In Search of Mr. President

Two Sundays ago, we x-rayed the person, vision, agenda, administrative style and score-card of the incumbent president, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. In that piece, we concluded that he has some smart records, including the reforms and initiatives in the agricultural sector, building of schools for the poor Northern children (the almhajiris), harvest of sports awards, the Akwa Ibom “Transformation Agenda” Stadium, among other modest achievements. We however noted that, the mounting security and economic challenges, coupled with infrastructural decay all over Nigeria, particularly the roads and the persistent global embarrassments the country faces as a result of indecisions or poor decisions on critical issues, such as the botched $15m arms deals, Dr. Jonathan might be losing the genuine support of tens of millions of voters, who are patiently bidding their time till 2015. He seems to have added another minus to his credentials with the vindictive way he has treated the Speaker of the House of Representatives after recently decamping from Jonathan’s party to the opposition, and what can be described as executive recklessness, in the arbitrary shutting of the National Assembly gates and tear-gassing of the Speaker and other honourable federal lawmakers. Governor Amaechi and former Governor Nyako had been previous recipients of similar measures for acts viewed as confrontational to the federal executive.

Last week, we looked at the score-sheet of General Buhari and surmised that his perceived ugly past, hyped by his foes to the chagrin of tens of millions who had not been born at the time and which his political enemies employ as propaganda against him, continues to haunt him, which explains why he had lost serially in past elections. That ‘past’ included alleged highhandedness as military head of state and diplomatic brouhaha he had with Britain and other western allies of the former. But we established the fact that many have forgotten Buhari’s incomparable exploits in the fight against corruption and indiscipline, as well as the crushing of Islamic insurgency, which culminated in his wiping out of the Maitasine sect and Chadian rebels in Kano and Borno respectively, in the 1980’s. Buhari thus seems eminently qualified, more than any one else, to preside over Nigeria. But he is yet to clear the air about that ugly past and hype his great exploits effectively enough, to warm himself to the hearts of the ignorant majority. Buhari has never, for instance, said that he was the Head of State that won Nigeria’s first ever major global sports trophy (the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in China), which the Golden Eaglets (then called Baby Eagles) won in August 1985, shortly before the putsch of General Babangida threw Buhari out of power. If we want to look at it esoterically, Buhari can be said to have brought the luck of global sports exploits upon Nigeria

Searching further this week, for the right candidate for Aso Rock, we look at Atiku Abubakar, Musa Kwakwanso and Aminu Tambuwal. These are all gladiators in the opposition APC party. There still seems to be some internal tirade over Tambuwal or Kwakwanso stepping down for others, but on the strength of popularity and geographical reach of candidacy, Kwakwanso seems to be at the bottom of the log. A focused and visionary governor, Kwakwanso is said to be doing well in Kano. He is popular among his people and if third and fourth term were possible, Kwakwanso will contest again and may be again, and will yet win the votes of the majority. He is reported to have turned Kano State around and his urbane and enlightened posture and yet his grassroots appeal, endear him to both the elite and ‘talakawa’ alike. On a national scale however, he is less known and might not be the most talked-about person the APC will need. To make a mark, he has to triple his efforts and national legitimacy. The APC will require a lot of work to do to sell him to the Nigerian electorate.

This is where Tambuwal differs. He was relatively unknown and the much he was known across the ‘nation’ was by the grace of the media, which regularly report National Assembly activities. The Fulani man from Sokoto State is described as a perfect gentleman, a bridge-builder, honest and visionary lawmaker. The Speaker recently decamped from the PDP to the APC, a step which amplified his political stature and announced him more intensely than hitherto. The cross-carpeting attracted some backlash though, which included alleged hostility from the presidency, culminating in the immediate withdrawal of his security aides by the IGP and the locking of the gates of the National Assembly to prevent him from presiding over presidential bill seeking extension of the State of Emergency in the three Northeastern states ravaged by Boko Haram terrorism.

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Those two episodes have actually popularized Tambuwal and given him a heroic figure, which might work for him if he emerges as the APC presidential flagbearer. The presidency, by its act of hostility against Tambuwal, thus seems to have gifted Tambuwal a large portion of the political landscape on which to thrive. Today, the Speaker drives himself in his SUV, he was one of those that scaled the National Assembly fence to enter into the Chamber and do national business, in spite of the provocations; with his image soaring in the process and assuming a great deal of heroic figure. Everyone now sees and knows Tambuwal as the brave gentleman who dumped a party that cannot solve the heap of national problems and who is bold enough think from outside the box and confront unpopular decisions.

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Of the three in the spotlight today, Atiku stands tall. But for the best and for the worst. He was Vice-President of Nigeria for eight years, precisely between 1999 and 2007. While he has been described as the anastrozole pricesAnastrozole generic cost de facto leader under President Obasanjo’s civilian administration in the first four years, he was completely out of circulation in the second term as a result of multiple problems with his boos. He had complex corruption charges at home and abroad trailing him and his political ambition to succeed his principal as well as staunch opposition to Obasanjo’s alleged third term bid, stirred up the hostility between him and the president. Atiku was opposed to Obasanjo’s perpetuation in power as that would scuttle his own ambition to rule Nigeria; whereas Obasanjo himself was speculated to seek more time in power in order to stop Atiku and other political figures considered as criminally inclined jostling to succeed him at the time.

Following his frequent cross-carpeting and political flirtations with different and rival parties, Atiku is considered in many circles as a man focused on the Aso Rock but lacking requisite political principles and morals to be trusted and given such a chance. Put differently, the Fulani man, who was also Adamawa State Governor at a time, is seen as looking at the result, which is to be president, but not caring about the means of becoming the president. The end, for him, justifies the means. But this approach has made many Nigerians to consider him as a man who is not to be relied upon or believed. He had dumped PDP at a point, condemning the party as the worst thing to ever happen to the country. But he had returned to it after dumping the party (ACN) that gave him a platform and refuge, describing it as a group of petty and shallow-minded ethnic leaders, while praising to the high heavens, the PDP to which he returned. He is out of PDP again, condemning the party and everything about it, saying the party he now belongs in, the APC (ACN at the time, the one he had pooh-poohed when he dumped it) is the best association of visionary and progressive leaders in Africa. Some people see Atiku’s gallivanting as politics; but this is the kind of politics majority of Nigerians say they no longer desire. They want principled, sincere and honest leaders.

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