VIEW OF THE GALLERY BY MAHMUD JEGA
All the men and women who paid tens or hundreds of millions of naira for expressions of interest and nomination forms in various political parties to run for president, did they stop for a minute and think about what they are negotiating for?
I thought the Nigerian presidency would now be so unattractive that people would have to beg to come and take it. Why should anyone be keen to inherit Boko Haram, terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, secessionists, communal warriors, oil thieves, sea pirates, depreciated naira, reserves of depleted exchange rates, a high debt service ratio, plummeting oil production, astronomical diesel and aviation fuel costs, high unemployment, suspension of rail and air services, billions of gasoline subsidy dollars, unenforceable oil industry law, 13 million out-of-school children, bloated civil service, ASUU strike, impending police strike, illegal refinery explosion, oil spills, flooding of the Niger River, advancing Sahara Desert, shrinking Lake Chad, porous borders, inundation of small arms, corruption, fake drugs, fake news, ritual killers, counterfeit currency, frequent national grid collapse, hau sses of DSTV, telecommunications and electricity tariffs, white elephant Ajaokuta Steel, partially completed Second bridge over the Niger, Apapa traffic jam, starts again COVID and fallout from the war in Ukraine?
Whether this was all caused by “the rot left by the PDP after 16 years in power” or “the destruction of Nigeria in 8 years of APC rule” is beside the point. Personally, I will not accept this basket for free, let alone 100 million naira.
Yet by Friday, according to a report, 25 people had paid 100 million naira each and bought APC’s expression of interest and nomination forms. APC National Organizing Secretary Sulaiman Argungu said on Thursday last week that 15 aspirants paid N100 million each for the presidential nomination forms, 48 aspirants paid N50 million each for the forms Governor, 241 people had paid N20m each for Senate forms, 821 Midshipmen had paid N10m each for House of Representatives Forms while 1,505 Midshipmen paid N2m each for State House of Representatives forms. Assembly. There was however a rush on Friday and the numbers rose by leaps and bounds.
APC has extended its form sale until Tuesday, when the number of aspirants for all positions is expected to increase further. That only 48 people chose his forms of governor was a surprise, given that Nigerian politicians are drawn to government houses like bees are to nectar. 20 state governors will complete their second terms next year or soon after. This is an incentive for many more aspirants to get into the race. In Nigeria, challenging an incumbent governor in an election is politically and socially dangerous. Things are a little easier when the throne is about to become vacant.
By the time PDP closed its intake of nominations, 17 aspirants had chosen its presidential nomination forms. Two were disqualified by the selection committee headed by former Senate President David Mark. The appeal committee upheld the disqualifications. The disqualified contenders were the lesser-known names on the roster, so all of the heavyweight contenders are still in the running. Even though the PDP’s NEC is to meet on Wednesday to decide on the zoning of his presidential ticket, I think the matter is already overtaken by events because it is difficult to tell a person who has passed the screening that he can no longer challenge because of zoning.
Another oddity at this time is that there are twenty-one serving and former governors, in at least three parties, among the aspirants jostling to take over the presidency next year. from Jigawa, David Umahi from Ebonyi and Yahaya Bello from Kogi State. Former APC Race Governors include Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of Lagos, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Rochas Okorocha of Imo, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Chris Ngige of Anambra, Ogbonaya Onu of former Abia State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Ahmad Sani, Yariman Bakura of Zamfara and Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia, who said he was quitting the race. It was reported over the weekend that former Lagos State Governor Akinwuni Ambode had entered the race. The crowning glory of all of this at APC is incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Another newspaper claimed that African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina purchased the APC form.
In the PDP, incumbent governors in the presidential race include Rivers’ Nyesom Wike, Akwa Ibom’s Udom Emmanuel, Sokoto’s Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Bauchi’s Bala Mohammed. Past governors in the PDP race are Bukola Saraki of Kwara, a former Senate president; Peter Obi from Anambra and Ayo Fayose from Ekiti. Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who was elected governor of Adamawa state but gave up the post for a higher post, completes the PDP tally. Former Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano is in the running under the NNPP.
There is an indication in Nigerian politics that the first qualification to be president is to be a state governor, current or former. It is perhaps because of the four people who have served as Presidents of Nigeria in this Republic, two [Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan] were former civilian governors while a [Muhammadu Buhari] was a former military governor. The icing on the political cake for some of these former governors is that they were also ministers, many of whom are still in office. Fayemi, Wike, Onu, Amaechi, Bala, Ngige and Akpabio have all served as ministers as well as governors. It’s a rich political resume, but is that all?
The fact of occupying important positions alone does not make one suitable for occupying higher positions. He must at least prove that he has done justice to the positions he has held, and also prove that he has a thoughtful agenda for future action. When George Bush Sr. once touted the positions he held, including those of Congressman, Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Vice President, as qualifying him for the post of American president, his adversaries declared that he had been everywhere but that he had left his footprints nowhere.
Those who boast of rich political CVs in this race, could you please pause and outline your program for the future? If it’s a resume, no one in Nigeria can beat Olusegun Obasanjo, Army General, War Commander, Minister of Public Works, Supreme Chief of Staff, Military Head of State, Member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, UN Secretary General aspirant and political prisoner. The only other Nigerian CV that comes close to this one is that of Muhammadu Buhari, Army General, War Commander, Military Governor, Oil Minister, GOC of 3rd Armored Division, Military Head of State, Political Detainee , president of the PTF and five-time presidential candidate under three different political parties. I have seen documents describing the programs of three presidential candidates, namely Osinbajo, Saraki and Fayemi. From an aspiring PDP, we saw a flood of videos, songs, boasts and dances.
Over the weekend, the most interesting issue in national politics was the controversy over another “governor”, this time the Central Bank of Nigeria. [CBN] Governor Godwin Emefiele. [During our secondary school days, a popular quiz question was, Who is the Governor without a state?] N100 million was paid last week to collect a presidential nomination form for Emefiele. This quickly generated a storm, with Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, PDP National Publicity Secretary and numerous NGOs saying that Emefiele should resign from the CBN. Even though many incumbent ministers who have chosen presidential and gubernatorial nomination forms have so far refused to resign as required by the amended election law, the reported picking of forms for the CBN governor kind of sparked more controversy. He is not a civil servant; under CBN law, he is a civil servant much like ministers and governors who is expected to devote himself solely to his CBN duties.
Emefiele released a statement over the weekend that raised more questions than answers. He rejected forms bought in his name by farmers [supposedly beneficiaries of Anchor Borrowers Program]. He said he would decide within days to enter the race and buy the forms with his own money, after being a top banker for 35 years. He consulted God first, Emefiele said. All the other aspirants who ran across the country consulting Obas and statesmen, they missed the biggest one.
As everyone was quick to note, Emefiele’s statement was not a firm dismissal of the presidential race. That was a far cry from what US President Lyndon Johnson said in 1968, when he dropped out of the presidential race because anti-Vietnam War protesters made it virtually impossible for him to campaign. In a televised address, he said: “I will not seek, nor will I accept, my party’s nomination for another term as your president.”
The denial of the INEC president, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, comes close. The NGO HURIWA mischievously suggested at the end of the week that in view of the purchase of the form by the Governor of the CBN, it would not be surprising if someone bought an APC form for the boss of the INEC. The president’s press secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said in a statement: “This is an absurd proposal. It won’t happen.” That was firmer than saying he was communing with God. Oyekanmi, edit this script and replace the word will with shall.