CANDIDATES FOR NIGERIA’S PRESIDENTIAL race, ahead of 2023 general elections, is swelling with each day passing. Never known or seen in Nigeria’s political history, is the showcasing of vast inordinate and monotonous hordes of political power mongers, that are divided along region and religious lines – seeking the soul of Nigeria, to occupy the number one sit, at the presidential villa, Aso Rock, Abuja, in 2023.
At the last count, presidential power-seeking candidates, across party lines in the country – from the teething political parties, to the two major political parties – the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP – the number may be in dozens. Needless to give figures at the moment. More are joining the race.
Nigeria is “broken” in all fronts, Bishop Hassan Kukah, has repeatedly stated, by the “rudderless” leadership of President Buhari and the ruling APC, in the past seven years. Obasanjo said the government is “overwhelmed” and visionless. Others, in worse metaphors, described Nigeria’s present government as a colossal failure, and the country in tatters.
Buhari is on his way out of leadership of the country in the next few months – May 29, 2023. An in-coming president, after Buhari, is faced with salvaging the country from the “wreckage” of political, economic and social dislocation, left behind by the government. Nigeria, observers say, needs a political and economic “engineer” – to re-builder the country, and take it out of the fragments and quagmire of the past seven years. This is the dare situation in Nigeria – a rescue mission is needed.
THE QUEST FOR NIGERIA’S in-coming president, in 2023, experts, says, is for a re-builder and reformer. They have argued that to produce a re-builder and reformer president in 2023, political parties in the country need to focus on leadership selection process for the best hands, to give Nigeria hope, and direction. Nigerians who have been impoverished, living in terrible times, where they beg to eat and live. They know the country is in worse situation, and needs to be rescued.
Many estimate that out of every 10 people you meet in the street, nine are distressed. There is some truth in it. There is hardly anyone you come across these days that is not complaining. The employed and the unemployed. The rich and the poor. There is food crisis. Children are dying of malnutrition. Parents are losing grip of their family because they cannot provide basic needs. To manage on, many resort to odd jobs. From home to the office, and on the streets, beggars are swelling.
Ahead of the 2023 general election, many believe the debate on “zoning presidency” is nonsensical. It shows, they say, that the country’s political class lacks the sense of urgency and priority to rebuild a “broken” nation. They also say, it is an indication of a political class that sees acquiring political power as “mistress”, rather than securing power for good governance, and to remedy the past seven years wrongs.
Napoleon I, French Emperor, in 1804, stated that power was his “mistress”. He stated: “Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard in conquering her to allow anyone to take her from me or even to covet her”. Napoleon was power-hungry. He expanded his empire, left bloodshed and death as aftermath. In part, he was a revolutionary, who brought freedoms to Europe. And was dedicated to the advancement of France.
AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN HISTORY, men of power, took power as their “mistress”. They craved power, covert power, protected power with all their might, and hoarded power. With power as their “mistress”, they did not tolerate romance with power by rivals. They were megalomaniac with power. Often, when they got power, they abused or misused it – leaving in its trail, pain and sorrow.
Unknowingly, power mongers forget that power is relative. No absolute power belongs to humans in flesh and blood. Across the world, history is replete of this fact. Nigeria has its own history of power mongers – leaders who, absolutely, abused power. And leaders of today, in the country, are learning no lesson from the past. And are blind to the game of power.
At a glance in Nigeria: What did Yakubu Gowon, former military Head of State do with power? Murtala Mohammed and Obasanjo, what did they do with power, of their brief spell in office? What did Shehu Shagari, former Nigeria’s president do with power? What did military dictatorship of Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon do with power? What did military president Ibrahim Babangida do with power? What did Sani Abacha, a maximum military dictator and an iron man, do with power?
These, among others, are utter reminders of Nigeria’s power mongering leadership. Some, however, held power in the country with reasonable success and achievements. In the present democratic dispensation, Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, [1999 – 2007], coming for second time, is one, and was outstanding. Umaru Yar’dua and Goodluck Jonathan, held power, and pursued reform agenda for the country. They may not have done much – but like Obasanjo, were not power drunk.
Muhammadu Buhari got power, for the second time [2015 – 2023], but reversed the gains of previous democratic leadership since  – due to power game. Nigerians, presently, count traumatic drop in the value of life and property, due to national insecurity; collapse in the economy with debt profile hitting trillions of naira; drop in the value of the national currency; high unemployment; high food prices – all summed up by the street-level feelings of majority unable to make ends meet.
AHEAD OF 2023 PRESIDENTIAL race, in Nigeria, experts have argued, that it should not be about politics of power “zoning presidency”, but politics of “leadership recruitment”. They believe that wherever the next president, after Buhari, will come from in any part of country, it should be about “leadership rescue mission” for Nigeria and Nigerians. The hue, cry and debate about “zoning presidency”, must take back seat.
Regional political pressure groups – Afenifere; Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF; Middle Belt Forum, MBF; Ohanaeze Ndigbo; and Northern Elders Forum, NEF; analysts say, must all tread with caution, and guard utterances and inflamed comments, capable of derailing the process and quest for Nigeria’s next president, after Buhari, in 2023.
Some Nigerian serving governors are flaunting their credentials to run for the 2023 presidency. But in the respective States they govern, they are struggling to earn the trust and confidence of the people they govern. Same with some government ministerial appointees with nothing significant to show as success as Federal Ministers. Yet, they aggregate themselves as preferred choices and best candidates for Nigerian electorates in 2023 presidential election.
Nigerian citizens, as of right, are eligible to vie for any political office in the country, including office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But it does appear that the Nigerian people are being taken for granted by some over ambitious 2023 presidential aspirants. Otherwise, think of some dormant and unproductive ministers, and others with excessive baggage, throwing themselves up to be president of Nigeria.
Olusegun Obasanjo, at an international symposium to mark his 85th birth, held at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, March 2022, remarked in his speech, that some politicians aspiring to be Nigeria’s president in 2023, should be in jail, if the country’s anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC; and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC; had performed efficiently and supported by the judiciary.
Obasanjo said: “We have activities without requiring actions and personnel to move us forward. If we continue in the same pattern of recycling, sweet-words campaigning, maneuvering without the substance of integrity, honesty, patriotism, commitment, outreach, courage, understanding of what makes a nation and what makes for development, we will soon have to say goodbye to Nigeria as a nation.
“I cast a cursory look at some of the people running around and those for whom people are running around. If EFCC and ICPC will have done their jobs properly and been supported adequately by the judiciary, most of them would be in jail. Any person who has no integrity in small things cannot have integrity in big things.”, Obasanjo noted.
TAKE A PICK, on “zoning presidency”, or having a candidate with “astute leadership” quality, for the 2023 presidency; no matter what zone or region of the country he comes from; provided he is known to be capable of handling Nigeria’s present precarious situation, with the understanding of what makes a nation, and what makes for development towards a great nation.
Of note. Your pick may not be the choice of Nigerian electorates – millions of voters, who will exercise their inalienable right to choose, in 2023, a president who will bail them out of poverty, insecurity and economic quagmire. It is the electorates that matter most, not elitists debate on “zoning presidency”. Nigerian electorates may spring surprise in 2023 general elections, because the situation in the country, hurts them most.