By ABBA MAHMOOD —
Let me begin by confessing that I have never been a card-carrying member of any political party but I support individual candidates based on their qualities. As everyone knows, there are only two viable platforms as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned: the All Progressives Congress (APC) where President Buhari is set to be the 2019 presidential candidate and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where about 12 people have indicated interest to contest for the presidency under that platform. This is a most auspicious time to express one’s views to enable the people make informed decision before it is too late.
It is true there are circumstances that will necessitate one to change party or defect from one party to another. For instance, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Almakura was practically chased out of the PDP in 2011 and he took the option of moving with his supporters to the then newly established Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which at the time had not even one councillor and he went ahead to win the governorship of Nasarawa State that year, conclusively proving that his cause was just and his people were with him, thus earning our respect.
However, when a person defects from his party to another due to blind ambition and not based on principle, it is difficult to succeed. Former Vice President Atiku was the first to move his discredited brand from APC to PDP. The rAPC is basically Senator Kwankwaso whom I respect and thought had greater sense than what he is exhibiting. He also moved to PDP. The nPDP is basically Bukola Saraki and his gang. They moved to PDP too, among others such as the joke in Sokoto who left governance in pursuit of an elusive presidential ambition.
To be honest, there are a few good materials among the PDP aspirants. Senator David Mark is experienced, matured, calm and can make a good president. Senator Ahmed Makarfi is similarly decent and has what it takes to move the nation forward. Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe is very intelligent and has what it takes to govern Nigeria. And these people have never left their party since they joined it, and up until now I have never heard any corruption charges against them, despite the fact that they have held so many positions of responsibility in their individual eventful public careers. But this decision is for the party to take; let us look at some of the other characters parading as aspirants.
At over 70 years Atiku belongs to the Buhari generation and being a perennial presidential aspirant he knows that 2019 may be his last chance. Probably he never knew the import of the Waziri title he took in Adamawa recently, for a Waziri can only be a kingmaker and not a king. In desperation to actualize his ambition he has promised virtually everything to almost everybody who cares to listen. He has promised “restructuring” without defining what it is. He promised to sign an undertaking to do one term even though the constitution allows any first-time winner two terms.
One can hardly say with certainty where Atiku’s political base is. In 2007, while still a serving VP he moved to then Action Congress (AC) to contest for the presidency. With his protege, Boni Haruna, a sitting governor Atiku could not deliver even Adamawa State to the AC. Admiral Nyako defeated his party hands down and became governor that year. In 2015, there was nothing Atiku did not do to defeat Senator Bindow but Bindow won the governorship and was magnanimous enough to appoint Atiku’s daughter into his cabinet.
If he has not been able to deliver his state to any party he belonged without the support of variously generals Yar’Adua, Obasanjo and Buhari then where is he politically? Now it appears it is the southeast that is rooting for an Atiku candidature. But one of my elder brothers had an interesting conversation with a serving senator from the southeast who actually told my brother that the Igbo will never vote for someone who cannot travel to the US because about 80% of Nigerian in the US are Igbo. In any case, with no Igbo candidate in 2019 the Igbo will never place their eggs in one basket anymore. If the indicators are anything to go by, and if he doesn’t play his cards correctly, he may not even be a kingmaker and that is why he should save tears for now. It is funny that his billboards talk of his “deservation”, a word that does not exist in English: desiring is quite different from deserving.
Let us now look at Bukola Saraki and his ambition to be the PDP presidential candidate for 2019. Kwara is a very nice state and the people of Kwara are some of the nicest human beings, but since Bukola joined politics that state has never been the same. This is because in his inordinate ambition for power and money he destroys everything he comes into contact with, be it people or institutions. Look at the list: since he got into politics, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, that bank largely owned by his family, has been destroyed. Kwara State is yet to recover physically, economically and politically since Saraki became its governor for eight years.
A respectable institution like the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has since become Bukola’s personal fiefdom. He became Senate president through illegitimate means and has since clung to the seat while facing corruption and other criminal charges. He has amassed so much that he feels he can buy anybody and anything including the presidency. Bukola is one of the most arrogant human beings because he has forgotten that what destroyed the devil himself was arrogance. Bukola has since compromised virtually every institution he came into contact with – Code of Conduct Tribunal, judiciary, police and many in the executive arm. Some senators such as Isa Misau and Dino Melaye have tied their political destiny to Saraki.
After helping to destroy the Buhari/Osinbajo regime by effectively checkmating every avenue to change for good, Bukola thinks he is an alternative, being the highest ranking PDP mole in this regime all along. Unfortunately, he has forgotten that opposition to Buhari can never translate to support for those who helped to destroy his government. The other day I was reading an armchair analyst writing that Bukola can get the support of “middle belt and south” to become the president next year. I laugh because I know that they do not know history, which is a barometer for judging the present and plotting for the future.
Geographically and politically Bukola Saraki is a northerner, even the Waziri of Ilorin, so I can’t see how the whole south, even the Yoruba-speaking southwest where he grew up and married into can adopt him as one of theirs. The middle belt concept is not geographical anymore. The common denominator for middle belt is Christianity and Saraki is a Muslim, so I don’t see how he can be middle belt candidate. Saraki’s greatest fear now is that once the Senate reconvenes he cannot continue as Senate president because it has never happened for a minority party to load it over the majority. That is why he is postponing the resumption date. But even the actor knows full well that once the curtains are drawn he is himself again. Saraki without power is like fish outside water.
History is on the side of the oppressed.