By Alaba Yusuf
There comes a prime time in the life of a nation when it’s citizens, democratically, determine the next course of action for the corporate existence of their country’s sovereignty – through a referendum or outright general election. Britain’s rattling BREXIT battle is one of such. And the Presidential Election in Nigeria this weekend aligns both Commonwealth Comity nations. Neither is a do or die affair; nonetheless, they are monumental milestones that could make or mar people’s collective destiny.
Thus, when British political philosopher and legal luminary, Lord Acton, postulated “for forms of government, let the fools contest; whatever is best administered is best governed”, the great Victorian historian and essayist must have had his heart tortured by the rat race often associated with the political class of his time, particularly politicians’ desperate craving to lord it over one another in a cyclical style of hegemonic ascendancy. The Nigerian political firmament presents a rainbow of optical illusion, one that creates confusion with 73 aspiring presidential candidates from a legion of 91 “political parties.” A real rat race of pretenders and contenders.
That notwithstanding, monopoly of opinion is never known to be an attribute of civil rule. In fact, democracy would have failed in its own definition, as government of the people, for the people and by the people, if competition is taken off the affairs of men and women. Contest, therefore, opens the space for choice and options. Hence, the embedded principles of elections and fundamental human rights, the sweet taste of victory and the sour feel of loss, all make democracy a game of continuous search for the best hands as helmsmen the world over. Good governance and exemplary leadership therefore remain the ultimate goal in any political contest. And Nigeria is never an exception in this lure for power and service to fatherland.
For once, let’s halt attention on the inanities and litany of errors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Let’s shift focus from unfulfilled political promises, breaches of the rule of law, scandals of certificate forgery and one-sided anti-corruption campaign, issues of police and security agents’ harassment, toga of global headquarter of extreme poverty, general insecurity and international repudiation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. These are aches that defy the potency of panadol or paracetamol. I forbid Tramadol. Say nay to hard drugs.
For good effect, let’s zoom our mind’s binoculars on the Presidential elections slated for Saturday February 16. It is Nigeria’s ultimate date with fate. Without iota of doubt, this poll shall present a veritable case study of a political panic-drama; one poised to pitch mere pretenders against real contenders, patriots against power-grabbing zealots. In other words, concerned citizens in combat with confrontational cabals.
A perfect scenario for confusion is all well laid out by INEC’s registration of over 70 contestants, all vying for the key to Aso Rock Villa. Real rat race in human race. Sadly, ego and the zeal to seal political deals with the eventual winner, has left both the gladiators and spectators alike in the uncertain terrain of suspense and lucre permutations. Many have dropped by the way side, even though the umpire (INEC) says they can’t jump ship now, for they are legally bound to complete the race even on crutches.
Meanwhile, whatever becomes the end result of this epochal political chess game of February 16, would definitely ricochet like a rubber ball on the entire nation and international canvass of opinion. The socio-economic and political lives of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria would practically be affected or impacted by this crucial general election. Hence, Nigeria is practically the cynosure of the world’s eyes. How we tackle the choice of who will run the affairs of 200 million people, the largest headcount of black beings in the globe, remains a spectacle in mankind’s mind.
No wonder that democratic leaders and institutions the world over are keeping a tab on the pulse of events in the domain of the Giant of Africa! The United Nations, African Union, European Union, ECOWAS, world media and other well meaning organisations have already detailed independent observers and monitors to ensure that the 2019 elections, which the opposition PDP’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is favored to win, turns out free, fair, credible and transparent. This is a task that must be done. For only equity can guarantee tranquility in a heterogeneous society.
The reality of world’s interest has jolted not a few in the incumbent APC Federal Government’s camp. Some have lost their tempers so much they have resulted to hate speech and unprovoked innuendos. The arrowhead of this is Governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai, who yelled hell to foreign election observers whom he referred to as those who want to interfere and shall “return to their countries in body bags.” What?
Even President Buhari was quoted as teasing the beleaguered people of Zamfara State, to whom he prayed God brings abundant rainfall and bumper harvest, so the that these fellow countrymen and women “will have the energy to fight again.” Another oddity.
His Campaign spokesman, Festus Keyamo, a lawyer, also publicly accused the United States of tacitly backing the opposition leader, Atiku Abubakar, whom the Buhari government once tagged a “corrupt man on American wanted list.” Let him step into the US, if he won’t be arrested, they had taunted. All hot air.
Atiku has since been to America and back, walking free as air and daily getting endeared to Nigerian voters in their millions. The tumultuous crowd that welcomed the PDP Flagbearer in North West States of Sokoto, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Kano, have since demystified Buhari’s mythical bloc vote from his homestead. The threat was so much that former US President Bill Clinton’s intention to visit Nigeria this week, to cultivate truce between the top rival parties at the poll, had to be cancelled. Because the Senior American doesn’t want to be seen as a meddlesome interloper in the affairs of another sovereign country.
Despite the odds, the Second Signing of the National Peace Accord took place in Abuja, Wednesday 13 February, with all stakeholders pledging peace and appealing for fairness and justice throughout the duration of the elections. Respect and treat Mother Nigeria with tender love, were the watchwords. And statesman Atiku, quoting former President Good Jonathan, assured the nation: “my ambition is not worth a drop of blood of any Nigerian.”
But barely 72 hours to a crucial poll, unity and equity seem to be on the run in the country. While insecurity to lives and property pervade, gross job loss and mass unemployment exist in a plagued economy, coupled with the ugly label of being the epicenter of global extreme poverty and squalor. The question now is: “Which way Nigeria?’ To be or not to be? The world is askance.
Therefore, is time not ripe for the candidate who wants to make Nigeria work and great again? Atiku surely has the Midas’ Touch to turn adversity into prosperity, poverty into plenty, apathy into sympathy, hostility into friendliness and people’s sorrow into collective joy.
Hence Nigerians, in their leadership quest, should endeavor to seek out a statesman of class and panache, one who sincerely loves the country and has proclivity and affinity with the people, a patriot with empathy and compassion, a knowledgeable welfarist, a bridge builder and unifier, a charismatic and humble element, a great listener and team player, a business-minded executive with belief in both job and wealth creation, a defender of democracy and constitutionalism, a proven law abiding citizen and, in a nutshell, a congruent leader who fuses capacity, competence and character together to enhance and advance people’s-centered vision, to create and propagate equitable national developmental innovations. Such a leader is the answer to Nigeria of today. And it is not an Eldorado!
And who can fix this messy scene? No other but quintessential humanist and political bridge builder, a detribalised Nigerian, non fanatical man of faith, a wealth creator and educationist, Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007). His recent nationwide campaign of love and hope, is a clear testimony to the fact that Atiku is the People’s Choice. He is a unique unifier and a world class astute leader of repute.
For a nation that is still recovering from a scary democratic summersault in Osun State gubernatorial election, which former Vice President Atiku Abubakar rightly described as a “travesty of justice and imposition of tyranny by the ruling APC”, efforts should be made to avoid further pitfalls. The systemic burning of places housing INEC sensitive electoral materials are enough bad omen.
Hence our nation urgently needs the services of a defender of democracy and believer in constitutionalism; a due process persona and a dogged fighter who won 14 landmark constitutional cases which today are helping to advance, nourish and polish democracy in Nigeria. One such epochal legal feat was the Supreme Court judgement that prevented a President or Governor from having the power to fire his Vice or Deputy, because of the political umbilical cord of a shared common and indivisible joint ticket on which they ran for office! Atiku exemplify constitutionalism and the rule of law unlike ex military Head of State, retired General Muhammadu Buhari, who claims to be a “converted democrat.”
At this juncture in our national history, it takes the wisdom and rare wit of a gentle giant to stake the odds. We need one who has been tested and trusted; one who can embrace the tedious trips to law courts and pay huge legal bills to secure judgement in Nigeria. The experience of such a great leader of men and women is what Nigerians require to tame current APC monstrous misnomers. No doubt, Atiku has the sagacity and capacity to unweave the web of political entanglement that an incumbent administration can throw at any challenger gunning to become president this year.
So without prejudice to the 72 other contestants in the Presidential Poll slated for February 16, Atiku is remains head and shoulder above them all. Atiku is the man for the top job; one to truly keep Nigeria united, restructured and secured. Atiku, the consummate philanthropist and large hearted welfarist is capable of wielding and cementing the fault lines of this country. He surely knows how to create and bring back jobs through viable and profitable private public partnership and direct foreign investments. He has even vowed to bring about equity, tranquility and development across the nation.
That aside, brand Atiku is a household name that needs little or no publicity. He is well known to all strata of society – be it the young or old, poor or rich, men or women, business class or the working class. Atiku is at home everywhere he goes. He is detribalised, generous and charitable, compassionate and caring, law abiding and a seasoned politician, education investor and wealth creator, innovator of note and above all, a visionary leader with a mission to return sanity back to our common humanity.
Finally, eligible voters are enjoined to think right and help save Nigeria from falling off the political cliff of implosion, self immolation and precipitous perdition. With Atiku, the best among the rest, Nigeria will work again. Surely, it is prime time to serve Atiku’s ripe fruits to Nigerians from the altar of Aso Rock Villa. Let’s all vote for an achiever and mentor to others. Let’s be Atikutated and get Nigeria working again.
▪ Yusuf, a public affairs analyst and journalist, wrote from Abuja