I don’t have a personal interest in Nigerian politicians, and I was not paid to do this. Nigeria is my only interest. Who to vote for is your prerogative, whether Peter Obi, Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar. None of them is a saint, but we must examine who has Nigeria’s best interest at heart based on their track record. We must move away from the politics of ‘chop I chop’ that we currently practice and position to be the pride of Africa.
In 2015, when they repackaged Muhammadu Buhari and sold him to us, I kicked against it. I told everyone who cared to listen that this man doesn’t have the capacity to turn the tide. But they were blinded by their resentment for Goodluck Jonathan and too myopic to see past those two candidates as if we were under a spell to only choose our abusers as leaders.
Before I go on, keep this in mind, no messiah is coming to save Nigeria overnight. Know this; know peace. Regardless of who emerges as the winner of Nigeria’s 2023 presidential election, it will be a long and rough road to recovery. Nobody can resolve the rot of many years in eight years. So keep your high expectations in check.
However, the right leadership will set us on the path to redemption and the earlier we start the work, the better for all of us. Therefore, Nigerians must prioritise national interest over blind loyalty, selfish ambitions and sentimental politics in this election. Nigeria’s problem is not only leadership; followership is also an issue, and unless we think differently, we are not ready for the change we want to see.
Many of you think the contest is largely between The Establishment candidates – Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar – and you’d wonder why I’d add Peter Obi to the mix. I didn’t say who has the best chance. It’s about who does Nigeria need now? So don’t get mad at me yet.
By the way, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ll know that the Third Force is a reality now. The political dynamics are changing, but you will only believe it after the election. That is beside the point.
Don’t be distracted
I want to address young Nigerians who are torn between choosing who to vote for and the ones who have made their choice and attacking one another on social media. They’ll hurl abuses and threats at anyone who holds contrary views. All for what? Politicians? Likes? Retweets or Follows? To what end exactly? It’s pure youthful exuberance that we must outgrow as soon as possible if we don’t want to mortgage our future and that of the next generation.
This is the same pattern in every election cycle. Politicians pay community influencers and media experts to fuel tantrums and propaganda online and offline, and even the ones who did not benefit from the largesse will ignorantly join the bandwagon to escalate the chaos.
After all is said and done, the politician will win, and they will discard you. The money you collected? You’ll finish spending it. But you would have succeeded in ushering in a leadership that will further impoverish over 90% of the population. You don’t care? Give it time; you will.
All I’m saying is that you’re just a tool in the hands of politicians.
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I know your plan is to ‘Japa.’ Either you already did, or you’re actively in the process, or it’s in the pipeline; you or your family will return to Nigeria one day. There is no escaping it. You’ll return to the jungle you helped create.
Some of you who have lived in Nigeria all your life may not know what good governance feels like since you’ve never experienced it.
Ask your friends abroad. They will tell you how they manifested their innate potential after leaving Nigeria, how their lives changed for the better, and how they don’t have to fast and pray for light, water, infrastructure, etc.
But some of them had to do the most demeaning odd jobs and accept varying degrees of discrimination and molestation before things got better for them. And if care is not taken, chances are that their children will become morally and culturally bankrupt in years to come because of the liberality of the environment they had to raise them. If they had a better country, they would stay.
What qualities should we prioritise?
The dominant factor that has frustrated nation-building in Nigeria is corruption. So, we are certain we don’t want a leader that embodies that characteristic.
- Nigeria needs a credible leader with a track record of integrity and stewardship in managing public funds.
- Nigeria needs a leader with the political will to stop corrupt practices regardless of whose ox is gored.
- Nigeria needs a leader that has demonstrated competence and capacity in taking critical decisions that benefits the populace, as against enriching a select few.
- Nigeria needs a compassionate leader that prioritises ethnic, religious and economic equity and fairness.
Who has these qualities?
He ticks all the boxes. His antecedents in Anambra state in managing public fund is irrefutable, and his critics have yet to put a hole in that track record. His Vice Presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, also demonstrated character and competence when he served as a senator and House of Reps. member for Kaduna North. He sponsored the Prohibition of Inflated Government Contract Bill of 2004. He also has a clean public record that no one has faulted.
Go and verify!
Bola Tinubu is a powerhouse in Nigeria’s political landscape. He’s, by all means, a cerebral leader and political tactician. He also demonstrated competence and capacity when he was Lagos state governor. Reports say the masterplan his administration developed back then is what Lagos is still building on today. He has raised leaders who have, in-turn, raised leaders. It will be foolish of me not to acknowledge that.
However, at this critical time in our national life, we cannot ignore all the allegations of corruption – financial impropriety, godfatherism, gangsterism, autocratic leadership and drug trafficking that have tainted his legacy. Worse still, he chose Kashim Shettima as his running mate – a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a country already battling a plurality of agitations due to nepotism and religious intolerance.
I’ll not consider his alleged ill health as a factor because we are all human, and anyone, young or old, could be sick. At best, I would have expected someone like Asiwaju to remain an elder statesman if his primary object is purely nation-building.
Apart from the fact that Atiku has never held an executive position where he had the full power to make final decisions, there have been corruption allegations levelled against him by his former ally, Michael Achimugu. He was accused of using the Special Purpose Vehicle scheme (when he was vice president) to collect funds from a former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, who was convicted of misappropriation of Ecological Fund. His accuser even released an unverified audio recording of him and Atiku to back his claim.
Also, Atiku’s party, PDP, ruled Nigeria for 16 years, and its successive government was characterised by high-level corruption. The consequence of the misrule is what the country is still suffering from today. President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a sick country in 2015, but unfortunately, his administration failed to improve the lives of Nigerians. Instead, he would be leaving them in a worse state.
The current rancour in the PDP involving the G5 governors spearheaded by Nyesom Wike also calls Atiku’s integrity into question. In addition, Atiku ignored the political zoning arrangement, a gentlemanly agreement reached by the political class to enable leadership equity. It is insensitive, short-sighted and undemocratic to trivialise political and economic inclusion in a country of over 250 ethnic groups. This is why there are agitations in various regions of the country.
Do your independent research. Please read about the top candidates’ antecedents and objectively analyse them yourself. Ignore what their spokespersons are saying. Let’s not make the same mistake we made in 2015.
Unless you’re benefiting directly or indirectly from Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar or you don’t live in Nigeria, it will be clear that Peter Obi is Nigeria’s best choice.
They say Labour Party doesn’t have structure. They say if Peter Obi wins, he can only achieve a little because the APC and PDP dominate the National Assembly. What landmark impact has President Buhari made despite having the majority in the NASS?
The people are the structure of Labour Party. If you believe in the New Nigeria project, go out there and collect your PVC and let’s vote massively for Peter Obi in February and stop doing pointless political permutations.
The work of rebuilding Nigeria lies in the hands of the young people now. Politicians must be held accountable. Any lawmaker who frustrates good policies that could better the lives of his constituents should bear the consequences in his constituency. By the time we start recalling them, they will align.
And if Peter Obi gets to power and doesn’t perform as expected, he should be voted out after his first term in office. We should only reward performers with a second term, not failures. Our orientation needs to change, and our commitment to the Nigerian project needs to be deepened.
In the end, it’s all a bet. Let’s hope the odds favour the Nigerian people.
God bless Nigeria.
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