2023 Polls: Nigerians cannot afford half measures again in electing president

2023 Polls: Nigerians cannot afford half measures again in electing president

There is no doubt that voter education will go a long way in tackling governance deficits, which have been the bane of Nigeria’s development and fueling insecurity in the country. Political education is still a long way to go and all the stakeholders should team up to improve on it so that politics will cease to become a gold mine for charlatans.

 By Goddy Ikeh

GENERALLY, poor and ineffective leadership and largely uninformed followership have been blamed for stunted political and economic growth of the nation, while governance deficits have been fueling security crisis in Nigeria. Although Nigeria is not yet a failed state, but its drift to the brink is worrisome and some eminent Nigerians have called for urgent actions to reverse the trend. In his recent lamentations of the troubles with Nigeria, Prof. Joseph Ezigbo, a renowned scholar and managing director of Falcon Corporation Limited, which is a big player in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, said that Nigeria was in dire need of an honest dictator to lead the country in order to achieve its huge potential.

Speaking recently in an exclusive interview with Realnews in Lagos, Prof. Ezigbo said: “Is it possible for us to have an honest dictator that can take over Nigeria? But unfortunately, you cannot find an honest man, who is a dictator at the same time. If we do, that will be the best solution for Nigeria.

“Get a dictator, who is honest that can do what is best for Nigeria, irrespective of what the Igbo man thinks, irrespective of what the Hausa man thinks, irrespective of what the Yoruba man thinks because whatever we do, Ohaneze will see Igbo as its own enclave, Afenifere will see Lagos as its enclave, Arewa will see the North as their own enclave, forgetting that none of these exists in isolation.”

He wondered if it is possible for Nigerians to eschew bitterness, remove greed from the system. “Fortunately, we all exist together in the entity called Nigeria. We need to get back to the understanding that we are first and foremost Nigerians. Not Igbos, not Yorubas, not Hausas, but we are Nigerians,” Prof. Ezigbo said.

On the issue of patriotism, Prof. Ezigbo lamented that “it doesn’t exist in our dictionary”. “Things are happening because you do not have a Nigerian. There’s nobody who is a Nigerian. So we see Nigeria as one big cake. How much can I steal out of it, how much can I bulldoze myself and get from it, and not how much can you give to Nigeria to make it better.

“It is how much can you take out. And once you take out, that Nigeria you feel you have, you never feel safe in it again. You see that’s where we are making the biggest mistake because the amount of money Nigerians own outside Nigeria, if you bring back a tenth of it, Nigeria will be El Dorado. Nigeria will be that we have been looking for. But you carry the money, you put it there (abroad); then you go cap in hand to beg them to give you loan and they will give you back part of your money with a very high interest,” he said.

Perhaps, Prof. Ezigbo is routing for a benevolent dictator, who can restructure the country, give it a new constitution, approve new laws for the oil and gas industry instead of the lingering petroleum industry bills, sign the electoral reform bill, tackle insecurity, improve the economic landscape by tackling inflation, unemployment among others.

These are food for thought as the nation wobbles ahead of the 2023 presidential and general elections, which no doubt, will offer Nigerians another opportunity to make necessary changes that will rescue the nation already traumatized by ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, economic woes, and socio-political crisis.

Despite the clamour for the presidency to the zoned to the South East geo-political zone of the country for the sake of equity and political inclusiveness, some political gladiators outside the zone are indicating their interest to contest for the position. Two of such politicians from the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, are Bola Tinubu and the governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello.

Although, Tinubu has not officially declared his intention to contest, but his recent postures like the shocking N50 millions donation to market fire victims in Katsina and the hosting of his Colloquium in Kano are pointers to the fact that he is interested in vying for the coveted political position in the country. Already political analysts and some stakeholders are analyzing the obstacles he has to surmount, while paying little or no attention to Gov. Bello, who has only his youthful age as his credential after his uninspiring first four-year tenure almost denied him a second term in office.

Some of the analysts are quick to point out that the difference between state and federal political landscape. They believe that many state governors had in the past not been able to make it at the presidential level. With the exception of Goodluck Jonathan, no other former state governor had made it. For instance, late Lateef Jakande, former governor of Lagos State, who had significant legacies in Lagos State and also served as minister, failed in his attempt at the presidency. They opined that Tinubu, who did not equal Jakande’s records, may hardly make at the federal level, despite his popularity among Lagosians and doubtfully in the APC.

According these analysts, age is not on Tinubu’s side. At 69, Nigerians may not be favourably disposed to voting for any contestant above 60 years after their experience of the last 5 years in the country. Another obstacle is the abysmal governance failure of the APC, which he claims as the national leader; his role in the 2019 polls and the bullion vans controversy.  Apart from the controversy generated earlier about his qualifications and certificates, a searchlight will again be on his enormous wealth and his link with Alpha Beta Consulting, which was awarded a contract that gave it exclusive rights to tax collection on behalf of Lagos State when Tinubu was governor of the state. It will be recalled that the attempts by the media and some civil society organisations to investigate the terms of the contract, relying on the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, was blocked by the Lagos State Government officials, who claimed that the freedom of information act only applies to the federal government and its institutions.

In addition, the removal of Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services in December 2019, the removal of Adams Oshiomhole, an ally of Tinubu and the bickering that trailed the registration and revalidation of the membership of the APC have been seen by some analysts as pointers of what will shape his political ambition in 2023.

Perhaps the views expressed by the leader of the Pan Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, on these developments and Tinubu’s eye on the presidency will sum it all. “They said Tinubu is a strategist. I just laugh whenever I hear that. A strategist that can’t see what is happening in APC. You are the principal partner in this merger, but you have no constitutional position in the party. They deceived you that they are going to make you chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT, but they never set it up deliberately. So, the constitutional bodies of the party you have say no and yet, he is still thinking that he is something in the party,” local media reports quoted Adebanjo as saying.

According to Adebanjo, there was an occasion when President Buhari told him that there cannot be two national leaders in the party and that as President; he is the only national leader. “So, if Tinubu continues deceiving himself; that is his problem.

“You can see Olusegun Osoba now begging the party to call a national caucus meeting when they now know that by doing the membership registration, they are trying to edge them out and it is going to affect them. I have been saying it that Tinubu betrayed us and now in his lifetime, he is already receiving his reward. Are the APC people not paying him back? I am not saying this for the first time that Buhari is deceiving him and he is also deceiving Buhari. Let them keep deceiving themselves. He is already receiving the reward for his betrayal in his party,” Adebanjo added.

With all these obstacles on the way, it is not unlikely that Tinubu may not achieve his lofty desire of becoming the president of Nigeria when it is already evident that he may not garner the full support of the South West. It will also be a herculean task for him to make any inroad in the South East, South South, North Central and the other two zones in the north of the country.

Apart from the scramble for the highest office in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the lawmakers, members of the Civil Society Organisations and the media should intensify campaign on voter education in the country ahead of the 2023 polls in order to improve voter turnout, dissuade voters from voting politicians with questionable character and improve on quality representation. These objectives are achievable if only Nigerians are willing to embrace this pathway to achieving true federalism and democracy.

– April 4, 2021 @ 15:29 GMT /

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