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OPINION…2023: Tom, Dick And Harry For President!

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The presidential poll in Nigeria, slated for early next year, is getting more and more interesting. Interesting in the sense that dozens of eminent and ‘non-eminent’ Nigerians are indicating wilful interest in succeeding the underwhelming incument President, Muhammadu Buhari. Interesting because Nigerians in the diaspora are also making their intentions known and heard. More and more candidates are coming out to declare their interest in the top job.

Ordinarily, the multiplication of candidates is a good omen; that is, knowing that Nigeria is not short of presidential talents or materials. The 2023 presidential election possesses the quality and hope for a better greater future for our dear nation. It is a remarkable departure from the past when we had to grapple with two or three candidates with one of them rigging his way through or having the majority queuing behind him for ‘victory’.

Lately the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had seen more and more gladiators boasting of victory at the primaries and the poll itself. With Buhari constitutionally ‘disqualified’ from the race the coast is clear for a successor, but one that may not come from the misruling party. The APC is bound to lose at the polls if their 8-year performance is any indication of failure or success.

The APC has shown itself to be a rich party indeed, one empowered by corruption. It is smiling to the bank with billions of Naira thus far recuperated from the selling of the presidential nomination and expression of interest forms whose scandalous value is pegged at a hundred million Naira!

While critics are asking why the form is priced out of reach and control of the poor people as it were politicians are picking it up like bread in a bakery shop! Who does not want to be President? Especially now that almost everyone is convinced that Buhari has messed up the presidency. Is any one else not better?

Lately, we have seen every Tom, Dick and Harry manifesting their ‘joy’ of having the opportunity to replace the ailing, fumbling and wobbling President. Yes, every Tom, Dick and Harry are jostling to replace the incompetent President, Muhammadu Buhari, next year.

Of course it is a good omen, a refreshing welcome development if the Nigerian national political tragedy of allowing unprepared unserious candidates, misfits if you like, clinch the presidency by force of ‘anointment’ or manipulation is taken into account. Yet it portends a bad omen given the huge resources associated with the procurement of the interest form.

Righteous indignation has greeted the exorbitant fee imposed on the candidates. One hundred million Naira is too high a price to pay for one to want to become President in the poverty capital of the world!

Only one man can be President at a time, we all know that as a statement of fact. While serious candidates are known by their campaign manifestoes and programmes aimed at arresting the drift in the system others are there to negotiate their exit or entry into the system post-Buharism.

From the diaspora we have had two declarations. One from Prof. Benedicta Egbo and the other from a Pastor and security expert, Nicholas Felix. You have got Pastor Tunde Bakare, Dimeji Bankole, the former Speaker, House of Representatives, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former APC National Chairman and Edo State Governor. The Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the Petroleum Minister, Timipre Sylva, Governors Emmanuel Udom and Kayode Fayemi.

Some heavyweights and lots of clowns and jesters. Yet the race for Aso Villa had never seen such huge participation. By far the two most prominent figures in the ruling party jostling for the presidential slot happens to be the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

If it comes down to resources or who would outspend others the aforementioned duo possess enough fiscal resources to prosecute their campaign. But nothing guarantees hundred percent that any one of the two could win the primaries heading to the general elections next year.

With Buharism nothing is settled until the whole thing pans out one way or another. The lanky man from Daura is unpredictable and unreliable. Like how the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu, recently emerged Buhari may have reached his conclusions awaiting the right moment to strike. He could change his mind depending on how things progress or reach a point of no return.

In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) there are about half a dozen of candidates including the frontliners like the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. Also in the race are the incumbent Governors of Rivers and Sokoto states, Nyesom Wike and Aminu Tambuwal respectively.

But by far the most controversial of all the candidates (though officially undeclared and undecided) happens to be the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ). While GEJ, the clueless executive one, have not openly declared his interest in the crowded race, rumours are still circulating online of his ‘romance’ with the APC apparatchiks including the President himself.

For one, GEJ remains a member of the opposition PDP. For another, legal experts had hinted of his constitutional disqualification for another presidential term. And for yet another, some amorphous northern group had bought the APC presidential nomination and expression of interest form for him but he had denied ever having a hand in such “insultive” gesture.

Jonathan may succumb to the pressure and temptation by the APC to throw his Ijaw hat into the ring holding aloft the broom instead of being armed with an umbrella. Either way he would come of the battle bruised and battered and bloodied!

Even before the race enterred its crucial stage a Tom (Gov. Dave Umahi) had thrown in the towel announcing his withdrawal and concentrating his effort on the senatorial contest. And following suit another Dick (Senator Orji Uzor Kalu) pulled out of the race. Perhaps tomorrow, yet another Harry (Senator Rochas Okorocha) may tell us that he is done and out.

More frustrations, distractions and surprises might occur along the way as we march towards the primaries. Whatever happens, however, the 2023 presidential poll has already broken participation records as one crucial electoral cycle that holds both hope and despair in both hands. Hope for a better greater Nigeria and despair if we get it wrong electorally yet again.

May the best candidate win in the upcoming party primaries. What interests us more remains the presidential poll itself and not the primaries of the parties. Every Tom, Dick and Harry are welcome to the race at this stage!

AUTHOR: Ozodinukwe Okenwa


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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