Pin No Hope On 2023

The reason why we cannot find a diamond in the rough is that the system has been built to produce just the type of discolored candidates that it produces.

Tunde Odediran: Major political parties now have Nigeria by the throat/ Photo credit: Vanguard
Tunde Odediran: Major political parties now have Nigeria by the throat/ Photo credit: Vanguard

Optimism is an energy in Nigeria no metre can measure.

It is the ability to cling to quantum hope that has kept the nation afloat in its turbulent sea.

But any hope that a president manufactured by the current political system would usher a new dawn would be misplaced.

Nigeria is far too lost and far too gone to be redeemed through an election or a by-product of the corrupt system.

The national interest would be better served if we spend the rest of the time of the current administration designing a cure for the prevalent malady.

What is the point in counting down on President Mohammadu Buhari’s remaining days in office when those waiting in the wings are just greedy, corrupt, inept and tired godfathers?

Who are the politicians who may replace Buhari? A quick rundown can show that the 2023 election is totally unnecessary if what we expect is change.

Let’s go into 2023 accepting that the presidential election is paracetamol for a cancer-stricken patient

The two front runners are the former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Bola Tinubu, and former vice president, Mr. Atiku Abubakar. There is no differentiator between both in political ideology.

They are both old politicians, extremely rich, accused of corruption and are political spendthrifts. They have amassed so much wealth from their political enterprises that they can buy any election.

Atiku Abubakar has yet to address his indictment by the United States Senate for bribery and corruption, a case for which US Congressman, Representative William J. Jefferson, was sentenced to 13 years on November 13, 2009.

An affidavit signed by F.B.I. stated that Atiku asked for at least half of the profits of a technology company controlled by Mr. Jefferson that was seeking to do business in Nigeria.

Atiku and his former American wife, Jennifer Douglas, did not accept summons and subpoenas to appear before the US court. Instead, they moved their family out to Dubai, and put their Potomac, D.C., mansion up for sale.

A US Senate investigation report says: “From 2000 to 2008, Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and the fourth wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former candidate for President of Nigeria, helped her husband bring over $40 million in suspect funds into the United States through wire transfers sent by offshore corporations to U.S. bank accounts.”

The report continued, “Mr. Abubakar and Ms. Douglas convinced U.S. banks, a U.S. law firm, and even a university to accept millions of dollars from unfamiliar offshore corporations to advance their interests.”

That is the Atiku who has tried so hard to be president.

Let’s turn the page to Bola Tinubu.
The first problem with Tinubu’s candidacy is that we don’t really know who he is, and we won’t know who we are voting for.

There are unchallenged claims that his real names are Yekini Amoda Ogunlere; and that he did not attend the schools claimed on his past electoral forms.

It is also an open secret that many people believe Tinubu is not where he says he is from, as we have heard that his state of origin is not Lagos, but the sleepy town of Iragbiji, near Ikirun, in Osun State.

There are reports out there that the current Governor of Osun State is a nephew of Bola Tinubu.

It doesn’t end there.

Tinubu’s stupendous wealth has been the stuff of legend since he left the Lagos State governor’s office. There are hints that Tinubu continues to earn huge income from government contracts via governors he installed throughout the western region.

Tinubu has not only been accused of controlling the finances of Alpha Beta Consulting and for using the company to divert Lagos State’s funds, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, recently confirmed that the presidential aspirant is under investigation.

Although allegations alone are insufficient to disqualify Tinubu, he ought to come out to defend his identity, origin and source of wealth.

Without doing so, those allegations are nothing but the truth.

If the frontrunners have blemishes, does that make 2023 hopeless? Not until you look at the next set of leading aspirants.

Vice President Yemi Osibajo has an enviable resume.

A former university professor, successful lawyer and former state commissioner connected to the family of the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo – he has everything you would want in a president.

The only problem is he could not, and does not appear ready to, disentangle himself from the disastrous administration of Buhari.

Being the number two man in perhaps Nigeria’s most overrated and underachieving government, Osibajo is one of the diggers of the deep hole Nigerians have been dumped into.

He must, therefore, carry Buhari’s stinking remains on his head. As expected, his underwhelming presidential aspiration speech tied him tightly to the failed policies that have created a devastation in just seven years.

Over to the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who believes his records in Kogi is proof of his qualification to be president. What are those records?

Kogi State before, during and after him will remain one of the poorest states in Nigeria. The state has been so impoverished that Bello is owing several months of workers’ salaries.

According to the state labor union, local government employees in Kogi State are not guaranteed salaries, and are paid anything the government can afford, if at all.

Another source, a retired general, disclosed he did consultancy work running into millions of naira for Kogi State, which the governor has not paid.

The word is that Governor Bello does whatever he wants and his bareknuckle methods has caused even his opponents to know they cannot freely criticise him.

His political manifesto is to create 20 million Nigerian millionaires.

When nearly half of Nigeria is living in abject poverty, who wants to be a millionaire? People want food and shelter first, with good roads, electricity and pipe-borne water.

It is the same governor who refused to accept COVID-19 vaccines for his citizens, while denying any infection within his state. If Bello was the Nigerian president in 2020, he would have denied that any Nigerian was infected and rejected vaccination anywhere in Nigeria.

One only wonders if Harvard-trained Hafsat Abiola-Costello, the daughter of M.K.O. Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential elections, decided to support Bello’s campaign for any reason apart from money.

In a series of dirty financial deals using foreign tax havens, Obi is alleged to have broken several laws, including the violation of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act banning public officials from holding a bank account outside of Nigeria

Who else is there?

Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who cannot manage the rail system efficiently. His trademark project has reached a dead end with the drying up of Chinese loans which have terms that should make Nigerians worried.

After seven years, all he has to demo is all kinds of uncompleted projects, mountains of debt and a transportation system that is still a mess. If he cannot manage a ministry successfully, how will he manage a nation?

Former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, could not take his own candidacy seriously when he attended the launching of the ambition of his former principal, Atiku.

Besides, Obi will need to unlock himself from the massively damaging Pandora Papers leaks.

In a series of dirty financial deals using foreign tax havens, Obi is alleged to have broken several laws, including the violation of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act banning public officials from holding a bank account outside of Nigeria.

There are many more candidates able to afford the hefty party fees for presidential aspiration, but it is hardly conceivable that most Nigerians will pay attention to them.

In Nigeria, the price for Aso Rock is so high that it is a reserve of the rich and powerful.

By the time the deal-making is over, we might end up with any of the listed.

None has the ideology or willingness to change Nigeria. They are all wheelers and dealers.

At best, any of the aspirants will be a president who is just more acceptable than Buhari.

The reason why we cannot find a diamond in the rough is that the system has been built to produce just the type of discolored candidates that it produces.

The system is too flawed to effect change.

Some will say, and rightly so, that Nigerians just need to vote for the right candidates.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that the system will not produce the right candidates.

It is designed to supply kleptocrats and party favorites.

The only redemption from Nigeria’s eventual political destruction is a sovereign conference and a new constitution.

We have tried the military constitution for 23 years and it simply cannot work.

Let’s go into 2023 accepting that the presidential election is paracetamol for a cancer-stricken patient.

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Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.