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APC presidential primary: Of sheepdogs and Nigeria’s future

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By Columba Oshiobughie Ogah

There are three types of people in this world: the sheep, the wolves, and the sheepdogs. The vast majority of people are sheep. They move about their day carefree; they are kind and only rarely or accidentally hurt each other. The wolves want to devour the sheep. They will cause as much harm as they can with little remorse. Wolves are the bad guys; they are the evil sociopaths who seek to harm and exploit others. These are the terrorists, treasury looters, despots, bandits, kidnappers, rapists, armed robbers, election riggers, dictators, and other types of villains in this world.

Sheepdogs are the defenders, protectors and guardians of society – who strive to protect the sheep. These are persons who are not afraid to stand up for what is right, even when it means going against the crowd. They have the courage to face danger and save others. Many of us lie somewhere on the sheep-sheepdog continuum, with the vast majority of the population firmly on the sheep side.

As political parties go into elections, first for primaries at the end of the month and the general elections later on, there is a need to remind All Progressives Congress (APC) delegates of their responsibility to be like sheepdogs to the party, and by extension our nation.

APC, like other leading parties, has decided to use the indirect mode of primary for the election of its presidential candidate. Clearly, the mechanics of direct primary as outlined in the Electoral Act is such that it is not easy to manage at this point in time. Hence, they resort to indirect primary.

This makes the role of delegates very important. Delegates to the presidential primaries are literally the “sheepdogs” of the party specially elected to choose the most and the most important position of all – that of the president. There is a need for delegates to look at the challenges facing the nation and take steps to be sheepdogs acting as defenders, protectors and guardians of the party and our nation in general by choosing a candidate, not for filthy lucre or for a pot of porridge as in the case of the biblical Esau, but to elect a candidate that fits the time and season, as well as who has the capacity to successfully lead Nigeria to overcome the challenges facing it today.

Today in our country, especially in our political terrain some persons have been wolves and some want to continue to be wolves. Such persons have literally been involved in devouring the nation.

We have seen governors, Local Government chairmen, Assembly men etc. charged for sundry crimes against the public. Even a particular former Vice President was accused of blatant corruption by his former boss. We see the deleterious impact of the activities of wolves in our society in security challenges, corruption, poverty, indiscipline, persistent workers’ strikes, and general social malaise.

No doubt President Muhammadu Buhari has fought hard to steer the ship of state, and every constructive critic will admit that he has done commendably well in rescuing Nigeria twice out of recession that came upon us due to global realities. He has also developed as well as implementing the Nigeria Economy Sustainability Plan that is taking our nation to the path of economic growth. Buhari’s administration has also fought hard against terrorism as well as carrying on courageously with the battle against corruption.

There is need for more concerted effort to tackle these challenges. And the coming elections are an opportunity to consolidate earlier positive efforts and also deploy new solutions that will radically fast track Nigeria’s development. The coming elections provide an opportunity for growth to either swim or sink. “God forbid!” I hear you say but that is the reality.

There are many wolves in our political terrain waiting to devour the nation, going by what we have seen in recent times. For the 2023 elections, we have seen quite a number of persons throw their hats into the ring. To my mind, several of the characters who bought nomination forms from the various political parties ought to be looking for bed spaces in Kirikiri or Umuahia prisons.

This is because these characters are clearly wolves. Their antecedent speaks of devouring states, local government, and ministries. Some even have pending cases of corruption allegations weighing down on their necks. But you see, wolves never give up. They enjoy devouring and destroying. To them the coming election is just a hunt for prey. Unfortunately our dear country (in fact our very lives) is the prey they are hunting for!

This is where the role of delegates as sheepdogs becomes imperative. In nature, the sheep are born as sheep. Wolves are born that way, and so are sheepdogs. They didn’t have a choice. However, as humans we are not animals; we can be whatever we want to be. To be a sheepdog in the context here is a conscious and moral decision; it a matter of conscience.

This piece is a call for all APC delegates to be sheepdogs and walk the path of defenders, guardians and protectors of the sheep – the APC and our society by electing the right candidate; it is a conscious and moral decision.  The call today is on the delegates to save the APC and Nigeria from wolves even if they parade themselves as members of the party. So much is at stake. APC party delegates to the presidential primary should arise like sheepdogs to stop those who, like wolves, have been devouring our nation without any tinge of remorse and will still do so if they have the opportunity.

Finally, some qualities are certainly needed in Nigeria’s next president especially as the coming four years will not be a tea party for Nigeria if we must get out of our challenges and move on to be a developed nation. These are integrity, experience, competence, excellence, hardworking spirit, a unifying spirit, can-do-spirit, innovative spirit, determination, and servant leadership.

To my mind, the candidate who best represents these values in the cast of the aspirants who is not a wolf but will make a good shepherd is none other than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He not only has these qualities but has a wonderful plan that I have read – The Plan, that is clearly based on the realities facing Nigeria today and one can see in it the traction of how it will take Nigeria to become the nation of our dreams. APC delegates should take note and do the needful – elect Osinbajo as APC presidential candidate. He is truly the man of the moment. And we will not only be saved from wolves but Nigeria will match on to become a developed nation in not too distant a time.

I have deliberately written this piece to the APC delegates because your party is not only the biggest political party in Nigeria, it has a solid structure and stands a better chance to win the presidency. I don’t see them winning a presidential election soon. They seem not have changed their ways at all. God loves Nigeria.

Oshiobughie is the publisher of Peoples Dividend, the magazine for Local Government

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