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2024: The Year of Political Change – Key Figures to Watch

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As people worldwide embrace the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, they are gearing up with expectations and lists of what to do and not do in 2024. This annual practice serves as a psychological preparation for the upcoming year, symbolizing a fresh start, a new chapter, and an opportunity to make things right for many.

In the realm of politics, keen observers are already making projections about the key figures and events that will shape the political landscape in 2024. A critical question arises: who are the political heavyweights and influencers whose actions and decisions will significantly impact the politics of the coming year? These individuals, often referred to as political gladiators, are anticipated to play pivotal roles in steering the course of political events and discussions throughout 2024.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Crucial Role in Shaping 2024

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s influence on Nigeria’s trajectory in 2024 is undeniable. As the nation’s leader, his decisions and policies are set to have profound impacts across the country. His initial six months in office, spanning from May 29, 2023, to the end of the year, were met with mixed reactions, with many attributing the period’s hardships to policy directions initiated by his predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari.

One of President Tinubu’s notable decisions, announced at his inauguration, was the immediate cessation of the fuel subsidy, a move that was initially planned by the Buhari administration but expedited by Tinubu. This decision, among others, places a spotlight on Tinubu’s first full year in office. 2024 stands as a pivotal year for him to demonstrate his leadership capabilities and fulfill his long-held presidential aspirations, not just in occupying the office but in serving and making a significant difference for Nigeria.

Various groups across Nigeria’s geopolitical zones, including Afenifere, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), and the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum (AYCF), have outlined critical areas for the President to address as the new year unfolds. These areas encompass the economy, national security, and the deepening ethnic and sectarian divisions within the country.

Recent events, such as the Christmas Day attacks in Plateau State and the prevailing high inflation and cost of living, pose significant challenges for President Tinubu. His response to these issues will be a measure of his effectiveness in handling the country’s complex and pressing problems.

Furthermore, circulating online videos of Tinubu, as an opposition leader criticizing former President Goodluck Jonathan’s handling of security issues, have resurfaced, serving as a reminder of his previous claims of being capable of better governance. In this context, Tinubu is expected to not only issue directives to security agencies but also take decisive actions to address and resolve these security challenges.

On the economic front, the pressure is on for President Tinubu to work collaboratively with the Central Bank and his economic team to steer Nigeria away from potential economic crises. His actions and strategies in dealing with these national issues will be closely watched by Nigerians and the international community, as they will define his presidency and Nigeria’s future.

Atiku Abubakar: A New Role in Nigerian Politics

As the dust settles from the 2023 general elections, it appears that this may have been the last active electoral participation for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Approaching the age of 81 by the next general elections in 2027, it is improbable that Atiku will be a contender in the future political contests.

The year 2024 is poised to be a pivotal period for Atiku, with expectations from political observers and party members that he will transition into a role of an elder statesman and unifier within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The party, which is planning a mini-convention in February 2024, is currently witnessing a power tussle between its founding members, largely represented by Atiku’s supporters, and the new generation leaders.

Atiku’s leadership and influence will be crucial in guiding the older generation of PDP members to identify and support trustworthy young party members who can carry forward the party’s legacy. His actions will significantly impact the party’s ability to resolve its internal conflicts and determine its future direction.

As a respected figure in the party, Atiku’s role in 2024 will be essential in reshaping the PDP into a formidable opposition force, preparing it for future elections. His commitment to democracy and unity will be put to the test as he navigates the complex dynamics of party politics. The effectiveness with which he mentors the next generation of PDP leaders will not only define his legacy but also shape the party’s prospects in the coming years.

Peter Obi: Sustaining Momentum in Labour Party

Peter Obi, recognized as a key figure in Nigeria’s political opposition, faces a critical year in 2024. As the Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, where the party secured a commendable third place, his role is crucial in maintaining the party’s momentum and visibility.

Obi’s primary challenge for the year is to nurture the energy and enthusiasm he injected into the Labour Party. His charismatic leadership during the 2023 presidential campaign galvanized significant public support, a dynamic he must continue to cultivate. The off-season governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, scheduled for September 2024, present an opportunity for Obi to expand the party’s influence and membership base, further solidifying its status in Nigeria’s political landscape.

A vital aspect of Obi’s strategy will be to maintain close connections with Labour Party governors and legislators. Ensuring that these elected officials uphold the party’s ideals and manifesto is imperative for the party’s integrity and longevity. Their commitment to the party’s principles and their dedication to executing people-centric projects will be instrumental in distinguishing the Labour Party as a viable and attractive political option for the 2027 general elections.

Given the Labour Party’s history, where it experienced a decline following the departure of its first elected governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in 2007, Obi’s leadership is more important than ever. As the highest-profile member of the Labour Party, his responsibility extends beyond mere administration; he must inspire loyalty and foster a sense of purpose among party members and representatives.

Furthermore, Obi is expected to continue his role as a constructive critic of government policies. His insights and suggestions for better policy alternatives will not only bolster his credibility as a leader but also contribute to the national discourse on governance and public policy.

2024 represents a pivotal year for Peter Obi and the Labour Party. Their actions and decisions will not only shape the party’s future but also influence the broader political dynamics in Nigeria. With a focus on sustained engagement, principled leadership, and strategic planning, Obi has the potential to lead the Labour Party to new heights and solidify its position in Nigeria’s political arena.

Nyesom Wike: Navigating Political Loyalties

Nyesom Ezewo Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers State and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Nigeria, finds himself at a significant crossroads in 2024. A prominent member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Wike’s actions this year are expected to clarify his political allegiance, particularly given his current role in the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.

Wike’s loyalties have been a subject of speculation, especially following his conspicuous support for President Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate in the 2023 elections, evidenced by viral online videos of him singing and dancing to a tune in support of Tinubu. This perceived alignment with the APC, despite his PDP membership, has raised questions about his true political leanings.

The political dynamics in Rivers State, particularly during Wike’s confrontations with Governor Siminalayi Fubara, further highlight these complexities. The defection of 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly, who are loyal to Wike, from the PDP to the APC, suggests a shift in Wike’s political influence. This move, coupled with statements from Wike’s supporters affirming their support for President Tinubu and the APC administration, indicates a potential realignment of Wike’s political stance.

Enemi Alabo George, the spokesman for the House of Assembly, openly stated in a television interview that the defected members are not planning to return to the PDP. He emphasized their support for the APC, particularly during the presidential election, and their commitment to supporting Tinubu’s administration.

These developments in 2024 will likely be pivotal in defining Wike’s political trajectory and his role within Nigeria’s broader political landscape. His decisions and actions will not only impact his personal political future but could also influence the dynamics within the PDP and his relationships with other key political figures and parties in the country.

Gov. Siminalayi Fubara

In 2024, Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State will navigate a politically charged landscape following the peace accord mediated by President Bola Tinubu. This agreement, signed in December, emerged from a prolonged dispute between Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, now serving as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The accord’s terms, aimed at fostering peace, include the withdrawal of legal actions related to the political crisis, the reinstatement of various political and administrative positions, and the recognition of the current leadership in the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Fubara, previously the accountant general under Wike’s administration, was endorsed by Wike for the governorship. The agreement brokered by President Tinubu presents several challenges for Fubara, particularly in balancing the interests of different political factions. Critics argue that the deal seems to favor Wike, potentially restricting Fubara’s autonomy as governor. However, Fubara has committed to implementing the agreement fully, emphasizing that peace is paramount.

In the coming year, Fubara’s leadership will be tested as he works to uphold the spirit of the accord while managing the complex political dynamics of Rivers State. His ability to steer the state towards stability and development, amidst these constraints, will be crucial. As Fubara embarks on this path, his actions will significantly impact the state’s political landscape and possibly set a precedent for conflict resolution in Nigerian politics.

Godwin Obaseki

Godwin Obaseki, the Governor of Edo State, approaches a pivotal year as he prepares to complete his second term in office. Amidst internal party struggles, particularly with his deputy, Philip Shuaibu, Obaseki faces the challenge of consolidating his control over the state’s PDP structure. His immediate focus in 2024 will be to ensure the emergence and success of his preferred gubernatorial candidate in the PDP for the upcoming September elections.

Obaseki’s tenure has been marked by various initiatives and reforms, but his political acumen will be tested as he navigates the complex dynamics within his party. Balancing the aspirations of different party factions while maintaining a cohesive front will be essential for the PDP’s prospects in the gubernatorial race. Obaseki’s strategy and decision-making in the coming months will significantly influence not only the political landscape of Edo State but also the PDP’s broader trajectory.

Femi Gbajabiamila

As the Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu, Femi Gbajabiamila, a seasoned legislator, plays a pivotal role in coordinating the federal government’s activities. His experience and political insight will be instrumental in ensuring that the various ministries and their ministers align with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda.

Given the President’s age and Gbajabiamila’s close association with him, Gbajabiamila is expected to be a key figure in directing the administration’s policies and actions. His role in 2024 will be crucial in shaping the effectiveness of Tinubu’s governance, as he works to foster unity and efficiency within the cabinet. Gbajabiamila’s ability to manage these responsibilities will significantly impact the administration’s success and its reception by the Nigerian public.

Musa Kwankwaso

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), faces a defining year in 2024. The outcome of the Supreme Court judgment on the Kano governorship election will have a substantial impact on Kwankwaso’s political trajectory. A victory in this case could revitalize his political influence, particularly in Kano State, which is a critical base for his broader ambitions.

However, a loss would significantly weaken his position, potentially limiting his role in national and regional politics. Without the backing and resources of Kano State, Kwankwaso’s ability to exert influence would be diminished. In the event of a favorable verdict, Kwankwaso is expected to expand his influence across the North, where he seeks to establish a stronger presence compared to the 2023 presidential election results.

Looking ahead, Kwankwaso might explore alliances with other political parties and seek to build relationships across political lines, including with President Tinubu, despite their party differences. His aspiration to become a dominant figure in Northern politics will likely bring him into competition with Vice President Kashim Shettima, with both eyeing leadership in the region.

Shettima and Zulum

In 2024, Vice President Kashim Shettima will continue to assert his influence in Northern politics. His ambition to be a central figure in the region’s political landscape will involve forging alliances across party lines and building a broad support base. Shettima’s activities, such as attending key events and representing the federal government in various capacities, are part of this strategic positioning.

Concurrently, Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State is expected to focus primarily on state administration, particularly addressing the insurgency and uplifting his people. His loyalty to Shettima and a more subdued role at the national level will likely continue.

Shettima’s ambition to succeed President Tinubu and lead Northern politics faces challenges, including competition from seasoned politicians like Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. His success will depend on maintaining the president’s confidence and navigating the complex political terrain of the North.

South East Governors

In the South East, governors face high expectations from their constituents in 2024. The region’s diverse political representation, with different parties governing the states, adds to the complexity of their tasks.

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, also the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, will play a crucial role in uniting the region and liaising with the federal government. His leadership in addressing insecurity and fostering regional economic development will be key to his legacy and influence.

In Anambra, Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s approach to the upcoming governorship election will be closely watched. APGA’s dominance in the state faces challenges, and Soludo’s strategies will be pivotal in maintaining the party’s stronghold.

Enugu’s Governor Peter Mbah, an accomplished entrepreneur, is expected to leverage his business acumen to drive development in the state. His performance will be a significant factor in shaping the state’s future.

In Abia, Governor Alex Otti’s focus on infrastructure development and tackling insecurity will be crucial. His approach to local governance, including the conduct of local government elections, will be a test of his commitment to democratic principles.

Overall, the actions and policies of these governors in 2024 will significantly shape the political and developmental trajectory of the South East region.

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