Our President and the Leap of Faith By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, finally our Oga at the very top emerged from his shrine where the devotees have been falling over themselves pleading with the big masquerade to come out and dance again in the market place. Not that this second coming was a secret by any chance. The body language made the unwritten words and unspoken intentions highly palpable. I had wondered what the perambulation, gerrymandering and merry-go-rounding were all about when both the hands and the voices were that of only one man, Esau. The melodrama was so shambolic that I wondered why we love to plagiarise and regurgitate what others had tried with monumental repercussions. TAN last Saturday was nothing but a cheap rehash of the Abacha for President Fiasco. Why would anyone wish to take pride in travelling down that dark alley again?
I took time to watch the grand finale and I couldn’t help but wonder what jazz acolytes deploy on leaders that make them fall mugun for stunts by such men and women. Nollywood could not have scripted a better tragi-comedy. Speaker after speaker came out to describe President Goodluck Jonathan in superlatives and to dress him in borrowed robes in many instances. Not that the President did not merit some adulation but these Griots went overboard. I’m sure Mr President must have cringed at some point if he ever watched the live broadcast. I watched the body language of our Vice President, a cerebral and decent gentleman by all accounts, who appeared stupefied by the level of crass hypocrisy being re-enacted in the over-raped city of Abuja. My conclusion was that many of these actors were abroad the day Shame visited Nigeria.
If you must lie, you can still do so with some class. The one that took the mother of all cakes for me was that of a gentleman who claimed to have travelled all the way from GHANA with a Goodwill message from four million Nigerians living in the old Gold Coast. This brother of ours took the use of hyperbole to a new level I never encountered as a student of Literature. What I found amazing was the ease with which the Nigerian-Ghanaian dropped his bombshell and still managed to keep a straight poker-face. I didn’t know whether to laugh at the message or cry for the messenger. As at 2013, the population of Ghana stood at 25.9 million. So how can Nigerians occupy about one-sixth of their national population?
Anyway, they sold these things to our President either directly or by proxy and I won’t be too surprised if he and his supporters paid a premium for it. My guess is that PDP is nursing a secret fear of APC despite its public grandstanding. This is the only explanation and justification for jumping the INEC gun by campaigning for President Jonathan’s re-election through the backdoor. In a country where the Electoral Commission was more independent and truly liberated, the President and his overzealous campaigners would have been queried and possibly sanctioned for this rascality.
But the President, if I may sincerely advise should not waste so much time and resources on trying to out-do the APC. I expect him to concentrate on how to get money for salaries, strengthen the economy; fix as much infrastructure as possible; reverse the debilitating insecurity and leave the rest to God. The more he opens the vaults to jokers to walk in and pick the little that is left of our national treasure, the more he would irritate the people and incur their wrath. The President should be Presidential in appearance and composure. He should never act in any desperate manner. For now he is the champion and cannot afford to betray any sense of fear. What I see is a jittery party doing everything to appear serious.
Despite the obvious reinvigoration of the APC through the alliance, there are still many bridges to cross. The President should begin to worry the day General Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Rochas Okorocha, Bukola Saraki, Babatunde Fashola, Adams Oshiomhole, Rotimi Amaechi, and others all stand together to unite behind a candidate without bitter acrimony. For now, APC is still finding it hard to quickly reach a much needed consensus and get ready for elections in the next three to four months. The fate of APC is like that of ants fighting over sugar.
The Governor of Kano State, a man I admire, is saying he’s not going to step down even when it is obvious it would be impossible to scale the Mount Everest ahead of him in the next few months. I wonder why he and his supporters can’t see the bigger picture for now by realising that what they are carrying is heavier than an elephant and they need joint hands to lift it up. I’m not sure about the disposition of the Turaki Adamawa towards sacrificing his personal ambition once more in the over-all interest of Nigeria. He has been a great champion of Democracy despite every attempt to smear him permanently by his former boss, General Olusegun Obasanjo. I won’t be surprised if Atiku Abubakar steps forward to rally his colleagues behind their most formidable aspirant, General Buhari. He has made the right noises so far by repeatedly stating that he would abide by whatever the outcome of the primaries are and support wholeheartedly whoever is chosen as the Party’s Presidential candidate.
The Jagaban Borgu, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, remains the most DELICATE force in APC. Talk to any member of APC today, the fear of Tinubu is the beginning of wisdom. There is no doubt that the former Governor of Lagos wants to be the Vice President to General Buhari. In all honesty, Tinubu deserves any post he can get today. He is probably the biggest investor and largest shareholder in the APC consolidation but not all investments makes a man an Executive Chairman or Director. Sometimes, it even takes many years and decades to get dividends. Whether Tinubu is directly in power or not, he has achieved what no Yorubaman has achieved in many generations, the capacity to unite the North and the South. What more can anyone ask for from God? Say what you will, Tinubu has attained the status of a political octopus. This is the time for him to take his rightful place as a Statesman. He is so big now that I’m not even sure it won’t be an insult him to be vying for the position of Vice President.
It is impossible for everyone to win in a game of this nature but everyone is a winner when the party wins. Insisting on picking a stooge in politics is even worse. APC has a preponderance of bright guys and tested fighters. This momentous occasion requires the best eleven. Oftentimes, Coaches are forced to ignore tantrums of players for the sake of winning the game. The Manager and his players must co-exist in peace and harmony; not that there won’t be occasional skirmishes. Power must be tamed. Power is useless when it is over-used. Power becomes useful when it is reserved and preserved.
I don’t know the game-plan of Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, because I can’t see how any Southern candidate can beat the incumbent President. The South East of Nigeria is majorly populated by Republicans who would normally go with the flow of power. I doubt if they would risk a bird in hand for ten in the bush. I was in Abuja days ago and saw so many buses painted with the Okorocha for President Banner. I was flabbergasted because those resources could have been contributed to a pool rather than being wastefully deployed to a doomed project. While it is desirable to pursue your legitimate ambition, anyone who has ever contested an election in Nigeria should understand and appreciate our uncommon peculiarities. November is just a few days away. When would the dust arising from the selection process settle down? This is my fear.
One of the distinguished opposition aspirants is the Publisher of the Leadership Newspapers, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah. Like Okorocha, it is tough to determine his strategy in view of the current political configuration in Nigeria. It would seem the primordial sentiments that have held our country to ransom are still very much around and not ready to abate. This is my greatest worry for any Northern Christian who wishes to be President in a nation where Muslims and Christians are in mutual distrust and perpetual conflict. I’m hoping this influential publisher and politician would use his personal charm and clout to also make sure that sacrifices are made by the principal gladiators.
What are my latest mathematical calculations in view of the imminent nomination process? President Jonathan remains the man to beat but it won’t be as smooth as it was in 2011. I have the feeling that the President might be tempted to drop his Vice President for a stronger Northerner but that would be farcical. The current Vice President has been extremely loyal. He’s a respected and respectable professional. He has built a solid reputation as a successful Architect. Also, as Vice President, he has established extensive networks that would readily come in handy at the appropriate time. No green horn would be able to replace such a gentleman in the next few months. Therefore, I’m reasonably assured that PDP is stuck with the Jonathan/Sambo ticket. It makes the job easier for PDP.
The APC is not that lucky yet. It is looking like the actors are preparing to risk the often acrimonious primaries. It would have been better if this was done two years ahead of elections like it is in Ghana. Ghanaian elections are still over two years away yet Nana Akufo Addo has already picked the ticket of his party NPP for the third time. He joins the historic records of former Presidents John Kufuor and John Evans Atta Mills who tried their luck three times each before winning the Presidency.
I’m almost certain that Buhari will pick the nomination of the party come what may. My second prediction is that he would have to pick a serving Governor as his running-mate this time. Like Jonathan and Sambo, it would be difficult for Buhari and his Vice to be jointly out of power and suddenly emerge from retirement to take over power. Three, Buhari will not risk a Muslim Vice President no matter the pressure on him. If he does his enemies would have a field day that he’s indeed a pathological hater of Christianity. Governor Babatunde Fashola would have been favoured by most people. Buhari would have to pick either of Governors Adams Oshiomhole or Rotimi Amaechi of Edo and Rivers respectively. It would be insensitive to ignore the Region that lays the golden eggs if APC intends to successfully sack Jonathan.
The argument that a Yoruba man has to be on the ballot is contentious. General Obasanjo only left power seven years ago after serving for eight years. He had earlier served as a military Head of State from 1976-79. Yoruba people are the greatest defenders of human rights and justice. They led the battle against Obasanjo’s third term despite being one of their own. They will be happy to see and work assiduously for the opposition to take power from the ruling party.
Everything would fall in place, if Buhari and APC synergise properly. They would have to work out a shadow cabinet of sorts and sign some Memo of Understanding between the principal contenders. A sort of coalition government particularly because each of these upstanding gentlemen has strong points that can only augur well for Nigeria if properly harnessed.
The top six positions should be shared on the basis of the six geo-political zones of the North West and South South, South West and North Central, South East and North East. This can even be expanded to the top 24 jobs in order to rejig in such a way that no zone feels left out. There should be brilliant, diligent men and women imbued with integrity and passion in all parts of Nigeria so that selecting our main team from each of the geo-political zones is not merely to pay lip service to Federal Character or to create a sense of belonging in all Nigerians.
It is certain that 2015 will be an exciting year in our polity and country if the politicians can calm down and see Nigeria as a project much bigger than all of us.
Let’s pray they cool temper.
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