By Fortune Archibong
One of the issues raised by the military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida’s political transition programme between 1990-1993was the existence of presidential candidates who were richer than the country, such that their final emergence as Nigerian President would amount to the sale of the Nigerian commonwealth. One could recall the popularity of the late Shehu Musa Yar’adua, Patrick Dele Cole, Atiku Abubakar Subomi Balogun, Yomi Edu, the late Moshood Abiola and others whose political ambition suffered a shipwreck, but not to the magnitude accorded the late M.K.O Abiola who paid the supreme price of presidential ambition in a gulag.
2023 would mark the third decade of another presidential election where Nigerians would have to choose between serial presidential hopefuls, moneybags and other elements angling for the pole seat of the Nigerian polity. From the ruling All Democratic Party (PDP) are genres of presidential candidates who may have to be appropriately classified for Nigerians and the federal government to effectively tap their relevance, value for the benefit of the country and for proper electoral choices.
As smart as the General Babangida regime was known to be such that it earned for itself the evil genius tag, it was actually not ingenious to tap from the positive side of the politicians he disbanded from participating in the presidential elections. One of the biting issues of the Babangida regime was the proposal for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan which he had to almost conduct a national conference to sample the opinion of Nigerians on the propriety of the loan. President Babangidashould have used the disbanded politicians he dubbed as moneybags in lieu of the IMF loan. Infact, one heavy Ghana-must-go bag or sack of money from the Yar’aduas, Nzeribes, Abiolas, Baloguns, Coles and other disbanded politicians would have bailed Nigeria of that era out of the needles campaigns for the IMF loan. Babangida blew away a golden chance to have saved Nigeria from foreign creditors and only disbanded Nigerian moneybag politicians whose source of wealth may not have been far from the national treasure or national cake ruthlessly concerned by most of the disbanded politicians.
Indeed, the season has happened again by virtue of the proximity of the 2023 general elections especially the presidential elections where the moneybags must flaunt their ambitions for the leadership recruitment exercise umpired by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Whereas the outgoing government belongs to a political party, posterity beckons on the executive arm of government led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to operate beyond primordial party sentiments by acting as an unbiased umpire to save the Nigerian electoral system from corrupt elements. Infact, if President Buhari ensures the emergence of a credible Nigerian far from the moneybags and political spent forces to succeed him, that would assuage Nigerians for the unfulfilled promises of his government.
One of the surest of ways of electoral sanity is the strengthening of the electoral, judicial and anti-corruption systems to purge the political parties of corrupt elements who graduate into moneybags stashed with the Commonwealth of Nigerians to confuse, cajole, coerce Nigerians into wrong electoral choices. Cases in point are inducements at polling stations, advanced settlements and other corrupt tendencies to desecrate the electoral process and outcomes.
One disturbing scenario in the Nigerian political scene is the sudden, unexpected supply of money for and during elections season, when financial needs are hardly met at other critical periods. What the moneybags invest into elections are so staggering such that electoral failure amounts to suicide, and success only amounts to a recoup of the funds invested into elections before the masses are catered for. Nigerian electorates had been so compromised such that people can no longer challenge the failures of any government as long as they operate with the mandate heavily paid for. Indeed, no government who had heavily paid the electorates would be accountable to them as whoever pays the piper dictates the tune.
The foregoing brings to the fore the activities of those considered as serial presidential aspirants dating from the days of M.K.O Abiola, Shehu Musa Yar’adua and another politician who had played politics right from the days of the late Chief ObafemiAwolowo, still aspiring to be President of Nigeria in 2023. Nigerians should watch out for politicians with “Methuselah” garb from the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to sift the wheat from the tares of serial presidential aspirants and moneybags who should be made to retire from the Nigerian political scene.
An attempt at the specifics indicates that no mention of serial presidential aspirants in Nigeria and moneybags would be concluded without the likes of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who are known with gigantic chieftaincy titles of Wazirin Adamawa and Jagagban Borgurespectively. While the former had contested the 1992 presidential primaries with the late M.K.O Abiola, BabaganaKingibe; the latter is a strong protégé of the late Chief ObafemiAwolowo political dynasty. The duo had tasted the good side of Nigeria and also contributed their quota to the quagmire Nigeria is presently in. If they are still aspiring to lead the Nigeria of the moment one wonders the destination of Nigeria in the comity of nations of the world where the “Macrons” of France and other “smart” world leaders congregate.
If the Nigeria of the moment is suffocating under a leadership led by septuagenarians and near octogenarians who mistake Power Holding Company of Nigerian (PHCN) for the dead and dusted Energy Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), the two repackaged tax and “tin can island” tycoons whose real age may be shrouded in mystery should be closely examined. Nigerians have a lot to fear from those who appear to be the leading presidential materials of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the upcoming presidential elections.
The Nigerian electorates should speak to serial presidential aspirants and moneybags through the ballot at the party primaries or at the general elections to save Nigeria from clogged governance perpetually under the siege of aspirants who are ill but packaged to assume power to advance the selfish of a certain cabal. Nigeria and Nigerians are too precious to be sold to a cabal of moneybags whose political pre-occupation is the allocation and re-allocation of marginal fields, oil blocks, taxcum revenue contracts at the expense of the commonwealth of all Nigerians. Let serial presidential aspirants and moneybags invest their capital in sustainable economic ventures to prove patriotic points and not the elusive business of politics.
Archibong is of the Nigerian Guild of Editors