By Dele Sobowale
“You can’t beat something with nothing.” American Baseball Team Manager; after his team lost seventeen games in a row.”
Regular readers of this column will testify that I will not be counted among the President’s ardent supporters. I even campaigned against him in 2011. But, we are now in 2014 and too many things have changed since 2011.
If anyone had asked me the advice I would give Jonathan a year ago, it would have been, ‘Mr. President, please go home’ Now, I am not so sure that would be a sensible idea or even a patriotic one. Several reasons account for the change. Incidentally, the political opposition is responsible for the cardinal reason. Let me quickly explain before I am misunderstood.
The All Progressive Congress, APC, which had offered a great deal of hope, when it was still a Work In Progress, is almost a finished product now. While, I would not agree with Olisa Methu’s characterisation of the APC, it is still obvious to me that the party had not given a convincing indication that it has an alternative candidate capable of taking over from Jonathan.
Nobody, but one, has developed the guts to come out and tell Nigerians “I want to run for President.” Yet, power is white hot; none but the brave, except you are LUCKY, dares to reach for the greatest prize in the land.
So far, only one candidate, Mr Sam Nda Isaiah, former Chairman of the LEADERSHIP GROUP OF COMPANIES, had boldly thrown his hat into the ring. Meanwhile, his declaration of intention, to send Jonathan packing, had been received by the powerhouses of the APC with studied indifference. Nobody has even invited him to a meeting to determine what he has to offer.
Instead of a real candidate, who should now be storming the states, the nation has been served with a phantom team of candidates for President and Vice President. Well, in my books, power is not grabbed by rumours in a democracy. Someone must boldly declare he intends to lead us and then proceed to tell us what he will do to improve on the situation he finds in the land.
Bearing in mind that we are less than twelve months from the 2015 presidential elections, and with 36 states, 774 Local governments to cover, a serious presidential candidate should have been matching Jonathan, step for step, selling his own ideas to people. I am aware that INEC rules preclude campaigning.
But, they do not preclude meeting with friends, organising seminars and workshops to discuss and agree on the way forward. As it is now, a good, but, relatively unknown candidate has very little chance. Even the pair, rumoured to be the team of choice by the opposition party, still needs a lot of work to do.
Although generally well known, they still have to build a lot of bridges across the nation and mobilise people for support. In fact, their being well-known is at once an asset and a liability. Each of them is admired for certain qualities that command strong support; that is the good news.
But, each is also saddled with a lot of excess baggage of negative characteristics; that is the bad news. Between now and next year, if they remain the actual team, a lot of work will need to be done to paper over the cracks tending to split the alliance of forces which now make up the APC.
And, they should never, never forget what the late British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, 1894-1970, told us. “Alliances are held together by fear; not by love.” (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, P 5). That being the case, it is in the interest of the leaders to ensure that, with the “enemies at the gate” they do nothing to make those in their camp nervous. At the moment they are making a lot of their supporters jittery.
Just because I love to see a real fair contest, and not an easy walk-over, I will give them unsolicited advice, free consultancy, if you like. I learnt the trick from good old United States of America and from one damn good politician called Sam Rayburn, 1882-1961.
The Texas born politician was perhaps the most powerful Speaker of the House of Representatives the US has ever known; and he trained an even better protégé called Lyndon Johnson, 1908-1973, who rose from ordinary Senator to Senate Majority Leader to Vice President and was there to become President when President John Kennedy was assassinated in his state – Texas.
What was Rayburn’s lesson to leaders? He said, “there are some individuals who it is better to keep on the inside pissing out than on the outside pissing in”. The APC leadership runs the great risk of allowing a lot of people who should be inside pissing out to go out and start pissing in.
One of them might have gone to have lunch at Aso Rock recently. His ominous visit should demonstrate the dangers faced by the leaders of APC. I don’t expect a cheque for my free consultancy. But, a word is sufficient.
Consequently, Jonathan has no opponent. So, even if the President wants to quit, there is no challenger in sight; not in APC and, most definitely, not in PDP to who he can hand over the baton and retire to Otuoke. So, the man might as well go ahead and run.
The election will then become, more or less, a referendum. Political office abhors a vacuum and until the APC provides Nigeria with an alternative, Jonathan remains the sole candidate. Well, as they say in Las Vegas, if it is the only game in town, you might as well play it.
I am aware that some people believe that there was a pact which restricts Jonathan to only one term. I am a believer in the sanctity of agreements myself. But, first we need to have a signed document to prove that. In the alternative, we need several individuals who can swear by the Bible, the Koran, and let’s be fair, by Sango, that they were there when he made the pledge. Otherwise it remains a rumour. At any rate, we still need an alternative.
LAST WORD ON RELIGION IN POLITICS.
0703-543-9846..D late Ahmadu Bello told d late N Azikiwe: u Zik, re a Xtain nd a southerner, I am Moslem nd a northerner. Let’s understand our differences. So why d hypocrisy by some 9gerians dat der is no religion in politics?
The message carried no name. But, male, female, Xtain, Moslem, northerner or southerner, I thank you for helping me to bring this series to an end. I can now move on to other things.
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