By Tonnie Iredia
Nigeria’s former Vice President during the Obasanjo administration, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has formally declared his intention to contest the 2019 Presidential election. Atiku made his intention known last Tuesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. Whereas the declaration is legally premature, Atiku showed great ability in his articulation of what is wrong with the polity and how he intends to bring the nation back to greater heights. Some people may have no option than to consider him for their vote because he has reached out meaningfully. Another person whose subsisting interest in the 2019 presidential election cannot be ignored is Sule Lamido, immediate past governor of Jigawa state and one-time Foreign Affairs Minister. Those who know him especially Jigawa citizens can hardly dispute his astute pragmatism as a leader, administrator and state builder. While Atiku and Lamido can easily be assessed because they had held political offices in the past, it is heartwarming to hear of the emergence of someone that is obviously an outstanding professional, Kingsley Moghalu a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. He too has been explaining why he considers himself well positioned to facilitate the nation’s rapid growth and development.
With Moghalu’s intimidating credentials, why should patriots not adopt a strong brand? Of course many more politicians both at federal and state levels are likely to join the race soon. Some of them are probably waiting for the approved time for doing so. It is therefore likely that for 2019, we shall have not just more aspirants but qualitative ones. It is hoped however that such other aspirants will change the old narrative of Nigerian politics by presenting to the nation not only promises but how they intend to implement them, that is, a detailed plan of action on which they can be held accountable. They must also be persuasive enough for us all to see them as having enough capacity for the office they aspire to hold. In other words, they need to transparently display cognate ability. But unfortunately, current trends do not appear to show that the narrative will change. Already, there are many people who give the impression that as law abiding citizens, they would not beat the gun, yet scores of their supporters are all over the place ostensibly acting on their behalf thereby underscoring the lack of capability of their principals.
A painful one is the group made up of persons who are busy renting crowds that are begging them to consider running for one post or the other. If the truth must be told, a strong patriotic and visionary leader does not need to be persuaded to serve society. Rather, the urge ought to evolve as a call to service from within the self. We therefore hope that at the appropriate time such leaders would clearly assure us that we are not as before dealing with reluctant candidates. Except that is the case, it is quite costly allowing any person who is unprepared for an office to contest and win elections with the help of considerations that are different from the personal urge and commitment to serve. It is astonishing that even incumbents who are advantaged have continued to take their people for a ride. How else can we explain the trend whereby organized supporter-groups are pointing at imaginary roads and other projects built by their hirers as if we are blind and need to be shown roads built in front of our houses?
A second layer is outgoing incumbents that are imposing anointed candidates on the people. In Ekiti State, the current Deputy Governor, Kolapo Olusola-Eleka would be the candidate of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party ONLY because that is the wish of the outgoing governor, Ayodele Fayose. In other words, neither the party nor the people of the state can vouch for the capacity of the anointed aspirant. Because our political class does not seem to believe in the efficacy of personal qualities for getting into such highly placed leadership positions, other interested Ekiti politicians including a strong voice like Senator Biodun Olujimi have been shoved aside by a stroke of the pen. In Imo state, the out-going governor, Rochas Okorocha is set to impose one Uche Nwosu as his successor. From all that is coming out of the state there are two known qualities of the said governor’s preferred aspirant namely: a) he is humble and b) he is the incumbent governor’s son in law. Okorocha has himself publicly added a third justification which is that Imo is not the only state where governors are supporting their relations to succeed them. While it is wrong for people to object to Nwosu’s candidacy only because of his relationship with Okorocha, it is despicable that he is being imposed only for that reason
The pain in this approach of imposing people on others is that the political class is making politics the obvious area where Nigeria has made no progress since independence. Each time we have any opportunity whatsoever to determine who gets what in Nigeria, the wrong persons are drafted in, only to produce disastrous consequences. During “the bow and go” Senate of David Mark, one nominee for the post of Minister was confirmed without clearance. On assumption of office, he supervised a routine recruitment exercise in one of his Parastatals that led to the death of fellow citizens. Strangely, the then Senators threatened to summon the Minister who only did what he liked because he was given a blank cheque by the same Senate that failed to stop him from attaining a position above his capacity. It is perhaps the same explanation that makes favoured candidates justify their positions by claiming to have attended schools which were not in existence at the time they were allegedly there.
It is therefore time for Nigerians to realize that election is a game in which stakeholders ought to field their best teams. Indeed, for 2019, it would be wrong to support those that are imposed through endorsements. Instead, we need to look out for men and women of vision that can take us beyond how it used to be. We want leaders that will work for the nation and not those that are good at articulating excuses. We need a third force by whatever name called that can put a halt to the recycling of political cousins in the two main political parties that are similarly propelled by same goal- personal interest. Except we search and search thoroughly and refuse to vote for those who have always failed, things can hardly improve.