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2023: Who Deserves To Be The President?

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The Insight by Lateef Adewole

There is this popular game show on the television: “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. The programme is anchored by Frank Edoho, the smart and comic character, who makes life of contestants on the show “hellish” with his suspense and intrigues, as they sweat under air-conditioned atmosphere while they struggle to answer questions that could take them to winning a whooping N10 million. Sadly, it ended some years ago and was off air.

Recently, the programme has just returned on air with a bang! There is a special edition of it called: “Who Deserves To Be A Millionaire?”. It is where special guests like our forgotten heroes, are brought to play the game, with assistance of some celebrities. Such a person must be someone of note in our society by their contributions to national development one way or the other in the past but whose condition required serious support. The likes of former national football stars, the man who created the Nigerian flag, past sport medalists, old legendary musicians or artists, and so on. It is believed that many of them who now live in pitiable conditions deserve to be millionaires. That’s the purpose of that special edition, as a form of charity to support them.

Nigeria is on the march again in its political journey, wirh another defining moment ahead of us in 2023, when we have to choose another person who will manage the affairs of the country as our president for another four years. The country has been full of political activities, with the primaries of the political parties going on, full of surprises and shocks.

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Those of the lower offices came first with all ending at the presidential. As I write, PDP is conducting their presidential primary election today, Saturday 28, which started yesterday Friday 27 while APC has just postponed theirs to June 6 and 7, from initial tomorrow 28th and 29th of May. Other parties are doing the same. Unfortunately, despite many great, brilliant, and competent individuals who make up these other parties, little or no attention is paid to them. All the focus is on APC and PDP. So, of all these aspirants, who deserves to be the president?

Interestingly, based on history, almost all people who ever aspired to lead the country and truly deserved it, was never the one who eventually emerged. Unfortunately, that has made Nigeria and Nigerians to be perpetually short-changed. Or, how can any country have those who lead them not being from among their best eleven? Such incidents or coincidences have made us to have less than the best governance since Nigeria became independent. Same has continued till date.

Let me run through this briefly. I will focus more on civilian governments which were expected to have been the “choice of and elected by” the citizens. Not the military who shot their ways to power through the barrels of gun. Towards independence in 1959 parliamentary election to choose who would lead the independent Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe’s NCNC led the popular votes. followed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s AG and the third position was by Sir Ahmadu Bello’s NPC. But who eventually emerged as the Prime Minister? It was NPC.

Not only that, Alhaji Tarawa Balewa of NPC became the Prime Minister in the place of Ahmadu Bello, his leader, while Azikwe accepted to be the “powerless” ceremonial president. Among these four, who deserved to have led the country at that time? If it was not Zik, it was Awo. This was because, these two led the relentless agitations for Nigeria’s independence for many years, even when the northern elements led by Ahmadu Bello were not ready for freedom from the colonial masters, Britain.

After a long military rule between 1966 and 1979, the second republic was about to be birthed. The leading contenders were Awolowo, Azikwe, Aminu Kano, who were prepared to lead Nigeria to greatness. But what happened? Alhaji Shehu Shagari became the president. In 1993, the conduct of fairest and freest presidential election in the country took place, which produced Chief MKO Abiola as the winner, but the process was truncated. It was annulled by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and an Interim National Government was formed. Chief Ernest Shonekan was drafted in from nowhere. Did he deserve to be the president?

Following this annulment, Nigeria was thrown into chaos, Gen. Sani Abacha took over, arrested and locked up Abiola. After the sudden death of Abacha, the democratic space went agog, with the hope that “Hope ’93” would be revived but no. Abiola died in mysterious circumstance. And as a consolation to the Yorubas who had lost their illustrious son in such situation, an Obasanjo was brought out from the “shadow of death” in prison, and he was made the president in 1999. This was against the Chief Olu Falae, who the progressives that fought military preferred and presented.

In 2007, against many other aspirants and candidates across party lines, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, who never planned to be the president, given his poor health condition all through his governorship tenure in Katsina state, was imposed on Nigerians by Obasanjo, in what went down as the worst election in Nigeria’s history. He acknowledged same too, in his inauguration speech. He struggled to survive for three years before he passed away.

An “unwilling and unprepared” Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became the president by providence. This was a man who never wanted or fought to be anything in political circle all his life. All he became fell on his laps. The deputy governorship of Bayelsa state and eventual governorship. The vice presidency and eventual presidency. This was at times where there were many candidates who wanted to lead the country and were prepared for it.

In 2015, a General Muhammadu Buhari who had given up on trying to become a civilian president after failing in three previous attempts was brought back from retirement to lead Nigeria. After becoming the president, he seemed to become confused as to what exactly to do and how to go about it, and here we are today. Now, we are in another race to 2023, will history repeats itself or the jinx will be broken?

Let me start by saying that, ordinarily, if the real performance indices and the reality of the citizens’ lives are to be used to judge which party should even participate in the next elections at the federal, APC supposed not to appear on the ballot at all. I have not seen anyone who can boastly say that the lives of “majority” of Nigerians have become better than they were in 2015 before this APC government came in. It is an open secret. I need not start reiterating it here again.

I watched on Arise Tv on Thursday, how Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governor of Ekiti state and a presidential aspirant on the platform of APC, struggled to answer questions put to him on the state of insecurities and economy under his party’s government. He was not known to be someone who stutter or incoherent when communicating but for want of appropriate way to answer those questions without accepting that their government failed in those respect. So, no one in APC should ordinarily have been considered by Nigerians. But, are we not in Nigeria again? Where are the alternatives?

The strongest alternative is PDP. Can they really be trusted with power again? Moreso, most of the leading aspirants except a few, have criss-crossed from PDP to APC and back to PDP. Are they different from those in APC? The two parties are sesame twins. Then, the “third force” or whatever it’s called. Who are they? Yes, there are many from either PDP or APC as well. However, many brilliant and competent political aspirants are within the fold, many of whom have not previously being tested or soiled their hands. But what are their chances? Many of the parties that made it up have no structure beyond few states. Some exist only on papers. How can they win?

The truth of the matter is that, the blames should go to the citizens actually. Who made the two main political parties what they are with structures and capacities to win elections? Nigerians ofcourse. It is Nigerians who choose to vote for their candidates enmass for them to win. If we truly desire real progressive change, it is a matter for the people to identify credible candidates within these other parties, support them and vote for them. Afterall, General Buhari did this in 2011, without structure and financial muscle. He garnered over 12 million votes at the presidential election, just six months after forming a new party CPC. That was when many Nigerians, especially in the north, thought he was their “messiah”.

Within the available options, who can we then say deserves to be the president in 2023, and practically possible? One, APC, being the ruling party, has better chance of retaining power if not ruined by greed or deliberately by the leadership of the party, out of parochial interests. Now, within APC, who deserves to be the president? If deserving is based on who was prepared and has worked most for it, it is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whether we like him or not. I have been severally criticised because I raised questions about his ambition many times in my weekly articles based on my concerns for his age and health.

I have never doubted his competence, capability and vision. However, I am an advocate of generational shift of power. How could the same set of people who have been involved in running the affairs of the country in the last six decades, still remain those we defer to or who actually rule us? Buhari has been in the corridor of power since 1966. That’s 56 years ago. Same as Obasanjo, IBB, Danjuma and many others. Yet, these are people that political aspirants and candidates run to for their blessings when they themselves were part of those who ruined the country.

Many others have been in power or its corridor since the second republic, 1979, that is 43 years ago. If the country was better with their involvement, we wouldn’t have any problem with their continous participation but not so. Therefore, a Tinubu, who will be “officially” 71 in 2023 if he becomes the president, is not my idea of a president for my country, where we have millions of younger, brilliant citizens who could be the president. And many of them have taken up top positions of leadership around the world, away from their fatherland, where they were allowed to blossom and given the opportunities. So, no one should tell me about younger generation not being ready.

However, one aspirant who has started working on his ambition long ago, made more sacrifices and staked more than any other, is Tinubu. He was the brain behind the formation and survival of APC in 2013. He was very instrumental to Buhari getting the presidential ticket of APC and eventually winning the election in 2015, and also in 2019. With all modesty, it is safe to say he made Buhari president. This is an undisputable fact.

Also, in anticipation of a time like this, he has been all over the country, building bridges and filling gaps, networking and entrenching himself among the people, politically, especially outside his traditional constituent of Southwest region. Like Pastor Tunde Bakare, a presidential aspirant himself, once said in his church service, that while the rest of the people were sleeping, Tinubu was awake all nights doing his home work, toiling politically. He then queried how such a person could be asked to simply hand over his hard work to another person? Impossible!

Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), is a delight to watch. His humility, carriage, unassuming and amiable nature endear him to millions of Nigerians. All these, apart from his cerebral capacity. Being the incumbent vice president, it could be taken for granted that his chance should be very high and that he deserves it, and rightly so. Sadly, the mess that the country is now remains his cross to carry. Also, politically, he is believed not to have any structure of his own that can win a presidential election across the country. He has been part of and relied on Tinubu’s structure up until now.

Many other aspirants do not worth stressing over, apart from spoiler jobs they could do. Many would struggle to win their states, especially former governors. Some sitting governors have their states in their pockets, and that is so far many can go. Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan has only won elections in his federal constituency and senatorial district, a third of one state, all his political life. There are some others within APC who cannot win their local government, ward or even polling unit. They are just jokers.

Let me examine the main opposition PDP too. The only person with similar reach, network, resources, both human and materials, and political acumen like Tinubu, is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. But, on a personal note, why would I consider him as deserving to be the next president? My position on this is very clear. It is unacceptable that another northerner will become the next president after the eight years of President Buhari, a northerner. So, I won’t discuss this further. This applies to all other northern aspirants.

My best candidate in PDP is the former governor Peter Obi. I have criticised him before for the lackluster approach to his presidential aspiration, despite his region’s belief that they deserve to produce the next president. Also, I have always said that they deserve to demand for PDP ticket for their consistent support and loyalty to the party since 1999. However, rather than the leaders from that region to focus their efforts on that, many were jumping from one party to another, including leaving PDP that is their traditional home.

The latest of them is Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who just left PDP yesterday. Peter Obi who left few days ago. We learnt he has joined the Labour party. How can their regional aspiration be actualised like that when leaders place their individual interest above that of the region? Chief Orji Uzor Kalu did not step down to support fellow Igbo aspirants but Senator Lawan, a northerner. To what end? Chief Ralph Nwazurike, the leader of MASSOB, is supporting Governor Yahaya Bello, another notherner, to be the president. He accused the igbo presidential aspirants of not being sincere but only looking for the Vp slot. Do such people deserve the presidency if true?

If from my historical analysis above, Jonathan did not deserve to be the president as he was not prepared for it then, is it now that he deserves it? Governor Wike is like the bull in the China shop. In a free and fair primary, not these ones on bazaar where votes go to the highest bidder, will the people in PDP even vote for him and give him the ticket, not to talk of the general election that involves Nigerians all over the country? I say no more.

I cannot completely analyse all of them individually. Every bonafide Nigerian is constitutionally allowed to aspire to any political office in Nigeria. But like the saying goes, if wishes are horses, fool will ride one. It goes beyond wishful thinking to become any elected office holder in Nigeria, talkless of becoming the president. “Atari ajanaku ni, ki s’eru omode” (It is like the head of an elephant which is beyond the ability of a kid to carry alone).

In all, we are at the deciding period in phase one of our journey. Those who will be thrown up within next few weeks from the primaries will become the options that we have as a people. That’s the most unfortunate part. We will have to choose the best among the worst, least of many evils. We can only pray that God Almighty gives us the best and help salvage our country from the precipe that it is right now.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole.
Email: lateefadewole23@gmail.com
Whatsapp: +2348179512401

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