By Columba Oshiobughie Ogah
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently conducted its presidential primary election leading to the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as its flagbearer. It was an event described by one of the 14 presidential aspirants, Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, who withdrew from the race as “obscenely monetised”. Peter Obi, another PDP presidential aspirant, earlier run away from the PDP primary and dumped the party, citing acts that are neither consistent with democracy nor national development.
Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister, also described the event thus: “Was it not a show of shame where the highest bidder simply took the prize? Were the activities there not worse than those in an 18th century Parisian whore house where money was exchanged for services rendered? This was not an election but a shameless gathering of corrupt souls in which the dollar determined the outcome at the behest of its providers. The delegates were bought and their price was on open display. A candidate that emerged from such a gathering and as a consequence of the invocation of such dark and bestial forces and powers cannot be expected to do any good”.
No matter what anyone may have against Fani-Kayode, the views he expressed are the opinion out there on the streets across the nation. The PDP may well have proven, with their Bazaar, sorry, convention, that it is a class that has no disposition or capacity to change anything or redeem itself. The PDP delegates may well have sold their presidential ticket to the devil himself were he directly one of the aspirants, so long he would ensure a more torrential “dollar rain”.
It does also seem that having being out of power at the centre for so long, PDP apparatchiks are ready to throw overboard anything or position no matter how noble in their desperation for power. Any reasonable Nigerian who wishes the country well knows that it is wise, as Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, explained sometime ago, that power going to the south would enhance the country’s political security. Ditto Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and many other northerners have also expressed a strong preference for a southern presidential candidate for 2023.
Every right-thinking person who understands the context of power relations and appreciation knows that, in order to achieve the noble objectives of a fair, equitable and just Nigeria in which we are all equals regardless of ethnicity or faith, there should be a North-South power rotation until such a time when we have developed in our political culture where the fears of many have been assuaged or wiped out by consistent good governance and development.
But the PDP out of craftiness, with the notion that politics is a game of numbers and that the North with more voters will vote for anyone so long as that person is a Northerner especially when the All Progressives Congress (APC) was seemingly poised to bring a candidate from the South, have exposed and demonstrated their soullessness and being guided by the Machiavellian position. Like the words of Shakespeare’s witches in his famous play Macbeth, “fair is foul and foul is fair”
So long such a foul cause would aid their immediate selfish aims of power grabbing, albeit for self-serving purposes not minding whether the nation goes under the bus afterwards.
What we have seen the PDP do in the name of a convention is a demonstration of the worst in us as a people: inordinate lust for power that can sacrifice anything no matter how noble. What we have seen is extreme greed, intrigue, betrayal and treachery. What we have seen is not the best in us as a people. So very sad! Are these the people to be trusted with power?
However, the worst part of the PDP bazaar was the outcome – Atiku Abubakar! My 12-year-old daughter actually queried me as if I chose Atiku myself the very morning he was declared winner! “Daddy, why will PDP choose Atiku when in our school they allege he is corrupt and has amassed a lot of resources to himself and his family whilst pretending to care for Nigeria? Can’t PDP get a better person?” she queried. I told her there was hope. I met another young man by the ATM in a bank in Abuja after the PDP convention who told me he would not bother to vote with a character like Atiku on the ballot. I told him there is still hope. And that is the kernel of this piece.
I know the reasons for the shock of my daughter and the chap I met by the ATM. Atiku comes with a lot of negative baggage. Atiku, who is widely perceived to be a corrupt politician as well as a champion self-indulgence and for instance, after losing the last elections, abandoned his followers and supporters, just to go and indulge himself for three years in pleasurable Dubai.
This is a politician who, in recent times, has gotten a lot of negatives for himself. Recently, over 50 Nigerians were massacred by Boko Haram in Rann, Borno State. Atiku uttered not a word. He withdrew a public condemnation of the dastardly killing of Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto. This is a man who failed to condemn the wicked killing of a pregnant Fulani lady and her four children in Anambra State. This is a fellow who has no clear headed and passionate solution on the matter of terrorists that are butchering our people in the Northwest and Northeast or to the plague of unknown gunmen that are slaughtering our countrymen in the Southeast.
Pretending to be a statesman of some sorts, Atiku issues self-serving statements on a few national matters once in a while. But truly, there is nothing to them. It is what it is – they are meant to fool the unwary public that he cares. He does not. And the public is now very much aware.
This is a man who is loyal to nothing and no one but himself, his pleasures and his lifelong ambition. You can ask his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo. You can also ask all the political parties whether PDP, APC and all the others that he has jumped in and out of. Such a man can never be truly loyal to Nigeria. A leopard never changes its spots.
It is to such a man who is a serial election failure but allegedly with loads of cash that the PDP, in vain pursuit of power for its sake and possibly in pursuit of his reputed cash in the interim, has given its presidential ticket. At a time when most, if not all Nigerians are looking for an agile leader with competence, integrity and genuine commitment to our national prosperity, development and greatness; at a time when the voting population of Nigeria are the youths who now know better.
Atiku’s emergence as PDP candidate passes the ace to the APC, if the party manages the opportunity by choosing a candidate that has no negative baggage like Atiku. As things stand, APC is now the only hope for Nigeria to have a President in 2023 who has untainted credibility with a capacity to deliver and with ability to keep public trust.
On this note, it is heart-warming to note that at a consultative meeting with APC Governors recently, President Muhammadu Buhari concerning the coming APC presidential convention said that, “as we approach the convention, I appeal to all of you to allow our interests to converge, our focus to remain on the changing dynamics of our environment, the expectations of our citizens and the global community. Our objective must be the victory of our party and our choice of candidate must be someone who would give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections”.
To my mind, the man for the job is already cut out. When Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made his declaration to run for the Office of the President, my younger brother who lives in Damaturu, Yobe State told me that there was wild jubilation on the streets of Damaturu as if Osinbajo had won the election already. Same feeling swept through many on the streets of Abuja, Ondo – and across the land. As a publisher who has monitored local governments (which literally means the grassroots) nationwide for years, I should know these things. Osinbajo has secured the popular imagination.
I told my daughter and that chap I met by the ATM that there was hope; that hope now rests with APC and they have an aspirant who will, as Buhari said, “give the Nigerian masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections”. That man, to my mind, is Osinbajo.
Again, truth be told, our nation faces deep challenges and we are in a hurry to develop. Osinbajo, an articulate, highly cerebral but yet a humble man of the people has been in the leadership at the national level for the past seven years, serving in a very challenging capacity that has posted good results for all to see. It is therefore clear to everyone who Buhari is pointing to. Osinbajo is the best man for the job and he will surely win the presidential elections against an Atiku in a free and fair contest any time, any day. You cannot compare light with darkness. The PDP made a serious blunder by not realising the mood of the times. Every right-thinking Nigerian is now prepared to sift the grain from the chaff in voting credible politicians to power especially for the Office of the President.
Interestingly too, as things stand, Buhari, the man some have wrongly characterised as an ethnic warlord and religious bigot, may well be poised to leave a legacy of honour by working to ensure a President emerges from the south through a free and fair election and the APC many called a northern party may go on to be the truly national party. Nigerians may well have to prepare for this reality going forward.
All Nigerians should support the President’s position – getting a person who would give the masses a sense of victory and confidence even before the elections. This call is to the APC – its delegates, stakeholders, and all its members by choosing Osinbajo as their party’s presidential candidate in their coming convention. And to all Nigerians, by voting for Osinbajo in the presidential elections proper come February 2023.
Ogah is publisher Peoples Dividend – the magazine for Local Governments