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IBB campaign model and ethnic politics (2)

THE country will take its rightful place among the comity of nations. In partnership with like–minded politicians that abound in other parts of the country this new crop of Northern liberal leaders will ensure that Nigerian politics will return to the politics of values and openness that make for the vibrancy, stability, dynamism, consistency and competitiveness seen in other lands.

A cardinal strength of the American system is its openness. Those who wish to cheat or otherwise misbehave in such a system have no place to hide. That is what makes the system self-accounting, stable and progressive. Nigeria can be like that if we can get rid of bigoted illiberals like IBB.

Among General Babangida’s cohort two are the next most visible players of the North-South divide game: one is the most prominent heir to the Saraki pseudo-political dynasty in Kwara State. The other is the retired Customs and Excise service officer General Obasanjo brought to national prominence by choosing him as running mate in the maiden presidential election of the Fourth Republic.

Bukola Saraki and his father Olusola, have over the years consistently shown a predisposition to ride to power on the crest of a North-South divide fault line wave. They have constantly played it up whenever the situation suited them. That Bukola entered the campaign shows just how much the family is fixated on this presumption.

Whether there actually exists a clear North-South divide and how much it actually defines or should define the country’s politics or even how much of it is fact or fiction is less important to the Saraki clan than their need to ride to power on the crest of its wave.

Bukola’s aim in throwing his hat into the ring must be either to provide a younger and perhaps a more appealing alternative to the geriatric IBB, at least for the apostles of North-South divide, or to join forces with IBB, when the chips are down in order to gain ascendancy over the competition. The jury is out.

As vice president in the Obasanjo administration Atiku Abubakar apparently overplayed his hand as he tried rather too heavily to lean on the North–South divide thing. During their first term Alhaji Atiku acted more as an overbearing co-president, supposedly representing the North, than as vice-president. At times one even felt that he saw himself as the senior partner in the arrangement.

This was, of course, a monumental folly. No matter how compromised or weak an individual might be, either of character or of political pedigree, being the president of Nigeria is no joke. It is one of the most powerful political offices on earth.

That Atiku did not realise this just shows how naïve and near-sighted some Nigerian politicians can be, particularly those apostles of North-South divide politics. Not surprisingly Atiku’s relationship with his supposed boss steadily soured irretrievably, degenerating, despite OBJ’s ‘valiant’ attempts to shore up the relationship and present a brave face, into acrimony and ridicule, that played out in full view of the general public.

There are other reasons why Atiku Abubakar, in my view, is definitely in the wrong job, seeking to be president.  He was chairman of the National Privatisation Council that was noted for inefficiency and corrupt practices. The supposed and protracted privatisations of Nigeria Airways and NITEL are cases in point.

The same man prefers holidaying (he calls it going to relax) in Europe, America and Dubai several times a year, than in Nigeria. While holding the second most powerful public office in the country he had an exclusive university built.

A man who considers foreign destinations better than his own for private business or pleasure surely must have an inferiority complex, rather like some African women who stretch their hairs so that they will look Caucasian, Chinese, European, Asian and Indian, as if Afro-centric hair styles are inferior. For such people, cosmetics exchange places with reality.

For men like Atiku the value of being president is mainly ornamental, a status symbol. Such people need to be taught that someone who has not articulated a positive vision for the country, not just by his words but also by his deeds, which he intends to accomplish with the presidency is not welcome there.

The right man for the presidency will be one who embodies the hopes and aspirations of the people. Atiku is attracted to the presidency not necessarily for its political value but more for its social value.

More than anything else Atiku’s motivation in seeking to be president is merely due to a need to climb the social ladder and enhance his social status. And of course another related reason Atiku wants the job is that as an active plutocrat the chance to make money as president is the dream.

Mr. Peter EGBE ULU, a  rtd Lt-Col, writes from Lagos.


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