The last presidential election that held in Nigeria in 2015 marked a momentous point in the history of Nigerian politics and democracy. In that election, a sitting government was uprooted in favour of the opposition for the first time since the country reverted to full democracy in 1999. After the frenzy of that election, our politicians retreated to their cocoons to await another day, another opportunity.
By the latter part of 2017, the electioneering spirit again gripped the politicians. Now, the familiar stirrings of election season is spreading across the country. Today, the very last day of January 2018, the gloves are fully off for another round of political jostling ahead of elections in early 2019. Elected officials have already begun backtracking on many politically injurious courses they had chosen in the last three years. Their implicit confidence in the short memory of Nigerians is being showcased yet again.
The players largely remain the same. On the part of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), familiar faces have returned in preparation for this round of jostling. Leading the pack is Atiku Abubakar, the notorious carpet-crossing former vice-president. He made a comeback to the party late last year when it became apparent that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was uninterested in his presidential ambitions. Atiku hopes to pick up the presidential ticket of the PDP in the coming elections. But there are other contenders like Ibrahim Dankwambo, governor of Gombe State, and the rabble-rouser Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, amongst others, waiting in the wings.
In the ruling APC, there is less clarity about the party’s presidential frontrunner. Amidst expectations of another term for the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, there are rumours of other prospective options should Buhari decline. Curiously, the president has recently been under fire because of a run of perceived nepotic appointments made by his administration, and some ‘mis-appointments’ that include dead persons and members of the opposition party in an apparently careless exercise. Most evident, however, is the outcry over his administration’s docile handling of the on-going killings related to activities of his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen, across the country.
Other issues plague Buhari’s possible second coming. His old age, frail health and failings in the management of the country’s economy have become usual points of criticism from the opposition. In the shadows of APC, names like Nasir El Rufai, governor of Kaduna State; Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Kano State governor; Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto State, are prominent on lips within the APC. Authoritative sources within the party reveal that the possibility of Buhari stepping down is, at least, being considered, with Kwankwaso marked as his preferred successor.
However, in the background of all the posturing by the heavyweights in the different political parties, a bombshell was delivered last week by the self-appointed kingmaker and oracle of Nigerian politics, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, more commonly known as OBJ. The deluded messiah penned an open letter to the president, advising him to bow out of active politics by 2019, else he be disgraced out of office like his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.
One recalls, with some distaste, that the same OBJ wrote an 18-page letter to the then President Jonathan before his eventual defeat at the 2015 general elections. The 13-page letter to President Buhari, this time, contained many points of interest that ought not to have escaped the mind of the self-righteous OBJ. His hubristic belief in his own importance and cunning is revealed in his plea to the president to retire to the sidelines. At the same time, he himself proposes and names a movement that ensures he (OBJ) can pull strings from the background, as he has been unable to do just that in any of the two major parties since his failed third term bid.
OBJ speaks of “lice of general and specific poor performance” in government today, and the need to crush them. Perhaps he needs a lesson in biology to understand how lice replicate at an alarming rate. The older lice lay eggs called nits and die off in a few days, just when their nits have matured and are ready to lay their own eggs. OBJ is one of the old lice in Nigerian politics that have refused to die. The hubris of the man to think that he is somehow removed from all the problems he laid out is vexatious. In fact, he laid the foundation for the appalling state of the nation today.
The grandfather louse also wrote about a movement that ‘should’ be created, when he had been in consultation for its creation for months. Another deadwood of Nigerian politics, Olagunsoye Oyinlola has been named as the coordinator of the ungodly coalition that OBJ contemplates. Already, it is said that about six governors and more than 20 senators have pledged membership to this coalition. Truth is, these governors and senators are from the same wobbly political parties that OBJ blames for the present state of the country.
In essence, the former president is telling Nigerians that he can come out and declare a new platform that will absolve any subscribers of guilt for their part in eroding our democracy since 1999. The frontrunners of these parties are his past associates who are set to leave him in the dust of Nigerian politics and the self-proclaimed kingmaker cannot live with it. So he has resorted to manufacture an opposition force to his former friends so that they will not enjoy what he can’t. No doubt that his coalition will be full of people that are ready to pledge loyalty to him in what would amount to blind loyalty. This fact has been amplified by a recent open letter to the old fox by Iyabo Obasanjo, his biological daughter.
Though the open letter does contain a lot of truths about the present state of things, the medium of these truths is the problem in this case. There is, indeed, the need for a third force in Nigerian politics, as has been pointed out by many credible Nigerians before now. The third force, however, cannot be populated by all the familiar faces we have become accustomed to in governance. The present crop of politicians are cut from the same cloth of reckless corruption that has been an embarrassment to the country for decades.
Only a movement like the one that occurred in France not too long ago, can serve the purpose of what OBJ alluded to. Certainly not the desperate reshuffle of despicable characters like him who are spent forces that have nothing else to offer apart from deceit and forced relevance.
OBJ spoke of Buhari passing the buck of his shortcomings, whereas he persists in passing the buck himself, after orchestrating every failed administration that has come since his greed and over ambition for a third term was truncated. The time has come for the old hands to truly take their place in history and remain there. OBJ has refused to join ‘elders’ of his stature like past heads of state, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubakar, who have truly retired and settled into the life of elder statesmen, giving opinions when prodded and generally remaining in the background, where all past leaders should be.
2019 can be a turning point if Nigerians can muster courage to stand up to the shenanigans of OBJ and his cohorts who are the new colonial masters holding the country back. They have been brainwashing gullible Nigerians into believing in godfatherism as the ultimate political system. This is why the first thing most Nigerians of voting age look out for in a new candidate is who his/her godfather is.
For the many other old hands and new “lice of poor performance” that have castigated Buhari over his failings, a message needs to be passed in the next elections that Nigerians are not ready to settle for the devil’s alternative anymore.
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