Abimbola Adelakunb said For a long time, Nigeria has bandied around what has amounted to a myth that whoever seeks the presidency hardly gets it.
Historical observers have variously posited that what we have almost always had are “accidental” presidents—men reluctant to step out for leadership roles but who somehow, through whimsical engineering of fate, find the presidency thrust on them.
A run through the list of our past leaders, civilian and military, attests to this.
It was a myth that held up until Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) showed up and ran until he eventually became president in 2015.
[09/06, 10:33 pm] Okwor Stephen: Well, Nigeria’s luck also seems to have changed because the age of the accidental president seems over. In 2023, two of the candidates who will run on the platform of the major parties are the most desperate politicians Nigeria ever saw.
And these are men that have been running longer than Buhari.
You know it already, but I will state it anyway: both Abubakar Atiku and Bola Tinubu—similar in almost every respect—are running against the country.
One of them will likely become the president, but it will be to Nigeria’s loss Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party, who has been on the march since 1993, and Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress have several things in common.
One, their stated life ambitions have always been about becoming the president. Political ambitions are not necessarily bad but these are men for whom the presidency is an end. Two, both must be acutely aware that time is no longer on their side.
If they lose in 2023, the next four years will be more complex while the next eight years are too far off to guarantee anything.
This time might well be their last chance to fulfil their respective personal ambition. While 2023 is one more try for Atiku,
it is Tinubu’s first emergence as a presidential candidate. Their respective ages (and hence biological realities) are enough to drive them to mad desperation. Their time is now or never.
The third factor that unites these men is that Nigeria ranks low on the scale of their priorities. They want the presidency for its sake; Nigeria comes only later.
Atiku especially has run in almost every presidential election since 2007. Each electoral venture must have bled him financially but he never seems to tire. He still shows up for another election.
Knowing how close he is to his life goal now, one can bet that the impending money rain will be akin to God opening the windows of heaven. Luckily, our society takes it for granted that the money that funds elections in Nigeria cannot but be dirty.
We have even given a euphemism for such shady money: a “war chest.” That way, we at least mute the pangs of conscience before it reminds us of the money source.
Tinubu on the other hand has a founded reputation of winning elections using every means possible. His recent outburst in Abeokuta when he thought he would be denied the party ticket is enough to tell you how badly he itches to be gifted the presidency. It is hard to get over that asukungbade act.
An old man crying, bring this thing (the presidency); it is my turn aptly illustrates the degree of his desperation. For him to be aching so badly to be made president, he will stop short at nothing during electioneering.
In the coming months, he will surely bring out his putative “war chest” and match Atiku dollar for dollar (the naira does not count in this game), ego for ego and desperation for desperation.
It is somehow tempting to lament how our presidential choices have been largely bracketed between these two lacklustre candidates but that was in the offing all along.
The poor choices of Atiku and Tinubu did not creep in on us; we zombie-walked into their emergence over time.
The PDP’s fate was already tied to Atiku and I do not think anyone who knew Nigeria enough expected that the APC convention that ended on Wednesday would be any redeeming either. In fact, one of the realities that emerged through the whole event at Eagle Square was how much further the leadership pool in Nigeria has thinned out.
We had a few bright spots at some point but some of the characters turned out to be just mere props that had been sponsored to come and spread a patina of legitimacy over the worst of all the aspirants.
It was irritating that some of the candidates who had supposedly paid N100m to signify their interests chose to “step down” at the last minute.
When youthful candidates do not see any prospects in themselves beyond “stepping down” for a debilitating old man, you must know such an environment is too toxic for anything to grow.
In any case, all the “eleyis” who chose to step down in the heat of the moment because it was expedient must know they did us a huge favour.
With their actions, they showed us that they could not have stepped up for Nigeria even if ever given a chance.
One would have imagined that having come that far, they would at least have stood their ground and demonstrated a conviction to serve.
They might not win eventually, but they could have used the opportunity to assert an alternative vision for the country. But no, they had to sell themselves short.
Anyway, we too can do without their unrelenting subservience to paternalism, their small-mindedness coupled with their blinding myopia, and even their time-wasting antics. Good riddance to all their bad rubbish.