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After the winnowing

Last week’s threshing and winnowing of a vast field of aspirants to elected office restored some order to the landscape, and one can now step outside without fear of tripping over a desperate striver claiming to be the divine answer to Nigeria’s problems and asking to be given a chance to perform the necessary wonders from a well-remunerated elected position.

The biggest and most-watched event of the process was of course the pruning in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, of 12 aspirants down to one candidate for the biggest prize of all, the PDP presidential ticket.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and serial contender “emerged” as the PDP’s standard bearer, having polled 1,532 of the 3,206 valid votes, or more than twice the score of his nearest rival, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and nearly five times the score of the putative “front runner,” the embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki, who came third.

Individuals no longer win elections here. They are no longer elected. They just “emerge”, like apparitions. Even President Buhari, probably the most visible and most reported public figure in Nigeria, had to “emerge” from the APC Convention as its presidential candidate, though he was the sole candidate and the event was more managed coronation than contest.

Even First Lady Aisha Buhari was not impressed. And, as usual, she would not confine herself to “the other room” nor keep her views severely to herself.

In many contests across the country, the nation’s motley political parties acted as if it was not enough to allow the candidates to “emerge”; they had to “unveil” their gubernatorial, senatorial and House of Representatives standard-bearers, to lend colour to their “emergence.”

Nor is the emerging limited to actual persons. “Facts” and “indications” have also developed the habit of “emerging,” and not just from the archives.

A first-time visitor to Nigeria would have been led to think that the personages aforementioned, had been hiding behind a curtain that was suddenly lifted, or in caves from which they had they had just been disinterred.

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In the run-up to the Convention, pardon the detour, Saraki was prefacing his speeches at each campaign stop with “When I become President.” To get there, he was going to concede the Northwest and the Northeast to Buhari, and “lock down” the votes in the rest of the country

Apparently the assembled delegates, being for the most part analog persons, did not want a “digital president” any more than they wanted a “youth-driven” government, being for the most part middle-aged or superannuated.

For practically all the 3,274 delegates at the Convention, the weekend will probably go down as the most rewarding – but not on account of the three-minute floor speeches the aspirant was allowed. They were in the main perfunctory, laced here and there with the sardonic and the piquant

Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo said he was the best person for the job, “not too old to retire and not too young to run.” David Jang said he would not stand by and watch “returnees” snatch the main chance. Sule Lamido staked his claim on helping rebrand the PDP and transforming it into a “beautiful damsel.” David Mark said he was the only candidate with a female campaign director, and withal a man of courage and honour, who would keep his promise to the PDP. Those who “absconded” should not get the party’s blessing.

Reacting to rumours swirling at the Convention that he had stood down for a certain aspirant, Kabiru Tanimu Turaki (SAN) pointed out through his spokesperson that “”Luckily, his integrity, credibility, knowledge, intellectual experience, competence and dynamism had never been questioned.”

“May be there is wisdom after all in the position of some of the resilient members who later became Presidential Aspirants that those who once tried to destroy the party should not be allowed to harvest where they did not sow, to the extent of trying to destroy the common ‘farm’ ( the PDP),” he added.

He added for good measure that he was the only aspirant not living in daily dread of a visitation from the EFCC.

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Given centre stage, former President Goodluck Jonathan would have been impolitic to openly endorse any of the candidates. With touching candour and to no surprise, he confessed that he was “confused.” GEJ: He never disappoints.

Though few of the delegates can recall anything that any speaker said on the convention floor, none of them will ever forget the “dollar rain” that drenched them.

One aspirant, it was said, was handing out $1, 000 to each delegate by way of mobilisation fee. That, people, adds up to $3, 246, 000. Or N1, 168 billion and plenty of change. Other candidates ponied up, to the best of their ability.

By one account, each delegate grossed mobilisation fees ranging from $9, 000 to $2, 500. They just sat tight in their hotel rooms, waiting for the aspirants to come mobilise them. And even when it seemed the aspirants were done mobilising, the delegates still remained in their rooms, expecting that some straggler would show up.

They had to be literally dragged out of their rooms to the convention venue.

A source who was present at the convention said he overheard many a jubilant elector saying that it was far better to be a delegate than a candidate, and that they could hardly wait till 2022 for the next harvest.

Did the aspirants shell out all that money without exacting an iron-clad guarantee that the obtainer would deliver? There must be hundreds who obtained from every source available only to vote for one aspirant.

Back when politics was politics, you could not try that kind of rascality with Arthur Nzeribe, he who never embraced any cause without bringing it into disrepute; the con artist whose depredations litter the landscape from South Africa to the UK through Ghana and Nigeria.

It was said that he led you in the dead of night to the shores of Lake Oguta. You stood in an open coffin and swore to deliver whatever political favour he wanted, and you got your fee. By that action, you also covenanted to end up in a casket if you betrayed him. From his days as Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel, Atiku’s campaign director, also knows a thing or two about such pro-active measures.

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No sooner had Atiku emerged as the presidential candidate than Saraki, realising that he would be bereft of an elected position scurried back to Ilorin in a desperate bid to wrest back the PDP Senate ticket for Ilorin Central from a flunkey to whom he had assigned it for safe-keeping.

Rabiu Kwankwaso, who also ran in Port Harcourt, rushed back to Kano with the same objective in mind. Expect a big scramble to regain lost territory by other figures for whom politics is a business.

Four state governors — Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kogi), Isiaka Ajimobi (Oyo) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo) ­—are looking forward to opulent retirement in the 9th Senate, in the excellent company of a dozen former governors who went from being excellent to being merely distinguished. But what’s in a name when the rewards are just a shade less bounteous?

If the transition from the one to the other continues at the present rate, at least one-half of the 108-member chamber will be made up of former governors in the next four or five election cycles, mostly through self-help. Of what use is it to be not too young to run when the political space is blockaded by those who control it, or reserved only for their relations and proxies?

There is no sterner critic of the PDP and its way of doing business than this columnist. But it is meet and proper to give it high praise for its surefootedness in the conduct of the Port Harcourt Convention. The event was widely expected to end in confusion, with aspirants and their camps crying foul and demanding its cancellation or challenging the outcome in court after court.

It is to the PDP’s great credit that none of this has happened.

About Chrisjames Favour

Name is Chrisjames favour and keeping you updated and well informed is my everyday happiness. I'm a creative writer,content writer and also a poet.

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