That Buhari, IBB and Atiku have declared their interest to contest the forth-coming presidential election is no longer a new story, while Goodluck Jonathan waits for the right time to declare his candidacy. However, the reasons behind their presenting themselves for the office are somewhat ridiculous and portray them as men who are out of touch with the reality of time. Atiku, the former Vice-President in an interview recently said that they (old-guards) cannot hand over the country to a new generation without clearing up the mess they engendered. In other words, he is presenting himself as one who is coming to mop-up the mess. Well good luck to his candidacy. But one thing remains clear that a Vice-President who told the nation that his boss approved for him the use of money running into billions from the PTDF orally, does not show one capable of making the necessary documentation for the well-being and smooth hand over of office to the next generation. What kind of president will such a person be? Little wonder did he fall on the day he declared his intention. Well if not for the digital age where he can be captured on the floor, he will probably lie that he has not fallen but bent down to pick a fallen item!
IBB himself, an erstwhile head of state, now turned zoning - democrat has marshalled out his newly developed ideas about democracy and federalism, the need for state police and fiscal federalism etc. However, one thing remains clear - despite his obscene history and the annulment of June 12 election - that a man who recently lost a wife and has not been able to mourn her for a year is running around talking about his candidature is as callous as anything. His wooing the Igbo's - his in-laws - and promising to hand over power to them after his first tenure is another insult to such group of people. He must first mourn their daughter before canvassing for their votes. This particular act portrays this newly self-proclaimed humanist as the most devious person on earth. This latest humanist, despite, having the opportunity in a democratic dispensation in Oputa panel to clear his name of murder accusations and show his humanism, opted to abscond. Do we now believe his humanism just because he called a few journalists to say that he values life and dare not take that of another? IBB must know that a true humanist does not shun the people when they call for clarifications and not to give one when he feels so.
Buhari, another ex-general recently said that he will continue to run as long as he is able. Well this means that he will continue to run for the sake of running. What new ideas has Buhari got?, ideas that can work in a democracy and not in the military; ideas that will put Nigeria on a pedestal with other democracies in terms of human rights and economic development? If he has any, I for one have not heard him espousing them. Granted the fact that Buhari, given his antecedent, may be incorruptible, governance in a democracy is not only about corruption. In fact in a functional democracy, the institutions should be able to check the excesses of the president. What we need from the president are good ideas that will move the nation forward without tramping on the rights of the citizens.
Despite their poor ideas, these three candidates do not understand the present leadership trend in the world. From Australia to America, you find youths or say young men or women who are virile that are running the affairs of their country. I do not mean that we must follow the trend in other countries, but they must understand that governance takes a lot in terms of physical exertion. So the presidency is not for the sick and old-aged who may not withstand the rigours of office. The late president didn't understand that and he paid dearly for it. We do not need an Atiku who cannot stand on a treadmill nor on a podium without crashing on the ground and needing medical attention abroad, nor a Babangida who is now a shadow of his former self and always on medical check-up. The case of UMYA has taught us a lot.
As GEJ said during his interview with Amanpour, it is left for us. If the Nigerian people decide to vote for IBB, Atiku or Buhari, we will be saying something deeper about us namely a people with no memory or future. Talking about GEJ, we know that he is bidding his time, perhaps playing the game of attrition. Let the other candidates shout themselves hoarse then he will quietly in his characteristic mien declare his candidacy. The issue as I see it is this, whether there is zoning or not, GEJ remains the only would-be candidate that can destabilize and foreclose the emergence of a president IBB, Atiku or Buhari. Politics is no nursery rhyme not to talk of the Nigerian version of it. Anybody who seriously thinks that an unknown candidate a la Obama of the United States will emerge on the Nigerian stage come 2011 needs a serious check-up. In Nigeria, as it is in the United States, electioneering is about money and expenses and I do not see the Nigerian masses raising funds for campaigns as happened in the United States with regard to Obama. Any would-be rookie will need lots of funds given the Nigerian context, coupled with the fact that governance should not be left for people without substantial finance. Such a person should be able to absorb the shock if he or she loses. The idea of an Okotie, Ribadu or an Utomi is farfetched. On the election day, voting will not be done by Okey Ndibe led diaspora parliament nor Abati led columnists and writers rather by majority of the people who can easily be be coaxed by fringe benefits.
I do not hold any brief for GEJ, but I seriously think that he remains a good candidate. Any person who seriously has not seen any improvement since GEJ became the president has neither visited Nigeria recently nor does he know the rot that besieged the country prior to Jonathan. I for one can say that for the past four years I have been visiting Nigeria during the summer holidays, it is only this time that I did not witness a queue in the petrol stations. I can also say that there is an improvement in the aspect of power. The issue of power we have to admit is a complicated one. The cases of outdated transformers, over-loaded transformers, fallen electric poles, etc, contribute a lot to the issue of power outage in many areas. Appointing a Barth Nnaji or setting up committees on power generation may not solve these problems that fall directly under the jurisdiction of the PHCN. Granted that we have the right to be impatient with GEJ and must also continue to speak out against perceived excesses of his administration, I advise that his candidacy in the coming 2011 elections be juxtaposed with other candidates that have or will be presenting themselves for the office of the president. In the coming elections, if it will hold, I don't perceive any ideal candidate rather that of the lesser evil. I therefore say that given the alternatives of Atiku, IBB and Buhari, I will vote for GEJ anytime of the day. Zoning or no zoning, GEJ must bear in mind what he told Amanpour. Given the palpable reality of a president IBB, Atiku or Buhari, if he chooses not to run for the office of the president, then he, as a Nigerian, will be creating that opportunity for a Babangida to emerge as a president.
If zoning means Babangida and co, then he must run and run again. And if Nigeria will implode then let it implode. At this moment in time and history, we need someone that will send IBB, Atiku and Buhari packing for good. In the next four years they will be well above seventy and I think that then they may listen to the voice of cracking bones - since they are bereft of reason - to quit politics. But suffice it to say that it is to their best interest to quit now and serve as mentors and advisers to the younger politicians.