“Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894.
That might have been true of Stevenson’s Scotland in the 19th century. It certainly is not true now in most of the advanced countries of the world. Politicians intending to lead their countries in this century and outside Africa must be well-prepared. They must, above all things, be well versed in the broad areas of economics. More than ever before, Presidents and Prime Ministers are elected primarily to manage the nation’s economy on which everything else depends. Even when they have personally studied economics, they still assemble a team of Economic Advisers to assist them in developing a comprehensive economic programme which forms the basis of their campaigns for office. Unfortunately, Nigeria is still stuck in the dark ages of politics and economy resulting in selection of leaders who are economics-illiterate. The result is there for all to see. Since Chief Obafemi Awolowo departed as Premier of old Western Region and Vice Chairman and Minister of Finance under Gowon, we have been ruled by individuals who are confused by economics and cannot lead us in this day and age.
We have another chance in 2019 and in that regard it must be pointed out that there are only nineteen months left to the next elections. Yet, only Governor Ayo Fayose (who is for ever not serious) has indicated his interest in running for the office. The next US Presidential Election will come up in November 2020. Some individuals are already warming up for the contest. At least twelve would have opened campaign offices by this time next year – some of them Republicans like President Donald Trump. They will not wait for Trump or the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties. They will signify their intention to contest because they strongly believe they can govern better. They will embark on trips throughout America armed with well thought out ideas about how to strengthen their nation economically, politically, socially and militarily. They will recognize “no go areas” because they are free men and women. The people will eventually make their choice.
Nigeria is not as fortunate and that explains why we are not closing the development gap with the US and Singapore – among others. Instead, the Nigerian President in 2019 will be decided by no more than forty individuals representing various interests. The majority of us, like cattle driven by herdsmen, will only choose from the two preferred candidates presented by the “deciders”. If that statement upsets you, recall what happened in 1999, 2007, 2011 and 2015. How many people decided who would be President each and every time? Obasanjo recently admitted that he was imposed as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, by four Generals – Babangida, Danjuma. Abubakar and Gusau.
From that day the PDP was snatched from the hands of its founding fathers – the G-34. (See the book PDP CORRUPTION INCORPORATED).
Obasanjo wasted no time in installing himself as the “master” of the PDP by moving former satraps up the party’s hierarchy – Alli, Bode George and “Mr Fix it”, Chief Tony Anenih. It was a command and obey organization. Nobody questioned the Commander-In-Chief, C-I-C.
PDP started its disintegration when Obasanjo committed the blunder of imposing Yar’Adua and Jonathan in 2007 – two people without previous military background. None of them had the “fire in the belly” of former staff officers and one was mortally ill. The other lacked a political machine of his own to subjugate the PDP. He was still recruiting them by the time he was voted out of office.
Buhari was hungry for the power he had tasted before. He tried three times and failed three times. He would have failed again in 2015 if he was the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC – which had dissolved after the shellacking received in 2011. But, there was a “patron saint” who only wanted to be in government rather than remain perpetually in opposition. The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, had everything needed to reach Aso Rock but it lacked a candidate. The CPC had a candidate but lacked all that was required to make it. It was like a marriage made in heaven. A little more was needed. Dissidents from the PDP were in search of a good home after deciding that the famous umbrella offered them no protection anymore. Jonathan was not their candidate and his re-election threatened their political careers. By teaming up with the ACN and CPC they could escape to another safe house and bid PDP goodbye. The All Progressives Congress, APC was formed and it was assumed they would live happily ever after. The rest is a very short and sad history.
“Alliances are held together by fear not love”. British PM Harold Wilson.
That the APC was “merely a conspiracy to seize power” was clear sooner than expected. With Jonathan out of the way, some of the co-conspirators who formed APC soon revealed their intentions. The APC style democracy was not going to be a “government of the people by the people and for the people”. It was going to be a mosaic of special interest groups – starting with appointments to high offices in the Executive Branch, anticipated and matched by a “coup” by the lawmakers. The first day the elected members of the National Assembly, NASS, got together to elect their leaders was also the day that all the pretences binding the APC together vanished. Like wild dogs which hunt together then fight over the kill, the internal war started in earnest. It has lasted till today and that is the major reason the party cannot hold a convention. It will be akin to a Mafia meeting called with all participants fully armed! Dinner with a thousand devils is safer.
As for the PDP, one can best understand the situation in which the party finds itself by reading all the Advertorials published by Senator Buruji Kashamu. Those who jubilated when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Makarfi wing of the party were presumptuous. It was like clinking glasses simply because your side won the first round in a contest just starting. Wait for the other rounds. The odds are that the Sherrif group will make it a pyrrhic victory for the winners by delaying the National Convention to elect a Presidential candidate beyond INEC’s closing date.
Unfortunately, for APC and PDP, time and tide wait for nobody. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, earlier in the year fixed the dates for 2019 elections and the dates for the submission of party flag bearers. With less than nineteen months to go, there are no declared candidates. Apparently, nobody has assembled a campaign team working on a Blue Print for Governance addressing various aspects of our lives crying for solutions. We are in a mess mainly because that is how our Presidents have always evolved.
Obasanjo did not start out with election promises; he started out with lots of money backed by military power. So it mattered not what he did when he became President. You can’t expect anything from someone who promised you nothing. Yar’Adua was even worse. The poor man virtually had to be held up at campaign rallies and even collapsed at one of them signifying what came later. We failed to take note at the time.
Jonathan becoming President in 2010 was unstoppable. The constitution took care of that. Jonathan elected President in 2011 was not an accident. It was the result of a collective effort in which some of the forty deciders of our political fate took part. Like it or not, most of them are still around and will again determine our future. Humiliating as it might be to admit it, the rest of us 180 million Nigerians don’t count. Don’t blame me or get annoyed if the list disturbs you. Just get used to it from now on. In no particular order of importance, below are the forty likely deciders of our future in 2019.
Buhari, Jonathan, Tanbuwal, Makarfi, Sherrif, Tinubu, Atiku, Saraki, Wike, Dogara, Okorocha, Ibori, Fayose, Kanu, Kwakwanso, El-Rufai, Mark, Amaechi, Dickson, Akpabio, Sultan, Emir of Kanu, Sen. Sani, Sen. Melaye, Babangida, Obasanjo, Gen. Abubakar, Ganduje, Gov Belo, Gov, Ortom, Chief Clarke, Obong Victor Attah, Chief Oyegun, Gen. Danjuma, Gen Gusau, Unongo, Ambode, Obaseki.
Irrespective of whether Buhari goes for the second term or not, APC will disintegrate. Restructuring will explode it. Mark my words.