APC Presidential Primaries: The Odds against Buhari: A Rejoinder
Sometime this week, I had the fortune or should I say misfortune of reading the troubled writings of one Segun Olanikpekun a former political editor of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN on the back page of Thisday, titled “APC Presidential Primaries: The Odds Against Buhari.”
Now, as one who adjudges himself as a liberal, (That is what I think I am, to the best of my own knowledge) I am at home with the Liberal Theory of the press, which holds that everyone with an opinion should be allowed to air it, with the understanding that in the long run the truth would prevail while the lies, the perfidious and the attempt to beguile people would perish as time went on.
Thus for me everyone can hold a view and has the right to air it no matter how puerile such analysis sounds for as long as the environment would allow others to challenge such a view with better facts and then allow whatever audience we may appeal to or think we are appealing to, be the judge, there is also an appeal to posterity too.
Segun began his piece in error when he alleged that a number of party members and Nigerians too were erroneously holding the belief that the APC ticket was for the taking of General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military Head of State, three time presidential aspirant twice on the platform of the defunct ANPP and once also on the defunct CPC.
How Olanikpekun came to this erroneous notion or conclusion is quite alarming but more alarming is his attempt to walk us through his error, further diminishing whatever value was left in his article.
Segun’s second error was to reduce the APC battle for the presidential ticket to a Buhari/ Atiku game. This is largely worrisome since one who is quite learned will be able to deduce that Segun is biased, heavily biased on the side of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar a former Vice President and also keen contender for the ticket. In a battle royale of five wouldn’t it be wide of the mark to write off the other three aspirants? Like a bad novelist, Segun in his piece abandoned the ever present reality of suspense, intrigues and chance coming to play in the APC convention like a thief in the night to prove those supercilious pundits and political bookmakers wrong.
To the likes of Segun, perhaps it’s a thing about names or financial muscle, structure, past glories etc, however even a close look at the political histories of many nations including Nigeria are replete with events and political upsets where underdogs shellacked the top dogs. I shall give two examples.
In 1979, the NPN had six presidential aspirants who jostled with each other for the party’s presidential ticket; notable amongst these aspirants were Maitama Sule, Adamu Ciroma and Joseph Tarka. Prior to the emergence of Shehu Shagari who just wanted to be a senator, many pundits wagered that they would eat their head like Mr. Grimwig in Charles Dickens Oliver Twist should a laid back Shagari emerge ahead of the likes of Tarka, Sule and Ciroma, but Shagari did and went on to win the 1979 elections.
Again in 1999, the All Peoples Party was shopping for a candidate to give the PDP’s General Obasanjo a run for his money and his wealth of experience. In the race for the ticket was the likes of Iwuanyanwu and Olusola Saraki but surprisingly it was a dark horse in Ogbonnaya Onu who emerged after the two rounds of voting. Same scenario was repeated in the AD primaries where Olu Falae bested the towering Chief Bola Ige to the ticket.
Enough said about the issue of surprises, I am again petrified in the attempt by Segun to attribute to Atiku what he takes away from Buhari, without giving to the other aspirants. By doing so, Segun engages in what we call ‘iwuruwuru to the answer’, and the wrong answer for that matter!
For example, Segun says that Buhari lacks a financial war chest and is not a chummy fellow, I beg that we for once agree with Segun’s wrong assertions but should this also follow that our dear Rochas, Rabiu Kwankwaso or Sam Nda-Isaiah do not also possess big war chests or are also grim or dour like persons? I am aware that the trio of Rochas, Kwankwaso and Nda Isaiah have also toured several states and met with prospective delegates, likewise Buhari.
The final crux of the matter is the attempt by Segun to bully the unwary and undiscerning into believing that the presidential ticket should be Atiku’s just because he, Atiku has a well prepared policy document and the others do not have. Indeed!
“On the third factor of having a social contract with the electorate, Atiku is also miles ahead of others. He has shown that he is someone who is prepared to lead, someone who has done his homework. As at today, he is the only APC aspirant who has prepared a comprehensive policy document on how to bring about the needed change in the polity. This policy document has been subjected to public scrutiny, debated and dissected by experts at a summit held at the Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta between October 27 and 28, 2014.”
Wonderful I will say but Segun forgets so quickly that the terrain of Nigerian politics has been so littered with failed promises! From the east to the west and North to the South, most politicians have promised heaven here on earth; roads, turnpikes, bridges, airports, free education, power, security and even stomach infrastructure have been regular features of the manifestoes of politicians be it in policy documents or what have you. It is surely not enough to adjudge a character’s readiness for a position particularly in Nigeria based on some policy document, whatever happened to the test of character?
Even at that, Segun’s description of a fellow candidate’s (Sam Nda Isaiah) policy document as more fluff than stuff is all in all an indication that he is not fair to himself or to Nigerians.
Pray my esteemed reader, what makes an Atiku policy document the Holy Grail and Nda Isaiah’s document, in Segun’s own words a document “far less profound and comprehensive than what Atiku has done”? Is it perhaps because the document was debated by Segun’s so called 50 experts? Is he aware that Nda Isaiah’s policy document unlike that of Atiku’s is a compendium of local intelligence mixed with a present day understanding of the dynamics that drives the leading economies in the world today?
Segun forgets or is mischievous in forgetting that Nda- Isaiah happens to be the only intellectual in the APC race, while he brandishes his outstanding capabilities in entrepreneurship, leadership and courage, traits readily needed in any serious society that wants progress. Prior to the birth of this article, I had earlier called on the other aspirants, including Atiku to join Mr. Nda- Isaiah in a debate, sadly none replied, including Atiku despite the rooftop declarations on how eminently qualified he is. Well we are still awaiting his response and hope the likes of Segun would prevail on him to debate with Nda Isaiah. Let us put both policy documents to the test!
One last word for Segun will be this, as of today all the aspirants within the APC surely have what it takes to wrestle power from the PDP, however, any attempt to reduce the contest to a beauty pageant or Big Brother rather than on substance or issues will surely spell doom for such an aspirant since the APC is a far different party than what we see today in other political parties. Furthermore to arrogate to oneself the ticket weeks before the primaries is simply hubris, as the saying goes, “A week is a long time in politics”.
I rest my case.
Igboeli Arinze is the Director of Publicity of The Sam Nda-Isaiah Campaign Organisation
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