THE CHOICE BEFORE NIGERIANS
There is a complete split between power and moral right, and unless you have access to power, you have nothing. Everyone is seeking instant gratification. No one is prepared to think of the future.
Present-day Nigeria is perhaps one of the most interesting and dynamic states any international journalist might want to study. Some consider the nation a ‘fragile’ one, triggering questions of how an allegedly fragile nation has somehow managed to hold together for more than sixty years and counting. To most outsiders, the very name Nigeria conjures up images of chaos and confusion, military coups, repression, drug trafficking, and business fraud. It remains a mystery to all but a handful of academics and diplomats and of course, Nigerians themselves.
In spite, Nigerians flaunt their natural swagger, their passion for life, the sublime skills of their soccer stars, a certain notoriety for corruption, and especially, their stomach-churning driving habits.
Nigerians, having lived in a dog-eat-dog society in which the elite robbed the country’s future generations to satisfy their present desires, spend a good part of their lives trying to get the better of the government for their own benefit or that of their family, their village, or their region. It is rare to have a head of state who acts on behalf of the entire nation. There is a complete split between power and moral right, and unless you have access to power, you have nothing. Everyone is seeking instant gratification. No one is prepared to think of the future.
Its potential is huge. Its tremendous wealth, if properly channeled, holds out the hope that a stable government could unleash the unquestioned energy and talent that pulsates through the rich ethnic mosaic. The human capital is there. Thousands of Nigerian professionals are well educated and skilled enough to drive the country forward.
In accordance, the blame for its lost generation falls squarely on the shoulders of its leaders—corrupt military dictators and their civilian accomplices—who over the past quarter of a century have humbled a once proud nation through outright incompetence and greed, to the point that Nigerians from all walks of life are openly questioning whether their country should remain as one entity or discard the colonial borders and break apart into several separate states.
Ethnic and religious prejudices have found fertile ground in Nigeria, where there is-neither a national consensus nor a binding ideology.
Prior to elections, we have candidates pop up from all walks of life, portraying themselves as redeemers and men who could take the all too difficult decisions on the economy, who could throttle and squash our persistent insecurity with bare hands, and foster a more just society but once they find their way to the exalted state house, of course on the wings of votes of ordinary Nigerians, they do the exact opposite of what was promised. But somehow, Nigeria manages to survive, albeit, stagnant.
Primary elections have come and gone and winners have emerged as they try to make inroads into the 2023 general elections, with the two major political parties, the ruling APC and main opposition PDP making frantic efforts to manage their intra party crises in other to avoid any implosion that could cost them the chances to either retain power beyond 2023 or return to power next year after almost eight years of playing opposition at the federal level.
While former Lagos State governor and strongman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu holds the banner for his party, former vice president and serial contender, Atiku Abubakar, looks a strong contender for his party, the PDP, with former Anambra State governor Peter Obi, the seemingly detribalized business-man from the south East whose resume is not inferior to that of any other candidate and whose candidature, has been gathering momentum since he left the PDP and joined the hitherto relatively unknown Labour party (LP) after dumping the PDP where he was vice presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections and Kwankwaso pushing the mandate of his newly found NNPP, it looks clearly like that election would indeed be keenly contested.
The idea of a third force has become a recurrent phenomena in every general election cycle since the successful merger in 2013 that metamorphosed into what is today the All Progressive Congress (APC). As 2023 draws closer, the country is yet again caught in another web of a Third Force- a wave that looks likely to upset the current political status quo.
The new entrants, Obi and Kwankwaso, who is building a strong bloc in the North, have cumulatively triggered a new wave of political migration and re-alignment by politicians schemed out and disaffected with the two major political parties.
While Kwankwaso’s NNPP has become the beautiful bride for aggrieved politicians particularly in the Northeast and Northwest, Obi’s Labour Party is also witnessing a resurgence across the country as fresh faced and youthful politicians rally to what they now dub the ‘Obi-dient’ call, compelling analysts and observers to opine that the movements could be the third force seeking to upstage the two dominant political parties, the APC and PDP.
In less than three months, Obi has achieved what many politicians of his contemporary in the country cannot achieve without a viable platform, including a significant spike in social media popularity and a massive turnout in voter registration, which of course, has Obi as the background motivation. But it remains to be seen how he can upset the status quo against money bags like Atiku Abubakar and especially the flag bearer of the ruling APC and former Lagos State Governor, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who will confront him not only with his structure but federal might.
Supporters of Obi have vowed to match the likes of Tinubu and Atiku at the polls with every resource at their disposal to retire them from politics for good so as to pave ways for fresh breeds of politicians to take over the country’s political space but this will take more than mere expression to achieve as the clock ticks.
While Obi may seem like the champion of the Southeast, the region has also been the stronghold of the PDP for a long time, until the not too recent gale of defections to the APC, and Atiku Abubakar enjoyed significant support from the region in the 2019 presidential election, a feat analysts are still predicting would be replicated given his deep seated structure and network of supporters in the region.
Some veteran analysts have predicted splitting of the votes across regional lines, with some of the opinion that under the assault of Tinubu’s massive financial war chest, votes from the south east region will end up being divided between Obi, Atiku, paving the way for Lagos strong man, some are of contrary opinion. But indeed, much intrigues and realignments are still anticipated between now and next year when the general elections will hold.
Utibe Umoh is a Public health enthusiast, poet and author with a great deal of interest in romance-fiction stories and short essays. His first e-Book, Tales of bliss, was out in 2020 and is currently available on the Amazon Kindle bookstore and free on okadabooks.com bookstore.
He currently pursues a degree in Medicine and Surgery at the College of Health Sciences, University of Uyo and is editor-in-chief for his Medical student association. He is content creator for Ray of thought - an assembly of young thinkers who are out to impact the world positively - and enjoys listening to classical music at his leisure hours.