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Nigeria’s Presidential Aspirants: An Xray

By Kunle Somorin

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe – Albert Einstein

The past has a way of catching up with you and sometimes you’re glad it does. Many have hubris clobbered by nemesis, yet they blame others for the sad fates that befall them. The way the politics of 2011 is playing out, no one should snort when the whirlwind of people’s pasts deride and befog their ambitions. Since it’s impossible to plant cassava and reap cocoyam, except another Nmachi Ihegboro, the ‘miracle’ white baby with dark-skinned Nigerian parents replays itself. At any rate, genetic experts say, it occurs one-in-a-million times.

The probability ratio is infinitesimal; almost non-existent. Given the Nigerian factor, political punditry changes at the whims and caprices of the ruling elements. Fortunately for the masses, the people who have declared for the most important position in the country are the same bunch we know. So, the race is an all-too familiar revelry.

First to step out was Ibrahim Babangida, erstwhile military leader that evokes extreme passions – loved and hated in equal measures. His famed dexterity at dribbling ‘maradonically’ past every imaginable object is his albatross. He navigated the stream of power to the ‘Rock;’ God offered him the platform on the altar of the barrels of guns, but he bungled it. Not for lack of depth, his Achilles heel was self-conceitedness and too much ‘wisdom’ and diabolical inventive genius. But the valiant soldier now treads with trepidation where ‘five issues’ are involved: Dele Giwa, June 12, zoning, oil windfall and institutionalisation of corruption.

These are morbidly attached to every step of his. Everything that would have worked for IBB now works against him. He lost it all on June 12, when he quizzically ‘stepped aside’. The eerie ghost of that epochal date made anonymous all sacrifices to assuage the spirit of democracy. Reasonably, many in his shoes will dare not take such an ill-informed gambit.

His younger brother, Atiku Abubakar, tried thrice in the past and thrice he failed. Masters of polemics will say he errs on the side of caution. This is his fourth attempt. Interestingly, he didn’t call journalists to a nocturnal meeting at midnight. Atiku did not need a soothsayer to see that he will flop. His ominously fall at the Transcorp Hilton in full public glare was prophetic. It smacks of a premonition of an impending fourth electoral ploy.

The ‘fall guy’ is becoming perennially notorious. He broke his limb in the build-up to the last exercise, campaigned from wheel chairs and clutches. There was no sympathy in the U.S., where he went for treatment. His ‘grand misadventure’ with Congressman William Jefferson was a sin too many.

Assailed by the anti-corruption czar, Atiku’s game-plan came tumbling. His ‘wide network’ crashed in the face of state apparatus and came a distant fourth. He perched in office till the last day, making the courtroom an extension of his vice presidency. Atiku’s other sin is that the party had turned him to a cuckold. His attachment to PDP is undefined: “We crafted the constitution and by the time we did it, OBJ wasn’t even in the party. The Committee gave a report. In that report, it was recommended that there should be unconditional and unfettered return of those who left the party.

Lawyers say that I don’t need any waiver. However, I have asked for a waiver. My application for waiver was filed this morning…if they don’t do it, the court will then give an interpretation”, he fumed. Yes, he’s court-bound again. That is a crime in the party and they abhor his romance with the ‘Action-less Congress’.

The foot-dragging incumbent office occupier from Otuoke is waiting with a sling. It is a familiar opera. Eight years ago, his godfather was waiting on the Lord for his second term. A ‘Mandela option’ was proposed, he discountenanced it.The ageless tactician wriggled out with an admixture of blackmail, fighting corruption with corruption and on ‘419’ he ‘won’.

The drudgery of Machiavellianism is again at play. With the trusted and tested Mr.’ Fix It’ Anenih, partnering with a duplicitous party leadership, his Ijaw ‘ancestry’ has been collapsed into the Northern zoning. Trust not the promises of providing the nation with credible election and record of achievements as campaign mantra, Jonathan has suddenly become a political Minotaur – half animal, half man. Everything is being contrived for a two-term presidency that will end in 2019. How do you explain the logic of a Bayelsan from the North?

That autochthony is warped. A simple anybody-can-run pronouncement would have been fair, logical and defensible and lay to rest the immorality and undemocratic tendency called zoning. See how Nigerian politicians turn logic on its head with the politics of anything goes. That’s the defining catch phrase for Jonathan’s political ideology.

Ibrahim Shekarau is not a serious contender. But Nuhu Ribadu and Mohammed may join the fray soon. Their sins: too much vacuous populism, bravado and loud-mouthedness. Their sin of high-handedness also borders on extremism, especially in their prosecution of the wars on indiscipline and corruption.

At the height of the bestiality of Plateau’s savagery under Joshua Dariye, Nuhu’s mathematics of two-thirds of 25 equalled 6 ousted Dariye. Dariye who boasts that his Mushere tribe savours dog delicacy, is waiting to roast the ‘mad dog’ at the EFCC for supper. Dariye and his ilk have many things against Nuhu and will do everything humanly possible to scuttle his ambition. Secular elements also despise Buhari; journalists hate him for Decree 4 of 1984, and politicians don’t like to be crated as diplomatic baggage.

Both have nebulous, lame duck-like political platforms, which are patently provincial. The parties sinned by still shopping for membership and candidates at this hour. Like the 50-something other political parastatals (called parties), they don’t have leadership and mobilisation framework. They’re adrift.

One of its chairs is head of the press machinery of IBB. Some are located in the parlours of their founders. With the death of PPA, distractions in ANPP, AC with a reluctant candidate and NDP in IBB’s pocket, it’s simply a PDP game. Misnomers? Yes, that’s why the answer isn’t on Attahiru Jega’s table; it is in our hands.