By Owei Lakemfa
PLEASE, do not ask me what political party any politician belongs, I frankly may not know. In this season of primaries, many politicians change parties like the chameleon changes its colours. The problem is not with the politicians; it is the effect of climate change.
A politician I know flew out of his old party because the primaries were rigged, and nested in a new one. I was expecting the results of his new party, but was shocked to read that he had won the primaries of a third party. Surely, it takes a level of artistry for the same person to dance at the arena of three different parties within two weeks and win a ticket.
I wonder for how long he had been a member of the party whose primaries he won with a wide margin.
The primaries also reveal the dexterity of our political parties; for the same ticket, a party may have two lists: the “authentic list” and the fake one depending on who is making the classification.
In fact, in one Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senatorial primary in Kogi State, both lists, although containing different names of delegates, were actually authentic. The only difference was that one was the ‘Abuja’ list, which I suppose means that it came from the party national headquarters, while the second was from the party state secretariat.
It means that the list finally adopted depended on the clout of the factions. In the PDP maze, the fact that its national offices has its own list does not mean it will supersede all others. Two lists existed in Enugu State: one belonged to the then National Chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo and the other, to the State Governor, Sullivan Chime. They had their primaries, and Nwodo did not only lose out, but also lost his chairmanship.
This reminds me of an issue in the PDP presidential primaries. While reading the guidelines, Convention chairman and former Education Minister, Prof Tunde Adeniran, said delegates who are “illiterate” can seek the assistance of the literate ones in voting. I reflected that if some delegates of Africa’s largest political party are illiterate, why is the issue of wiping out illiteracy in the country not a primary concern of the party?
Another point I reminiscence over in the primaries of various parties is that people who had clearly rigged the primaries or for whom they had been rigged, claim that God had been responsible for their ‘victory’, yet we know that The Almighty is not the god of election riggers.
The opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) did not bother to conduct primaries in some cases, including the presidency. All that was required was “consensus” after which we are expected to “Stand Up For Nigeria”. Talking about Nuhu Ribadu, the ACN presidential candidate, he has youth, dynamism and apparent vibrancy on his side. I also know of youths whose imagination his resourceful campaign team has captured.
I have a friend who told me that one of his sons asks for transport fare to go to the Ribadu campaign office. One day he asked what his mission to the office is, and the son replied that he was a volunteer. So my friend’s son volunteers free working for Ribadu while he who does not support the candidacy of the former police officer, picks the bills. In my analysis, Ribadu is a political paper weight; he may inherit lots of votes from the Ashiwaju Bola Tinubu political machine, but I do not know where else he can garner enough votes to rival a Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari.
In the case of Buhari who as founder and leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) did not need primaries or consensus to be the party’s presidential candidate, the race is straight forward. He is one of a handful of politicians who have followers, some of them fanatical. His reputation is built around an image of honesty. But his past as a stone-faced military dictator who would not listen to wise counsel, may again rear its head.
I am not sure how much consensus building capacity he has developed since his days in Dodan Barracks. But we need people like him in our polity; elites who can hold their heads high and speak the truth even if it displeases the government in power. The rumours that he is having Pastor Tunde Bakare as his running mate has not subsided. If this turns out to be true, it will help neutralize campaigns that Buhari is not so tolerant of other religions. If Bakare runs, it will be a loss to the civil society movement in which the Pastor has emerged as one of its field commanders.
A fellow pastor like Bakare is Chris Okotie, the career presidential candidate of the FRESH party. Since Okotie’s political outlook is an hybrid of secularism and theocracy, he does not need either primaries or consensus to emerge a candidate. He is spirit-filled; in a sense, he is not a candidate of mere mortals; his is divine.
Once the Spirit tells him he is going to be the next president of the country, the Pastor as usual, will vigorously campaign to fulfil the prophesy. If he fails, as he did in the past to correctly interpret the prophesy, he would simply wait for the 2015 elections.
I have no doubt that the Pastor is directed in the spirit, the only problem is that he does not appear to get the timing right; perhaps the revelations that he would be president were not for the 2003, 2007 or even the 2011 elections. Whatever it is, the prophesy will be fulfilled in the fullness of time.
All those, who do not believe Pastor Okotie need do, is read the story of a Nigerian called Goodluck whom good luck followed to the presidency. The soft spot I have for the candidacy of the All Nigeria Peoples Party candidate, Ibrahim Shekarau is that he was a teacher and school principal; I believe that his reward should not be in heaven alone.