Last week Thursday, a group of politicians converged at the presentation of a book about former President Goodluck Jonathan. While there was nothing quite out of the ordinary about the gathering, there was still an interesting moment where the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, went on a self-justificatory spree to explain why he removed the immediate past Kano Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II. Ganduje said he fired Sanusi for pretty much the same reason Jonathan did: to save the institutions he headed from his disruptive character. His explanation was neither new nor surprising, but the way he pandered to the former President as he justified his removal of an Emir was telling.
According to Ganduje, Jonathan made a “bold” move by sacking Sanusi as the Central Bank of Nigeria governor. Kano kingmakers, he narrated, were expectedly hurt that one of their own had fallen from power, and they thought to spite Jonathan for what he had done to their tribesman. Ganduje said his kinsmen, against their better judgment, elevated political vendetta above competence and made Sanusi the Emir. When Sanusi did not depart from his ways, he, Ganduje, corrected their mistake with the “Jonathan medicine.” By the time Ganduje finished confessing his tribesmen’s schemes like a witch does at an open-air church revival, what was left of him was pathetic. He revealed himself to be just another fellow who will do anything -including going back to an old vomit – in the bid for power. Ganduje, of course, could not have cared about Jonathan or how Sanusi undermined his authority while he was President. Ganduje was merely being another power hustler; the kind that will say anything as long as it sustains his relevance.
As the year 2023 beckons, and it is almost given that the incumbent President would not be seeking a third term, the hawks are already out and about, forging alliances towards 2023. We see that desperation in former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu. He has not only turned himself into an apologist for the present regime whose incompetence has become legendary, he also hustles northern politicians for photo-ops. Tinubu has not publicly stated his interest to run in 2023, but he does not deny either. The same 2023 permutation led the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress. In 2021, there will be a gale of defections from one side of the room to the other as unprincipled politicians seek platforms to realise their ambitions.
Like Ganduje, some disgruntled politicians whose snouts have been removed from the Nigerian feeding trough are also plotting. Luckily, they have found a prospect in the ex-president whose back they can ride to power. The book launch was both an opportunity to excavate Jonathan out of the political rubbles they left him in 2015 and launch their re-entry into power. Jonathan is the sensible choice if power will go back to southern Nigeria in 2023. First, he has a dedicated following; there are millions of people still sore that he lost his re-election bid in 2015 who can be persuaded to vote for him again. However, unlike other aspirants from the southern region, he can only spend four years. That is not a lot of time for northerners like Ganduje to be out in the cold until power returns to their tribal enclave again. Jonathan is also a safe bet for those who are wary of overly ambitious politicians like Tinubu. If Tinubu or even any of the South-East aspirants gets near Aso Rock, they will keep power in the South for a whole eight years. That length of time is not only unwieldy to manage the many uncertainties that might arise, it is also too long an interregnum for political jobbers to risk. That was why Ganduje momentarily threw his tribesmen under the bus and ran his tongue all over Jonathan. At this rate, he might end up in the PDP to get the vice-presidency in 2023 and the eventual presidency in 2027.
There is no law against political ambition, but these politicians need to be reminded that the nation’s survival comes first. Nigeria has to survive the coming years, especially 2021. The New Year, only one week away, is already overloaded with expectations of reprieve from longsuffering Nigerians. This year has been one of the most trying for Nigerians because it combined ill-thought-out policies with the global pandemic. If the kind of hardship people survived this year continues for another year, it would break down our collective spirit.
Our situation has not been helped by our leaders, who seem to have given up on governance and fully dedicated both their energies and public resources to strategising towards the 2023 elections. To the rest of the country holding out hope that this present darkness will eventually end and we can choose a more responsive set of leaders, the year 2023 seems too far away. However, for our leaders, 2023 comes before even 2021. The nation is barely surviving, but all they do for a living is plot for power.
Just lately, 300 plus schoolboys from Katsina State were abducted from their school although eventually rescued from their weeklong captivity. Before one could savour the joy of their return, the news broke that gunmen had kidnapped 80 more schoolchildren in the same Katsina. This serial abduction of schoolchildren shows how vulnerable we are to the denigrating forces of banditry. In a country where even a band of 12 police officers could be abducted on their way to carry out an official assignment, what hope is there for “bloody civilians”? Abduction stories have become commonplace in Nigeria, and we all live in fear of becoming an eventual victim.
The leadership crisis Nigeria faces is acute. We are not only plagued by leaders who barely try, we also contend with narcissistic ones like the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai. Amidst all the predicament of insecurity, he laid a foundation for a so-called International Golf Resort and Country Club named after him. I do not think there is an Oga Soja anywhere in the world like Buratai. The country is disintegrating due to insecurity, but he is obsessed with according himself unearned glory. If some paid hack is not writing books in his name, they are putting his name on monuments to celebrate dubious victories. These people must be reminded the country must first of all survive. From North to South, Nigeria faces devastating situations.
Lately, the Financial Times wrote an editorial stating that Nigeria is on the verge of becoming a failed state. Their definition of a failed state-one where the government has lost control-quite describes the present condition of the country but they were too polite to state it. Nigeria has been spiralling out of control. As one is about to conclude that what the country has witnessed is the worst, some other event crops up and further darkens our benightedness. From our perennially depreciating quality of life to the routine reports of insecurity, things keep getting worse.
The country faces some of the biggest tests of its tensile strength, and the fear that Nigeria may not survive this bad patch is a genuine one. Now, there is speculation that the country might be locked down again to combat another rising wave of COVID-19. When Nigeria found itself lucky that the predicted scale of disaster did not happen at the peak of the infection earlier this year, we let go of ourselves. Now, we face the prospect of another lockdown. One cannot even imagine what another round of lockdown would do to impoverished Nigerians. The country will grind to a halt, and people facing the challenge of survival might take to crime.
These mounting issues-from the abduction of poor Nigerians that have become too frequent to even startle to accounts of rapidly falling quality of life-should tell our impervious leaders that the deterioration needs arresting. We need an agenda for redemption. Democracy is more than elections. Can they at least take a break from scheming for power and work towards stabilising the polity first?