By Tunde Odesola
Broken in every bone, life hangs by the thread for 62-year-old comatose patient, Nigeria, inside the intensive care unit of the decrepit Ass-o-Rock hospital, Abuja, where it nurses diseased kidneys, liver cirrhosis and an enlarged heart while the Chief Physician, Dr M. Buhari, stands by with a shroud, clutching a book entitled, ‘From national hero to regional zero”.
This doctor is as useful to the patient as glaucoma is useful to sight.
As a novice, I lay no claim to science but I love the art and science of science. I’m fascinated by pharmacy, a branch of clinical health science that links medical science with chemistry in the discovery, production, disposal, use and control of medications and drugs.
‘Na madness we dey use cure madness’ is a pidginised proverb that means ‘Wèrè la fi n wo wèrè’ in Yoruba translation. Nigeria is gasping. It urgently needs a miracle drug. But drug production is a deep and technical endeavour. Sometimes, it entails a fire-for-fire approach, that is, a particular virus could be remodified and synthesised to make drugs for the treatment or cure of a particular viral disease as it is the case with HIV, for instance.
However, in the case of some viral diseases such as COVID, for example, a non-viral drug, vaccine, is used for treatment. COVID vaccine, in this case, is a novel drug synthesised from either natural or artificial components to fight the viral infection. I’ll call this a fire-for-water approach.
Conversely, for the fast-approaching 2023 presidential election, the dying patient, Nigeria, is faced with either taking the fire-for-fire approach or the fire-for-water approach.
If Nigeria takes the fire-for-fire approach, it means she is settling for a candidate that had been part and parcel of the old political order; a politician who had been elected on the platform of one of the existing dubious political parties as vice president, governor, senator or minister.
But to take the fire-for-water approach means Nigeria breaking away from the politicians of old to elect a new-breed politician who has never tasted political power. An example of this type of politician is Mr Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress.
Bola Tinubu (All Progressives Congress)
The former Lagos governor is faced with a dual-action Buharian pill that can both kill and save his ambition. The atrocious performance of Buhari in two terms of office is a sword of Damocles hanging over Tinubu’s head, and for which he has been justifiably criticised in the South, but, on the other hand, President Muhammadu Buhari still wields a great influence in the large North which votes on the command of its leaders, ethnicity and religion.
If the APC northern governors and Buhari fully support Tinubu in the election, the political strategis will be Nigeria’s next president because majority of northern votes and South-West votes are what he needs to earn a four-year tenancy in Aso Rock. Tinubu’ll win all South-West states.
The old warhorse cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand because doing so may come at a peril.
Having been senator in the aborted political experiment of the Third Republic, Tinubu is the most experienced, sophisticated and shrewdest of the three leading candidates, whose political tentacles cover the length and breadth of the country.
With his war chest, federal might and his expertise at winning elections, Tinubu is one of the two major forces most likely to win the election.
Atiku Abubakar (Peoples Democratic Party)
Atiku stands a good chance to emerge Nigeria’s president next year if the Hausa-Fulani political hegemony decides that power should remain in the North and condemn Tinubu to gaze at the bye-bye evening sun, singing ‘Mai kolo kolo, to your tent, oh Tinubu!’
Former Vice President Atiku’s admission of the corrupt and woeful performance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in the area of power supply shows candour. It also shows contempt because he never apologised to Nigerians over the issue.
His controversial role in the privatisation of Nigeria’s companies and the hazy Halliburton scandal are sore points in a mixed-bag political career.
Because the North doesn’t subject its leaders to public scrutiny as much as the South does, coupled with the fact that ethnicity is a big factor in Northern politics, Atiku’s foothold in the climb to Aso Rock is strong.
However, the internal crisis wracking the PDP may whittle down Atiku’s chances to the ultimate advantage of Tinubu, who would be glad if the planned move of Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State to Labour Party materialises because it would mean Labour Party would share votes with the PDP in the South-East and South-South.
That Buhari defeated Atiku in the North in 2019 reflected the former’s large following. Without Buhari being on the 2023 ballot, however, the North may decide to allow ethnicity dictate its choice for president, and swing their votes for Atiku – given the backing of General Ibrahim Babangida, General Theophilus Danjuma and General Aliyu Gusau, who are PDP power brokers from the North.
Also, the way Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, withdrew from the presidential primary and queued behind Atiku showed that he acted in the interest of some powerful northern forces, shocking the Wike camp, and wrecking their permutation to pave the way for an Atiku victory.
Wike is politically hurt, and he’s fuming with vegeance against certain interests, mostly retired generals within the PDP, who decided to cut him to size by scuttling moves to make him VP candidate after he lost to Atiku because his group was seen as trying to check the influence of the generals, which saw former Governor of Osun, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, lose the bid to become PDP chairman.
The crisis, if not resolved, will hurt the PDP
Peter Obi (Labour Party)
If any tribe should feel entitled and stake their claim to the Presidency, chanting, “Emi lokan,” it’s the Igbo that should – in a federation that has grown suspicious of them since the January 1966 coup and the July 1966 retaliatory counter-coup, yet the Nigerian political knee has been hard on the Igbo neck, making breathing difficult.
It’s in this light that the psychology of Obi’s quest for the presidency is mainly backed by the Igbo vociferously.
In Nigeria’s political demography, however, the South-East region possesses the least voter population among the three main regions whose indigenes are contesting.
Inarguably, the Igbo, being itinerant, have presence in all states of the federation, but there’s no state where they outnumber the natives
Inasmuch as I’ve repeatedly canvassed for the Igbo to ascend the presidency of this country for fairness sake, it, sadly, won’t happen in 2023.
That politics is an organised, structured and money-gulping game is the reason why no ‘structureless’ independent candidate has ever won the US presidency since the advent of party politics. Nigeria is no different.
Though Obi has a smaller bag of controversies, to win the presidency in a nation with 176,846 polling units spread across 774 local government councils nationwide, Obi needs to win majority votes and 25% of votes in at least 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states, mobilising party agents.
The Obi movement hasn’t the clout for this yet – evident in the poor performance of his party in the Osun governorship election, despite his involvement. Obi would be ready in 2027 if he builds political bridges and provides credible alternatives to the victor of this impending election charade.