successor who will build on the good parts of President Buhari’s policies for sustainability’s sake, It is also important to be reminded that the President is still very much in the nascent stage of his second term in office. Therefore, prudence demands that the rest of the over three years is not squandered on determining a successor. While it may be the wish of President to have a successor who will trail his part, he should be reminded that the whole of the time must not be wasted on sniffing, determining and working for a successor. It is therefore important at this time that all stakeholders pursue their interest with moderation, in order not to pressurise the President on the issue of 2023 successor; thereby losing focus on the his agenda of office much of which have not yet been actualised appreciably. More pressure demanded from all quarters as at now, should rather touch on pressing on the President to rise up to task and fulfill his campaign promises before his tenure elapses.