Nigeria’s Next President

By Casmir Igbokwe

The political horse-trading is on. Supporters of every political hue are aligning and realigning. Different political parties are making frantic preparations for the commencement of campaigns for the general election coming up in 2023. The presidential campaign is where the interest of the majority of Nigerians lies.

Last week, London became a beehive of activity for the three main presidential candidates – Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, happens to be the beautiful bride all the three candidates are wooing. Though a member of the PDP, Wike fell out with his party’s presidential candidate after he failed to secure the vice-presidential position.

Tinubu was the first to meet with Wike and his team. Details of their meeting were not disclosed. Wike also met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Peter Obi and even Atiku in London. Again, details of the meeting were sketchy.

But, make no mistake about it, the major concern of many of the politicians in those meetings is not the interest of you and me. It is not the interest of the frustrated Nigerian university students who have been at home since February 14, 2022 when members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a strike to press home certain demands from the Federal Government. It is not the interest of millions of unemployed youths and others who are starving and suffering other deprivations. And it is not the interest of the victims of abductions and other criminal activities in Nigeria.

Their interests lie in what they can corner for themselves and their grand and great grandchildren. Some of them want to win by all means so they can enter history books as ‘former President of Nigeria’. Some of those following them about want certain high-profile positions or contracts.

But the Nigerian masses are ready for them this time. It can never be business as usual. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State or Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State may follow Wike anywhere he goes; Tinubu’s running mate, Kashim Shettima, may wear as many sneakers, long ties and oversized suits to distract his audience (as he did at the 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Lagos last week); but the majority of the Nigerian masses can never be deceived again. They can never lose sight of the ball.

What happened at the NBA Conference was instructive. The major presidential candidates were there to interact with Nigerians. The audience, including millions of Nigerians who watched the proceedings online, did not waste time to show where their interest lies.

From the excitement that heralded the entrance of Obi, the chants of approval that trailed his speech and the surging crowd struggling to take photos with him as he made to leave the arena, it was obvious that Nigerians want real change in 2023. Obi wowed the crowd further with his eloquence, candour and sharp wit. According to him, the 2023 election will not be about tribe or religion but about character and competence. He lamented the security challenges facing the country and regretted that Nigeria had been qualified to be a failed state. All these, he noted, were a result of cumulative effects of bad leadership.

Tinubu was conspicuously absent at the event. His running mate, Shettima, represented him. He regaled Nigerians with how he and his principal would transform Nigeria like they purportedly did to Borno and Lagos States. Describing Tinubu as a city boy and himself as a golden boy, Shettima said they were the best candidates with capacity, skills and past achievements in office.

Atiku made some sense in his presentation. Worried by the current level of disunity, poverty, insecurity and unemployment in the country, he advocated for restructuring and devolution of powers to states and local governments. According to him, he has constituted a constitution amendment drafting committee which will address the structural defects of Nigeria. He said we could achieve peace by giving every part of Nigeria a sense of belonging.

NBA deserves commendation for bringing these candidates out of their cocoons to talk to Nigerians. We need more of this so that Nigerians can make up their minds on who to support. This is why it is imperative that the candidates must appear in person to such debates. Sending proxies should be discouraged because there is a limit to what such proxies can say or do.

As it is now, Nigeria is in a total mess. Insecurity, corruption, poor infrastructure, comatose education and health sectors, poverty, unemployment, hunger and high inflation have combined to cripple the country.

Only a disruptive change can bring sanity back to the country. Hence, the next Nigerian President must begin to rebuild our national infrastructure as soon as he settles down. All roads and bridges that have collapsed should be rehabilitated. The rail and the aviation sectors should be taken care of. It is a shame that the high cost of aviation fuel has almost crippled the operations of the airlines.

The next President must ensure that he reverses food inflation as soon as possible. Bread has disappeared from the menu of many Nigerians. A few months ago, this staple was taken for granted. The size that cost about N450 before, now costs about N1,000 or more. Let’s not talk about the prices of rice, yam and other essential commodities. They have gone beyond the reach of average Nigerians.

The incoming President should also tackle youth unemployment and poverty. These are the major factors that have engendered a rise in criminal activities in the country. This is worsened by the ASUU strike which has lured idle university students into joining criminal gangs.

We can never be tired of talking about security because it holds the key to the solution of many other problems. Be it in Kaduna, Ondo, Imo and many other states, the spate of banditry and terrorism inflicted on the people is unprecedented.  The next President should have a clear vision on how to fix this problem.

The time for rhetoric is over. It is time for action. Nigerians demand upright and selfless leaders this time. They demand competence as against tribe; they want a leader with integrity and capacity as against an indolent and clueless one. The year 2023 is a make-or-mar one for Nigeria. We must gird our loins and collectively say, never again shall we allow our country to be ruled by incompetent hands.

 

Re: Inanities of presidential campaign spokespersons

Nigeria is where it is today because of leadership failure. The years of military incursions changed the political terrain of the country from the precedence set by the founding fathers of the country. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello were tested and visionary leaders with authentic educational credentials and unflinching patriotism. The landscape of Nigerian politics later changed and since have been occupied or managed by leaders without clear-cut vision and ideology for the nation with some even with questionable educational credentials. The only thing that is permanent is change. If man cannot effect a change, nature will. The emergence of Peter Obi and his fast-spreading acceptance mark the beginning of a new era. Obi’s performance in the NBA national conference unequivocally stands him out as one who is not only academically qualified but one who is prepared, knowledgeable with the master plan to mould the country of our dream. The South-East will matter-of-factly act the proverbial cricket that folds its limbs to kick at its delicate abdomen tearing it in the process if it does not return its block vote to Obi the way it has been doing in the past elections.

-Dr Idongesit Inyang, Uyo, +2348084318845.

 

Dear Casy, every reasonable citizen of Nigeria knows that the campaign media men of the two major political parties, in spite of the much vaunted  structure of their parties, have uphill tasks re-packaging their presidential front runners for acceptability, especially, to our socio-economically pulverized but change-hungry youthful segment. The materials required for re-packaging their parties’ presidential figures which are not available in the kitty of the media men, is what has turned them from real media men to media goons, attacking personalities perceived as opponents or threats to the interests of their principal. Understandably, the attacks are, essentially, owing to the influence of dollar! But there is a limit to what dollar can do. When, in a contest in a larger political system like the entire Nigeria of today, where light has woken up through the youths to subdue darkness, it is our fervent prayer that the ‘dynasties’ shall be trounced by the ‘Obidients’ because Nigerians, especially the ill-treated and angry youths, have resolutely decided to rescue Nigeria from the unholy grip of the political Mephistopheles.

 -Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.

 

The position of a presidential campaign spokesperson is akin to that of a would-be litigant who, in his desperation, runs to a lawyer to take up his case. He is in a great hurry, worried and desperate. And at the height of his desperation may even tell lies in order to press home his points which the ‘innocent’ lawyer now acts on. He relies on the same as his working tools vis-a-vis the position of the law. The truth only surfaces when the purported facts are exposed to the test or fire of cross examination by the opposing counsel. Presidential campaign spokespersons can afford to exhibit their desperation to the high Heavens. But what actually awaits their principal is the direct sale of their manifestoes to the electorate and the attendant scrutiny.

-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, 0803 795 2470

 

Dear Casmir, it’s not surprising that the presidential spokesmen of the two leading political parties in the forthcoming presidential election have degenerated to the use of gutter language, propaganda, fabrication of lies and name-calling to disparage their opponents. They have little or nothing of substance to market their candidates hence they go for the legs. A campaign spokesman is a salesman whose responsibility is to market his products using its unique selling qualities. But today’s campaign spokesmen are picked for their acerbic use of language. They are chosen as attack dogs not as salesmen.
-Onyejaka Alex Arinze, ariwaotiokpo1980@yahoo.com

 

Just imagine the comment of a supposedly enlightened man like Mr. Bayo Onanuga attributing or associating the 2020 EndSARS protest to IPOB and by implication the entire Igbo. EndSARS protest was a pan-Nigerian one but some idiotic and hate-filled fellows are now shifting the protest to Ndigbo. That’s why I have always advised our Igbo brethren to be mindful of whatever protest they join in because at the end of the day, the blame would be shifted to them. Tinubu is the worst product to market and only irredeemable fools would vote APC in 2023. The hate-monger writers like Onanuga, Segun Ayobolu, Sam Omatseye and their ilk are apparently egged on by the comment of Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos who threatened to drown all Igbo in Lagos if they had refused to vote APC in 2015.

-Ifeanyi Maduako, Owerri, +234 806 156 2735

 

Casmir, more often than not, campaign spokespersons are known to utter ‘nonsensical inanities’ out of desperation to get their candidates elected into the exalted position of the president! What such spokesmen deserve is pity! Nostalgically, your recommendation for a ‘national debate’ by the top three or four candidates was spot on. It brought back in me, sweet memories of the one between MKO and Tofa in 1993! The debate revealed to Nigerians who the better candidate was between the two; it paved the way for Abiola’s unassailable victory, before IBB wickedly annulled it! At the debate, we hope to see the candidates in flesh and blood and not a vice-presidential candidate.

-Mike, Mushin, Lagos, +234 816 111 4572

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 29, 2022

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