Two Fingers of a Leprous Hand

An interesting development in the Nigerian political scene is the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was a merger of famous political parties, including the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). The political forces coalesced to pose a potent and real force to challenge the ruling political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the ultimate objective of wresting power from the overly dominant PDP. Since 1999 that the ruling party took the reins from the military, it has bestridden the narrow walls of power like a colossus, waxing stronger and believed to be manipulating the electoral process with the power of incumbency to remain in power.

The emergence of APC creates a two-party structure similar to the political chapter of the heyday of army rule, precisely between 1992 and 1993. The only difference and happy fact about this is however that it is an evolutionary process flowing from the freewill and wish of the people, and not a machination or invention of a military junta like it was during the Babangida years. In other words, it is a product of democratic choice. The development thus fits into the old-time desires of political foxes who believe that power can be wrested only when formidable forces combine their strength and end to the domination or unbeaten run of a ruling political party.

The APC is made up of famous politicians as General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Chief Bisi Akande, Mr. Tom Ikimi, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mr. Tony Momoh, Chief Rochas Okorocha, and by extension, all the governors and cabinet members of the states controlled by defunct ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA. The PDP thus seems to have a match in a square hole with the new party. And that probably informs the recent outbursts of PDP spokespersons who have dismissed the challenge of APC. The presidency’s image-maker, Dr. Doyin Okupe had even described the APC as a group of distressed politicians and had gone the extra mile of referring to the rival party as PDP 2 in view of what he has described as the multitude of aggrieved and retired PDP members in the group.

Okupe might be right. Ogbeh was a one-time Chairman of the PDP, who had fallen out of favour of the PDP power-brokers as far back as the Obasanjo era and could have become frustrated and now be seeking a window to vent his spleen on the ungrateful party he once led to the promise land. Okorocha had been a presidential aspirant under the PDP banner. Rochas had reenacted the MKO Abiola era in the 1980s as the bullish bigwigs had seemingly told him off on several occasions that the party’s presidential ticket was not for the highest bidder. Having lost out of the race on a number of occasions, Rochas sought political fortune in the Far East in APGA as governor of his state.

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Asiwaju Tinubu was not a PDP member. But Tinubu had led his defunct ACN to confront unsuccessfully the PDP machine, and he had once outsourced (a la Okupe) the presidential candidate, bringing on board persons who were not known party members in the grim determination to seize power at the polling booth. The last time I checked, Tinubu’s party had courted a political greenhorn, Nuhu Ribadu and Fola Adeola to combat the PDP “magic”. Even before the presidential polls, Ribadu had lost as his party had seemed to to abandon him for a secret concession to PDP’s Jonathan. And now, wth Buhari on board and yet the clause that neither he nor Tinubu can aspire in the new arrangement to become presidential candidate, it appears the APC is left mere big names but with little weight to push the ruling party over.

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The fact is that the APC parades famous names but cannot boast of popular candidates. Buhari and Tinubu perhaps may catch the fancy of the most voters and shake off the dust of monopolization of power by a non-performing PDP; but when they cannot contest, APC will just end up as another First Republic potent opposition to an infallible Northern People’s Congress or Nigeria National Alliance. It is however still in doubt whether Tinubu can really pull any stunt in any major national contest the way he is popular in Southwestern Nigeria. And yet, I am not convinced if Buhari is a toast in the Southwest or Southeast like he is in the North-Central and Northeast. Strong as the APC thus seems, when dissected, is weak within and without when its biggest names are weighed in a political scale.

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But is the PDP better? General (Chief) Obasanjo’s era is long gone. The biggest name in the PDP fold is no doubt OBJ, and he has weighed the heaviest in terms of popularity and integrity check. Obasanjo’s camp is unfortunately also depleted as most of his anointed boys have either completed their terms or have been weeded. The Jonathan administration has particularly shot itself in the foot by locking horns with OBJ and supplanting his legacy, which, ironically, brought Goodluck himself to power. Looking at the PDP shopping cart therefore, what can be seen are feather weights and one-eyed kingpins. Indeed, the PDP is an empty tank. Candidate Jonathan will not be a good sell as he carries no weight whatsoever because his administration appears the most unpopular in Nigeria’s history, going by the stream of insecurity, bad governance and festering corruption. Amaechi, efficient as he may have been in Rivers State, is merely living in a fool’s paradise believing those who are goring him to give the presidency a shot, for he carries no national appeal. David Mark, on paper, looks like the candidate; but it is not until he puts himself forward as a candidate for Aso Rock in the PDP that he will realize that the North may have been fooling him that he is a Northerner that can enjoy their blessing. He will then realize that the “North” starts and ends with Muslim North-Central, Northwest and Northeast, excluding margins such as Benue, Kwara and Kogi. And how many regular Southwesterners know or appreciate Mark anyway?

There is no point flogging or stressing the fact that IBB is politically spent and infamous. He will no doubt be PDP’s worst candidate for president. Could it be Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa? I have mentioned his name a couple of times in enlightened and market circles in the Southwest and among Easterners, and the response has been “who is he?” Yet, the good-looking performer believes he has the head which the presidential cap fits. I am often amused by the way some persons deceive themselves into spending all their life savings on fruitless political campaigns simply because the mirror and sycophants around them deceive them about their political muscle.

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The truth is that I have found it extremely difficult to pin-point a particular outstanding candidate in PDP and APC for the 2015 “do or don’t do” affair. Gone are those days when every heavyweight was a possible winner. The Nnamdi Azikiwes, Obafemi Awolowos, Aminu Kanos, Waziri Ibrahims, and even Tunji Braithwaites. “Ko se yan mo, eyan ti tan” (there are no more candidates with compelling credentials). The two political parties simply remind one of the apt description by Uncle Bola Ige, of the five political parties during Abacha’s time as the “five fingers of a leprous hand”. Sad enough, most of the elements of that “five leprous fingers” era are still the materials these political parties are rebranding for 2015.

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