By Dele Sobowale
“Better late than never”. That is the age-long consolation for procrastinators who frequently forget or are unaware of the damage unwarranteddelay does to ideas and programmes. After spending the better part of the last two and a half years advocating for Igbo Presidency, I was just on the verge of throwing in the towel when Mazi Sam Ohunambuwa, declared his intention to run in January this year and below is part of my welcome statement.
“One, Nigerians don’t vote for the best candidate. The man who pronounced Awolowo “the best President we never had” voted Shagari in 1983 and was glad he did. So, don’t expect that “goodness” alone will get you there. You need more.”
Just as I was getting ready to join his campaign team, he suddenly disappeared from the radar. That was disappointing. I hope now that he has fused his NNG into the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he means business. To be quite candid, it matters very little to me which flag a credible Igbo candidate flies.
He already has a non-Igbo very active supporter. I still strongly believe that the agitations for secession will die down once we do justice to Ndigbo by totally re-integrating them into Nigeria. To me the best way to do that is to rotate the Presidency to the South East. We had a Yoruba versus Yoruba contest in 1999 and a Fulani versus Fulani twenty years after, in 2019,and the sky did not fall. The heaven will not explode if we have an Igbo versus Igbo contest now.
Sam is back in the race; I understand that the former Senate President, Pius Ayim is also indicating interest. That is fine; the more the merrier. I don’t know the latter at all; it will be a pleasure to talk to him. He can rest assured that I will approach the interview with a totally open mind. Primarily, I just want to know what he has in mind for Nigeria.The same thing goes for Sam; despite the fact that he is well-known to me.Then, he was not a presidential candidate; now he is. I need to be convinced that he has the ideas to govern Nigeria well.
ADVICE TO THE CANDIDATES
“Advice is seldom welcome, and those who want it the most always want it the least. Earl Chesterfield, 1684-1773, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS.
Granted no candidate sought my advice and they will probably run their campaigns as they choose. I am used to being ignored by people in public life who regret it afterwards. I will warn them from intimate knowledge of what other Nigerians fear most about an Igbo President. They think he will have the most lop-sided appointments Nigeria has ever experienced. That has been the most constantly expressed fear of those who have spoken to me on the matter.
So, my first advice to all the candidates is this: make your campaign team as national as possible. In a message to the President of Ohaneze on the same day I was welcoming Sam to the race, the point was made this way.
“Prof, you should also advise each candidate to assemble a national campaign team – not just Igbo followers. They cannot go round paying mandatory courtesy calls on first class traditional rulers with only Igbos in their delegation. In that respect Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory are key hunting grounds for campaign workers for two reasons. One, Lagos has the largest votes and all the ethnic groups are here. Abuja is next to Lagos in terms of ethnic groups’ representation. The two together dominate the national media almost totally. They must all establish their campaign offices there in addition to others.
You might not realise it, Prof,but I can help the candidates with Lagos.”
Every Presidential candidate just stepping forward has a steep slope to climb. The Igbo candidate who surrounds himself with only Igbos has already made the gradient steeper; if not impossible to climb.
The second piece of advice is to ensure that you have national recognition in all the states; but, at least in the most important 15 states which dictate events in Nigeria as soon as possible. A list will be provided to anyone who wants it. With the national elections only fourteen months away, you must bridge the gap between you and Atiku, Tambuwal, Tinubu and Osinbajo – the current front runners in the race. They have established their own campaign team; you must establish yours. You cannot be everywhere;your supporters must be there 24/7 campaigning for you. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Igbo candidates have a comparative advantage which can be exploited to close the recognition gap.
Plan to start early paying courtesy calls on influencers – military, civilian, Northern, Southern leaders– who are not candidates themselves and are not now closely linked to the two leading parties. I know one in the North who is keenly interested in Igbo candidates coming forward. But, remember to make your delegation national in outlook.
If you don’t have one, then write a short biography and get information about yourself out to opinion leaders – there are not more than 3,000 vital individuals out of the nearly 200million Nigerians. By all means establish well-staffed Lagos and Kano State offices. Enough said on that.
There is more to come…..
BUHARI’S PATHETIC ROAD SHOW
“Leadership can be summed up in two words: intelligence and integrity…”
John Brademas, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 125
I knew the President went to deliver a totally forgettable address at COP26 in the United Kingdom.No much intelligence is required to utter those words – including holding out another begging bowl to the developed countries. Those nations must by now be sick and tired of African beggar or sh*t hole nations led by Nigeria. That bit of shamelessness was predictable.
What was totally unexpected was the stop over in France to address people in what was billed as Nigeria International Partnership Forum, NIPF. Usually, when Presidents go abroad to solicit for foreign investments and support, they took some of their own domestic media with them.Buhari went without any independent Nigerian media. The reason for that deliberate omission soon became clear when a friend in France sent me a message lamenting that “Nigeriais really unfortunate to be led by somebody like this man”.
Unfortunate for Buhari, the fellow was in Nigeriaa few months ago. Coming from one of the states in the Middle Belt, he had to travel by road to reach home. He saw for himself and even took several pictures of the infrastructure Buhari was in France to sell to potential investors and partners. His last words in response to Buhari’s road show are unprintable. I felt ashamed for Nigeria.
Is it possible that Buhari and those who handed him the script to read are not aware that most foreign nations, particularly the G20, are in possession of more detailed information concerning the state of Nigerian infrastructure than Buhari himself? Nothing can be more pathetic than trying to foist falsehood on people who know more than you on the subject matter.
So as we approach the end of his seventh year in office, Buhari has been reduced to going around telling foreigners what they already know to be untrue? Pity!
A TALE OF TWO MOHAMMEDS
“EndSARS: Panel report indicts Army, Police over Lekki shootings.”
“#EndSARS:Nine confirmed dead at Lekki toll gate…Army used live bullets..”
Reports November 2021.
Once there was a Holy Mohammed(PBUH) who went about telling the truth – even to power. Now in Nigeria, there is a famous Mohammed. He had announced to anybody gullible enough to believe anything he says that nobody was killed by the Army during the#EndSARS# protests at Lekki Toll gate.He called CNN reporters liars. If you expect our Mohammed to apologise now that the panel of inquiry has declared nine dead, you underestimate the man.Conscienceless people never say sorry. He will call the panel unpatriotic!!!
Dr Johnson, 1709-1784 told us this. “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
More later about our Mohammed….