Only the most gullible people would not realize, after 24 years of forlorn expectation, that there is no salvation for Nigeria in the Old Guard, represented by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the proverbial two fingers of a leprous hand – which have occupied the Presidency, consecutively, since 1999 – regardless of what their hatchet men may say.
Either we continue following them, like people under a spell, unto perdition, or we awaken to the fact that power actually belongs to the people, turn a new leaf and resist all forms of manipulation by which our birthright of freedom and prosperity had been stolen, and do all it takes to retire them from the Presidency, with another party, by the 2023 election, for a chance to salvage Nigeria before it is too late.
The Presidency is the first target in the rescue mission, because, by the current Nigerian Constitution, it controls all essential resources and powers in all departments of the federation and is everything in setting the tone and direction of the country, with the states as mere vassals – an aberration in a federal system that must be rectified, as the next stage of the mission. Politics is the art of the possible.
It is only a prudent, astute and determined president that would embark on the restructuring of the federation. Predators will never do it.
The APC-led Presidency, in particular, is neither prudent nor astute. Among others, it is seen as favouring the religion and followers of Islam and their regions. It is drowning the country in debt without returns. It is even bent on violating the Land Use Act to expropriate land (the only asset still possessed by states) with the Water Resources Bill being pushed, for the umpteenth time, at the National Assembly.
Once the Bill is passed and signed into law, all ground water, as well as all interstate rivers and streams, along with the land area stretching into 10 kilometres from both banks, will be taken over by the Federal Government. You will need a licence even to drill a borehole. And you can guess who will dominate the Water Commission, who will get the licences and who will repopulate the river valleys and ancestral lands – at the expense of native farmers and fishermen.
Second, like Nero who fiddled while Rome burnt, the clueless and predatory Old Guard have left Nigeria slumbering in insecurity and the bottom spots on all socio-economic and human development indices among nations, particularly, since the years of the APC-led Federal Government – despite the intimidating human and natural resources bestowed on the country by God almighty.
The president’s current passion is for foreign trips while the whole country is writhing in the throes of terrorism. And he is adamant against State Police, rendering the governor a commander without an army. It is only now that the terrorists are besieging the Federal Capital Territory, where many of the predators are ensconced, that the toothless National Assembly suddenly threatens to impeach the president they shout as the leopard cannot change its spots.
The APC and the PDP have crossed the Rubicon (degenerated to the point of no return) in bad governance and financial and moral corruption that there is no prospect of repentance; the latest evidence being the shameful trading, monetization and vote-buying which characterize their selection of flagbearers for the 2023 general elections, despite the prevailing destitution among the populace, which ought to be sobering and eliciting far-reaching austerity measures rather than the vulgar display of money.
Both parties share the same identity, particularly, when it comes to looting the treasury. For example, in the ongoing fraud case of N109 Billion against the Accountant-General of the Federation, the loot was said to be shared and laundered between members of both parties, including serving commissioners.
As a result of compromise, there is no credible opposition to keep the ruling party on its toes. Another proof that they have completely lost touch with reality is the case of the Speaker of the House of Representatives attending a course at the Harvard University while public universities remained shut since six months.
Fourth, the APC and PDP are also united in turning Nigeria into a predatory oligarchy – a system monopolized and looted by the few within, at the expense of the majority. One of their strategies is the erection of barriers against the less-moneyed youths, women and technocrats, in order to keep recycling themselves in power.
State governors, for example, who retire with obscene benefits would simply relocate to the Senate or Federal Executive Council or major public institutions – instead of giving way to rejuvenate the system with fresh blood!
Today, you do not aspire to be President or governor or legislator if not as a billionaire. In the APC, you needed N100 million to express interest in the 2023 Presidency. In the PDP, it was N40 million. Nobody asks for the source of the funds, but most of the aspirants were current or previous public office holders.
Another strategy is to allow the public school system to decay and the standard of education to nosedive while educating their children in foreign and private universities and frantically installing them in the executive, legislature, judiciary and key parastatals and agencies of government (like NNPC, CBN and NPA) regardless of merit, in a phoney succession plan which renders the rest of the people onlookers.
Then, they gloat (as Atiku Abubakar did in a recent Arise TV interview) in the gullibility and herd mentality of the poorly-educated and subjugated masses towards elections, perhaps, without realizing that they are fanning the embers of the fundamentalism and terrorism already consuming the country.
A progressive society is one in which the son of a nobody can school and compete with the son of a senator or governor in a public school and become somebody without knowing anybody (tribute to Mallam Aminu Kano) which used to be the case in the days of service integrity and quality and accessible education.
Healthy competition is behind the prosperity of North America, Europe and, now, Asia. Nigerians even benefit from open societies around the world more than they do from their country, owing to this threatening closed system, compounded by the quota system. We celebrate Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume and many others, today, but would they have mounted the world stage if they depended on Nigeria?
That the Moslem North (where the closed system is practised, with kith and kin as the emirs, district heads and administrators, at the expense of the majority) is the illiteracy, disease, poverty, corruption and terrorism capital of Nigeria, today (despite their elite being in control of political power since 1960) is an irrefutable evidence that the closed system is the recipe for the failure of any society and should not be allowed to envelope the whole country!
Fifth, the easy money available to the oligarchy from public coffers also feeds the cancer of vote-buying, manipulation and subjugation of the electorate, with the result that outcomes of elections hardly reflect the mind of the people but that of the oligarchy who now see public office as an investment for financial returns.
That is why, for example, the pledge by the APC to deliver uninterrupted power supply within six months of coming to power could not be fulfilled after seven years, even with Babatunde Fashola – the chief protagonist – as the minister for power. That is why there is little or nothing to show for the humongous public debt being left behind by the out-going APC-led Federal Government. There can be no end to this haemorrhage until both parties are dislodged from the Presidency.
On this score, it is important to recall that both Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu and Wazirin Atiku Abubakar indulged in large-scale vote-buying and miscellaneous spending in the journey to presidential candidacy and to bear in mind the implications. Who will pay for the bitterness and expenses Atiku Abubakar has incurred over thirty years of shopping for the presidency, for example?
Sixth, the APC and the PDP should be rejected for compulsively lying to the electorate and never keeping faith upon coming to power – in addition to vote-buying and vote suppression – in order to restore the dignity of the electorate and to save the integrity of our electoral democracy.
Recall that, for the 2015 election, the APC dressed their presidential candidate in the borrowed robes of a born-again nationalist and democrat – none of which he turned out to be – even after the second chance given him in 2019. We overlooked his record of dictatorship and nepotism.
The APC also seduced the electorate with numerous mouth-watering pledges – from steady power and fuel supply at minimal cost, to the extermination of Boko Haram within six months of coming to power to revamping the economy, in general and the Naira (to the equivalent of the United States Dollar) in particular – but has not redeemed even one. Instead, insecurity, exchange rate, power and fuel supply, inflation and everything else have worsened a thousand times.
This time, its presidential candidate, Asiwaju Tinubu, a Southern Moslem, has started the deception by insensitively picking Kashim Shetima, a Northern Moslem, as running mate, under the pretext of electoral value, despite an abundance of Northern Christians of more electoral value than Shetima and in disregard of the federal character principle as well as the Islamization undertone of the terrorism and lopsidedness ravaging the country.
Meanwhile, all strategic offices of the party and of the APC-led Federal Government – save the Vice President, Secretary to the Government and Governor of the Central Bank – are occupied by Moslems, which betrays the presumption of Nigeria as an Islamic country. Could that be the reason for terrorism and all shades of insecurity and everything else becoming worse? Could that be why the government is decisive only on Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and ESN but not on the Islamists? Then, how further would everything degenerate with an entirely Moslem Presidency?
Also, on the day of Shetima’s unveiling, people who were not known clergymen were seen robed as Bishops, perhaps, as a decoy for his acceptance by Christian leaders but which should be interpreted more as a signal that the APC remains unrepentant and would still descend to any depth to con the people.
As morning shows the day, it also demonstrates that Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, as president, would be a helpless hostage and cannot curb deception in the party. Yet, we are being asked to discard the Islamization perception of his ticket!
It is also deceptive to rationalize this ticket with the Moslem-Moslem ticket of Chief Moshood Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe that won the presidential election of 1993. Nigeria was not as disconsolate and disunited in 1993 as it is today. Abiola and Kingibe never took office, by reason of the rejection of a Moslem-Moslem presidency by General Babangida (who wanted Paschal Bafyau as Chief Abiola’s running mate) There was no governance outcome of that ticket to rely upon.
Like the APC, the PDP failed to respect the federal character principle captured in its Constitution by the rotation of the presidency between the North and the South. To add insult to injury, it selected the principal protagonist of the breach, Atiku Abubakar (a serial defector between parties, who has been shopping for the Presidency since 1992) as its 2023 presidential candidate – at the expense of the Eastern Region, in general and the South-East, in particular, which had been the stronghold of the PDP and which turn its presidential candidacy for 2023 was.
This same Atiku led some Northern governors, in 2014, to derail the PDP and Dr. Jonathan’s re-election, to force the presidency back to the North, claiming that Jonathan had overstayed into the turn of the North. He then contested for the 2015 presidential ticket under the APC but lost to Buhari.
Atiku shamelessly ran back to the PDP in 2018 and, paradoxically, still picked the 2019 presidential ticket (when it was the turn of the North) but lost the election. The same man would no longer recognize rotation when it became the turn of another region!
Atiku is also Fulani and Moslem from the North as is Buhari who would have been in power for eight years, by May, 2023. Yet, the Wazirin Adamawa is being promoted as a unifier! Is the presidency the preserve of the Fulani? How could a desperate and avaricious usurper be a unifier?
Atiku should be seen as a bully and a maestro of deception and intrigues and not a unifier. But he has seemingly cast a spell on his counterparts who do not pay him in his own coins! Even Governor Nyesom Wike, whom he dribbled out of both presidential and vice presidential candidacies would still work with him!
Anyway, the buck stops at the table of the people who should never overlook antecedents, this time, after having been misled to overlook Buhari’s antecedents of nepotism and dictatorship and to trust him as a born-again nationalist and democrat, to their peril. It is impossible for a selfish and insensitive person, lacking in conscience and respect for the people and solely horse-trading for personal interest, to keep faith with the people when in power.
Seventh, no one can have all his desires in a lifetime, particularly, when those desires border on the interest of the populace. As the Bible says, there is a time for everything under the sun. Tinubu and Atiku have had generous golden days. They should dump avarice and go home. They are too old and frail for the Presidency of a disconsolate country. For goodness sake, our maximum age for public service is 70 years. Why entertain octogenarians for the more challenging Presidency?
Furthermore, none of them should be allowed to succeed Buhari in a manner of profiting from the disaster they created. It was largely Tinubu and Atiku who foisted General Buhari on Nigeria: Tinubu, by the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria with the Congress for Progressive Change; Atiku (and some Northern governors) by the ‘New PDP’ which derailed Dr. Jonathan’s and PDP’s re-election in 2015.
Moreover, those who can figure recent events in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, among others, would appreciate that Nigeria is already in coma, on the same road to perdition. A religious war is being intensified by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen and bandits who are taking territories. Nigeria is over-borrowed, with double-digit inflation (19%) and Monetary Policy Rate (14%) Debt-service obligations now exceed revenues. Every index of financial crisis and a failed state is worsening.
Therefore, Nigeria needs clean, youthful, brilliant, spirited and hands-on leaders, brimming with ideas, who can be decisive (and not sentimental) against all shades of terrorism, who have the domestic economy and global affairs at the fingertips, who can win the confidence of world leaders and institutions and who can be on their feet and responsive, in both mind and body, for 24 hours of the day. There is no more time for octogenarians with baggage, who cannot even handle impromptu interviews and who are more likely to waste precious time on sick bed.
The rationalization of Tinubu’s and Atiku’s age and health with that of Joe Biden of the U. S. is laughable. It would take only a walking distance and a few hours for President Biden to get the best medical treatment in the world and return to his desk. But each medical trip of our president to Europe (the choice destination for healthcare which they fail to provide at home) would last several weeks, if not months.
U. S. institutions and operators are resilient and, generally, on autopilot. Ours are fragile and servile. Recall what it took the National Assembly for Jonathan to succeed Musa Yar’Adua in 2010. More recently, files were being flown to President Buhari in sickbed in London while the Vice President was in Abuja.
Nigeria’s risk of aged president is too high to entertain a second time, at least, not now that there is the option of virile, younger, people (particularly, the pair of Peter Obi and Yusuf Baba-Ahmed) who perfectly meet the profile of a messianic presidency and the gold standard for modern leaders.
One could go on. Neither the APC nor the PDP is an option for the salvation of Nigeria, going by the character of both party and flagbearer. Those who have seen it all, like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Edwin Clark and Professor Ango Abdulahi, among many notable statesmen, have also said so, emphatically.
It is time to do away with docility, to ignore charlatans, to frantically educate voters and to do everything to checkmate vote-buying and vote suppression (to which the Old Guard would fall back) in order to retire them from the Presidency, for a chance to rescue the country before it is too late.
The future of the youths and the children is most at stake. In particular, the youths, who seem to have awakened, must push harder for they would most be blamed if this golden opportunity is missed.