By Okey Samuel Mbonu
This statement is clearly not an endorsement of either the candidate of the APC, or the candidate of the PDP, as presently constituted.
While I have met these two gentlemen at different times in Washington DC, during my sojourn in DC, and even find them reasonably likeable; the fact is that the solutions to Nigeria’s problems today, are beyond both of them for various reasons as we shall see below.
No one can eat from the fruit of a poisonous tree and not be poisoned. The average Nigerian can play politically naïve as much as they want, but when the sun sets, and people settle into the darkness of their non-electrified homes in the 21st century; or into the noisy cacophony of their power-generators by February 17th, they would have, if care is not taken, participated in deceiving themselves; that is if they elect Muhammadu Buhari or Atiku Abubakar to govern them for the next four years at their own detriment.
It is also a wonder, that a country that is made up of eighty-percent (80%) young people, still have youth running around aimlessly, and applauding two septuagenarian leaders, who have nothing to offer them but misery.
These are two men with no capacity to offer solutions to Nigeria’s teeming youth in 2019.
As the great African-American emancipator Harriet Tubman once said, “I freed thousands of slaves, but I could have freed hundreds of thousands more, if they knew they were slaves.”
Why do many young Nigerians whether Northerners or Southerners, want to perish in slavery, by supporting these two candidates who will ensure that their suffering continue?
Choices and Consequences
The medium-term prognosis is that severe hardship will eventually arise in Nigeria, if either of these two candidates is elected to lead Nigeria over the next four years.
In the event that either is elected, Nigerians should not complain, nor seek assistance from the international community, nor worse still, try to seek-out the Nigerian Diaspora to send them money as they often do, because “choices have consequences”.
Nigerians should not make the mistake of electing either of these two in 2019, because when they elect either of these two, as it looks set to happen, the most vulnerable Nigerians will pay the most price.
I engaged with many young Nigerians in both the North and the South, including those in the refugee camps, in the course of my political engagements across Nigeria in 2018.
I saw the desperation in Nigeria firsthand. Let it be clear that this statement of caution is being made in good faith, ahead of this all-important 2019 election.
The two above leaders have been in power directly or indirectly over the past 40-50 years. They both started as public servants, Buhari in the Army and Abubakar in Customs, they then migrated into their roles as politically exposed persons, per a military government or via an elected government.
The future of Nigeria either under Buhari or Abubakar is bleak, because they do not have the answers to the country’s problems, you cannot give what you do not have.
APC-PDP: The Same Party-The Same People-The Same Principles
Consider that the personalities that constitute APC and PDP are essentially the same ideologically; they have stubbornly refused to reform and carry a new generation of Nigerians along.
The party primaries of APC and PDP were lessons on how to stifle a new generation of leaders, and kill democracy at the primary-root level.
In the APC, the party leadership locked up the nomination by instituting a 45 million Naira nomination fee, thus ensuring that only the incumbent president, with access to the national treasury could pay for the nomination form.
In the PDP Primaries, it became a bidding war, where the delegates were for sale to the highest bidder.
A bidder can only pay millions of Naira or Dollar to thousands of delegates, only if he’s spending stolen loot.
It was a flat-out commercial transaction, with fistfuls of naira and dollars changing hands, and making it impossible for a new-generation candidate to compete.
Now, we will proceed to enumerate what will happen if either of these two candidates wins this election.
Muhammadu Buhari has been on this path before.
Firstly as a military Head of State, and secondly as an elected president. Buhari’s previous term(s) in office (1983 & 2015), were and is marred by hardship, repression, and lop-sided prosecution of an anti-corruption agenda, with Buhari’s kinsmen and associates shielded, and all other persons treated with a heavy-handed disdain.
Buhari’s first era in 1983/84, also witnessed the first ever retroactive application of a law in a common-law country (violating the principle of “ex-post facto” in a rule of law regime); leading to the public execution of persons convicted of drug peddling “retroactively”.
The reader should note that the offence did not carry a death penalty at the time it was committed, among other harsh engagements between the Buhari regime and the Nigerian population in 1983/84.
Buhari would have essentially destroyed the country, if Ibrahim Babangida had not toppled him in a coup in less than two years in office.
As the Director-General of Buhari’s campaign, Rotimi Amaechi said, “Buhari does not care about anything”.
However alas, Buhari was politically resurrected via a clever alliance with Bola Tinubu who along with his Party the AC, commands influence in the Southwest OF Nigeria.
Buhari’s second coming as a civilian president has witnessed a rash of retributions again, against non-supporters, to the extent that bad-will among the constituent parts of this diverse country, and harsh economic conditions, have once again grounded this country of now 200 million people.
You cannot teach an old dog a new trick.
The next four years of a Buhari presidency will witness nepotism of the highest order; including massive repression and violence against the citizens by Buhari’s agents (Buhari is currently holding a religious leader El Zaky Zaky in jail in-spite of a court order granting him bail); and the imminent collapse of the economy.
Also, a few people allied with Buhari will be allowed to plunder the country to their hearts content; as the country finally buckles under the weight of incompetence, neo-corruption, and possibly a massive flare-up of ethnic intolerance (Fulani Herdsmen versus Farmers).
Additionally, given Buhari’s declining health, which is normal for any older person, the governing proper will be effected by 3 or 4 “unelected and unaccountable” persons in Buhari’s inner circle; popularly called the “the cabal” in Nigeria.
Eventually, the signs of an impending national implosion will become more apparent.
Even though Nigerians in some regions are known to be timid, especially when ethnic sentiments and either of the two major religious sentiments are used to becloud or hold down their emotional reactions; however, eventually tension will flare-up, as boiling water rises to the lid of a kettle, burning up its environment.
The sentiments of ethnicity and religion are fast approaching their limits.
Very few sane humans can continue to tolerate hunger and deprivation, while the elites cruise around in Range Rovers, RR Phantoms, and Land Cruisers; without some form of reaction.
No one quite knows how another four years of Buhari may go, but going by precedent, it is not looking good.
Mr. Atiku Abubakar is a very clever and lucky man, and some say he is business savvy as well; but luck has its limits.
Atiku is also quite congenial and cosmopolitan.
However, luck can be complicated by the reality of too much risk being taken by a lucky man; or greed, where a man has taken too much for a rightful owner to tolerate and ignore.
Atiku picked another billionaire Peter Obi, as his running mate.
Mr. Obi is reputed to be austere in managing the people’s money, but he sure loves to make money for himself.
Obi owns one of the biggest banks in Nigeria, a massive grocery distribution company, interests in beverage consumables like breweries and so on.
What would two billionaires know about the masses who eat out of garbage, and scavenge like animals for a living, or at best make their living as Keke Napep (tricycle) drivers?
Abubakar has been accused severally of massive corruption, including from the international arena.
However, somehow Atiku has never been prosecuted and convicted, even in-spite of what appears to amount to indictments from his former boss Olusegun Obasanjo, for massive corruption and greed; and by a US Senate Report, detailing how Atiku and his wife Jennifer Douglas-Atiku Abubakar, laundered 40 million Dollars in suspect funds through the US, among other things.
Companies including Siemens have paid stiff fines to settle corruption charges with the US government.
Siemens also detailed how they spread-out bribe payments to Nigerian leaders, including Abubakar, but no prosecution has yet happened in-spite of all these.
Many Nigerians say the prognosis of a new Nigeria under Abubakar will revolve around Atiku’s usual modus operandi, i.e., taking care of himself maximally via the national treasury.
Then some crumbs could go to his close friends. How do we know this may be Atiku’s plan?
Well, first, this is a man who started his career in the Nigerian Customs, an agency that was reputed to be the most corrupt agency in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
From Customs, Atiku broke-out into businesses that were essentially anchored by government patronage.
Atiku’s private company was doing business with the same agency he managed, or used to manage, the Nigerian Customs.
That is how “Intels”, the terminal management company was born, and started raking in money like sands at the beach.
Secondly, Atiku will follow-up by empowering his close friends and co-travelers; these people number about one hundred and twenty (120) or so; they include questionable characters like Senate President Bukola Saraki, who has stashed away substantial resources in Panama and other illicit resource off-shore havens; according to WikiLeaks.
However, Atiku’s friends and associates are larger in number than Buhari’s group of 3 or 4 people, remember Atiku is to his credit more cosmopolitan and more congenial.
If you are not among Atiku’s few friends, tough luck, because you are toast on the dinner table, to be eaten by Atiku and his friends.
By the end of Atiku’s four years in power, the patronage and sharing among PDP circles may bring the country to its knees, to be re-plundered and scavenged; and eventually economically recolonized by foreign countries; until the remnants of Nigeria begin to forge their own small West African States-Odualand, Biafraland, the Ijaw Nation, Tivland, etc.
The states in the North may merge or join with Niger and Mali and Chad, and begin to pay their taxes to France as the citizens of those countries now do.
This scenario will signal the end of the grand British experiment, perhaps a mistake characterized by lumping together disparate states with an unforgiven retinue of religious and ethnic cultural divide, for the limited interest of the British.
The Only Way Out-Forcing a Run-Off to Forge New Alliances
However, there’s a potential way out. The same 2019 elections holding in a few days also include a crop of 30 or so other candidates from the new-breed leaders.
If Nigerians, especially the wise ones still sitting on the fence, are willing to pause for a moment, and think things through, they can choose to cast a protest vote for some of the new candidates.
Voting for new-breed candidates would at least rob the two septuagenarians of an immediate win, and force a run-off; in order to send a message to the two septuagenarians of PDP and APC, that Nigerians are ready to build a new nation.
A run-off election may force new alliances that can alter the balance of power among the plunderers of the old guard, and the new generation candidates, and give an opportunity to form a government of national unity.
A government of national unity may pave way to a new and possibly renegotiated Nigeria.
Anything less than forcing a run-off by willing Nigerians will amount to committing political suicide.
Sadly the masses of both the North and the South will suffer the grave consequences of a political suicide.
How The North-South Divide May Handle The Coming Hardship
When hardship intensifies per APC-PDP retaining power, the Northern masses may in their complacency simply see the coming severe hardship as “Allah’s Will”. But could a loving Allah be in the business of punishing his children, when he has given people brains, hands, and feet, to chase away their oppressors? In the interim, the Northern elites will jet-off with their wives and children to Europe, UAE and America to enjoy their loot.
The Southern elites may jet-out temporarily; then return to party with their loot in their Banana Island Mansions, Rolls Royce Phantoms, Range Rovers and Land Cruisers, to the adoration of the confused populace, especially in the Southwest of Nigeria.
The Southeast and South-south may descend into massive kidnapping, armed robbery, and a bloody rebellion against the elites, until new nations arise.
Either-way, this would not be a day at the beach.
Nigerians from both North or South must do the right thing, by not bringing back APC-PDP as they are presently constituted. Do not say you have not been warned.
By Okey Samuel Mbonu