By Alaba Yusuf
FOR starters, there isn’t so much in common between politics and religion in terms of scientific exactitude. Yet, there still exists an unbreakable cord of commonality between the duo. That is their tenacious hold on humanity; be it their cult followership based on fervent and reasonable belief or outright superstitious brainwashing by a group of sociological strategists or psychological influencers. However politics, unlike religion, leans more on logical definition and arithmetic of addition and subtraction while deciding the winner at any election. Meanwhile, religion on the other hand prefers to walk the softer patch of the park called divination or divine intervention – unseen hands of the Almighty! Little wonder political election has been tagged “a game of numbers” while religion is seen as “a leap in the dark or an opium of the masses.” These definitions notwithstanding, mankind still falls prey to the strong forces of religion and politics or an amalgam of both. The nexus being man and his ultimate search for betterment in this life or “life after life.”
Let’s shelve the abstract for now and bring the chickens home to roost. Let’s turn our focus on the locus of the February 25 presidential election. Barely in a fortnight, the citizens of the world’s most populous Black Democracy, Nigerians, will be casting their ballots to elect once again a driver of their political locomotive. Will this pilot of national destiny be the catalyst for positive change that millions are yearning for, or yet another negative chapter in the country’s current sad history? From the pinnacle of political permutations, only four contestants stand out amongst the 18 INEC registered presidential candidates for the said poll, slated for two weeks’ time. A further microscopic examination will, without an iota of doubt, narrow down the real contending gladiators to two: Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This means in effect an imaginary subtraction of Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the NNDP and his Labour Party counterpart, famous trader-turned-politician, Peter Obi. The dream of the former, an ex-Governor of Kano State, ex-Minister and ex-Senator Kwankwaso becoming the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, may just be an exercise in futility, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. A herculean task! Dreams may also die fast for Obi; whose presidential adventure has been comically branded as “a bubble in political waters.” The numbers would hardly add up for both Kwankwaso and Obi, as neither of them would be able to garner the 25 percent of votes cast in 24 States of the Federation, as required by INEC for presidential electoral victory. Reasons for this conclusion are not without a solid premise. Both the NNDP and LP are newcomers to the Nigerian political firmament. They are to gel or mature as commonplace brands.
Meanwhile, a successful electioneering campaign requires enormous human and administrative structural architecture. These witty and weighty capital assets are not in the kitty for Engineer Rabiu, nor in the vault of Obi, a serial entrepreneur glorified as “Peter the Rock.” Those wishing to contest this standpoint of mine are jolly welcome to doing so. The beauty of democracy relies heavily on people’s participation, through persuasive and polemical sharing of knowledge on public canvass. After all, freedom of speech and that of association are enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as Amended. At this juncture, let’s engage the two true contenders in this presidential election and the parties whose flags they are flying. Alphabetically, let’s commence with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar former Vice President of Nigeria (1999-2007). The seasoned public servant, business tycoon and political juggernaut was born 25 November 1946 in Jada town, in present day Adamawa State. He is traceable genealogically, educationally, professionally, politically, wealth and health wise. Atiku’s grandparents and parents are properly listed in his biography. Ditto for his education from Jada Primary School to Yola Provincial College, School of Hygiene Kano, a stint in Police College and graduation from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Kaduna State; and recently his convocation following a Master’s degree from Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
Atiku’s job history is also well documented. His enlistment and meritorious performances in the then Nigerian Customs and Excise Department, where he later retired voluntarily in 1989 as a Deputy Director, are free literature in cyber libraries. And his political odyssey cum value addition to the defence of democracy and constitutionalism in our country, are never in dispute. They are well recorded for the benefit of unborn generations of Nigerians and political analysts worldwide. A further glimpse into history shows zero-to-hero Atiku as a child of destiny who had to do adult tasks to cater for himself and his widowed mother, after losing his breadwinning father at a tenderage of nine. His local trader dad drowned in a river while commuting from one village to the other for business. Despite this initial lull, Atiku skipped the hurdles of life to becoming a detribalised household name in Nigeria and the world over. His simplicity, humility and immense generosity are second to none. Atiku is a consummate statesman and patriotic philanthropist. Never in the league of boastful donors or vengeful dictators.
At 76, Atiku is still blessed with a wealth of good health; physical ability, mental stability, tremendous intellectual capacity, administrative sagacity and vast experience at national governance as former Vice President and Chairman, National Economic Council.
Thus making him the doyen of Nigerian politics and envy of his peers. Atiku is a unifier, friend of the business class, defender of democracy and constitutionalism, exponent of women and youth inclusivity, national security, equitable development and sustainable prosperity. Aside, the global community is equally receptive to a tolerant and accessible Atiku Presidency. On top of it all, Atiku is a quintessential family man, leadership mentor, wealth creator and education investor. Little wonder that Atiku is in pole position as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the frontline candidate to beat in the February 25 election.
Sadly, the embattled ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressive Party (APC), has fractured the unity of the nation, collapsed its economy, sent the citizenry into abject poverty, gross unemployment, hopelessness and general insecurity.
To worsen the bad situation, against the logic of reasoning and mathematical management of diversity, the APC went all out for a Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket featuring controversial ex-Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the godfather of Lagos politics, and ex-Governor Kashim Shettima, a politician from North East Nigeria. Probable double trouble of a heavy yoke that can break the back of any beast of burden, politically. Curiously, the true history of the Man Tinubu – his genealogy, education, health and revenue avenues – seems forever shrouded in secrecy. His inability to locate or name his primary and secondary schools, classmates and teachers have not helped to clear the cumulus cloud of doubt on his true parentage, state of origin, educational attainment, sources of his stupendous wealth and the uncertainty over his medical fitness.
Finally, as Nigerians are scheduled to troop to the polls to elect a replacement for President Muhammadu Buhari who’s eight-year tenure ends May 29, it is advisory that people should vote a National Pilot along the dictates of commonsense, based on scientific exactitude, rather than mere brainwash of emotional sentimentality, ethnicity, region or religion. As aggrieved Nigerians go out to vote on February 25, please think deeply and make a right choice of the driver or pilot that you can entrust your life into his/her hands in another four year’s journey. Will it be the articulate Atiku of PDP or a secretive, self-idolising Emi Lokan and unsteady BalaBlu Tinubu, of the hunger and inflation inflicting APC? Wisely choose your choice with a loud voice. Because, as Alexander Pope, British philosopher and English poet (1688-1744) said, “For forms of government let the fools contest; whatever is the best administered is the best.”
- Chief Yusuf, a global communication strategist and publicist, writes in from London.