Rev. Fr. Timothy Etsenamhe

The long awaited political campaigns for the 2023 General Elections in Nigeria have begun in earnest. However, some political parties are not as prepared as the electorates, as they are frost in serious internal crises. The Peoples’ Democratic Party seems to be organized owing to the fact that it has been complying with INEC’s regulations regarding all due processes and requirements before elections. The PDP held its National convention as at when due, chose a running mate without wasting time, inaugurated its campaign team and began its electioneering business as at when due. Nonetheless, the party at the moment is grappling with the Wike – Ayu controversy and Ayugate scandal.

The National Leader of the party, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, was alleged by Governor Nyesom Wike to have misappropriated the sum of N1bn the party made from the sale of nomination forms and other money surreptitiously gotten from some governors.  Not very long after these accusations were leveled against Ayu, some members of the National Working Committee of the party began to reject monies in the tune of N36M to N28M respectively, sent to their private accounts without their knowledge on the grounds that they do not know the reason such huge sum of money  should accrueto them.  Speculations are that those who rejected this offer are sympathizers of Wike’s position on  the issues of zoning and removal of the party’s National Chairman rocking the party’s unity and threatening its chances of reclaiming power from her sister party –  the All Progressive Congress.

Party loyalists, the likes of Kola Ologbondiyan – recently appointed as one of the spokespersons of Atiku Abubakar for the 2023 presidential campaign – haveexplained that the money was meant to sort out salaries and housing benefits for the NWC members. It is nevertheless ridiculous to know that such humongous amount of money could be paid to party members. It is also mischievous to say, as all those who returned their money claimed, that they were not aware of the lodgments of such money into their various bank accounts until their attention was drawn to it by a whistle blower.However, Iyorchia Ayu has denied the claims of been corrupt to the extent of embezzling N1bn,stating that he got N100m from a certain Governor and that the money has been judiciously used for the purpose it was meant.

Governor Wike continues to be a pain in the neck of the PDP and continues to insist that Ayu is corrupt and must be changed. No doubt, these issues whether they are true or not, reveal the presence of established corruption in the Peoples’ Democratic Party.  This is the public opinion about this party and its presidential candidate. This opinion is buttressed by the allegation publicized by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Though not to have been found guilty and charged by any competent court authority, Atiku Abubakar must erase this perception from the minds of the electorates if he must emerge as the next President of Nigeria.

The All Progressive Congress seems to be confused. It appears the party is uncertain about the tactics it would employ to emerge victorious because its master tactician- Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is throwing his hat in the ring. The APC is notorious in building castles in the air;the Buhari’s administration buttresses this assertion when you compare the hullaballoos that brought Buhari to government with its performance in the last seven years.  The APC began the place holder practice, it almost didn’t have it National Convention,and it was difficult for the party to make up a comprehensive list of its campaign team to the extent that some of those who make up the list are rejecting the offer. We had thought that when Femi Fani- Kayode boasted that APC’s arsenals are ready to obliterate Atiku and Obi immediately campaigns begin we would take him by his words, little did he know that Tinubu would be away in London to rest few hours before the start of campaigns. The audacity of the APC is extreme; the extent it has taken Nigerians for granted is baffling. The temerity to field a muslim-muslim ticket underscores the level of arrogance with which the APC handles sensitive issues. Nigeria is a multicultural pluralistic nation; for anyone to say religion doesn’t matter is to expose one to self-deception, and at best,lack of knowledge tounderstand the interplay between religion and politics.

APC’s same faith ticket negates propriety and indicates how for seven yearsits policies have been grossly insensitive to the rich diversity of Nigeria. We have had a president who has been accused of lopsided appointments of cabinet members without caring to balance up future appointments; we have put up with a president who smiles only to his kinsmen and women and treat others as strangers and nonentities. The APC’s presidential candidate would not be different from the present President because of the signs he is manifesting already. Many people opine that Bola Ahmed Tinubu is too audacious and authoritative. Those who are of this school of thought may not be far from the truth. He is a moneybag, the tendency for people like this to be proud and haughty is easily understandable. This attitude has made him choose a Muslim running mate knowing fully well that Christians are as much as Muslims in Nigeria. Tinubu’s choice of Kashim Shettima against the counsel of a good number of party members and outcry by electorates undermines his appreciation of the value and contribution of the millions of Christians in Nigeria to the polity of the Nation. Invariably, Tinubu has talked down on Christians in Nigeria by his choice.

This attitude of talking down on people is buttressed in a video clip making rounds on the internet where he is heard addressing APC women that those who say they want change of government should be told to shut-up their mouth. The APC government has been shutting down Nigeria, her economy, unity, security, peace and co-existence since its inception. Under the reign of Jagaban, perhapsNigerians may be denied freedom of expression. A man who has over the years made money for himself and has become stupendously rich would always think he owns the world- ‘emi lokon’.This is certainly not the time to hound Nigerians to vote for a candidate who is not proven beyond reasonable doubt that he is able to take up the challenges of leading a country like Nigeria in the edge of existence in all facets. The APC must prove to Nigerians why its candidate should be voted for after the party has placed Nigeria inthe bizarre circumstances ordinary Nigerians live in today.

The Labour party is relatively new and enjoys popularity because of its presidential candidate. Mr. Peter Obiseems to many young Nigerians the best presidential candidate in the forth coming general elections because he is young, energetic, approachable, people oriented, has a penchant of not been frivolous with public funds, focused, rugged and forthright. These are some of the qualities that make the candidature of Peter Obi alluring to many. However, Obi has come under attack by the mainstream parties, individuals and groups who connect more to their party, religion, ethnic origin and geographical spread. The Labour party must be responsible and guide against dysfunctional party politics and promote egalitarianism. Any means to indicate that the party favours one part of the country more than others in its internal allocation of offices would justify the point of those who accuse the party of playing regional politics.

This fact is very worrisome in the sense that it appears the Igbos and some south- southerners are mainly the ones on all social media platforms supporting the candidate of the Labour Party. The party, the candidate, and every Obidient must be focused on the issues, sell these issues to the electorates who live in the rural areas. The advocacy for a new Nigeria should not end in marches, they must translate to one-on-one, home-to-home contact and discussion. The Labour Party must labour to get the minds of the core north to key into the party’s vision. After all been said and done, according to Farooq kperogi in his article, Peter Obi’s Quiet Inroads into the Muslim North, ‘’because he (Peter Obi) could be president we should interrogate him so we won’t be blindsided.’’ Yes, because Nigerians are tired of what becomes of Buhari after Buharists presented him like a messianic figure.

The New Nigerian Peoples’ Party is another force not to be taken for granted in the forth coming elections. The NNPP’s presidential candidate, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso has successfully carved a niche for himself in the politics of Kano State, at least for being a governor of the state twice. The crowd of people who chunk out for him would give any one the sense of boldness to win any election, especially in Kano state. Buba Galadima believes that Kwankwaso is one of the most popular politicians in the norther part of Nigeria today, because of this, he would enjoy the votes of the North. However unrealistic this might be, the truth is that the NNPP would seriously demolish the votes in Kano State and some of the states in the core north. Those who would benefit this popularity would perhaps be those who are riding through this party in governorship election and other elective positions that are limited to state level. The NNPP at best seems to be regional and doesn’t enjoy popularity across Nigeria.

The vice presidential candidate of the NNPP, many have opined, is not a good choice to boost popularity of the party across the southern stretch of Nigeria.  Many also have said he should face his pastoral duties and concentrate on his deliverance ministry for the benefit of the likes of Bodrisky and the little guy whose tape was leaked recently, James Brown, and others, gaining popularity and acceptance around the vicinity of his ministry. Besides, Nigerians would not be moved by having a Christian Pastor as a running mate in any party. They have experienced a more respectable pastor who occupied same position and couldn’t do anything different. The presidential candidate of NNPP, as some people have alleged, judging from his political hobnobbing trajectory should not be taken seriously because he might reach a consensus with the highest bidder between the APC and PDP before the elections.

Consequently, the bulk of the responsibility of deciding who becomes Nigeria’s next president resides in the electorates. Nigeria is on the brink of the grave at the moment; we might accuse the pandemic, the Russia and Ukraine war, climate change, the question is, how was Nigeria before these global crises? Nigeria was on a pedestal of  wreckage from government dysfunction and ineptitude, nepotism and chauvinism, insecurity, lack of proper economic cohesion, witch hunting of political opponents and general lack of will of the government of the day to effect positive  change in the country’s polity. The electorates must rise above tribal, religious, geographical, family and personal considerations in their choice of the next president of Nigeria and every other government elective functionary come next dispensation.  Leadership is the only problem we have in Nigeria, we are a nation blessed with human and natural resources. Even our diversity is a blessing! We have what it takes to be a great nation but for bad leadership externalized in bad governance, corruption and greed we are among the worst nations or places to live in.

We must vote in people who will not sell and gift our common  patrimony to their families and friends; people who would not drink gold plated champagnes with public funds; people who would not stash public funds in private accounts overseas. We must ensure to vote in people who would use Nigerian social facilities like hospitals and schools, people who would prefer to buy and eat pizza made in Nigeria than to order it from the UK. It is past time to vote for incompetent, unprepared, evasive, uncouth, politicians. We need a president who would be able to visit any grand zero anywhere in Nigeria. There is a national emergency in all the areas taken over by flood today in Nigeria, no emergency has been declared. No national response team is sent and the president cannot visit these places because he is too big and busy. This is certainly not the paradigm of leadership Nigeria needs to level up!



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