By Dele Sobowale
“Nigeria stood on three legs; and it has never been steady since one of the legs was destroyed during the Civil War. If zoning which will heal the wounds is not done, there will be no Nigeria. Nobody will remain in this country as a second class citizen.” Chief Edwin Clark, leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF.
Pa Edwin Clark is not just the leader of PANDEF; he is one of the living titans of Nigerian politics who was never elected. Yet, he speaks with the authority that few elected persons in the Nigeria can match.
He has his counterparts in Pa Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the Afenifere in the South West; and Alhaji Tanko Yakasai in the North. Despite not being Igbos, their advocacy for Igbo Presidency, which the two major political parties still resist has proved, once again,that “it is unthinkable that wisdom should ever be popular.”(Goethe, 1749-1832). In virtually every country, the vast majority of the people are mostly fools.
Most people who claim to be opposed to zoning the Presidency to the South East, will return to their states and argue just as vehemently that the next governor must come from a certain zone. Such blatant hypocrisy, common among those who practice politics without principles, is exactly what has produced an avalanche of presidential candidates.
If,instead of the mob now assailing us with their utterances, we had opted for equity and zoned the post to the South East, Ndigbo would have taken the assignment seriously; they would have, with our help, presented a few worthy candidates. We would now be listening to their ideas of governance, and start to make up our minds regarding our next leader. We invited the mob; we are responsible for the confusion.
Our three Elder Statesmen, for whom I have utmost respect in this matter, have shown the light, but, it appears as if the vast majority of My Fellow Countrymen still cannot find their way. They still want to grope in the dark. So, permit me if I go a step further than our fathers by sorting out the rice from the husks – the real candidates from those wasting everybody’s time.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTIONYou don’t have to agree with the criteria set forth here. If you disagree, just send me your own. I honestly hope we want the best for Nigeria. Furthermore, it is impossible to list all possible reasons for preferring a candidate over others. In fact, as will soon be clear, it is easier to determine why a candidate is rejected.
Take for instance age. Nobody tilting 70 years now should be considered. We all knew how many trips to London were taken at our expense by Buhari. I am sick and tired of stories about “fit as a fiddle” by visitors to the President’s or candidate’s sick bed and hospital. One presidential candidate, obviously suffering from Parkinson’s disease (uncontrollably shaky hands etc) is still being pushed by selfish groups and individuals. The burden of office will kill him.
In addition to age, the criteria include verifiable education – from Primary School to Secondary School to University. This information should include years the schools were attended. Profession and Work experience after school, especially years spent in public service and particularly federal service.
He should also not be very close to the failures of a previous administration. Furthermore, we need the network of associates, political etc who can help if elected. Finally, the character factor is important; the real and perceived integrity. I am certain that most Nigerians would feel better with a President with a minimum of question marks on his past.
Setting out the decision rules was something I learnt during my MBA Programme in Boston, USA in 1968-70. It forces one to avoid sentiments and reduce personal bias to the minimum – especially at a time like this when we are confronted with an avalanche of almost 50 Presidential candidates. The selection can be bewildering without a set of basic principles. For me, it was all simplified long before we reached here. Therefore, let me proceed to drop names into my own waste paper basket for obvious reasons.
The first to go are all non-Igbo candidates. With that decision alone, I have relieved myself of the burden of thinking about nearly 40 aspirants – irrespective of any qualifications they and their supporters might claim they possess. In particular, I want to explain why no Yoruba candidate appeals to me. It amounts to utter ethnic selfishness for the Yoruba to want to rule Nigeria from 2023 after a Yoruba man was President for eight years; and another Yoruba would have been Vice President for eight years out of twenty four years.
There are at least 150 ethnic groups in Nigeria known to me. Are we the only people entitled to lead? I recollect that, prior to 1999, we were the most vocal critics of Hausa/Fulani domination. Have we so soon forgotten our demand for justice?
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Next, I have dropped into the dustbin all Northern candidates. Among them is someone who has been a long term friend and great benefactor. Under a different set of circumstances, I should have been one of the arrowheads of his campaign in the media and South West.
But, I strongly believe that the interests of Nigeria and the future of our people should not be used to repay personal debts – however great. In that regard, I am in total agreement with supporters of Osinbajo, Fayemi and Oshiomole, APC candidates, who were once beneficiaries of Asiwaju Tinubu’s monumental generousity. Nobody should use Nigerians to repay private obligations – particularly, when by their entrance into the race, they have declared no confidence in Tinubu’s ability to lead Nigeria.
The decision regarding where to search for candidate in the South is so obvious, it is baffling why anybody, with the tiniest sense of justice can dispute that the South East deserves it. At the risk of repeating myself, the South West is out and the South South had five years at the top. We all saw what Jonathan could do. Incidentally, left to Ndigbo in 2015, Jonathan would have had four more years.
He received an overwhelming majority of their votes. It was the South West, North Central, North East and North West which decided that they would prefer a President who did not start the day with a glass and something stronger than water within an arms length of desire. GEJ used up the SS turn.
Now we can turn to the South East. Again, some rules apply here. First, I have discarded all the APC candidates – especially the Ministers. One was a mandate thief. He ran for Governor in his state; joined in rigging the election; sat as Governor for almost three years; used public funds for litigation all the way to the Supreme Court before he was kicked out. Later, he was in Aso Rock to confess to President Obasanjo that he rigged the election.
If Obasanjo had been a more decent President, the man should have been jailed. And, if Buhari actually had zero tolerance for corruption, the man should never have been appointed Minister. To re-paraphrase an idea “he who steals a mandate and lives, lives to steal again.” We run the risk that, if nominated, this Minister will attempt to steal another mandate – as he did in the South East years ago. Shamelessly.
The second Minister is the “spare tyre” in a Ministry whose primary constituency – teachers at all levels – would not vote for as dog catcher. It is still a mystery how Buhari got such a person assigned to our most important Ministry. Having seen his quality in one Ministry; who wants him as President?
I need not discuss all the APC candidates; the most important fact remains. They belong to the ruling party which has brought Nigeria to the brink of anarchy. Any of them who has a better idea for governance than Buhari and is withholding it until he becomes president is a traitor. It is safe to assume that they are just as bereft of ideas as Buhari. So, why bother with them.
That, in fact, leaves us with two serious candidates – Peter Obi and Senator Anyim. On account of my utmost respect for Obi, I will not discuss him. Instead, I will prefer to answer the question some people have asked me: “Why Anyim?”To be continued….
Nubunk News Nigeria
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