Colour and character of 2023 presidential aspirants

So far, over 20 APC presidential aspirants have collected N100million nomination application forms. They came in various shades and forms. The thoughtful, the light-hearted, and the comical; the spineless sycophants who substitute loyalty to the nation with temporary power holder, the lackeys who insist if they cannot be head labourer, the office must return to the north. There are also those with false sense of self-worth who serve as puppets of APC cabals including Yobe’s Mai Mala Buni, Jigawa’s Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and Abubakar Malami who pretend to know what Buhari wants without asking him. Their mission: To scuttle the ambition of their leader on whose back they crawled to relevance.

Neither their resort to the Yoruba aphorism, “afobaje ni Oba npa” (the first victim of the newly crowned is the kingmaker) or Buhari’s borrowing of a page from The Prince, Machiavelli’s 16th century political treatise on how to acquire power and sustain it, has been able to stop Bola Tinubu from joining the unwieldy crowd of those who intend to succeed Buhari.

What incensed Nigerians is not the sheer number of those who doled out N100million in the battle for succession, but the fact that these are the very people that by their scandalous and immoral behaviour undermined Buhari’s ability to address our crisis of nation-building. If further evidence was needed to prove Buhari’s appointed political office holders sabotaged his presidency; that they kept on embarrassing the president until his last week’s farewell meeting left them with no other choice than to comply with the constitutional provision was all that was needed.

Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, like those identified as his secret sponsors, exhibited lack of character. He started by mobilizing some misguided youths to promote his presidential ambition in the manner of Daniel Kanu’s ‘One Million Nigerians Earnestly Yearn for Abacha Abuja’ march sponsored by the late Arthur Nzeribe in the mid-nineties, to bury the most credible election in our nation’s history. Although the worst CBN governor in the nation’s history, we were told “he had spent his energy building a resilient financial system that can serve the development needs of the economy”.

Not long after this assault on Nigerian sensibilities, branded Emefiele campaign vehicles surfaced in their hundreds somewhere in his state. This was followed with a claim that debtor farmers under the Anchors Borrowers’ Programme procured APC N100m presidential form, probably forged Emefiele’s signature and his APC membership number before submitting same to APC secretariat.

And probably thinking all Nigerians operate at the same level with him, Emefiele tweeted: “This is a serious decision that requires God’s Divine intervention: in the next few days, the Almighty will so direct”. This was after one of those Nigerian human right lawyers who specializes on privileged Nigerians that want freedom for themselves while presiding over empire of slaves was in court justifying why the CBN governor can remain in office while prosecuting his presidential ambition in breach of the constitution.

We also have Yahaya Bello of Kogi among the crowd. He is the youngest governor of the fourth republic. The main thrust of his campaign is to make 20million Nigerians millionaires by 2030. Yahaya Bello has deployed huge resources promoting this proposed policy thrust on television and social media platforms that the sources of the funds ought to interest government if indeed there is anyone in charge.

Chris Ngige had on April 19 also procured the APC N100million presidential nomination form. While claiming he was driven by ‘the zeal, the burning desire to see a prosperous, united and equitable Nigeria”, he kept politicking until the president’s valedictory session forced him to issue a two-page statement announcing his withdrawal from the race in the “overall interest of the nation” and “other family reasons”.

Rotimi Amaechi, the transportation minister and recently turbaned Dan Amanar Daura, a title acquired after the embarrassing location of University of Transportation in the president’s town, was one of those forced to resign following the president’s last week directive. Departing government, he asked for “Buhari’s prayers and blessings” while also adding that he was ready to support President Buhari’s preferred candidate for the 2023 presidential election “ because for him, loyalty means you follow the man that leads you, that you have surrendered to his leadership.” With this type of mind-set, there was no way President Buhari could have succeeded.

An unknown group similarly bought the N100m nomination form for Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the president of African Development Bank while a political pressure group, ‘Youth Arise Movement (YAM), endorsed him because “Nigerians trust him. The youths trust him. The private sector trusts him. The financial industry trusts him. Farmers trust him”. However, pulling out of the race last week, he “was very touched by all who have gone to great extent, with such huge sacrifices, of their own volition.” He was however silent on who filled and delivered the application form to APC Abuja office.

Unfortunately, PDP with its current leading presidential aspirants share the same affliction with APC. Its leading candidate, Atiku Abubakar who garnered over 11million votes during the 2019 election the bulk of which came from south-south and southeast that are today committed to an Igbo presidency, faces a different challenges.

Bukola Saraki promises less hope. In 2015, when he inelegantly seized the senate presidency, he inaugurated a parallel government with the National Assembly’s preparing their own budgets, paying themselves outrageous salaries and allowances and frittering away billions of naira on over 500 abandoned constituency projects that were doomed to fail since feasibility studies were never carried out. Saraki in the words of Oshiomhole, the then APC chairman, “is one person, whose personal interest always comes first before any other interest, including national interest.”

Peter Obi is another strong contender for the PDP ticket. As a self- confessed importer of wine, he has the outlook and temperament of a trader. Yet the greatest threat to our nation besides the unchecked infiltration of killer herdsmen and bandits is the importation of labour of other societies. It is doubtful if Obi will have the courage to end importation of those things we used to manufacture, textile, electronics, car accessories, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, the reason our youths cannot find job.

Another serious contender is Nyesom Wike who many however believe cannot lead Nigeria because of his caustic tongue. Other PDP younger aspirants include Dele Momodu, the publisher of the Ovation, a news magazine that mirrors society. But since what the nation needs is a visionary leader that can set agenda for society, many believe Momodu cannot give what he does not have. We have Ayo Fayose who, as governor, resorted to self-help by attacking judges presiding over his case inside their court rooms. With people like him in power, Malami’s DSS assault on National Assembly with hooded men will be institutionalized. We also have Bala Mohammed of Bauchi who with the take-over of ungoverned forests in the north where immigrant Fulani herdsmen and bandits unleash terror on our people, still wants Nigeria to be home to all Fulani from any part of West Africa. As for Sokoto’s Aminu Tambuwal, while he is opposed to calls for the “geographical” restructuring of Nigeria, he insists Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.

For now, neither APC nor PDP promises Nigerians any joy.

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