For a nation that was once described as Africa’s Hope, the present trauma of surviving hard times by fear-stricken citizens is, no doubt, strangulating. Ranked in the same group with countries like India and some other Asian countries at independence in the 1960s, the future bristled in bright lights as many thought that in no time Nigeria was bound to lead the way for other nations to emulate.
Decades of military regimes, following the collapse of the First Republic in January 15, 1966, would expose the underbelly of a House divided against itself. At the end of a fierce civil war that culminated in the killing of millions of citizens, the guns of rebellion were subdued and thereafter, then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon would commence the journey to national reconciliation and healing under the banner, ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’.
Nearly 62 years after attaining political independence, the country that once held the promise of a new day has been turned into a ceaseless flowing stream of innocent blood. The horrifying death toll, made worse by the destruction of our communities, has drawn Armageddon closer than ever before. Flustered citizens have become disillusioned, clothed in dread and trepidation. Despite the fervent hope for the promised future; the anguish of the present has robbed inhabitants of consistent faith for the future that carries the scars of troubling past and traumatising present. Nigerians are too hopeless to yearn for a glorious future amidst the depressing present.
For those who see light at the end of the tunnel, they are quickly reminded of previous hopes that have been mismanaged and promptly replaced with sardonic lamentations. Over 23 years of Nigeria’s unbroken democracy have taught citizens to embrace caution and be circumspect of the mirages as we journey in the task of making a nation out of our Tower of Babel. In the journey to nationhood, the political class has treated the citizenry in the most disdainful manner. Not only have leaders turned our nation into a profitable farm house, their commitment in the Nigerian project has only been demonstrated in verbal output than resolution. Members of the three tiers of government have become worshippers of their stomachs to the detriment of overall majority wreaked by monsters of insecurity and economic hardship.
There is no time better that now to retrieve our nation from the teeth of these monstrous terrorists and other criminal groups running riots over our communities. As our nation marches to next year, not a few citizens are convinced that citizens must be outraged at the inexplicable dehumanisation of humanity without whimper of challenge from those elected to protect us.
Many factors are vitiating the prospect of holding elections in 2023. Apart from the success achieved by the Professor Mahmoud Yakubu-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as demonstrated by the increase in the number of new voters, Nigerians are increasingly becoming weary and wary of our inability to tame forces of insecurity and tackle challenges made possible by so-called democrats that have turned democracy into a weapon of tyranny for personal gains.
Ahead of next year’s polls, our democratic experiment has been indubitably cheerless and depressing since the two presidential candidates of the two most political platforms, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), picked their running mates. Against popular request by PDP critical stakeholders, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar roundly rejected the choice of Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike as a running mate. Thereafter, the ‘Wazirin Adamawa’ would settle for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, a decision that has not gone down well with the Wike-led group. It is clear to even the undiscerning that Atiku’s choice of Okowa has touched on raw nerves. It is apparent that if something is not done quickly, the hope of the PDP to return to power may remain a fleeting illusion; to be pursued but never attained. Insiders are convinced that if the PDP ever hopes to wrest power from the APC, something drastic must be done to resolve the lingering feud tearing the opposition party apart.
It’s not only the choice of Okowa as deputy to Atiku that is becoming an albatross for Atiku’s presidential dream, the violation of the PDP’s constitution that believes in zoning remains a contentious matter even as the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, insists on clinging to the chairmanship position, even after the emergence of a Northerner as the presidential candidate of the PDP.
Perhaps, that is what informed the Wike-led group to demand for the resignation of Dr. Ayu in line with a previous agreement that both the presidential flag bearer and the National Chairman of the party must not come from the same zone. For now, no one can tell where the pendulum would swing to as the tension continues to rip through the party, thus introducing frightful uncertainties for the PDP. Not much is expected to thaw the somehow frozen relationship between Atiku and Wike. Even after the Abuja visit, the two most important PDP members for now are yet to sheathe their swords. It is certain that with the appointment of Senator Dino Melaye and a former APC loyalist, Barr. Inuwa Bwala as spokespersons of the PDP presidential candidate, the campaigns may degenerate into a propaganda. Many are convinced that Melaye, a staunch supporter of the former vice president, may not let go of efforts to drag Atiku’s foes into the mud, no matter whose ox is gored.
For the APC presidential candidate, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, 2023 remains the last opportunity of making it to the pinnacle of political power. That BAT survived all the intrigues of a power cabal to emerge as the standard bearer of the APC reflects how resilient and committed he held to his presidential ambition he described as life-long. It must be acknowledged that the dream of Buhari of becoming president would have continued to be a pipe dream without the strategic relevance of Tinubu whose political sagacity and almost bottomless connections cleared the way for Buhari who had, before 2015, contested for the presidency thrice without success.
Having watched from the sidelines and convinced that he has paid his dues, the former Lagos State Governor is persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that 2023 is his year of political ascendancy to Nigeria’s leadership. To drum his confidence that 2023 is a sure bet for him, he could not but declare to his traducers: “Emi Lokan” (It’s my turn).
Not many gave a chance to BAT to pick the APC ticket as he was never seen as the favourite of the candidates. The poster kid on the block, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, seemed to hold the four aces, but when the time came, the old political war horse pulled the carpet off Osinbajo’s feet. The rest, as they say, is now history. By emerging victorious at the primaries, Tinubu has shown himself as a strategist whose understanding of politics has sustained him in the past and present. The choice of former Borno State Governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his choice of his deputy has been accompanied with strong winds of resistance. In a country where faith is fast turning into a badge of identity; it is an act of mischief to insist that religion does not matter. Those in love with Tinubu/Shettima are quick to douse fears over same-faith ticket, stressing that competence remains the yardstick, not politics.
Peter Obi’s Labour Party (LP) can only be ignored by those who are not ready to confront realities. Of course, the political elite may not be comfortable with the wind of ‘Shishi we no dey give,’ but the LP has become a rallying symbol for the electorate, mostly the youth, who are determined to change the present system that has relegated younger generations to the backwaters of national politics. One week may be too long a time to change political dynamics for desired changes, but it can also prove decisive in changing narratives. 2023 may turn out to be a titanic battle between the old folks and new hounds not schooled in the game. With Atiku and BAT in their last attempt to realise their ambition, a little slip in strategy could make things go awry for both of them.