Saraki, Tinubu And Buhari’s 800-Metre Relay

Casmir Igbokwe

Like a good athlete, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week, embarked on a historic walk spanning 800 metres. In athletics, covering such a distance is no mean feat. Thus his aides and supporters celebrated the milestone with pomp. They wanted us to know that the President was hale and hearty despite his age and rumoured illness.

Politically, the race is not over as the President is still holding on to the baton. Hence, some of our politicians are at their chameleonic best, deploying treachery, blackmail, and selfishness to win the relay.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) captured this vividly in a recent statement by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena. Though the statement was against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, it was an apt description of most Nigerian politicians. It reads, “The only politics that Bukola Saraki plays is self, himself only and only himself. The interest and welfare of the people of Nigeria do not mean anything to him.”

READ ALSO: Good governance, politicians and the electorate

The APC National Leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, has the same opinion. To him, Saraki dumped the APC because of his presidential ambition and selfish quest for power. He also said Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State abandoned the APC because the ruling party refused to give him automatic ticket.

So, is Tinubu himself a saint? Tambuwal and Saraki responded in kind. According to them, Tinubu tried to rock the boat when he lost the contest to become Buhari’s running mate in 2015 election.

Saraki particularly accused Tinubu of saying he would rather support a Buhari on the hospital stretcher to get a second term because, in 2023, power will shift to the South-West. In other words, Tinubu is targeting to be President in 2023 after Buhari.

So, where does Tinubu’s ambition, if true, leave the South-East? The major reason some Igbo canvass support for Buhari’s second term is to actualise the quest for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.

READ ALSO: UBEC grant: South-East states trails behind in accessing funds

Realising this fact, a former vice president and presidential hopeful of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, promised he would do one term if given the opportunity in 2019. The questions are: should we be talking about where the President comes from in 2023 or who should give us good leadership in 2019? What if, as a result of our parochial choices, we do not even live to see 2023 as a united country?

Where the president comes from should be secondary in our calculations. I believe what Nigerians need most now are good roads, constant electricity, good jobs, standard education, quality healthcare and security of life and property.

If Buhari had shown presence of mind and given unbiased, quality leadership, I wouldn’t mind voting for him in 2019. But he has simply lost touch with existential realities in the country today. An 800-metre publicised walk is not a full measure of one’s physical and mental alertness.

READ ALSO: 2019: Atiku mocks Buhari over 800-metre walk claim

To sell the President to Nigerians as a good product, his acolytes package him as a corruption fighter. It is okay if the fight is not selective. But it is not. The strategy is to tar many serious opponents with the brush of corruption. When they prove recalcitrant, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) comes knocking.

The relay race will get tougher as we approach the finish line. The ruling party has no choice but to present Buhari again as its presidential candidate. The PDP is yet to have a candidate. But there are many aspirants. Other smaller parties have sundry aspirants as well. We will examine this soon.

For now, I can only advise our political heavyweights to stop behaving like a dangerous rat that bites someone’s feet while asleep and blows air to cool the pain and keep the person in deep slumber.

Abraham’s blessings will not be ours if all we do is watch politicians struggle to hold or collect batons from one another. What the majority of Nigerians need and should ask for is, “Give us this day our daily bread.”


Re: UNN and rot in Nigerian universities

Your treatise on the decrepit state of the “almighty” University of Nigeria Nsukka is revealing, compelling and expository. You not only laced your write-up with facts but went further to expose the failure of our various governments and university authorities in bringing quality education to the nation as a means of solving our national maladies. Nigeria is indeed the butt of jokes and sarcasm in all spheres of life in the comity of nations. We have the worst of leadership the world over and as a country where official corruption is the only reason and motivation for public service, money meant for servicing public infrastructures is stolen by those who are supposed to be the trustees of our commonwealth. The nauseating state of UNN you presented in your article is the synecdoche of all the institutions in Nigeria.

The vice chancellor who sits on the management of UNN, Professor Benjamin Ozumba, has proved to be a mediocre who cannot generate ideas on how to solve the problems facing the institution. By extension, the reply given to you by the PRO of UNN, Mr. Umeaku, posits the myopic mindset of average public office holders in Nigeria who cannot think outside the box, if money does not come from Abuja every month.

Thank you for your courage to write and expose the rot. Unfortunately, our rulers are deaf and dumb to our common plagues; they are only wide awake to stealing.

UNN, like every other collapsed institution in Nigeria, is a shame. Nigeria is a shame. This and previous governments are a shame.

-Chika Nath Nwankwo-Arinze, Awka Anambra State (

You made my day with your article. The situation, however, is far beyond government budgeting as being suggested in your article. The level of lawlessness and corruption in our public universities frightens one. The politicisation of appointments of VCs and the undue influence of these things they call council chairmen/members on which too much of the universities’ funds are expended to the detriment of the real institutional mandates – a way of making them look the other way, if/when managements perpetuate their nefarious activities.

The universities desire to be sanitized, thoroughly, by making scapegoats of erring VCs before doing anything about further funding. This should be extended to the past 10 years, minimum. The staffing should be looked at with a view to comparing the strengths of core and support staff – this is a means through which unscrupulous VCs overburden the budgets of universities, without anything to show. Finally, investigations could be conducted into how beneficiaries of training funds, like TETFUND, are selected – nepotism and petty favouritism have bungled the idea of the funds.

So much has gone and is still going into funding of universities, without anything to show for it. It is the same in almost all federal universities.

-William Aborisade ( )

Dear Casmir, if the picture shown/captioned (abandoned Zik’s flat at UNN) is true, I can only say sorry to the students over there; then their rotten VC a very big shame. What a disgrace!

-Mr. Obi Abuja, +2348036283811

Thank you for exposing the rot in Nigerian universities. Casmir, wait a minute, have you been to UNN Enugu campus? Just a visit, you will be amazed at the rottenness there. I was there in April this year to see my daughter; to my surprise, the children buy ordinary water from water vendors. What a shame for UNN. God bless you Cas.

-M.E. Onyesor, +2348033085535

Thank you for this write-up on page 47 about UNN. God bless you.

Anonymous, +2348069363229

The rot in UNN (my alma mater) has removed joy and laughter from the face of ex-students. The president of Nigeria and VC of UNN do not roll in glory anymore. The students of UNN do not rejoice anymore because of the rot on their campus. The rot in UNN goes to show that what is written in Ecc. 2:18-19 is true. It is only a president of Nigeria who is incidentally a visitor to UNN and a VC like the biblical Nehemiah that can put things in order in UNN so that we can reap the fields, which they have in their springtime sown. And they shall be remembered by what they have done.

-Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno JP, 08063730644

Dear Casmir, you have really hit the nail on the head even skillfully so. But as a regular reader of your articles since when you were in The Punch newspaper, if my memory will not fail me, you have mused on this topic severally. Yet your brilliant and compelling observations and solutions are not attended to by the Nigerian government. It is as painful and regrettable as being in an unwanted place to still be having these woes in our education system. May God’s kingdom take over Nigeria’s kingdom in Jesus name.

-Sikiru Najimu Temidayo, 08039560297

Good evening, sir. On your article on UNN, Nigeria is a nation without leaders. You expect nothing but men walking with their head till when God sends us leaders. Thank you sir.

-George, Umudike, +2348163771224

Some structures in our higher institutions are eyesores and some state governments are still building more universities. Why not equip old ones to be standard like foreign ones? It is better government equipped old higher institutions than build new ones because we need quality education.

-Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

“Who Will Jail Our Ex-Presidents?” Just read this article published on Monday, April 16, 2018, in the Daily Sun. What an interesting topic and analysis! Please, reframe the topic, publish again and urge readers to react. Please, please, do this for the sake of the crying public. If serious countries jail their past leaders for dipping their hands in the public treasury, why not Nigeria? If you do, I’ll react. Thank you.

-Edet Essien, Calabar South, Cross River, +2348037952470

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, August 27, 2018.

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