It has started: already, a number of hats have flown into the ring, signages that long tooth and even longer nails will go into the rat-race to Aso Rock, that haughty, heightened paradox of Nigerian power and privation from where successive Nigerian presidents have looked with contempt and condescension on Nigerians, the masters who have become slaves in their own country. blind country
But who exactly does the cap fit? Who is it that has shoulders broad enough to bear a dangerously ailing country to the promised land? Very recent history instructs that a more-than-two-million-strong country must tread with caution. In 2015, the ballot box opened a historic opportunity to a besieged people to bend with fingers stumped and badly burnt by a government to which corruption was endemic, the destiny of their country.
In those days when Nigerian soldiers on the frontlines of the battle against Boko Haram in Borno reportedly stood at the verge of mutiny because they were being sent empty handed to certain death at the hands of terrorists hoisting devastatingly superior firepower, the infernally awkward marriage of convenience between the Action Congress and the Congress for Progressive Change birthed the All Progressive Congress.
With the formation of the All Progressives Congress, a school of political sharks, sensing blood, moved from the fast-sinking Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress to join those already on ground. The new arrivals brought with them the lack of ideology, political pettiness, incompetence, avarice and lack of scruples that marks the Nigerian politician. They soon built up a devastating propaganda machine which the Peoples Democratic Party and its ailing servant, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan could not match.
Nigerians were hoodwinked and sold for the price of chips by regurgitated lies and recycled liars. Thus, in the historic elections of 2015, a first was scored in the annals of Nigeria`s political history when an incumbent president, his loquacious wife and his cast of mis-managers were all shown the way out. But with the benefit of hindsight, it turned out that Nigerians were deceived.
After seven years during which the `h’ in hardship has been amplified, Nigeria`s tortured democracy and tangled bureaucracy are again set to dangle the eternally delectable carrot of election before Nigerians. Like wounded jaguars, Nigerians must seize the opportunity without hesitation.
It is no time for apathy. It is antipathy which must be brought to the battle to save Nigeria. All those who in Nigeria`s Northeast, Northwest, Southeast have watched the horrific slaughter of their loved ones by terrorists must dust up their voter cards and muster themselves for battle. In making this choice, a fine-tooth comb must be run over those who now parade themselves before Nigerians as fit for the country`s highest office and those waiting for the perfect opportunity to declare their interests.
Already, some former governors have indicated interest as has some sitting governors. Some of those who have served in different Nigerian governments in different capacities have also shown that they have the stomach for battle even if having the stomach for political battles in Nigeria is more about having bottomless pockets no matter how corruptly sewn than having any iota of integrity. Integrity? Many Nigerians would shudder at this word. In 2015 in a desperate attempt to install integrity in Aso Rock, Nigerians elected insularity, inertia and even incompetence.
Already, one of the candidates has faced probing questions over his age and source of wealth. He is thought to belong to that class of ageing Nigerian politicians who would rather the Not Too Young To Run Act does not exist.
In 2018, the Not Too Young To Run Act made a painful, politically-upsetting journey to the mainstream of Nigerian legislation. While it journeyed from conception to birth, many expired politicians who were alarmed by the progress of the legislation were only consoled by the fact that they knew they would imperil the Act after its passage.They have proven uncannily correct.
Another of the candidates has been at the helm of affairs in his state for more than six years. Scandalously, he is poised to leave the benighted state in a worse shape than he met it. If he were only incompetent, he would have been forgiven as one more mistake the very fallible Nigerian political gods. But his arrogant loquacity and outrageous flippancy madden even his kinsmen who by all that is fair and equitable should produce Nigeria`s next president.
These are those who would rule Nigeria; they are the ones who presume to have eyes clear enough to lead a blind country. But they are themselves blinded. For so long, the Giant of Africa has been led by the blind, those whose sight has been foiled by age and avarice.
Nigerians must act wisely this time around. In the Anambra governorship election last year, those who came to buy votes were made to walk away in shame like Adam and eve being expelled from the garden of Eden.
Nigerians must beware of false promises, of delusionary manifestoes fattened by lies both cheap and expensive. Nigerians can no longer harbour any illusion. There is no quick fix anywhere to the many challenges facing the country. Terror groups that have defied the Nigerian Army for more than a decade in the forbidding forests of the Northeast will take some effort to be dislodged. As such, Nigerians must look with incredulity at those who would tell them they would dislodge Boko Haram in a matter of days.
Nigerians must also beware of those whose sole claim to the presidency of the country is the card of ethnicity. Nigeria does not belong to any ethnic group alone and must never be made to look like the exclusive preserve of any one such ethnic group. Thus, when the wolves clothed in sheep`s wool come, claiming to represent an ethnic group whose turn it is to have a shot, Nigerians must thoroughly interrogate their credentials especially how they have performed in past assignments big and small and whether they can be trusted in little things.
In this period, Nigerian congregants who throng churches seeking the caress of a compassionate God can also expect a cacophony of ‘precision’ political prophecies about the chosen from a pulpit somewhere in Enugu, and elsewhere across the country, from men of the cloth turned into men of cash by wads of cash, including from those who would threaten their critics with leprosy.
The race for 2023 promises many bumpy rides. Nigerians must brace up.