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Op Ed

OPINION: 2023 Presidency & Options Before The South-East

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election

As politicians begin permutations for 2023 general elections that will usher in a new crop of Captains for this sinking ship called Nigeria, it is the duty of those of us in the Fourth Estate of the political realm to continue in our avowed responsibility to educate to continue to shape public opinion on the part of moral rectitude, justice, equity and good conscience.

The lopsided nature of this federation which appears to be screwed against the Igbo’s of the South-East has led to an entrenched system of nepotism, clannish favouritism, institutionalised ethnicity in the guise of federal character principles.

The South-East is the worst hit. The people of the region have been sidelined systematically from the topmost position they occupied during the First Republic, to the second position in the Second Republic, to the third position in the aborted Third Republic and now to the position of nothingness in the current Fulani feudal government.

Having been boxed to a corner of obscurity, and their patience stretched to an unbearable limit, we have resorted to providing all our needs by ourselves.

From roads, electricity, pipe-borne water, security, in fact, all the needs of humans as identified in Abraham Maslow’s theory.

Ninety per cent of infrastructures and development strides in the southeast are either a product of personal or communal efforts.

Feeling dejected and rejected, the younger generation who are not so fortunate, have resorted to civil disobedience.

The uncontrolled and incoherent civil disobedience later degenerated into uncivil disturbances, and further has further descended into an all-out violent outburst, supposedly against the Nigerian state, but in reality, against our progress and continued existence as a people.

Yet, the dramatis personae in the corridors of power still want to hold tenaciously to power, to the utter disdain of one of the very important legs in the tripod called Nigeria.

Considering the odorous negative body language emanating from the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, it is becoming clearer by the day, that APC will hand over its presidential ticket to the SouthWest, with the leader of the party, Chief Bola Tinubu at the forefront of the quest for the presidency.

Most worrisome is the People’s Democratic Party PDP. A party in which the South-East has invested so much and sacrificed their all, since 1999 till date.

The captains of the party have severally reaffirmed their resolve to navigate back to the anchor point – Aso Rock. And to achieve this goal, they are willing to slaughter the southeast presidential interest as the sacrificial lamb at the table of power negotiation.

By their permutations as once revealed by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the PDP is determined to grab power at the centre, by all means, practicable, even if it means nominating another Northern Fulani man who can guarantee them the usual bogus votes from that part of the country which can spin the 2023 presidential contest to the party’s favour.

If this political arithmetic becomes a reality, then, the presidential aspiration of the people of South-East in PDP is set to hit the brick wall.

According to the Greek mythology as relieved by Hommer in his book “Illiad”. After barely scratching the impregnable city walls of Troy for nearly ten years during the Trojan war, the legendary Odysseus ingeniously devised an alternative means of decimating their rivals from the inside via the Greek gift of a Trojan horse.

Same way, Igbo’s in the ruling party and the main opposition party should sustain their demand for the ticket within their party’s structure, but be ready to reach compromise with other party leaders, without capitulating in their ultimate demand.

Good enough, the southeast parades a retinue of quality members in both parties, who are ready and capable of governing the country, if given a chance.

In APC, Chris Ngige, medical doctor, former Director in the federal civil service, former governor, Senator and two-term minister. He has transversed the three arms of government in this country at their highest levels.

Other prominent names like Senator Ken Nnamani, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Emeka Nwajiuba and others, are also on the table, with their appetising credentials for consideration.

In PDP, Ayim Pius Ayim is determined to turn the table and grab the party’s ticket. With his equally impressive resume as a lawyer, former Senate President and Ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF.

The next strategic plan would be for Igbo political leaders to abandon the two major parties en masse, because of neglect and unwillingness of the leaders to relinquish power the South-East, and subsequently defect to the third most viable party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA.

APGA, which at least is in control of one state of the federation is more like the third leg in the triangular political chessboard of Nigeria. With an eminent jurist, Professor of Law and former Chief Judge of Anambra State, Peter Umeadi assists likely candidate, ndi-Igbo should rally support for the party massively, to use it as their negotiating power for the presidency.

At the dawn of the current dispensation, when the military lifted the ban on political activities, the entire SouthWest queued up in defunct Alliance for Democracy AD, in their sustained demand for the presidency. This left the then APP for the core North East, while the PDP was for the SouthEast, South-South, North Central and little support from North West.

To achieve a clear majority and draw the SouthWest into the party, the master strategists in PDP hurriedly agreed to appease the zone, using Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as bait, against a frontline aspirant from the East, Dr Alex Ekwueme.

Therefore, ndi-Igbo can use another party to ultimately arm-twist leaders PDP and APC into nominating aspirants from east, if they can undertake a mass defection to APGA or any other party for that matter like ADC, which also has an excellent Igbo intellectual, Professor Kingsley Muoghalu as it presidential hopeful.

The options before SouthEast leaders is either that of continuous engagements from within their political enclaves, or outright disengagement from the two major political parties, in favour of a third political force.

Source: Theunionnigeria

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Op Ed

Finding a running mate for Bola Tinubu

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APC Convention: Asiwaju Tinubu Full Acceptance Speech

WEEKS after political parties in the country chose their flagbearers, the issue is yet to be finally laid to rest as a number of the presidential flagbearers are yet to make a final choice of running mate. Ever so inventive in the negative manipulation of the political process, Nigerian politicians have come up with the curious category of placeholders.

These are persons chosen to fill the vacuum, literally hold the place or position of running mate, until a suitable choice is found. Otherwise, the position of the flagbearer will be untenable as nobody could be validly presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, without their running mate.

The choice of running mate should ordinarily not cause the kind of concern that it has caused for some of the presidential flagbearers of the parties contesting next year’s election. But this is Nigeria where what looks ordinary is anything but ordinary, making it difficult for some of the parties to move forward to more important issues of the programme they have in store for the electorate.

More than any of next year’s contenders for the country’s presidency, the flagbearer of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has the toughest decision to make. Peter Obi of the Labour Party, LP, faces a relatively less daunting task in that regard. Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has since laid the matter of running mate to rest with his choice of Ifeanyi Okowa, the current governor of Delta State.

He and his party members have since been doing the usual fence-mending job that their choice of running mate has left them with as they go around trying to soothe the bruised ego of losers in the contest. For the PDP, the most obvious candidate for this ego-massaging is Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers State, who is obviously still smarting from his loss of the presidential flag in spite of the vastwar chest of money he deployed as governor of an oil producing state. He would have been assuaged by his selection as running mate to Atiku Abubakar but he was passed for another. Both Tinubu and Obi have respectively settled for Kabir Masari and Doyin Okupe.

Masari is an unknown quantity who, although occupied a marginal office in the state’s party hierarchy, was not in the front row of those that had been expected to fill that position, mostly among governors and other heavy punchers of the Northern political elite. The choice of Okupe, who went to bed one night as Obi’s campaign director and woke up the next day his running mate, seems like a desperate act to beat INEC’s deadline which was the reason that also propelled Tinubu into picking Masari. Some Nigerians initially had a hard time believing Okupe was Peter Obi’s running mate. They must have thought it was a joke taken too far as they could not make any sense of his overnight transformation from campaign director to running mate. The matter was not helped by the fact that it was Doyin Okupe himself that was initially saddled with the task of announcing his change of role.

But rather than quieten discussions and speculations around it, the choice of party running mates has only raised more talking points, more so in the Tinubu camp than others.

And Tinubu and Olusegun Obasanjo have again thrown the issue of running mate back to the front burner of discussion in the last few days. At a children’s event at his Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Obasanjo mentioned his choice of running mate as one of his mistakes.

The other was his decision to return home during a trip abroad in 1995, contrary to the intelligence provided him by America and their readiness to grant him asylum, following accusation of coup-plotting by the Sani Abacha government.

At an event marking the 60th birthday of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila in Abuja, Tinubu praised the smooth working relationship between Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Idris Wase, apparently in spite of their diverse ethnic and political background. He ended his observation by saying he was still searching for a running mate. But his apparently jocular remark probably underlined the dilemma he was in than many choose to understand.

Since he announced Kabir Masari as his running mate, some commentators have chosen to make light of the seriousness of the situation Tinubu was in by carping at what they call his lack of strategic thinking by opting for a Muslim in total disregard of the country’s religious configuration.

Others chose to point at his perceived ineptitude not to have anticipated the potential controversy that was bound to follow his choice of running mate. They expected him, they say, to have chosen a running mate much earlier and moved on to other matters. That he did not do this was, for his critics and rivals of the PDP, evidence of his lack of preparation for the office he seeks to occupy.

They say that, like Muhammadu Buhari, he lacks the knowledge required for the job of president or suffers from a diminishing mental alacrity among other perceived physical or medical debilities.

So far, none of these speculations have been confirmed beyond the surgical procedures on his knees that took him to the United Kingdom at different times. Tinubu, however, does appear from a distance to show worrying signs of age-induced ailments that manifest in diminishing physical ability and uncoordinated motor activity. Which should not be totally unexpected for someone on the cusp of his seventieth birthday (ignoring claims that he is much older). Provided his situation does not get worse, he may still be able to function should he win the presidency.

It should, however, be said for Tinubu that he has the toughest decision to make among the presidential candidates concerning a running mate. The stakes are much higher for him given the probability he could win with the right support even on an all-Muslim ticket. Those who say he is slow about choosing a running mate are either being political as would be expected of opponents or are unhappy he has not made the mistake that a hasty decision would have thrown him into.

The choice of running mate or forging of political alliances among parties has never been a simple one in Nigeria, more so in the last seven years of the Buhari presidency when ethnic and religious cleavageshave grown so wide as to threaten the very survival of Nigeria. Ignored, such issues will swallow the presidential ambition of any politician.

The choice of running mate is neither personal nor lightly arrived at or President Obasanjo wouldn’t regret his. It must have the input of the party and voters whose buy-in would be crucial for victory.

Source: Vanguardngr

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Op Ed

Warning Shots from Kigali, by Femi Adesina

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Femi Adesina, 2021: Presidency Warns Critics Against Wailing

On the sidelines of the 26th edition of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) holding in Kigali, Rwanda, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team Thursday morning visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which is one of the monuments in memory of about a million people that were killed in the 1994 pogrom.

The Hutus had in 100 days of rage and madness embarked on ethnic cleansing of Tutsis, and the country nearly died. Hatred, malice, evil hearts almost despatched Rwanda to kingdom-come.Between April 7 and July 15, 1994, minority Tutsis were systematically eliminated by ethnic militias, and some renegade soldiers and policemen. Hell really came down, and made its abode in the Central African country.

Tutsis were killed in cities, towns, villages, in their homes, in churches where they had huddled for refuge, in schools, everywhere. And to make matters worse, the victims were killed by people who had been their neighbors, family friends, and allies. A Hutu pastor reportedly killed hundreds of his church members who were Tutsis, while husbands killed wives, simply because they were not of the same ethnic stock.

At the site we visited, 250,000 lay buried, about one quarter of the number that died. Some moderate Hutu and Twa people were equally murdered. Hatred boiled over, and that was the result.We have always warned about hate speech that is rife in our own country, Nigeria. You hear it from so-called bishops, imams, talk show hosts, phone-in programs on radio and television, anywhere, and everywhere.

I had written before that if Nigeria dies, it is hatred that killed her. And our pastors would not be innocent. Nor the imams, and everyone that trades in hateful language against government and other ethnic groups. Those things pile up continuously, till it boils over, and cascades on an entire country. The heinous crimes we see in the land today cannot be entirely divorced from hateful and incendiary speeches.

The tour of the Genocide Memorial took the whole of one hour and five minutes. You start from a video account from survivors, who recounted the gory way in which fathers, mothers, siblings, children were slaughtered, and how they were lucky to be alive. Sad. Dolorous.And then we moved to the burial place of the 250,000 victims. A pensive President Buhari lay a wreath there.Then to a pictorial excursion of the history of Rwanda. They had once been a happy, united people before colonial rule came. They had their monarchical system, and the fissures among them were not emphasized.

The monarchy was abolished, the country suffered instability and the differences between the people became prominent. The Hutus began to see themselves as superior beings, a kind of Aryan supremacy as espoused by Adolf Hitler. There were killings in the 50s, 60s, 70s, till things first degenerated into a civil war, and genocide in 1994.Come and see skulls of the dead. In many hundreds. Bones that were exhumed and preserved.

In many thousands. Pictures of the dead, adults and children, men and women, in their thousands. Clothes and personal effects of the slain. All kept for posterity to see. It was man’s inhumanity to man at its worst, result of hatred, malice, evil hearts, ill will.Let us carry those bishops and pastors who spew hatred from the pulpit, and bring them to the genocide museum. And the imams too. Maybe they will ‘lend themselves some brain.’ And the TV and radio hosts, who make snide, hateful remarks, and allow their guests to do the same. That was the same road Rwanda trod, and genocide was unleashed on the land.

The media is said to have played a huge role in the genocide, lending itself to being used to denigrate the Tutsis. Till things boiled over. One Hassan Ngeze is on record to have written in a newspaper he owned and edited, about the Tutsis: “Let whatever is smouldering erupt.”Some broadcasters said on radio: “The graves are not yet full…Go to work.” They instigated the deaths of thousands of people. Happily, two of them are today cooling their heels in jail, serving life terms. Others are serving equally stiff sentences.

Hate speech, or hate media is an ill wind that blows no good. Haters in Rwanda sowed the wind, and reaped the whirlwind. We need to watch it in our country, too. It can happen anywhere, unless we take care.Permit me to recall some of the things I said in an earlier piece, with the title, If Nigeria dies,hatred killed her:What a week it has been for our own dear native land! Just at the beginning of the month, as the country turned 60 as an independent entity, President Muhammadu Buhari had charged us to “begin sincere process of national healing, eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they are.”

Some people call it ‘the mistake of 1914,’ in which what used to be the Northern and Southern Protectorates were forcefully cobbled together by the colonial masters, leading to the emergence of Nigeria. Since then, it has been one uneasy relationship among the people that make up the Union. Suspicion of domination, ethnic rivalry, fear of being given the shorter end of the stick, gaining unfair advantage, and the like, have characterized the relationship. And the overriding sentiment is hatred, fueled and justified by many factors and tendencies.

If Nigeria dies, whether now or in the future, hatred killed her. How can a people go about, bearing giant-sized grudges against their country, its leadership, against one another, and expect that country to live in peace and prosperity? It won’t happen. “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves,” observed a writer.

The EndSARS campaign began as an agitation against police brutality, in which there was unanimity of purpose. And suddenly, it became a vehicle of hate. Against leadership, against national cohesion, an opportunity to settle political scores, and equally prepare for power grab in 2023. Hatred came into the mix.The agitation by youths against injustice and oppression suddenly took on a variegated nature. Separatists came under the umbrella, and began to advance their cause, working for the dismemberment of the country. Those beaten black and blue in 2015 and 2019 elections also crept in, and asked for pound of flesh, while also plotting for a return to power in 2023.

The venom, which peaceful protests eventually became, can only be summed up by one word. Hatred. How can you begin to club people to death, in different parts of the country? How can you set fire to national assets and institutions, storm prisons and release prisoners into society, all in the name of peaceful protests? No, peace had fled through the window, and hatred was fully in control.

There are many factors and agencies of hatred in Nigeria, and until we learn to purge ourselves, the country may never move beyond where it has been pirouetting and gyrating for six decades. Like the macabre dance, it has been one step forward and two steps backwards.

Hatred is evinced from many quarters for Nigeria, and for its government and people at any given time. It comes from churches, mosques, professional activists and agitators, interest groups, some elements in the media, so-called analysts who never see anything good, and so on and so forth.

When things boil over in graphic demonstration of hatred, it is a culmination of negative sentiments and tendencies. They come in persistent negative postings on social media, which generate and stimulate hate. From hateful messages from the pulpit, as if that was the message of love Jesus Christ handed over to his followers. From unduly critical messages during jumat services. From radio and television programs, in which bile is spewed. From talkshows which become a harangue of government, newspaper articles and columns tailored to instigate and generate dissent, and the like.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. But not for some Nigerians who have decided to hate their own country. They perpetually stoke the embers of malice, discord and discontent. They bear a heavy burden, which they carry around everywhere, being grumpy, caustic and perpetually driven by ill will.

Hatred is a poor prop for anyone to lean on. But to those malicious souls, the more malice they generate for their country, the better they feel. They may carry fancy religious titles, or parade as activists, analysts or newspaper columnists, but what they are is really simple. Hate mongers, and one day, they may ensure that Nigeria dies. Not of old age or other natural causes, but of hatred.

Source: Bigpenngr

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Op Ed

APC and the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu question

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APC, ASiwaju

WITH the party conventions over, Nigerians now know the flagbearers of the political parties and can prepare for as well as make their forecast for the 2023 election. The last hurdle of the process has apparently been scaled with candidates naming their running mates.

In the case of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP, a final seal is yet to be put on the position of their respective running mates.

The nomination of Kabir Masari and Doyin Okupe as mere “placeholders” was to meet the deadline of June 17 set by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Both men are to remain in that capacity on an interim basis, pending when the pork barrelling that goes on in the name of horse trading will be over and done with.

Balancing the geopolitical and religious demands of Nigeria’s electoral system, in view of the conventional practice of rotating power between the country’s regions, has made the nomination of party flagbearers as well as their running mates both a contentious and tricky issue that requires careful consideration.

To get that wrong is just one remove from losing an election, no matter how bright are the prospects of a party and their candidates. The process is more rigorous for some candidates than it is for others. Perhaps more than any other candidate, APC’s Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has a relatively tough row to plough in this regard. Being a South-Western Muslim and Yoruba, his running mate should in the light of the aforementioned geopolitical demands of Nigerian politics be a Christian from the Northern region. That is the minimum requirement by convention.

Electoral success is, however, the goal of every politician and any one of them worth their calling cannot but place victory at the polls over and above the contingency of ethno-religious imperative. This is where the crunch lies: the electoral value in terms of vote count that such affirmative acts carry. Otherwise, it is mere wishful thinking to expect that a politician like Tinubu, one whose lifelong ambition has, by self-admission, been to steer the ship of the Nigerian state as president, will put that ambition at risk in a romantic chase after a political convention that lacks voting power.

Which is to say that as far as the issue of choosing a running mate goes, the most electorally viable option for Tinubu and the APC at this present time, is to pick a Muslim, not just from any part of the North but either the east (to cut into his main rival, Atiku Abubakar’s, votes) or west (to consolidate on the support already being enjoyed by the APC in those parts) of that region.

Either way his prospects are far better and brighter than he stands to gain from choosing a Northern Christian even from the North-West or North-East which is the appropriate and intuitive option to take in view of the power sharing convention that has been in place since the return to civil governance in 1999. That option is, however, fraught with so many pitfalls that can only provide a soft landing to elements within and outside the APC opposed to a Tinubu presidency, not to mention the transition of power from the North to the South.

The effect of the blowback that the Northern Muslim option presents to Tinubu in the South is far lesser, if not infinitesimal, to what he stands to gain in the North from taking it. And that is hoping that the Northern political class in the APC keeps faith with him and remains steadfast about their position that power shifts to the South.

Otherwise, should this class of politicians choose to, they can proclaim their support for Tinubu on rooftops while they work for and give their votes to Atiku Abubakar.

The last observation, if it does play out, will be a clear act of betrayal but it is by no means a foolish proposition or an impossible scenario. I say this in view of what transpired in the APC in the runup to the convention that led to the emergence of the party’s flagbearer. Try as anyone might to deny it, there was a clear attempt to wrongfoot Tinubu’s search for the APC ticket. The move for a consensus candidate was an offense to stall, and eventually stop him in his track and prevent him from becoming the APC’s candidate in next year’s election.

It was evident to the party’s top echelon that Tinubu would be the clear winner of a free and fair contest and they were determined to stop him even before it got to that stage. That President Muhammadu Buhari, who has always come across as an unperturbed onlooker when issues turn to wranglings within the APC except where he is concerned, vacillated in the manner he did never helped the situation. He might have had reasons to reconsider his support for Tinubu in view of the latter’s contribution to his victory in 2014, he had an obligation to come out and say so with reasons in clear terms.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo not only made clear he didn’t want Atiku to succeed him despite being his deputy for eight years, he put his objection in black and white for posterity even if he would later support Abubakar in his 2019 campaign for the presidency. Not even Tinubu’s worst critic would deny the critical role he played in Buhari’s eventual success in 2014 after three failed attempts.There should be honour among thieves but that is apparently too much to expect of Nigeria’s politicians. That Buhari looked on as others tried to stymie Tinubu did nothing to portray him as the leader of the APC. Rather, he came across as untrustworthy.

Even as a mere bystander with no partisan political affiliation, I consider it a positive development that the treacherous elements in the APC did not succeed with their scheme to have Tinubu edged out of the APC convention. This is for the potentially permanent damage that would have done to regional trust and collaboration between Nigerians, not just the politicians, from different parts of the country, especially those who may have to work in the future with their peers of Fulani extraction.

Tinubu’s political sins are probably as many and weighty as the good he has done and these have both been chronicled and advertised widely by alike his foes and friends. But it is never a good policy to rob Peter to pay Paul or allow some to have their cake and eat it as the APC attempted before the convention and since in its plan to return Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio to the Senate after their failed presidential run.

Source: Vanguard

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