By Donu Kogbara
IT was our head of state’s birthday a couple of days ago and his arch-rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, published the following Tweet:
I wish President @MBuhari a happy birthday even as my family and I pray for long life for him. Despite the fact that we will meet at the polls soon, I very much affirm that we are brothers born from the womb of One Nigeria. Happy birthday. -AA
What a charming and respectful message from one senior statesman to another! It perfectly captures the Christmas spirit and reminds us that there is more to life than constant petty point-scoring! If all politicians were this civilized and gentlemanly, there would be no electoral violence and democracy would be strengthened.
Yuletide greetings and reminders
OK, dear Vanguard Readers, that’s it from me until after Christmas. I am sadly aware that you don’t all possess the financial means to enjoy the festive season. If it’s any consolation, while I can’t claim to be destitute, I certainly won’t be able to splash plenty cash on yuletide treats and gifts for myself and my nearest and dearest.
But at least we can read and write newspaper articles! So, let’s thank God Almighty for our educations and the fact that we are alive. And let’s never forget those who are less fortunate – those who can’t even afford access to newspapers, whether hard copies or online.
Plus the heartbroken and neglected and rejected, the hungry, the sick, the dying, those who are trapped in war zones, victims of Boko Haram and other vicious hoodlums. Children in pain everywhere because they have been raped or mutilated or beaten or starved. Let’s always remember that very important reminder that there is always someone who is worse off than the average person: I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
Last word from readers
Last week, I quoted a couple of Nigerians who do not want Buhari or Atiku to win the election because they believe that non-mainstream candidates – Mrs Oby Ezekwesili and Kingsley Moghalu, for example – have more to offer. I then expressed the view that non-mainstream candidates, though capable, have not tried hard enough to acquire credibility or gain support. Here are some readers’ reactions:
From J. Odocha (email@example.com), a retired oil executive:
Dear Donu, Your column has thrown up a deep question that indeed is food for thought for Nigerians and at the same time calls for soul searching. I have never been more persuaded to respond to your incisive topics and views than today, for the fact that you have wittingly or unwittingly touched on the stark predicament of Nigerian politics: The Ideal and The Reality.
Please permit me to expatiate. A couple of months ago there was so much noise about the age factor in Nigerian politics and Presidency that the “not too young to run” movement sprang up, creating an avenue for the youths to revitalize Nigerian politics and Presidency.
But the two mega parties ended up not encouraging or presenting youths for 2019. The presidential candidates who could stand as proxy for the youths have all sprung up from a few motley structure-less parties. This is the reality of Nigerian politics.
Ideally the Ezekwesilis, the Moghalus, the Dukes and the Sowores are definitely candidates that have age on their side for more effective and efficient approach to governance.
But the question remains: Is Nigeria of today ready to have this breed of politicians on board? My answer is an emphatic No!!! But why? High level of illiteracy and highly misplaced national interest.
When a Moghalu marshals out his economic master-plan or an Ezekwesili rolls out her development strategies or a Duke puts forward his industrial growth plans, will all these make sense to the majority illiterate poor masses in the country as such can make to you and I? But Buhari they know, and Atiku they know.
The political parties have no ideologies and therefore their membership can defect from one to the other like migratory birds.
Therefore, individuals and their potentials and accomplishments should be our ideal motive for leadership and governance. Again in a country that preaches rotation, equity and fairness, how come that the two mega parties are bent on presenting two northerners whereas the incumbent is a northerner, who, even though he legitimately has the right for a second term of four years and if defeated the winner equally has the right for eight years, meaning twelve years running for the north? This is the misplaced nationalism factor because Buhari they know and Atiku they know.
Donu you can see that for every other curious Nigerian, the answer to your topical question lies in the wide gap between the ideal and the reality in the Nigerian politics of today.
From Benjamin Atanu Achimugu (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Dear Donu Kogbara, I am one of those in support of non-mainstream candidates. First, Buhari (APC) and Atiku (PDP) represent two major political parties that have been tested in turns and have offered little or nothing in terms of development as a nation.
These two front line candidates have their question marks as to why they’re not the best for the country at this critical point in time notwithstanding the image making efforts of their campaign teams.
They represent the old order that have refused to give way for fresh ideas. They have nothing new or meaningful to offer the country and cannot take Nigeria to the desired ‘Next Level’.
Take it or leave it, Nigeria cannot witness any tangible results under the existing old order that ‘BUTIKU’ (In the word of Oby Ezekwesili) represents. In my view, they remain two fingers of the same leprous hand. I wish it’s possible to have a ‘shift’ from the old order and have any of Mrs Oby Ezekwesili/Kingsley Moghalu/Donald Duke as the next president of this potential great country.
Second, as to whether or not the non mainstream candidates have made enough efforts to attract support, the answer is obviously in the negative. The rest of the candidates have been more in social media and are more or less out to create awareness without concrete structures capable of winning elections.
In a way, I won’t totally blame them because the existing Nigerian political structures are not favourably disposed to anything revolutionary ideas. We remain at the primitive stage of our political lives where the interplay of; where one comes from, religion, money(deep pocket), godfatherism, zoning arrangement among other unprogressive factors conspire to work against people with great ideas and thereby promoting mediocrity.
The saddest tragedy of leadership in Africa remains as Prof PLO Lumumba puts it, that those with leadership opportunities are bereft of ideas while those with ideas don’t have the opportunity.