Once upon a time, almost every candidate of the political parties printed their posters and other campaign materials with the same caption, “The People’s Choice”. But all that changed with time.
I have written all there is to write on the emergence of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the Governor-elect of Anambra State. His emergence as the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and his eventual defeat of Andy Ubah of APC and Val Ozigbo of PDP is the test case of the dynamics that will shape the Nigerian political space, going forward.
I had written sometime last year, during the Lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, that there would be a shifting not just in lifestyle and economy but also, in leadership.
I remember saying that new leaders would emerge as the “people” will begin to embrace and manifest the new normal in choosing their leaders. The #ENDSARS as controversial as it was, became a test run of what is to come.
Some have argued that anybody could have won in Anambra under APGA, being the ruling party in the state. Those in this school of thought have suddenly forgotten how an incumbent President of a dominant party lost the election in 2015. Several states also have had this new baptism of power change with incumbents losing in their strongholds.
The issue actually should have been, would APC or PDP have won if they had chosen a Soludo? I am aware that Ndi Anambra have so many of such potentials. The likes of Allen Onyema of Air Peace and Obi Jackson of Nestoil, amongst others. Aside their strengths in business, they also have many who are highly educated.
The bottom line is that the Parties have the right to choose through Direct or Indirect primaries, but the ultimate goal should be to sign on a candidate who is acceptable to majority of the voters, in the final run.
Ndi Anambra have shown reason why they are considered the wealthiest people of the Eastern region. It is not the topic for the discourse today. I only mentioned it to show reasons why the voting pattern was not all about vote buying at the last minute. That is not to rule this out entirely! The average Anambra youth is not only meaningfully engaged but aspires to become like his Master through apprenticeship. It is therefore a folly to wait till the end of the campaign season to try to persuade the people with money.
It’s obvious that if it worked in the past, it can no longer work!
The results of the election and the margin recorded are a testament of the People’s resolve to choose their leaders and not allow a privileged few decide for them.
This actually is the true meaning of Democracy, in every sense of it. That way, the people can hold the government responsible if it fails.
The change Nigerians yearned for has finally come, with power shifting to the people and expectedly, the powers that be, working not for their pockets, cronies and family members but for those who defied all challenges to stand up to be counted.
Unfortunately though, the political class may still carry on as if nothing changed. They may spin conspiracy theories on why APGA won in Anambra for the third time. While some others would think of shooting from the judiciary. Thank God Souldo’s candidature was already tested through the Courts and affirmed by the Apex Court before the election. Again, technicalities won’t work because the electoral umpire, INEC, in spite of the initial technical glitches it faced, was determined to conduct a more acceptable election using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS. Barring any deliberate sabotage, the BVAS will work in the general election and that way, all the false claims of high voting strength even in low density areas.
This is a wake-up call for the political parties to realize that the pandemic did not only come with the negatives but with the positives. The people are now more determined, regardless of party affiliation to vote in their choice.
Written by Chief Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe, a commentator, analyst and columnist based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State
Power Is Not a Faithful Mistress By Dare Babarinsa
THE GUARDIAN February 3, 2022
We need to salute the courage of those who are declaring for the position of the President of Nigeria. I don’t know of any elected leader of Nigeria who has gotten the job by seriously working on the assignment. Most of our elected leaders have gotten there by a circuitous route.
When Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared his interest in the job, many Nigerians were not surprised. It had always been speculated since the beginning of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, that Tinubu is the heir-presumptive of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Since then, many politicians have joined Tinubu to declare their interest. One of them is the internationally renowned celebrity journalist, Dele Momodu, the publisher of Ovation International. He is now a chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But there is no safe permutation for power in Nigeria. During the colonial period, the British imperial masters wanted to hand over power to the Muslim leaders of the North for they were regarded as being more pro-British than the nationalists leaders of the South. Therefore, in the run-up to independence, the titular head of the Church of England, Queen Elizabeth II, knighted Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the leader of the North and a prince of the Sokoto Caliphate. Henceforth, he would be regarded as a knight of the British Empire.
The nationalist leaders of the South, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, were conspicuously left out of such honour. Henceforth, Bello preferred to be addressed as Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
Bello led the delegation of the North to Lagos and took up his seat as the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), at the old Parliament Building situated at the old Race Course, now known as Tawafa Balewa Square. When the British told him that he should prepare to become the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Bello refused. “I would rather be the Sultan of Sokoto than the Prime-Minister of Nigeria,” Bello said. Instead, he gave way to his deputy, Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa who was also knighted by the Queen of England, to henceforth lead the NPC delegation to Lagos. Tafawa-Balewa became the first Prime-Minister of Nigeria.
Balewa was killed by coup plotters on January 15, 1966 and was succeeded by a man who was obviously not part of the coup. But this essay is not about soldiers and other accidental beneficiaries of power.
The next elected leader of Nigeria after Tafawa Balewa was Alhaji Shehu Shagari who came in 13 years after Balewa was killed. Shagari was a protégé of the Sardauna and both of them were natives of Sokoto. Shagari had served as a federal minister in the First Republic. After the coup, the military governor made him a commissioner in the North Western State. After Chief Obafemi Awolowo resigned from the cabinet of General Yakubu Gowon in 1971, Shagari was again brought to Lagos as a Federal Commissioner. After Gowon was toppled, Shagari went back home to become the chairman of the Sokoto Local Government.
In 1978, Shagari was elected into the Constituent Assembly (C A) and was at the centre of the campaign to stop Awolowo from becoming the President of Nigeria through constitutional means. The Constituent Assembly passed a resolution that no one above the age of 70 should be allowed to contest for the Presidency, obviously targeting Awolowo who was the leader of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) during the Second Republic.
Awolowo celebrated his 70th birthday on March 6, 1979. It was too obvious that the resolution was aimed at only one man. General Olusegun Obasanjo, in passing the decree promulgating the 1979 Constitution, threw away that provision for age limit.
Shagari in his own case, wanted to be a senator. He was making preparations to go to the Senate when a delegation was sent to him that he was needed for a higher office. In the 1979 presidential election, Shagari won, defeating the other four presidential candidates including Chief Awolowo.
After Shagari, the next elected ruler of Nigeria was supposed to be Chief Moshood Abiola who won the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Abiola’s victory was however voided by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. Instead of Abiola coming to power, the next civilian ruler was Chief Ernest Shonekan who neither staged a coup nor contested an election.
After Shonekan was toppled, Nigeria entered the Dark Age under the rulership of General Sani Abacha. Reprieve came in 1998 when Abacha died suddenly and General Abdulsalami Abubakar became our country’s ruler. At that point no one thought of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as a politician or as the next President of Nigeria. After his return from the Abacha gulag, Obasanjo obviously did not think of himself as a politician. However, by 1999, he was elected the President of Nigeria, defeating the famous public sector economist, Chief Olu Falae.
In 2007, Governor Umar Musa Yar’Adua emerged literarily from the blues to become our President after the tenure of Obasanjo. In 2006, no one was mentioning Yar’Adua’s name. Neither Yar’Adua nor the Governor of Bayelsa State, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, were considered as candidates in the loop of power. Both of them were to rule Nigeria for eight years.
General Muhammadu Buhari had become a habitual loser in the presidential race until he was rescued in 2015 by a surprising coalition forces put together by the skillful manoeuvring of Bola Tinubu and his associates. He is now our President. 2023 is far away and yet so near. It is not clear what permutations and coalitions would deliver the next President of Nigeria, but obviously it is not an easy mathematical game.
What is clear is that the President of Nigeria cannot be produced by only one section of the country. To become President, you need an agreement by a substantial part of the power elite across the geo-political zones. No longer can one zone in Nigeria claim to be the home base of national power. That is the beauty of Nigerian democracy now despite its obvious inadequacies. In the Nigerian polity, power cannot be the permanent mistress of any suitor.
Governorship ticket: Sanwo-Olu rejects PDP’s Greek gift
APC Inaugurates Excos for 34 States, Leaves Out 2 Others
Ahead of its 26 February, 2022 National Convention, the caretaker committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated state executives of the party for 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Kano and Sokoto states, however, have their party chairmen not inaugurated in an event that took place in Abuja on Thursday.
The decision not to inaugurate the excos for the two states may not be unconnected with the crisis rocking the party in the affected states.
The list of state chairmen inaugurated on Thursday as obtained by PlatinumPost include; Dr. Kingsley Ononogbu (Abia), Alh Ibrahim Bilal (Adamawa), Mr Augustine Enefiok Ekanem (Akwa Ibom), Hon Basil Ejike (Anambra), Alh Babayo Aliyu Misau (Bauchi), Dr. Dennis Otiotio (Bayelsa), Mr Augustine Agada (Benue), Hon. Ali Bukar Dalori (Borno), and Mr. Alphonsus Orgar Eba Esq. (Cross River).
Others are Elder Omeni Sabotie(Delta), Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha (Ebonyi), retired Col David Imuse (Edo), Barr. Omotosho Paul Ayodele (Ekiti), Chief Ogochukwu Agballah (Enugu), Mr Nitte K Amangal (Gombe), Dr Macdonald Ebere (Imo), Hon. Aminu Sani Gumel (Jigawa), Air Cdre Emmanuel Jekada (Rtd) (Kaduna), Alh. Muhammed Sani (Katsina), Alh. Abubakar Muhammed Kana (Kebbi) and Hon. Abdullahi Bello (Kogi).
The list also include Prince Sunday Adeniran Fagbemi (Kwara), Hon. Cornelius Ojelabi (Lagos), Mr John D Mamman (Nasarawa), Hon. Haliru Zakari Jikantoro (Niger), Chief Yemi Sanusi (Ogun), Engr Ade Adetimehin (Ondo), Prince Adegboyega Famodun (Osun), Hon Isaac Omodewu (Oyo), Hon Rufus Bature (Plateau), Chief Emeka Bekee (Rivers). Hon Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi (Taraba), Alh Muhammed A. Gadaka (Yobe), Alh. Tukur Umar Danfulani (Zamfara) and Alh. Abdulmalik Usman (FCT).