“It always seems impossible until it is done” – Nelson Mandela
Fellow Nigerians, please let’s not deceive ourselves, the race for the 2015 elections has started in earnest. The gladiators are virtually ready and the bullets are already flying. In our clime, elections are fought like war. And nothing is spared because a Nigerian politician believes all is fair on the battlefield. I shall endeavour to lay my permutations bare, and try to situate the strengths and weaknesses of the different groups.
Let me begin with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. If the presidential election is to hold today, the gentleman will win. He will certainly get his party ticket even more readily than the last time Alhaji Atiku Abubakar attempted to wrestle with him in what turned out to be a mismatch. The reasons for Jonathan’s anticipated victory are legion. Unlike the last time, he has since settled down comfortably in power. You must remember that he has spent a total of three years as a full-time President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. In those years, he’s had the rare opportunity of approving so many appointments and distributing stupendous largesse through award of contracts at home and abroad.
Those who have benefited from him would be ready to die, if necessary, to protect their privileges and not necessarily the President. Those who are shouting at the loudest voices on the rooftops are only trying to secure their relevance and slippery grip on power. They know the truth, like you and I, that on a good day and in a clean contest it is impossible for Jonathan to win again, not because he is not trying enough but because his enough seems not to be gelling with the people. That is the simple reason his acolytes are barking like dogs to see if his opponents can be intimidated. The growling will continue and progressively become the roaring of a lion. They are not going to repeat the spin of Fresh Air this time around since the evidence on ground obviously points to the contrary.
The battle-line has been drawn and the blackmail is very direct; the South-South Region says it will not accept the number two position. In cause and effect, there should be no election they seem to be telling us since they want an automatic second term for their beloved son, studiously ignoring the rest of us from the same zone. Nigerians should just accept their fate with equanimity and know they are stranded and stuck with President Jonathan for another four years beyond 2015. If the bullies succeed, they may even spring a bigger surprise by seeking a Constitutional amendment that will make it possible for a third term. We live in a country of anything and everything is possible, even though former President Obasanjo tried it but failed spectacularly.
The PDP-led Federal Government and its followers in the states still wield enormous clout and awesome power. Nigerian politicians have never been known for principle or ideology. That is seemingly an ideal and idealism for another day before the second coming of Christ. That is why it is so convenient for them to migrate like locusts forth and back. They would rather stick to Jonathan warts and all and hope to be accommodated in the next spending spree. Hope is their staple diet and their entire being hangs on him.
Moreover, Jonathan will win today because the opposition is yet to organise itself properly. I had wished we won’t allow our groups to be bogged down and distracted with the mundane issue of nomenclature. What’s in a name after-all? Our friends have dissipated too much energy and wasted so much resources on trying to register a new party and its acronym. I cautioned against this conundrum in a private chat with a very senior member of ACN. My reasoning is simple. Jonathan did not go into a merger when he entered into secret collaboration with the South West that made it possible to defeat General Mohammadu Buhari and others. Nigeria is a Mafia country and an occultist nation where things that are done in secret are always more profitable than those done in the open. The name you will give your new baby is never disclosed until the pregnancy has been safely delivered. By playing to the gallery, the opposition danced into the hands of the Dracula who wasted no time in biting them hard and sucking them dry.
I had also raised the issue of those who would prefer to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. Many of the opposition members who have refused to join the proposed APC today are paranoid about what status awaits them in the new party. A man who’s currently a Chairman in his own party may soon become a nonentity in the merger. I doubt if many Nigerians are that generous and selfless to collapse their personal ambition for the common good of all. That is the dilemma of most of the Governors and National Assembly members who are visibly opposed to Jonathan but are prevaricating on what to do next and how to jump a fast-sinking ship. Some of them think they should join the opposition while majority of the supposed renegades feel they should take over an already existing political party. It beats me hollow why we don’t ever learn from the past.
I wish to state publicly, and for any avoidance of doubt, that they will fail miserably if they start to make such a move. As things stand right now, there is only one road leading to Paradise and the other meandering to hell. There is no third road in sight. And no third party has the humongous resources to challenge the ruling party in Nigeria today. The Grumblers Party is the only workable alternative to PDP. We must force and form a semblance of a two party system even if some of us decide to remain in our individual parties. The permutation is that it should be possible for all opposition forces to queue behind a chosen presidential candidate and still be viable to contest other posts in our individual parties. That would allay the fears of those who think the bigger parties would swallow them up and reduce their chances of picking a ticket for other contests. It is a major reservation that must not be discountenanced offhandedly.
The Governors who are worried about the avuncular disposition of Buhari and Tinubu need not lose their sleep. I know both reasonably well and they don’t seem as desperate for power as many people think. I even know Tinubu better. He’s one of the brightest political strategists in Africa today. He’s enjoying the status which it has pleased God to bestow on him by working hard to grab many states from PDP. He understands the political sophistication of the South-West and will never risk demystification. His next and final achievement would be to lead his troop to defeat the Goliaths at the top as the ultimate kingmaker. That would be easier to achieve if he remains the generalissimo that he is today than being a belittling Vice Presidential candidate.
I know for a fact that, contrary to opinion in certain circles, Tinubu, The Jagaban Borgu, is the single biggest threat to PDP today while General Buhari comes next. In Nigerian politics, money is the biggest factor before ethnicity and religion. Tinubu is the one who can mobilise financial resources at different levels. His influence in Lagos alone is of incredible advantage. All the big players in the Nigerian economy are domiciled in Lagos. While they can conveniently ignore Buhari, none would risk Tinubu’s wrath. Campaign donations would flow in if the opposition presents a mega-force. If most of the 19 Governors that supported Rotimi Amaechi can join forces with their counterparts in the National Assembly, the opposition will coast home to victory. The other layer of society that the opposition must key into is the mass army of frustrated and disillusioned youths. The figures will never add up for the opposition until they ignite the political passion in the floaters that account for about 70 percent of the electorate.
Let me now examine the possible candidates for the presidential configuration. The surest bet for me remains the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. I narrowed my choice to him because he readily has a nationwide template and network to work with. He has shown himself as a bridge-builder while the others continue to live in the cocoon of ethnicity. The next leader of Nigeria must be someone who feels comfortable with all Nigerians. The greatest disservice to Jonathan is the desperate attempt by his supporters to turn him into a jingoist whose only qualification to govern is where he comes from. That was one of the mistakes of June 12, when some people either deliberately or inadvertently reduced a powerful national mandate to a localised South West affair. Jonathan will soon realise like we did that his people alone cannot make him President no matter the threat of war. The same argument they are using to justify Jonathan’s compulsory second time is the same the North would marshal to say President Yar’Adua did not complete his terms and they were therefore short-changed. If I were Jonathan, I would hinge my campaign on performance rather than drums of hostilities. I will quickly bury the hatchet and settle with Amaechi and others, like President Obasanjo did with Atiku Abubakar, James Ibori and company, before he pummelled them later.
I think Tambuwal stands a better chance than the Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido who has been publicly endorsed by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Lamido’s albatross will be that open fraternisation with Obasanjo who is no longer in control of the apparatus of power and political party unlike when he forced Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the nation. Obasanjo does not even command enough followership in the South West today to install a Governor. That’s not to say he is irrelevant in the scheme of things. His biggest influence is our unregistered political party, the Nigerian Armed Forces, in which he’s not just a General but one of its biggest players. Tambuwal (born January 10, 1966) fits the current trend in the world of politics and leadership. He’s charismatic and brilliant. A lawyer by training and profession, he has been exposed to international standards and best practices through courses at various institutions in Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Strategically, in order to appease the South-South, the number two position should go to them. And the best candidate to fill that spot is their ‘enfant terrible’ Governor Rotimi Amaechi (born May 27, 1965 with a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Port Harcourt). He’s currently the most visible political figure after the President. He’s young and confident. Furthermore, leadership across the world has become a beauty contest. That is why the Conservatives in England found their own Prince Charming in David Cameron (born October 9, 1966), who became British Prime Minister on May 11, 2010, to counter the suavity of a Tony Blair (born May 6, 1953, and became British Prime Minister from May 2, 1997 to June 27, 2007). Now the British Labour Party is back with a finer and even younger leader, Ed Miliband (born December 24, 1969), after the drab tenure of Gordon Brown. Even the Liberal Democrats were not left behind. They found their own ‘fine boy’ in Nick Clegg (born January 7, 1967), who miraculously became Deputy Prime Minister on May 11, 2010. Most of those who voted for Barack Obama as the first Black President of America were probably hypnotised by his good looks before they were mesmerised by his brains.
If this combination fails, the opposition must challenge the supremacy of Jonathan in the South-South by attracting and presenting a young, intelligentand more charismatic personality.We need vibrant leaders to ignite the fire of the urgently needed development in Nigeria. Our nation can be transfigured into a Dubai or Hong Kong with urbane leaders in the saddle. I see no reason why the South-South Elders should mortgage and monopolise our eight years, if they so insist, to President Jonathan alone without giving others a chance.
In any event, the best package would be for the opposition to form a very formidable second force to PDP and they must do this by speedily coming up with a shadow cabinet type of arrangement comprising of a star-studded team.Until we begin to field our best materials, Nigeria is not likely to know peace or witness significant development. There is no better time and chance than now for the opposition to open a new vista for our country. We can, and will, only fall at the altar of greed and selfishness.
That will be very tragic.