2023 Presidency: What is APC Up To?

0
PLSCOPE BY Eddy Odivwri    Eddy.Odivwri@thisdaylive.com

 Eddy Odivwri

 Almost all normal Nigerians were aghast when the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) announced that its presidential nomination (plus Expression of Interest) form will cost N100 million. Yes, N100million! Many shouted that it is the prologue to a festival of corruption. In a country where poverty and hardship had seized majority of the people, to be the same country where a few A4 sheets of paper will cost N100 million, is most confounding.

But party adherents argued at the time, that the high cost was deliberately meant to ward off unserious aspirants and that only those who are keen will afford to “stake” that humongous amount. But the events of the last two weeks have shown that they were all wrong. Both the serious and the unserious have all flooded the political space, all claiming to be the best character for Nigeria’s presidency. 

One thing common among nearly all of them is that none of them is living within their known and official means. To dole out N100 million for form suggests that there is nearly four times or more of such amount stowed away in some vaults somewhere. Afterall, the campaigns will cost much more, that is after nearly N100 million or more would have also been spent in settling the delegates at the APC presidential primaries billed for end of this month.

Even when the nomination fee was N25 million in 2015, the APC did not have this crowd of presidential aspirants as we have today. How can it be explained that the more expensive the nomination form is, the more people are trooping into the race? The way the aspirants kept popping up for form seemed to have suggested that it is only a race for the rich. As at the time of writing this column, twenty-nine  members of the APC, yes, twnty-nine, have collected the N100 million presidential nomination forms. True to the arrogant reply of Abdullahi Adamu, the APC Chair, that “if you don’t have N100 million, you have no business wanting to be the President of Nigeria”, it soon became a show of financial ego. So, it is a game for only the ‘big boys’. But pray, how many N100 million did President Muhammadu Buhari have in 2015 before he became the president of Nigeria?

Even when there is a pretence to accommodate the young men and the women by slashing the cost of their forms by 50%, no one young man or woman has really come forth to pick any APC form.

It is clear that the contest is not and will not be for the one with character, competence and popularity. It is an exclusive circus for the rich and only very rich. 

But one weird development in the APC is the liberalization of the zoning understanding for the presidency of the country. Before and immediately after the coming of Abdullahi Adamu, the understanding was that the presidency has been zoned to the Southern part of the country, given that the sitting President Muhammadu Buhari, is from the north. 

So that explains why until less than two weeks ago, all the presidential aspirants have been from the three geo-political zones of the                   south, except the outlier—Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, who is from the North central zone.

 But about a dozen days ago, we have had northern aspirants like the Jigawa state governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, former Zamfara State governor, Ahmad Sani Yerima, sitting senate president, Ahmad Lawan –(all of them having Ahmad as part of their names) have all joined the presidential race, supposedly meant for the south exclusively. It is even more befuddling to know that all the northern aspirants (including their southern counterparts) have got the nod of Mr President to join the race, as they all claimed. So, what is Buhari up to in encouraging northerners to join the presidential race? Is that an inadvertent endorsement of the position of the Northern Elders Form (NEF) that zoning is dead and buried in this country?

One is not sure what either President Buhari or Abdullahi Adamu is driving at. Would the nearly 30 or more aspirants go for the contest? 

Are they merely being politically correct by allowing every party member to compete for the ticket, or do they have some ulterior hidden motives? Do they really mean that after eight years of Buhari’s administration, another northerner will succeed him, within the same APC party? Some have reasoned that the likes of Ahmad Lawan and the Jigawa State governor, Badaru may just be positioning themselves for the Vice President slot. But would that require registration of such interest with a whopping sum of N100 million? Some say it is a “political strategy”

But is it also a strategy for many of the aspirants to claim that the forms were bought for them by some associations, groups or allies? No doubt, such claims are aimed at keeping the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) directed off their way. No government appointee depending on his legitimate earning is expected to save enough money, as much as N100 million to buy a presidential nomination form of N100 million. That is the truth!  That is why the likes of Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor claimed that it was the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria that contributed the N100 million with which his form was bought. These are the same struggling farmers who are surviving on the government loan, called Anchor Borrowers a scheme, who have not been able to pay back their loans; yet they have so much as to contribute N100million to buy the nomination form. Even if that was true, was it also the rice farmers that also contributed the money used in buying and branding those fleets of Emefiele-for-President campaign vehicles? Or how come those ‘friends’ of Timipre Sylva contributed the N100 million for his own form? Even a pastor who is on a bank loan for the building of his church also had a lousy N100 million for the form. Perhaps the most hilarious of them all is the so-called Association of Almajiri which allegedlycontributed N100 million, yes, N100 million, to buy the nomination form for former  President Goodluck Jonathan! Almajiri whose name and meaning collocates with abject poverty are the same people who contributed N100 million to buy a nomination form. Such a smelly lie!  What do Almajiris do that will enable them even have N100,000 ? Is it not these same persons who tie a plastic plate around their barely clad dirty bodies searching for left-over food everywhere in the northern towns and cities? Those are the same people who gathered N100 million? 

But even if it is true, does the law not forbid groups and associations from contributing to the political funding of politicians? Does Section 10 of the CBN ACT not bar Emefiele from this partisan path he is treading? And let me also ask, is it fair for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to be using official presidential jets to be travelling from one part of the country to another in the name of consultation for his own partisan interest? Is the consultation part of his official job to which he should use official privileges? As a senior advocate of Nigeria and a professor of Law, and also a Pastor, does he not know that what he is doing is an abuse of his office?

Steadily and gradually, the APC is turning out to be a well- stuffed Pandora box. With the presidential order that all those seeking elective position should resign, latest by next Monday, Nigerians are waiting for the next scene in the APC theatre of the absurd.

Igbos are Not Allergic to Nigeria’s Presidency

 Eddy Odivwri

There is hardly any argument in the Nigerian polity on how unfairly the Igbo have been treated in the Nigerian federation.  Yet, there is hardly a logical or convincing reason why they do not get their fair share in the Nigerian state. It is certainly not for lack of push or lack of relevant persons. But even if that was the case, deliberate effort should be made to comprehensively integrate the Igbo folks into the Nigerian system.  

Those who seem to argue that the Igbo are not fit to rule this country have nothing else to cite other than the banal issue of the Nigerian civil war of over fifty years ago.

The Igbos are the most gregarious set of people in Nigeria. The joke has often been made that wherever you go on this earth, if you don’t find an Igbo man there, better run away fast. It is very true. I recall how, 31 years ago, during our NYSC “endurance trek” into a distant forest (close to Cameroun) in Benue State, the only place we could find coke to buy (in the middle of nowhere) was being operated by an Igbo man. They are just everywhere. What is more, they do not just inhabit a place, they possessively settle in a place. In the part of Lagos I live, an entire flank of an estate has been completely bought over by Igbos. That they are masters of entrepreneurial drive is clearly beyond argument. 

But anytime it comes to political issues, they are not only treated shabbily, but with a disdainful slice of tokenism.

Nigeria is said to be on a demographic tripod: the Hausa/Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo. In-between and among these three dwell the many other minority groups, including my Urhobo folks men and women.

How can it be thus explained that even in the convenient calibration of the Nigerian state into six geo-political entities, it is only the South East geo-political bloc that has five states, while others have six states each with even the North west having seven states? Why was the South East “short-changed”? It is even an annoying irony knowing that this idea of geo-political groups was the brain child of late Dr Alex Ekwueme, an Igbo man.

There is a deliberate attempt to incapacitate the Igbo nation. Both the military oligarchy and the political elite of this country have always sought to scheme the Igbo nation into a state of subservient force. Were it not so, how can it be explained that the beside having just five states instead of six, the entire number of Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the South East (95) is less than the number of Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the three northern states of Katsina, Kano and Jigawa States (105)? And to know that even the last two states (Kano and Jigawa) were just one state initially.

 At that, not only will the three northern states cited, have more representation at the national parliament, they will also have a larger share of the national cake, when it is shared on the basis of number of local government areas per state. How skewed can a federation be!

It is bad enough that in terms of geographical aggregation, the South east has been grossly undermined, yet it is far worse that even in political leadership, they will perpetually be thrown under the bus. Why can an Igbo man or even woman not become Nigeria’s President? Why are they not usually reckoned with when we are searching for who can lead this country? 2023 is around the corner again. Political discourses seem to focus essentially on the two other strands of the tripod: Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba. Why is the Igbo man not a first choice, knowing that since Independence, nearly 62 years ago, the Igbo man has not quite led the country, save the short stint of Aguiyi Ironsi’s military rule? In our peculiar multi-ethnic configuration, political leadership should be on a turn-by-turn basis, so everybody can have a sense of belonging. The argument that let the best from anywhere emerge seems too elitist for our level of national development. We are not there yet as a people. 

That is why the likes of, Yemi Osinbajo, Ibikunle Amosun, Dimeji Bankole, Tunde Bakare , (all from Ogun State), Bola Tinubu,  Kayode Fayemi, Ajayi Boroffice etc.,  from the South West geo-political zone are being enjoined to step down, even by the Afenifere group.  

What is good for the goose should also be good for the ganders. The Igbos are Nigerians as well.

In the second republic, the farthest the Igbo man could go was to be the Vice President (Alex Ekwueme) to Hausa Fulani (Shehu Shagari). In the troubled third republic, the farthest the Igbo man could get was senate presidency. The Igbo man is hardly considered fit to head the Nigerian Army or even the Nigeria Police or the DSS, except in few far-in-between cases.

 It is this unfair treatment that is making the Afenifere, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) as well as many other fair-minded Nigerians including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Olu Falae etc., to demand that the Igbos should be given a chance to lead the country, if for no other reason, but political expediency. There are many qualified Igbo men who have signified interest in the position, across both leading political parties: the APC and PDP. But they must do away with the crab mentality.

The Ohaneze Ndigbo, the socio-cultural umbrella group of the Igbo must work on their men to love one another. All the aspirants of Igbo extraction cannot become President all at the same time. They should look inward and even unto other Igbo aspirants from outside the core South east geographical enclave and sort themselves out. This is their chance and turn. They should grow beyond wanting to play second fiddle.

What happened in 2003, when even South East governors voted against their own (Alex Ekwueme) in the PDP primaries, (preferring Obasanjo for their own selfish reasons) should not be allowed to happen again. After all, the Igbo man is not allergic to the nation’s presidency.