Wednesday, March 22, 2023

2023 and the posterity question for presidential election, by Sunny Ibeh Jnr

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In 1958, the final conference for the birth of today’s Nigeria was held in London. The conference had the representatives of the British and that of Nigeria in attendance. It was the last broad official arrangement where certain issues about Nigeria’s independence were raised and finalized. The Lancaster House conference was the last constitutional framework that birthed Nigeria. The federal constitution for an independent entity called Nigeria was prepared at the conference. Every other arrangement took shape, and was forged, subsequently. The rest today is history. The post-independent Nigeria has had its fair share of unpleasant curves, among a barrage of challenges. And the glimpse of hope has been frequently dashed even when it seemed things were to get better, we got stuck, and the vicious circle continued. It is festered around and beyond. Ours is a sad tale in gloom and absurdity that has left us abridged and malnourished when it comes to substantial progress.

We have had a number of elections that have been quite questionable by the locals and even the international community and the results of these elections had sunk us further in despair and perplexity –a reality we have been forced to accept and live with as helpless destitute in the market square of life.

In 2015, the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) sold the “change” mantra through pretense and deception. A gimmick some of us, unfortunately, fell for. So many Nigerians were hoodwinked to believe that the APC had come to salvage the country from impending ruins caused by the PDP led by President Goodluck Jonathan. In the past seven years, the Buhari-led APC government has completely left Nigerians in suffering, tears, and penury. The Buhari government is the worst thing that has happened to Nigerians since the return of democracy in 1999. The only thing that can surpass the torture and pains brought by the Buhari-led government to Nigeria would be the accumulated wrath of God from heaven. APC brought a political ‘reincarnation’ of the pains experienced in Soviet Russia under Joseph Stalin through a system of government known as ‘Stalinism’ that came after Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917.

In 2019, an attempt to oust the current president, I mean the historical disaster, we currently have as our president, Muhammadu Buhari met brick walls.

Personally, I believed 2019 was rigged although the Supreme Court upheld the victory of Mr. Buhari as earlier pronounced by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) at the incipience of the post-election events. In that election, I supported Atiku Abubakar, a movement I never regretted up till date.

My reason for supporting Atiku Abubakar was not because he was exactly what Nigeria needed at that time – but because he was a lesser evil when compared to Mr. Buhari who had already proven to be a disaster as the Nigeria’s highest office. It was a clear case of bringing the country from fire into a frying pan that was at least not on fire already. I knew Atiku was corrupt – and not so trustworthy as a person, but like many other Nigerians, we held that he was better than a pale and clueless Muhammadu Buhari who obviously had lost touch with mental fitness and strength to lead an ethno-religious country like the ‘Lugardian Nigeria’. Again, the rest became history as we experience the burnt and scars from a repressive and insensitive government led by a man who contested elections four times before emerging the president. He was seen publicly cried at some point believing that he was the solution to Nigeria’s problem.

This was a man who wept bitterly on April 14, 2011, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, while addressing his supporters. In Buhari’s mind, he was the answer to Nigeria’s problem that was not given the opportunity to unleash his leadership expertise to Nigeria; hence he wept and felt bad for a number of deprived opportunities.

Buhari also lied in the same event that 2011 was his last attempt for the office of the president of Nigeria. Aside the magnitude of suffering he has made to befall Nigerians, I am happy that at least he has been given a chance to lead Nigeria, creating more problems for country. President Buhari will now retire peacefully to Daura, knowing fully-well that he is a disaster which no other country on earth would ever want to give a chance in leadership.

Today, it’s another chance, a penultimate day to one of biggest days in Nigeria’s political history since independence. Tomorrow, 25th February, 2023, more than 60% of the 93 million eligible voters in the country would be heading to the poll units to elect a new president and members of national assembly for the next four years. As I write, my expectations h would be dashed or restored at the end of the day. This presidential election is an emotional one for me and millions of other Nigerians who look at it with some teary eyes of hope for us and the generation unborn.

For me, 25th February leaves us with the last chance take back our country from the hands of selfish leaders who are clearly callous and inconsiderate. It’s make or mar opportunity to choose the best hand that will salvage the ‘soul’ of this country from clutches of hopelessness, doom and imploding political disaster. I just looked at my clock, lord and behold its 1; 57 am, 24th February 2023, and I feel like pouring my minds out to Nigerians. Especially, the youths –since I am not oblivious of the fact that there may never be better chance to do this. I am seated on a upholstered chair in my sitting room at this time (1; 57 am) doing this due to the love I have for our dear country and the need for us to get it right for this might be our last chance.

The 2023 presidential presents with the options of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party. It’s from these notable names that we must choose.

Jagabanism – The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Support-base

Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the candidate of the APC in the forthcoming presidential election. The former governor of Lagos State has a relatively strong support-base. He banks on the strength of the APC as a ruling party in most northern states and a solidarity vote from his natives in the south-west to clinch victory at the polls. As smart as he used to be the fact that BAT is weak and lacks both the physical and mental strength to lead a country like Nigeria. Going further, the religious colouration of his ticket which comes as a Muslim- Muslim ticket reeks of insensitivity and religious unbalancing. A rare drifts that from conventional norm since 1999. Obviously a move borne out political expediency, one may say, yet the fact that it undermines a vast majority of Nigerians in the Christian faith can’t be overstressed. I can clearly tell you folks supporting Bola Tinubu are doing so from the prisms of party loyal and in expectation political benefits should he win. For me, this reason is bad and clearly unhealthy for our nascent democracy considering the deteriorating state of our dear country. Also, there are folks who the former Lagos State governor based on ethnic reasons, apparently bulk of people in this category are from the southwest.

Most of the elites and common people supporting Tinubu are doing so for personal gains and post-election recognition. This set of people deflated the voice of conscience in order to support an obviously incapacitated candidate with a deluge of corruption allegations against the common interest of an idle Nigeria. Tinubu’s candidature is widely hated by Nigerians and I stand to say the “Emi lo kan” agitator stands no to chance to win in a free and fair election. If peradventure he wins, it would be a journey of another eight years of suffering and anguish for Nigerians. Tinubu’s will be a government political criminals, bandits and intellectual sycophants.

Atikulation –The Atiku Abubakar support-base

Mr. Atiku Abubakar is not a new name as far as Nigeria’s presidential election is concerned. The former vice president has been on the ballot for a good number of times. His foray into the presidential election was in 1993 when he ran in the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries and lost out to MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe. Since then he has been contesting for the position of the president. His penultimate attempt was in 2019 and here we’re again. Of course Atiku is the presidential candidate of the main opposition party in the country, the People Democratic Party (PDP).

By default, Atiku Abubakar banks on vote cast based on ethnic consideration to win the February 25th presidential election. Clearly, only a bulk vote from the north can make Atiku the president. Aside, this he can’t win. Also the fact that some of the PDP strongholds in the country; places like south-south and south-eastern states are now Obi’s strongholds by default. This means that Atiku’s 19 million votes in 2019 would be divided this time around. Even amongst most northerners, Atiku is not properly loved, I mean he has nothing close to the cult fellowship President Muhammadu Buhari had when he was on the ballot few years ago.

Atiku is seen as a nominal Muslim even by his own people from the North. This also would affect him. Given and take, only votes pulled on the basis of ethnic consideration from the north can make Atiku has his way. On the other hand, two reasons stand out among reasons why people support the former vice president. One, there are people who are supporting based on selfish interest.

This group of people are people who are supporting him hoping that when he wins they would be personally compensated with appointments, contracts and other personal benefit. The second group of people are people who are supporting him on the basis of party loyalty. I mean loyalty PDP party members from across the 36 states of the federation. With this it’s clear, that there is no natural support for the former vice president. There is no iota of votes based on competence. As it stands, Atiku’s strong hold is the north. And the absence of votes cast out of ethnic consideration will spell doom for him.

Atiku winning the forth-coming implies a return to the old order. The order that precipitated our current status squalor and hardship. Atiku Abubakar is one of those who began bribery and corruption in government agencies and National Assembly. He is political desperado who will illicitly empower his cronies and foreign allies. Atiku, if elected, would leave Nigeria at the mercy of been sold completely to China. He is a transactional political dishonest candidate whose selfish interest would surely be placed above the common interest of the average Nigerian. Like Tinubu, he is a Machiavellian that stops at nothing to get what he wants at expense of common good.

And no matter the amount of money you have, if you support a candidate, whether competent or incompetent, based on what you stand to gain as a person, you are a hungry man without integrity. And as you go to the polls tomorrow to betray your conscience and the rest of us who want a new Nigeria for peanuts or benefit that you may end up not getting, go with these words at the back of your mind, knowing fully-well you are a Judas to the Nigerian cause.

Obidiency: The support-base and candidature of Peter Gregory Obi

In May 2022, Peter Gregory Obi joined the presidential under the platform of the PDP. Few months to the PDP primaries he resigned from the party when he saw that the party and its delegates were bent at frustrating his ambition. Obi eventually declared for the Labour Party. Peter Obi is the new order as far as the 2023 presidential election is concerned: A new mandate, the paradigm shift – a seismic force. It is simply a political rendition of hope and national revival.

Peter Obi is not a new name in the Nigerian political hemisphere. Obi’s foray into politics dated back to 2007 when he first contested for governor in Anambra State. Obi became the first Nigerian governor who reclaimed his mandate through the court. His ascendancy into power in Anambra brought positive changed in different sectors, including education, health, grassroots inclusiveness and human capital development. His inclusion in the Atiku Abubakar’s ticket in 2019, gave impetus and vitality to the ticket. Obi brought a glimpse of acceptability to the ticket. As a matter of fact, the votes the PDP got in south-south and southeast were gotten because of Obi.

‘Obidiency’ or the ‘Obidient movement’ came as an offshoot from Peter Obi candidature. Obidiency is a cult-like followership, admiration and clamour for a Peter Obi presidency. The movement started early 2022 and by the first quarter of the year, it had gathered momentum that got the world amazed. Obidiency represents candour, competence and forthrightness. Obidiency is motivated by the need for a competent a candidate, who is adroit, savvy and eminently qualified to steer the ship of the Nigeria state to the promise land. Furthermore, the movement is a confluence of interests that stretches beyond the shores of Nigeria.

There is no gainsaying that those who support Peter Obi of the Labour Party for president do so out of a pure heart of selflessness. They do so with the firm resolve to rescue Nigeria from impending doom, possible quagmire and conflagration. Those who support Peter Obi do so to save the future of their children, and that of the next generation. This group of people thinks about not just the present, but also the next generation unlike others who are in the other divide, who think about themselves and the post-election benefit they stand to get for themselves and family. Obi’s victory would most invariably usher in the dawn of a new Nigeria. I mean a country where everyone would be treated with fairness and justice; a country where ethno-religious predominance would be subdued to its nearest minimum.

Youth: Party Affiliation, and the Loyalty Syndrome

The youth are an integral part of our political make-up as a country. As a matter of fact, in this election, the youth population stands at about 37% according official statistics by INEC. This simply means that the youths would make it possible for whosoever would emerge victorious in the presidential election. This is huge, yet underestimated. Also, the demography is the demography in dire need of a working system: a candidate who would reinvigorate the system for good. I am a youth and I understand these things. This spells the enormity of responsibility the youth shoulders in the forthcoming election. If Nigeria fails, the youths have failed, if Nigeria wins, the youth have won. So far as glaring as it is, the only candidate that would restore hope back to the youth is Peter Obi. And the youth must see this without any form of sentiment.

There are youths who today support presidential candidates based on what they stand to gain as individuals as against the common interest of the Nigerian people. There are others who support clearly incompetent candidates because their principals’ stand in position to gain and have political appointment should these candidates win. A good number of other youths have swung into debris of party loyalty, that they now support incompetent candidates simply because they were fielded by their parties. This group of youths gives excuse with the argument that they can’t go against the party, hence, their support for gross incompetence and monumental incapacitation. There are those who are supporting candidates based on ethno-religious reasons. Sadly, many Nigerian youths are guilty of this. Truly, the youths are also the problem, and we need a rethink at the polls tomorrow.

The Ethno-religious Problem and the Future of Nigeria

Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups with the most dominant being Hausa-Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%. The country also has over 500 languages. These are our diversities and to me it’s some strength in disguise. A United front in diversity would be the most profitable trade we can embark on as a people, not allowing ethnic sentiments becloud our sense of judgment. Dominantly, Christianity, Islam and the traditional religions constitute the bedrock of our diversities in religion. However, the traditional religion is somewhat compressed as sub-faith both the Christian and Islamic religions thereby leaving Islam and Christianity as the most dominant religious groups in Nigeria. The fact that religion and ethnicity have polarized us into two weak units is bemoaning and it contributes up to 50% of our problem as a people. People argue and pick sides based on their religious identities. Same applies to ethnicity. This is sad, to say the least. A good number of Nigerians no longer make political choices out the rationality of common good. This is one of the main reasons we’re backwards and stunted as a nation. Here is a culture we must change or die together in our inflammable foolishness.

The Naira Redesign and its Political Consequences

The naira redesign is one issue that is shaking up the country as it stands. Some are for it while others are against it. Nigerians are clearly divided regarding this issue. The policy comes with difficulties and suffering which I am personally a victim to. But I see things from the angle of a common good. Hence, I am going through this suffering phase with equanimity. I believe it is one of those sacrifices we have to make to restore the diminishing image of this country. The argument that the policy will curb the political menace of vote buying is not a false one. Vote buying is an act of paying voters with cash to cast their votes for a particular candidate that isn’t their preferred candidate. It’s carried out by the use of cash. And it can’t thrive in the absence of voluminous cash in circulation among politicians. Currently, politicians have insufficient new notes that could pull through and get the needed result for them through vote buying. This is the positive side of this policy. And it will help us enthrone a competent candidate who will work for the interest of Nigeria. It sad same policy is affecting us all badly; however, it’s better to suffer for days than to suffer another eight years owing to bad leadership. This stance and I believe it will help strengthen our democracy.

Our Common Fate, the Posterity Question and what if Obi fails?

Since the Obidient movement began gathering momentum naysayers especially supporters of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar have been making jest of Obi’s supporters saying Obi would not win the presidential election and that members of the obidient movement would be sad in tears in the end. A deluge of so many negative predictions have been made for members of the Obidient movement on the premise that Obi wouldn’t win.

The likes of Deji Adeyanju and folks in the other divides have predicted doom and bitter end for Obidient movement and its members nationwide. In fact, many of them are patiently waiting, hoping that it comes to pass. In all of these, I have a message for this set of people. And it is that Obidients all over the world would be fine whether Peter Obi wins or not. Peter Obi has nothing to lose if he doesn’t win. Obidients also have nothing to lose. If Peter Obi eventually lost, Nigeria lost. Should Obi fail (which will not be) Nigerians lost a golden opportunity to redeem Nigeria.

Obidients are the only group of supporters who do their thing selflessly without expecting any dime or political compensations after victory. They just want Nigeria to be fine and to get working again. That’s all. As Obidients we treasure our future and the future of our unborn children. While other supporters are expectant of individual recognition and benefits, Obidients are simply driven by the common good of the average Nigerian in the streets of Lagos hustling legitimately to make ends meet.

Obidients want a country where the man farming in Borno should be able to farm without being scared of bandit attacks while farming. Obedient want a country where the Christian woman in Kaduna and the Muslim mallam in Anambra would be able to carry out their daily businesses and crafts without fear of discrimination and loath. Obidients clamour for a country where there would be fairness in political appointments, sectional security and development without any form of bias. Obidients want peaceful coexistence, harmony and shared progress amongst people of this great country. Obidients want fairness, equity and justice. Obidients want security, growth and development. Obidients are the voices in the wilderness shouting and clamouring for a new Nigeria where everyone would be happy and fulfilled. Obidients are foot soldiers of the spirit who represent the voice of our ancestors who truly want a new Nigeria for their decedents alive.

Obidients want a new Nigeria. Where Peter Obi would be the leader and the lead reformer. All these are the components of what Obidients truly desire. And none itemizes the desire for individual gain and post-election benefits as a pre-condition. Dear Nigerians, as you go to the polls tomorrow, don’t just think about what you stand to gain as an individual, think about your future, that your children and loved ones. Remember the hardship and difficulties you have been subjected to in the last seven years. Remember that both Atiku and Tinubu played crucial roles in foisting Buhari on us all just to advance their selfish interest. Think about the man who has Nigeria’s best interest at heart. Think less of religion and ethnicity, think hope, and then think about the tomorrow you desire for our dear country Nigeria. Understand that Nigeria was never created to be this bad but these same men contributed in making life difficult for you and I. Think a new Nigeria and think Peter Obi. Vote Peter Obi for president. Vote Labour Party. For Peter Obi is the only feasible rout to our shared hope for a prosperous Nigeria. No other presidential candidate comes close. Regardless of whatsoever that happens in the end, may posterity remember us (Obidients) for good and honor our selfless acts as heroes of change.

Sunny Ibeh Jnr is an Abuja-based journalist and a media entrepreneur in Nigeria.

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