The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said something very interesting recently. He was asked to disclose who his likely successor is; he responded that he would rather not disclose his identity for fear of him being killed! So the President is keeping his choice close to his chest. He had earlier said that he would leave a lasting legacy for the people of Nigeria.
Very well then. This is a striking semblance to what happened in the Biblical days when Samuel the prophet was sent to the House of Jesse to anoint the next King to replace Saul who fell out of favour with God. Samuel got to the house where the most senior of the seven children of Jesse took time to walk before him for possible selection. But all of them were rejected prompting the question: “Is there still any left?” And they said, yes, but he was in the bush. When David showed up, he was anointed immediately despite his rough appearance —kept away from the limelight and visibility.
The President made that statement based on his observation of the many aspirants traversing the political landscape like the antelope that danced itself lame and got exhausted before the real dance was to start, notwithstanding the fact that those dancing now are recycled! They are out there trying to convince Nigerians why they should be the “hidden one”. They have cash, political clout and huge followership, based on filthy lucre. But they have no character or integrity. Without the last two, there can be no trustworthiness. What is happening in the political scene right now can be said to be a big joke. People just take the nation for granted and behave as though there is no constitution and law.
The most visible, of course, is Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is undoubtedly the most powerful man to come from the southwest. He moves with swagger, does his things in big ways; he is full of pride and wants no resistance. As a non-state actor, his demeanor shows he doesn’t want any opposition. He is used to having his way in the affairs of Lagos State where he handpicks the governors. If he is so powerful as a non-state actor, one wonders what he would be like as a sitting president. Perhaps, he thought the game would be played the same way at the national level. This man says he doesn’t want consensus at the national level, but that’s exactly what he does at the local level, making it possible for his favourite “political sons” to be recycled repeatedly. He has built up a chain of powerful sycophants who sing his praises to high heavens. But Malam Nasir El-Rufai told him to his face that although they had heard of his interest in the presidency, his prayer was that God would give the nation the best candidate! The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has also put his hat in the ring with him, is seen as an ungrateful human being for daring to challenge his master. Asiwaju is the widely acclaimed national leader of the ruling political party of Nigeria—though only in name. The nation needs peace and good governance—not another proud egoistic leader.
Like the Biblical description of Eliab, Abinadab and Shammath, the sons of Jesse, they were “goodly” to look at, but Samuel was told to look at the “heart”—not the shape and size of the pocket of the individual. In terms of the latter, Asiwaju and Yemi Osinbajo are unbeatable. They have huge financial muscle. The same applies to others currently jostling for recognition like Rotimi Amaechi, and Godwin Emefiele. But how many of them have the heart to rescue the country from its current impasse? Rotimi Amaechi is presently serving as Minister of Transportation who ought to have resigned in the aftermath of the horrible Abuja-Kaduna train disaster. He is still in government as we speak.
But how many people have resigned in the history of this country because of any gaffe or calamity? You may be right if you say that the culture doesn’t exist anymore. At least, this is the first administration to start and end with the same set of ministers! What an incredible record! At every point, some people try to lower the standards of our daily life. This shouldn’t be the case. Somehow, we have to find a way to drop this negative mentality that serves no one. The ministers have been in office for seven years and running and yet, their impact is anything but zero. The reason is not far from their abysmal performance. They were appointed as ministers and kept in office by virtue of their “connections” to the corridors of power, but they have no “heart” for the job.
Continuing on who this Buhari’s ‘David” is likely to be, the history of how leaders eventually emerge in Nigeria is well known. Olusegun Obasanjo was brought out from prison to become Head of State; Jonathan was drafted as deputy governor to become Vice President, same applies to Atiku Abubakar. Shehu Shagari himself was a teacher before the hand of fate identified him. You do not become president because of the size of cash you have or wealth. Neither is your popularity. You can be a kingmaker in your house but certainly not for the country. You may be the vice president of the nation without having any ideology or claim to transformational principles. The truth is that none of the people seeking the coveted office now has anything to offer. No one needs any indication to know that it is more like a fashion parade, of who is who—nothing to do with resuscitating the economy or the welfare of Nigerians.
With the problems besieging the country, the eventual “David” must be someone people can vouch for; he must be reliable, hands-on, of good character, and honest. He must be someone who is apolitical and committed to deliver results. Such a person must be patriotic and focused; he must know what the National Development Plan is all about; he must not be someone who goes about donating millions to gain public attention. We do not ask questions in this country, otherwise our anti-graft agencies should be asking how someone who left the government almost 15 years ago still has those millions to throw around. It is a very sad development indeed. We should be relentless in our quest for God-fearing leaders.
Only recently, the rumour went abroad that former president Jonathan was being drafted into the presidential race. The rumour was so strong that many of us prayed silently for him to reject the Greek gift. What is the former president coming to do? They even said he was going to dump his PDP for the ruling APC. Those fingered as conceiving the idea are said to be calculating that he would only serve 4 years and leave for “them” to continue. I believe those behind the plot fail to reckon with fate and nature. They are lost in their belief that there is no God to stop them. Well, my advice to Jonathan is that he should not fall for the trap. Nigerians cannot forget too soon how the treasury was looted during his tenure. Many of the cases are still on. We should have pity on our children or the incoming generation and do the right thing.
As for the PDP, no one needs any soothsayer to know that danger looms. When you decide to abandon the constitution and respected principles, you should expect nothing less. I watched Ishaku Dairus, Ortom, Bala Muhammed, Ndudi Elumelu on television, trying to justify the decision discarding zoning principle and throwing the presidential contest open—all because of certain powerful interests. It is really unbecoming for them to toe this worn-out path. Was it not zoning that brought them to power in the first place? Was it not zoning that brought out Atiku Ababakar as Vice President, Nyesom Wike as Governor? Why then do they think that same zoning principle is no longer necessary? Now, they have eaten the bug and the taste is fine; so, they must devise tricks to hang on to power! Clever folks!
It doesn’t matter to them that the nation having endured eight years of Northern presidency and a Muslim for that matter needs to rotate, if only to keep the spirit of brotherhood open. If another Northerner and Muslim president is produced and rules for another eight years, then we may as well abolish democracy. It is sheer illusion for the PDP to think that what they have done is democracy—far from it. Whoever dreamt that idea up does not mean well for us as a country. Nigeria is not a roulette game that can be tossed anywhere. The PDP is guilty of not following the Nigerian Constitution; they have not changed a bit since when they were disgraced out of office. They are still the same old wine in new bottles. They took the decision to throw open the presidential race because there are more Northern Governors than Southerners in their ranks. So they were able to utilize their numerical strength. You can now see that it will be difficult to have a “David” in their ranks. When Obasanjo’s tenure ended, he simply looked for a Northern Muslim to replace him; he campaigned for him and ensured he won. When Jonathan was to leave, he handed over to a Northerner. Let’s hope Muhammadu Buhari would do the same. It makes better sense to rotate the highest office of the land.
The quickest route to anarchy is toeing the PDP line; Life is ‘turn by turn’; God in his wisdom made things orderly. There is no reason why human beings would try to distort it. Had the PDP put the country first, they would have done better. Self-interest has clearly eaten so deep in all their calculations–at least from what is on the table. Some of those championing this impossible course were those guilty of sharing billions on the streets of Abuja. They are not seeing the tension building up; they are not sensitive enough to gauge the people’s feelings. But we all know that at the end of the day, those putting themselves forward for campaign now would all “step” down after “collecting” money and negotiating their next appointment. That’s how the game is played.
But as President Buhari has declared, he has to get it right. He should know that this is the last opportunity for him to leave the lasting legacy he talks about. He must not be cowed by opposition; he must stick to his conviction. In picking the anointed candidate, Buhari must not be swayed by nepotism or primal irredentism. He must do it for the love of the country, whether he likes it or not.
Buhari should look carefully at his party’s structure. He would find young men who are competent and can deliver the goods. He will find men who can mend fences and structure the country along functional lines; men who are credible, intelligent and competent. He would find men who can show purposeful and result-oriented leadership. Beyond primitive sentiments and blind ambitions of party politics, Africa’s most populous country must not be swayed by “stomach politics”.
They have people like Pat Utomi, Bismark Rewane, George Etomi, Akinwunmi Adeshina, Akinwunmi Ambode, Babatunde Fashola, Yahaya Bello, Niyi Adebayo, Dapo Abiodun, Yemi Osinbajo, etc. The minus for Osinbajo is that he is above 60 years of age. Adeshina’s vantage position at the African Development Bank should have made him very suitable but for the fact that he has no track record in infrastructural performance—or political experience. Pat Utomi and Bismark Rewane are very good in financial matters as is Akinwunmi Ambode. The latter as a former governor of Nigeria’s commercial nerve center is capable. One wonders why the man has been silent, maybe because the Lagos State APC betrayed him. Yahaya Bello is a Muslim and a Northerner, same as Babatunde Fashola; so they are technically out.
Going further, Nigeria needs leadership that radiates empathy, and can inspire profitable relationships nationwide. Nigeria needs leadership that protects human life and property. This is Africa’s most populous country and a global player. This country should not be communized on the cheap platter of “power must remain in our hands”. If we are to judge by all the nonsense we read about the so-called cabals and the hegemony of a certain tribe, then we might just be deemed as unserious. The world is edging towards technological advances and other high-profile innovations and here some strange people are saying power is their birthright. This is preposterous. If the same effort used in hanging on to power is deployed towards solving the insecurity in the land, terrorism would have long been a thing of the past. Surely, we can put aside our individual differences and forge ahead. We should have zero tolerance for certain behaviour and begin the search for durable principles and standards. Stellar antecedents should guide our decisions. We must shun characters that lack morals who see the country as “business as usual”.
2023 is an excellent opportunity for the nation to correct the ills of the past. We do hope that whoever President Buhari would anoint as the consensus candidate would be acceptable to all. Such a person would have to hit the ground running clearing all the debris of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and of course bad debts. Such a person must not be above 60 as of the time he would be elected by Nigerians. This is Buhari’s golden opportunity to deliver and free the country from the current heat that is almost suffocating everyone. We must be professional and direct, while putting the country first. We encourage the President to brave the odds in this last lap of his administration and put the interest of the country first in deciding who that David is. He has said he wants to leave a lasting legacy; this is the time to do exactly that. No ambition of a private individual should be bigger than that of the country.
Public Affairs Analyst