Some of Nigeria’s opposition political parties are just jokers. They are simply playing a game of the-more-you-look-the-less-you-see with Nigerians. The whole equation and logic behind their choice of presidential candidates and running mates just doesn’t make sense. For me it looks like a grand design or conspiracy if you will, to make life easy for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the coming elections. The candidates they are touting at the moment don’t seem to have the potentials of hurting PDP in any way.
One would have thought that they would capitalise on PDP’s fatal error of nominating the sickly Yar’Adua and opportunist cum political paperweight Goodluck Jonathan as presidential candidate and running mate respectively, by mounting a serious challenge against the PDP in the coming presidential elections through fielding more solid and credible cndidates, but alas we were all wrong. They have also fallen short of expectations.
Starting with the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Buhari has picked Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, a man as old as OBJ to be his running mate. Just what vigour Ume-Ezeoke will bring to the campaign is yet to be seen, this is a man who had since gone into retirement and was only brought back by PDP saboteurs camouflaging as ANPP party members to help nail the final coffin on political party opposition in Nigeria. What can we say about the former speaker of the House of Representatives who as the national chairman of ANPP allegedly sleeps through important ANPP meetings, takes his time to wake up in the morning and comes to the office leisurely? Surely ANPP could have done better. I can only liken the Buhari/Ume-Ezeoke ticket to that from the past, not in any way consistent with present day social, political and economic realities both in Nigeria and in the global arena, or has anyone yet heard about any policy statement or ideology from the duo? What do they stand for, what are they running against outside the much clichéd anti-corruption sing-song which if extensively reviewed would still throw up missing gaps, on the part of Buhari, a former federal commissioner of finance and Ume-Ezeoke who presided over a House of Representatives in the second republic that watched over the largest case of executive profligacy in Nigeria’s history?
How Buhari has managed to get Nigerians hoodwinked on his moral pathway and high ground for so long is indeed mind boggling. Sure he gave us War Against Indiscipline (WAI), sent his soldiers round to our neighbourhoods to assault and harass innocent and unemployed citizens, and talked tough against corruption (is Obasanjo not doing the same thing?) with the late Tunde Idiagbon but then they have unanswered questions hanging over their heads, most especially the case of the missing 53 suitcases, Decree 4 which stifled freedom of expression as well as many other issues which threatened to turn Nigeria into a Banana republic. While the jury is still out on his 20 month – stewardship, one can safely conclude that he should have at best let this present generation be. He alongside his running mate have had their time.
How about Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Action Congress (AC)? I used to think that Atiku was a survivor and a serious political strategist, but what has he done? He has announced Phil Agbasi (Phil who?) as his running mate. Mr Agbasi was formerly VP Atiku’s Special Assistant (II) on National Assembly Matters and was one of the many senior special assistants (SSA’s) sacked earlier this year from the presidency by President Obasanjo. An act which the presidency said was aimed at pruning down the number of hangers-on in the presidency, but which political observers argued was aimed at clipping Atiku’s wings.
Recently Phil Agbasi contested for AC’s primaries in Anambra state alongside Senator Anosike and others but the party decided to give Chris Ngige their ticket in absentia. Prior to the state primaries, Mr Agbasi had earlier aspired alongside others in 2003 to clinch the PDP gubernatorial primaries in Anambra as VP Atiku’s favoured candidate, but Chris Uba had other plans in Chris Ngige, in whom he was well pleased at the time.
So in the politics of Anambra state or even Igbo land, Phil Agbasi is still a non-heavyweight. It remains to be seen how his selection as VP Atiku’s running mate would increase the profile of their ticket, and provide any serious challenge to PDP. Obviously this choice can not be for want of other better qualified candidates within or outside the AC, who could have helped shore up their fortunes in the coming elections.
Atiku’s choice could only be based purely on the grounds of loyalty which Phil Agbasi hopefully would give him. That is a commodity that is largely lacking in Atiku’s dictionary going by his many battles with Obasanjo, this despite his reported pledge to take orders from President Obasanjo before he was finally selected as Obasanjo’s running mate in 1999. The VP’s personal website reports this fact.
How ironic that Atiku is already thinking of a stooge vice president, it seems that he has suddenly realised how important it is to have loyal aides. I used to sympathise with him over his many travails at the hands of President Obasanjo but he can not truthfully claim that he wouldn’t behave exactly in the same way as President Obasanjo were he to be in the driving seat. However, in attempting to safeguard his future in the presidency (assuming he gets there), by nominating Phil Agbasi a loyal aide as his VP running mate, he may have also made life more difficult for himself and his new party – AC, because their joint ticket as it stands currently would hardly scratch PDP’s chances, not to talk of hurting them deeply in 2007.
One is at a loss really over his choices. Having stood his ground, survived the third term intrigues and EFCC’s many intimidations directed at his person and at his aides, how could Atiku now decide to shoot himself in the foot, or is this just an act of desperation? Could the vice president have been all talk and no substance all these while? This amounts to one committing political suicide. Ndigbo have saying that one must first seek to secure a space before attempting to secure a sleeping mat, in VP Atiku’s case, he may have gone for the latter first and the elders and Nigerian people surely would frown at such strategies.