Elections are the engine room and raw meat of democracy and the quest or competition for power. Those seeking political offices are invariably so desperate for power that they can be compared to the brood of chicken following the little boy dishing out grains for the birds at dawn at farms all over the world. Imagine the way the chicks rush in the direction of the feeder’s throws of corn and you will understand the frenzy of politicians in searching frantically for where the corn or grain will land so that they can swallow before others and go on looking for more grains to fortify themselves for the day and the future contest for power. Such is the competition for power in all political systems and today we shall look at the signals, and the issues that political leaders face in their quest to fortify each other so that that they can outpace and outrun other contestants and snatch the grain of power during campaigns and elections.
Today however we do this by looking at some personalities in the war front of leadership of political parties seeking power first in Nigeria and all over the world. In Nigeria we look at the two presidential candidates that have emerged from the two political parties and their prospects in the 2019 presidential elections. We examine the spat between the Senate President and the Chairman of the ruling APC and wonder at their mutual animosity and conclusion that the other is not fit to hold his position on moral grounds. We venture overseas and look at how the French President talked down at his American counterpart at an event in France to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War in which they both fought together on the same side.
First let us look at the chances and the credentials of the two aspirants that emerged from the presidential primaries of the two major parties namely President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling APC and Alhaji Abubakar Atiku of the PDP which lost the 2015 presidential election to the PDP. The incumbent president’s main electoral asset has been his reputation for discipline, asceticism, and integrity. He has been on the seat for three years and is confident he has done enough to be re elected.
His opponent Alhaji Atiku is not a stranger to power having been Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo for eight years. Obasanjo called him names before but has now endorsed him just as he endorsed Buhari before and has now forsaken him for the 2019 election. The two running mates for the presidential candidates are Christians namely Prof Yemi Osinbajo for the APC and Peter Obi for the PDP. Osinbajo is from the Southwest, Ogun state to be specific and was a long serving Attorney General for Nigeria’s foremost and viable state, Lagos state, which is also the only state that experts say can afford the 30000 naira minimum wage if it is approved. Peter Obi too was a successful governor of Anambra state with a reputation for prudence and integrity. What is interesting is that the Igbos at a meeting said to be none partisan have now endorsed the Atiku candidacy for president on account of his choice of an Igbo man to be his running mate in 2019. Which is quite significant given the fact that the Igbos, like their rivals for power, the Yorubas, have never put their eggs in one basket in their quest for federal power which is the most attractive of the power structures in Nigeria’s volatile democracy.
The Igbo endorsement must bother the APC or they will be like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand. This is because the Igbos are homogenous in terms of two cultural factors namely religion and language and in addition are well travelled and dispersed all over Nigeria and have large presence globally in diaspora. They will be a formidable electoral asset to Atiku and potent threat to the APC and the incumbent president in 2019. That is one scenario the APC electoral eggheads must strategise to overcome. Whether that will raise the specter of tribalism in the competition for power in 2019 is a question begging for an answer. For the Igbos however the die is cast and Atiku is their champion and good luck to them.
Let us now look at the verbal gymnastics between the Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki and the APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomole. The APC Chairman even before the brouhaha that dogged his handling of the APC primaries nationwide had always promised that since the Senate President defected to the PDP he has no moral right to remain in office. Now after the primaries the Senate President now Director General for the Atiku Campaign has countered that the given the allegations of corruption and irregularities leveled against the APC Chairman, he has no moral grounds to remain in office as well. But really what are the facts on this cross accusations on moral grounds?. Let us look at the case of the senate president as well as his credentials before defection.
Undoubtedly the Senate President pulled the rugs from under the feet of the APC government right from day one in government. He became President of the Senate by default and with the collusion of the PDP and with the benefit of hindsight, his defection was a logical progression. The moral lesson there is political treachery although the punishment ordained by the APC Chairman has become an illusion and the APC has become like a dog barking at the moon in getting the defected APC President of the Senate removed. That is the reality of the situation the APC Chairman must learn to fight or be forced to live with.
In the case of the APC Chairman, he must by now know that those who live in glass houses do not throw stones. He should know this as a seasoned and experienced trade unionist and former governor of a politically volatile and combustible state. He has now seen that Lagos, Ogun and Imo states are more charged and more connected than the state he left as a powerful godfather and kingmaker. Indeed the comparison of what happened in Lagos and Ogun states will be an albatross on the neck of the APC Chairman in terms of consistency and integrity in the conduct of primaries in the APC for a long time. We are watching to see how the Eagle will land in this ding dong battle between the APC Chairman and the elusive and mercurial Senate President.
Finally we look at the event in Paris where former enemies and allies convened to mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War from 1914 – 1918. At the event in which many world leaders were present, the French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Nationalism as an insult to Patriotism and there was no denying that he was talking down at the American President Donald Trump who was present at the occasion and who recently admitted he is a Nationalist. Trust the US president however to live to his billing in response. Donald Trump tweeted that but for the intervention of the US the French had been subdued and were learning German, the language of their oppressors before the US joined the war and changed French fortunes. Which really is tit for tat in terms of the abusive diplomacy that both presidents were peddling in quite an undiplomatic manner. But then I call for restraint on both sides on account of historical lessons.
What caused the first World War was an assassination of a visiting Grand Duke to Bosnia Hercegovina and the assassin was a Serb. The violence by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims in the break up of Yugoslavia years later still had echoes of the violent death of Archduke Ferdinand in Saravejo in 1914. It is not far from the murder this year and quite recently of the Saudi journalist Kasshogi in the Saudi Arabia embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, 100 years after the end of a brutal war that started with an assassination. World leaders surely need to learn from history and watch their language so that they do not lead to wars, assassinations or the murder of journalists in foreign embassies. Once again, long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.