Elections 2019: Why We Need To Hit Reset

There is no gainsaying that the contribution of Nigeria to global history a decade/century from date is likely to be immense. What with the existentially challenging works of Boko Haram in keeping terrorism alive? It is even less newsworthy to re-assert the contribution of Boko Haram to anti-Jonathan rhetoric and Jonathan’s eventual defeat in 2015. Towards the 2019 election, Boko Haram seems to have assumed the status of a perennial challenge which hitherto was the preserve of electricity. In taking a more holistic view at the matters at hand, particularly as per the central battle between the incumbent Buhari/Osinbajo and the PDP’s Atiku/Obi, this piece offers to sell both tickets from the standpoint of spin. The intent is to offer a balanced read, although like Boko Haram’s date with annihilation, this cannot be guaranteed.

First, here is a spin doctor’s sell of the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket:

Atiku means jobs, Atiku means jobs. Atiku loves Nigeria; he was with the APC and Buhari when they won in 2015. Why didn’t he sit with Buhari and share his economic program? Does he have to be president to create jobs? Gullible Nigerians please give your-selves brain. The way everything is being framed one will think there was yafun yafun employment under GEJ or under the 16 years of PDP for that matter. If Atiku has such talent and policy plan, let him share from where he is. He doesn’t need to be president to help Nigeria prosper, does he?

Now, here is a spin doctor’s sell of the Atiku/Obi ticket:

There is uniqueness in the Atiku/Obi ticket that many are yet to take cognizance of. Both men haven’t always been with the PDP. While the VP-candidate emerged in national consciousness as the APGA gubernatorial candidate in Anambra state, the former VP did defect to the APC in the build up to the PDP’s defeat in 2015. You add the pre-1993 SDP antecedents of the VP, and the ticket is host to privileged access in four major political parties through Nigeria’s modern history. It also depicts the ticket as broad-minded, open to new ventures and typically of apathy for rigidity.

A Word on Sowore:

To many, Sowore is a re-gendered Oby Ezekwesili who has now assumed the poster girl of celebrity activism for political stakes and relevance. For clarity, the following description approximates an accurate depiction of Ezekwesili in the popular Nigerian imagination: having become unemployed following her terms as Minister in the Obasanjo government, she was ignored by successive governments afterwards and got fed up when the current Buhari administration ignored her. Perhaps she expected some sort of political office reward for her spearheading of the #BringBackOurGirls movement which powerfully highlighted the failures of the Jonathan administration in the Boko Haram front. Alas, she rode on and metamorphosed her emergency activism into #RedCard movement denoting the people’s expulsion of the present leadership. To further complicate issues, for this otherwise Madam Due Process, she followed due process in playing umpire to that infamous consensus exercise that threw up Fela Durotoye candidature and Kingsley Moghalu’s apology of a well-intended error.

Anyways, so Aunty Oby superintended that process only to emerge as a presidential candidate of another party at the eleventh-forty-five hour! So, long story short: to the average Nigerian, Aunty Oby rode on the back of the missing Chibok girls to propel her fame and to access political patronage. In the event that the latter failed as it did, she took on her fame to make a quest for the highest office in the land. As for what the realistic game plan is, you never know who would turn spoiler or king maker. Politics is very much like a lottery, gambling if you will. In order for Sowore to demonstrate that this ‘Sai Bobo take it back’ campaign exercise of his isn’t intended to negotiate a political appointment in the eventual winning party’s government, he must do precisely that. That is: Sowore should fight gallantly, give a good enough account of himself and his team, wield sway numbers, yet resist the urge to sell out his voting bloc for ministerial slots. Once Sowore can de-Oby his activism, he would be taken seriously and stand a good chance at a subsequent date.

But beyond the elections and projections, approaching the Nigerian question requires more critical lenses and an honesty and discipline to ask and answer difficult, perhaps uncomfortable questions. What is the meaning of democracy in the Nigerian context for example? Is our legislature necessary? Do the cost of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 elections not sum up to figures that could have made indelible marks on our infrastructure? The campaign funds that are shared in the full glare and participation of celebrities and those mobilized for swinging votes; do they not amount to sufficient funds to necessarily complete the Lagos/Ibadan expressway in a 6-month plan? We hold elections every four years just because the West dictates so. Ballot papers and card readers are imported. Even campaign strategy is often outsourced. Are we serving us or pandering to western dictates? We need a pause, and then a reset.

In closing, I was urged not to ponder too long on this like a “Buharilysm” patient…

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Garhe Osiebe


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