igeria’s absurd political situation is playing out before our eyes in the plethora of presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC) competing for the number one spot in the polity.
Lately, the stories involving the aspirants are a mixed bag of the good, the bad and the ugly in the drama-filled processes of the general election that cruises into a crescendo in February 2023.
If you consider political influence, reach, mobilisation, and perhaps war chest for the primaries, you’ll place the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in front to lead the stories.
But you’ll be wrong because of the scale and magnitude of shenanigans weaved around “persuadable aspirants,” such as former President Goodluck Jonathan; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Senate Chief Whip Orji Uzor Kalu; and President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina.
For an icing on the “political cake” under review, you can throw in the mix the governorship aspiration of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Except Tinubu, all the aspirants were “earnestly begged, cajoled, blackmailed or forced” by so-called “support groups” to accept a presidential ambition or declare their intentions for same.
Though his aspiration is of subnational, let’s view Mr Malami, who, months before he’s appointed in 2015, reportedly told a Kano radio that, “he couldn’t afford N12 million to renovate his residence.”
But seven years after, Malami is a billionaire that can give hundreds of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to party supporters he’s wooing for the governorship ticket in 2022, and election in 2023 in Kebbi State.
What statutory incomes have accrued to Malami, to afford giving out hundreds of cars amid accusation of owning choice property, hotels and an international school, in cities in Nigeria?
Without speaking to the allegations of his stupendous wealth that’s ostensibly acquired in government, Malami’s real scandal is in doubling down on distributing hundreds of cars to his constituents.
The other day, addressing his supporters, in Hausa language, Malami thumped his nose at his critics, promising that if God willed, he’d distribute airplanes for the constituents.
His words: “They (political opponents) have been reporting that we shared about 200 Mercedes cars. They are used to distributing hard drugs, but we share cars. So, they will not be happy with the good things we are doing. If Allah gives us the opportunity, we will share aeroplanes, not just cars.” His listeners exploded in applause!
Many pressure groups, within and outside Nigeria, have called on, and are prepared to drag Dr Jonathan into the 2023 electoral fray, to actualise his second term bid that’s thwarted in 2015 with the election of retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as president.
Jonathan, then dubbed as “clueless” and “incompetent,” is today paraded as the “new Messiah” to cure Nigeria’s insecurity, poverty and national disunity that are more glaring than they’re in 2015.
In their scheming, the persuaders have purchased N100 million APC Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for Jonathan, who has turned down the offer as without his knowledge and authorisation.
Yet, the sing-song by his agitated supporters is that, “Jonathan must run,” but on the condition that he’s given “automatic ticket” by the APC, which, as insiders note, has designed the “Withdrawal Letter” attached to the nomination forms, “so as to weed out the ‘undesirable aspirants’ for Jonathan to get the ticket.”
Dr Emefiele’s declining the nomination forms appears a ploy to stave off calls by especially Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) for him to resign and pursue his presidential ambition.
And going to court, to seek an injunction to stop the government and INEC from sacking him or refusing his aspiration under the APC, exposes Emefiele as a hidden partisan for a while.
Actually, the Chairman, Ward 6 in Ika South local government area of Delta State, Mr. Nduka Erikpume, has confirmed Emefiele’s membership of the APC, for which he registered in February 2021.
In the interim, a Federal High Court in Abuja has refused Emefiele’s prayers, moved by Human Rights Lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and fixed the hearing of the application for this week.
Ironically, as Jonathan and Emefiele rejected the nomination forms from political interlopers, Chief Sylva, grinning from ear to ear in pictorials, received his from presidential promoters, who stormed the NNPC Towers in Abuja on May 9, to force him to be president.
The question: Must tens of aspirants gear up for a single slot in the APC? Maybe due to reported promises by influence-peddlers that they’d be made president by the “kingmakers” that determine who becomes what in Nigeria!
The presidency hawkers may’ve ensnared Dr Adesina, to persuade him to join the bandwagon from his exalted seat of the AfDB, with the purchase of nomination forms for him to be president.
Adesina, who hasn’t uttered a word about his aspiration, is touted as the “compromise candidate of the South-West” in the shadow-boxing by Asiwaju Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s support groups to cancel out each other’s principal in the race.
Now the-story-that-touches-the-heart in the political melodrama of the 2023 elections. It’s the withdrawal from the presidential contest by Dr Kalu, thus throwing his millions of supporters nationwide into disappointment and regrets.
Kalu’s an early bird to the presidency of an Easterner of Igbo extraction. He made that a condition precedent on his vying for the post, even as he pledged to match Tinubu’s formidable political machine Naira-for-Naira, grit-for-grit and vote-for-vote.
But that epic battle will not be, as Kalu withdraws his presidential bid, obtains the nomination forms for re-election into the Senate, and backs the presidential aspiration of Dr Lawan.
A wily Lawan, reportedly promised the presidency, and looks a sure bet to clinch the ticket that’s eluded the North-East (where he hails from) since democracy returned in 1999, has allegedly additionally obtained nomination forms for a return to the Senate.
A favoured Lawan with the APC ticket could pick Kalu, a classmate, friend and political ally, as his running mate. And that, at least, would assuage the feelings of Kalu’s supporters across Nigeria.
As things got weirder the past week, the Campaign Director of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Support Groups Management Council (ABATSGMC), Abdulmumin Jibrin, “defected” from the APC.
In tweets, the former member of House of Representatives said: “I have done my best for APC. It’s time to move on. I will announce my new political party within the next 24 hours insha Allah. I will make a formal statement in due course.” Still waiting for his moves!
Two quick takes: Jubrin’s action is allegedly a precursor to a Tinubu “Plan B” to dump the APC, which the “Jagaban” has denied, but insists on credible primaries; and Jubrin jumped ship because he’s refused a return ticket to the National Assembly (NASS).
Even as Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje reportedly steps in to get Jubrin a reprieve, the totality of the presidential undercurrents – to zone or not to zone, and the sheer number of aspirants – has elevated the APC to an absurd “Fuji house of commotion.”
*Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.