The much-anticipated realignment of political forces has begun in earnest. That which was predicted would follow the outcome of the presidential primaries of the two leading political parties – the APC and PDP – is already upon us! We have seen a gale of defections and carpet-crossing from APC to PDP and vice-versa but it would seem the PDP has the upper hand at the moment in that more big wigs have moved in its direction than away from it.
Two fringe parties – ex- Gov. Peter Obi’s adopted Labour Party and ex-Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigerian People’s Party – are making limited waves. Obi, who dumped the PDP when it became clear he stood no chance of clinching the party’s flag, is making waves among a section of the youths and especially so in his native Igboland. It remains to be seen how national he can make his appeal within such a short time, especially with his perceived Igbo-centrism and a past that is anything but salutary.
Kwankwaso, on his own, is part and parcel of the traditional, even conservative, Northern aristocratic oligarchy. Bereft of ideology and decrepit in sound theoretical understanding of the country and its problems, Kwankwaso’s bourgeois politics are, at best, intra-class squabbles struggling for elevation to the national level. How far Obi and Kwankwaso can travel in their chosen course – and cause – remains to be seen! Without firm structures all over the country, their feet dangle in the air! If they stay the course, they may be political parties for the future.
But they hardly stay the course here! I have lost count of how many times a Third Force political movement raises hope, only to fizzle out as fast as they came. Inability to agree between Obi and Kwankwaso, which is the hallmark of Nigeria’s prebendal politics of greed, selfishness, and power-mongering, points in the direction of another Paradise Lost and Hope Deferred – if not betrayed!
Realistically, therefore, APC and PDP still remain the parties to beat in 2023; unless a miracle happens. While the APC elected Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Southern (Yoruba/South-west) Muslim as its flag bearer, the PDP, desperate to return to power, jettisoned its own constitutional guarantees of power rotation to allow Atiku Abubakar (Fulani, Northern Muslim) to attempt to succeed another of his ilk. For many, especially in the South and Middle Belt, Atiku is a hard sell but for his own Fulani people and their supporters and or surrogates in the North, he is their best chance of clinging to power after eight ruinous years by another of their own, Muhammadu Buhari. Morality is not the name of the game. Political theorists have argued from time immemorial about the place or desirability of morality and ethics in politics.
Those defecting from the APC to PDP are doing so basically for religious and ethnic considerations: They want a continuation of Fulani/Northern/fundamentalist Islamic hegemony. Their consideration is not good governance or the desideratum of national unity, peace, justice and cohesion. Selfish interest propels their action. On the other side are the politicians of the South who are also reviewing their political stand basically on the basis of region – but not necessarily religion – for many of them. There is, however, a critical mass in the South that would, if achievable, want a combination of a Southern and Christian presidency come 2023. In the absence of both, they will have to weigh their options and set their priorities or stand the risk of losing out altogether.
One of the most vociferous of those insisting that the presidency must return to the South in 2023 is the erstwhile governor of Ekiti State, the enfant terrible Ayodele Fayose. Fayose is fighting two battles at one and the same time and aiming to kill two birds with one stone. He is protesting the perceived injustice meted out to his friend and brother-governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers state. He is also fighting for the presidency to come to the South.
PDP was wrong to have thrown its presidential contest open in flagrant violation of its own constitutional provisions on zoning. Gov. Aminu Tambuwal was wrong to have pitched his tent with Atiku, thereby letting the Turakin Adamawa snatch victory from Wike who, four years ago, had backed the same Tambuwal all the way. Atiku was wrong to have offered Wike the running mate slot only to renege afterwards and give the slot to Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state. Again, the PDP leadership and Atiku erred when they set up a committee to pick a running mate, the committee voted overwhelmingly in favour of Wike but they went rogue and ditched the committee. Wheelers and dealers must know they have a price to pay! Desperadoes often box themselves in a corner!
Now, Fayose and some other PDP leaders in the South and Middle Belt are saying they will have none of that. For Fayose, who hardly minces words once his mind is made up on an issue, it is the turn of the South to occupy Nigeria’s presidency come 2023. Parroting Tinubu’s “Emi l’okan”, Fayose insists that “Awa South l’o kan”; meaning, it is the South’s turn to shine! It could not have been better said!
Tinubu need not be a messiah
In his The Lord’s Day column in the Sunday Tribune on Sunday, June 26, 2022, Bola Bolawole asked a question on the presidential aspiration of the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whether he is the much expected messiah Nigerians have been waiting for? Bolawole went biblical; he delved into the scripture as regards the inquisitiveness of John the Baptist about the Messiahnism of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist according to the scripture was the forerunner of the Jewish messiah which was Jesus Christ.
Messiah is a concept in Abrahamic religions of Judaism and Islam with different nomenclatures. It is messiah in Judaism and Mahdi in Islam. This concept emanated from the context of a people under oppression and in need of an emancipator. From their days in Egypt, to their settlement in the Promised Land, the Israelites had been under one form of oppression or the other. Moses could be described as their messiah in the context of their Egyptian bondage. Various judges including Deborah, Gideon, Samson in the book of Judges could be regarded as some of their “Messiahs”.
In the context of Jesus Christ messiahnism, prophets like Isaiah had prophesied about a messiah since their day in captivity in Babylon and Assyria. In the days of John the Baptist to the birth of Jesus Christ, Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. According to the prophecies; Jews were expecting a messiah who would save them from the bondage of the Roman Emperor. In the context of the Jewish messiahnism, that messiah would be a super human or a freedom fighter who would declare war on the Roman Empire and free the Jews from the oppressive rule.
However, the messiah prophesied by Prophet Isaiah was not a warrior in the worldly context but a spiritual messiah who will save the Jews and, by extension, the people of the world from their sins, which were the causes of their afflictions. (Isaiah 7:14, 42:6, 49:6, 52:10). The Jews, because of their expectation, did not regard Jesus Christ as the messiah; this is partly due to the humble manner of his birth, including his place of birth in Nazareth and non-violent approach to their redemption.
As a matter of fact, Jesus Christ himself did not present himself as the Messiah. In actual fact, his core loyalists among his disciples witnessed some revelations that convinced them of his being the messiah but Jesus cautioned them from revealing his identity. The various miracles he performed, his teachings, knowledge of the word, etc. were unprecedented and enough to show his identity but he hid himself until the appointed time when he had to enter Jerusalem triumphantly in the course of his death, resurrection and ascension. Only few among the Jews regarded Jesus Christ as the messiah and even after his death, resurrection and ascension, some Jews were still expecting the messiah.
Messiahnism can be said to have been introduced into Nigeria’s political lexicon by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. In the heat of the June 12, 1993 debacle, Obasanjo in far away South Africa declared that the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, was not the messiah Nigerians were expecting. No justification was added to his declaration, though. The fact is that Nigeria needs no political messiah in the Jewish context because Nigeria is an independent country, so to say. President Buhari was a sort of messiah pre-2015 presidential election. Evidence today points contrarily to his messiahnism.
There is no doubt that the problem of Nigeria is leadership. Mineral and human resources abound in the nation, how to tap it for the good of all and sundry is part of our problem. Other problems facing the country include insecurity of life and property, exemplified by insurgency, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, herdsmen menace, etc. which persist due largely to failure of leadership. Economic woes, deindustrialization, power failure, embezzlement and corruption, lack of unity, and a comatose educational sector are as a result of bad leadership. Most of our political leaders are insincere, unscrupulous, and unprincipled lot who seek power for power’s sake.
Instead of a messiah, Nigeria needs a tested leader who understands the problems facing the country and who is ready to sincerely approach them headlong. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is not a saint as there is no saint anywhere in the world. Not being a saint qualifies him from being a messiah. Nonetheless, he has all the qualities of a good leader. This is, nonetheless, contestable because there are many who see nothing good in him. His traducers accuse him of corrupt practices, forged certificates, forged age etc.
However, in my view, there is no Nigerian, particularly since the inception of the Fourth Republic, who has been a stabilizing factor for Nigeria democracy as Tinubu. His running battle with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency over the creation of LCDAs and his decision to practice true federalism, which led to the withholding of Lagos State allocation by Obasanjo, is well-known. How he ran the Lagos administration successfully without federal allocation is a wonder. Equally, his efforts through the court of law to retrieve the stolen mandates of some governorship candidates of opposition parties remain on record.
Asiwaju Tinubu can be said to be the arrow head of the coalition which, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, won election against a sitting federal government. According to the Financial Times of London, “one of the attributes of Tinubu which stands him out among his peers (and which can help him in tackling Nigeria’s problems) is the ability to spot talents and nurture it”. One of his allies attested to this quality and asserted that he (Tinubu) absorbed the lesson while working with ExxonMobil.
“We bring talents to governance; we don’t want Lilliputians. We want people who can think and act”. One point I always raised when describing Tinubu’s leadership politics is the way he held sway in Lagos and stabilized the state politically, economically and security-wise in the last twenty-three years and has made Lagos a destination from the periphery in search of greener pasture, aside from flocking abroad. If Lagos were Nigeria, the story would have been different courtesy Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. – Adewuyi Adegbite.
By Bolanle Bolawole
email@example.com 0705 263 1058