Where Are Candidates, Manifestoes Or Alternatives to President Obasanjo?
Wednesday, 05 April 2006
Nigeria is just about one year away from a presidential and general elections in 2007. As an optimist, I will have to believe that the planned elections will occur and there will presidential inauguration come May 29, 2007.
But where are the candidates? Where are the presidential and gubernatorial elections campaigns? Why are none of the registered political parties, other than the People’s Democratic Party or PDP not campaigning and explaining their manifestoes through their chosen platforms and presidential candidates?
Does rabid hatred for President Obasanjo make a manifesto? Is that sufficient in Nigeria?
Where are the alternatives, outside of President Obasanjo and the PDP, for Nigerian voters to choose from? Why is no one canvassing ideas with the Nigerian electorate as to what their political party and platform would do for Nigeria differently, compared and contrasted against what the PDP and President Obasanjo are doing right now?
And why are more Nigerians, especially public intellectuals and commentators, not raising these pertinent issues? Is it the case that a majority of Nigerians have agreed on something that I am unaware of? Is there a fait accompli that has dawn on some Nigerians?
Is Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State the choice by consensus of the opposition political parties in Nigeria? But I thought that everyone could see that Governor Kalu is too flippant and too unreliable for anyone to take seriously? Governor Kalu, often makes grave allegations without supplying required proofs, and the first hints of pressure and demands for proofs, Governor Kalu recants and apologies!
Nigerians should see Governor Kalu for what he really is: A flip-flopper in-chief! Governor Kalu does not possess the sturdiness of character and integrity to be president of Nigeria.
Apart from the indomitable Dr. Reuben Abati of The Guardian Newspapers of Nigeria, no one else to my knowledge has asked what he asked several weeks ago, when he asked in one of his articles, a poignant question, which was: “Where Are The Presidential Candidates?”
It appears to me, that Dr. Abati and I, are the only Nigerians who did not attend a meeting by Nigerians, at which it was agreed, that Nigerians political parties, other than the PDP, must not present presidential, gubernatorial and other candidates for the elections in 2007
But before anyone pounces on me, I must announce that I am aware of the arguments, ludicrous arguments that are proffered, as excuses, as those that have been made by all other political parties outside of the PDP. Their poor excuse is that they are afraid to announce their parties’ nominees to serve as their flag bearer presidential candidates for fear of vendetta from President Obasanjo.
The word on the street therefore, goes like this, potential presidential candidates are fearful for their lives, for their safety and for their freedom and they have become political risks averse.
The warped excuses are as twisted as any conspiracy theory that you have ever heard! All Nigerian political parties and their leaders across the length and breadth of Nigeria are so fearfully scared of President Obasanjo and his omnipresent and omniscient PDP and government apparatuses, with their irrepressible political operatives; and, as such, these political opposition parties reckon that it was better not to feature presidential candidates or to announce a manifesto or manifestoes.
Having or nurturing a presidential ambition in Nigeria these warped and twisted logic now goes, is tantamount to having a death wish. Or at minimum, a wish to languish in jail, courtesy of the EFCC they insist. But it is nigh past time to make haste!
Members of these bandwagons of illogical Nigerians, and politicos are quick to point their fingers at the retired general Marwa, “friend” of President Obasanjo, who soon got arrested, detained and questioned about corruption, “only” because and as a result of his announcing that he nursed presidential ambition and these Nigerians also insists, that there are others, whose legal troubles stems “primarily” from having political ambitions or political perspectives that are different from those of President Obasanjo and his PDP!
Going by the current trend in Nigeria, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida may have made his preemptive strike against probes and any legal troubles declaring his interests in 2007. Because, if and when IBB is accosted now, to account for his wealth and his checkered stewardship, he can now, with a straight face, say, this is selective prosecution-persecution, and it is occurring “only because” of his interest in 2007!
These conspiracy theorists, have argued further, that the impeachment and removal of the former governor of Bayelsa State, the looting governor DSP Alamieseigha met his fate, not because he was more corrupt that your average state governor in Nigeria, but, instead, because he was “almost” a card-carrying member of The Turaki Vanguard, the Vice President Atiku organization, which is said to be Atiku’s tentative flight of fancy to Aso Rock proper. The same “reasons” are adduced for looting Governor Joshua Dariye’s legal troubles.
But how come these same political parties and avowed opponents of President Obasanjo and the PDP are quick to write open letters to the president and the PDP in Nigerian newspapers and other media forums stating their most acerbic and vehement opposition to the president and his PDP? Why is it that these opponents and oppositions can indulge in these obnoxious and cantankerous paid announcements newspapers, in which they ridicule the president and the PDP, but somehow, they are too scared to advertise their candidates and their manifestoes? Why won’t these opponents and opposition political parties, similarly state and advertise their propose programs, their “superior” candidates and their equally “superior” manifestoes?
Surprisingly, these conspiracy theorists, never argue the innocence of Alamieseigha or Dariye!
What is worse, these band of illogical political hacks, never manage to explain why these so-called prosecutions, that they call persecutions and political vendetta could therefore have applied to former inspector general, and now ex-jailbird Barrister Tafa Balogun?
Instead, we were first told that Tafa Balogun is above the law, he is friend of the president, and oh, he is a Yoruba. And then, we were told that he is the brain of PDP rigging in 2003 and that an arrest or jailing of Tafa Balogun, will be a death wish or suicide for President Obasanjo, as Tafa Balogun was bound to tell-all about the PDP shenanigans of 2003 elections.
Tafa Balogun was dismissed from Nigeria’s Police, arrested and jailed. And some of us are still waiting for apologies, from those who told us, pointedly and boastfully, that the eventual waterloo that Tafa Balogun met, were impossible in Nigeria, particularly, under President Obasanjo. Oh, when was the last time in Nigeria, nay Africa that such had happened? It would never happen, they swore cock-surely. We are all wiser now?
I want to believe that Nigerians are all agreed on the all-important matters of making all our public officials accountable, transparent and corruption-free. The rule is: If you are running for public office, you must declare your assets, prove that the sources were crime and corruption-free and genuine. Establish that you have had honest business and profited from hard work; Otherwise, you are disqualified.
But why is it then a surprise to any Nigerian that the EFCC, the ICPC or the Nigerian Police and all of Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies want to know or determine the sources of wealth of potential public office holders? Who are the financiers of your political campaigns? Are your donor foreign interests that are inconsistent with Nigeria’s national interests? Are you campaign donor domestic and local criminal gangs and crooks? Are you the candidate an erstwhile public official who corruptly enriched himself and now wishes to use your loot as a means and vehicle to public office? Why should all Nigerians not want to know these things for the sake of accountability, probity and transparency?
In the United States for instance, political candidates have to go through rigorous checks, criminal background, even previous engagements in immorality or even simple inappropriate conducts or behaviors are quick to become campaign issues! Did you kick a dog or cat or some other domestic pet in your previous life, Americans want to know, now that you are running for public office. Did you park in a parking space reserved for disabled or the physically challenged or did you engage in drunk driving? And did you smoke Marijuana when you attended college or university? Americans want to know the most microscopic details of your entire life, to determine your suitableness for office. But in Nigeria, some will call an EFCC or ICPC investigations to determine these, a vendetta, a vindictive and a selective pursuit of political enemies by President Obasanjo and the PDP! Haba! President Obasanjo and the PDP are damned if they do and if they don’t?
I personally want to know what the poor excuse is, for the dearth of presidential aspirants or presidential candidates for Nigeria’s 2007 presidential elections. What are the excuses?
If the real reasons, sorry, excuses, are those that have been adduced by political opponents, and opposing political parties is just limited to their timorous timidities, of fear of death, fear of probe, fear of intimidation, fear of vendetta by President Obasanjo and the PDP operatives? I will say to them, have some balls! Have some guts!
How is it that the nearly thirty other political parties in Nigeria, other than the PDP, are not ready for prime time? What are their excuses for not selecting or announcing their selections of presidential candidates or aspirants? I am not a member of any political party in Nigeria, but if I were, I would be feeling colossal and monumental slew of embarrassments at the present time. How could anyone explain the lack of boldness and courage on the part of these numerous political parties? I am sure there a persons of courage in all these parties. President Obasanjo and PDP are the only ones with courage or sturdiness? Are members of the opposition just lazy or lacking in strategies?
Is it really a matter of lacking in courage or, is it that these other political parties are bereft of ideas? Are they suffering from collective bankruptcies of ideas? Is it the case that these other political parties have nothing to sell to the Nigerian electorate? Is that they have no manifestoes that will surpass President Obasanjo’s and PDP’s economic and political reforms agenda; President Obasanjo reforms that includes his prodigious efforts to rid Nigeria of billions of dollars of foreign debts?
Is it equally, possibly because President Obasanjo and the PDP, with all their faults, have empanelled EFCC and ICPC and such other Nigerian government organs, agencies and machineries to fight and eliminate corruption from Nigeria public space?
Some Nigerians have not be bitten by the reform bugs. These institutionalized reforms are eliminating old habits and negative old ways of easy-riches, easy money or illicit wealth. The president is hated for closing some of the old ways of doing things. He is resented for closing old negative avenues, hence the anger among the lazy-easy-money class of old?
I do believe that a vigorous and vibrant opposition are essential ingredients to a true democracy. This is so, just as free and fair elections; right to dissent, robust and vibrant opposition are to a democracy and strengthens it. But where is the Nigerian political opposition to the PDP? Imagine if the PDP actually had party discipline and internal cohesion? Imagine if the PDP did not suffer from self-inflicted wounds in Bayelsa, Anambra, Oyo and Plateau States etc? All other political parties in Nigeria would have been extinct by now!
It has become increasingly tempting to conclude that the opposing political parties in Nigeria, tens of them, lack ideas, lack men and women of substance, character and integrity. And so, they rely on distractions as cover for their bankruptcies of ideas!
Or could someone tell me why these several tens of other political parties in Nigeria have not announced their presidential aspirant-candidates? Where are the nominees for state governorships and other potential candidates for sundry public offices across Nigeria?
Nigerian political opponents are so afraid of President Obasanjo and the vicious PDP apparatuses, machineries and instruments when it comes to promoting their own candidates and manifestoes? But these same political parties, opponents of President Obasanjo and the PDP, seem to have no fear and no qualms in calling the president unprintable names as they ridicule his person, his family and the PDP?
The current vacuum left by Nigerian opposition political parties constitutes the best argument or reason for a third term, if indeed, President Obasanjo needed one. The vacuum by the opposition, the dearth of their vigor and the bankruptcies of their ideas, the absence of their candidates and manifestoes, in sum, should emboldens President Obasanjo and the PDP as they angles for the opportunities to anchor, consolidate and have their policies completely embedded in strong institutions and streamlined processes.
The opposition political parties claim they are fearful of advocating and agitating their economic and political positions in manifestoes, they say they are afraid of President Obasanjo and the PDP, sufficiently to be cowered? They are afraid to stand for what is right, legal and proper? But they are quick to engage in useless personal insults, useless personal attacks as they engage in the equally useless and completely distracting talk about third term!
The opposition political parties in Nigeria must show us their candidates and their manifestoes and what they will do better, better than President Obasanjo and the PDP, or the opposing political parties should forever hold their peace.