There is this out burst about former President Olusegun Obasanjo I find very offensive.
I have watched the television, social media, seeing people shouting and calling for his head for making his points on leadership known. Some of these people I presume are only interested in using the name of Olusegun Obasanjo to walk to stardom. Messages have entered my WhatsApp all showing young and old explaining what Obasanjo’s press release is all about. They have continued to analyse a man as if he is the major challenge of this country. In my view it is unacceptable and a diversion.
I had a serious discussion with my daughter on a post sent to her WhatsApp were a young man was busy calling the names of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Pastor Tunde Bakare. My daughter was pissed off with the young man shouting on the top of his voice in an attempt to explain himself. She was of the view that the man could make his points clear without shouting. She agreed that the man made some valid points. But why all the shout she queried?
Nigerians are good at shouting and quarrelling over issues that can be solved if we do the right thing. Was this kind of quarrelling seen in America’s election? The Americans for sure know what the voter’s card can do for them if there is leadership distress. The 2019 election is a year away and don’t Nigeria have what will occupy them? Would it not amount to seeing governance as an industry? The interest by some of us, are they not laced with personal gains? How sincere are we as critics and national commentators?
My daughter was of the view that if a president is not doing well he could be voted out. She said we should stop the shouting and blame game that it will not take the country anywhere. She went further to state that in 2015 President Good Luck Jonathan was voted out. She said we can do same if we feel bad about the leadership of the country? I told her yes, that leadership change can occur in a true democracy. The fact that Good luck Jonathan conceded defeat does not suggest that all leaders have such spirit. One thing is for a contestant to be defeated another thing is for him to accept defeat. A politician must be brave and godly to accept defeat.
One good thing is that Nigeria is beginning to show signs of a true democracy. In a matter of time we will get there as a country. Our major challenge is the vast majority of voters who can be swayed. So we need massive voters education. Many Nigerians do not know why they queue to vote.
Last week I engaged a friend from the North in a strong political conversation. I so much believe in his political analysis and his opinions. In 2015, while a lot of the Northerners supported and voted for President Mohammadu Buhari, he was one of those who did not vote for him or believe in his government. He has always been very factual to me about his views on political issues.
In 2015, he frankly told me that the people of the North needed power by all means because to them it was their turn to produce a president that was why Buhari had massive support from the North and to cap it he was the only one standing from the Northern flank. In that conversation, he expressed his doubts about the performance of Buhari if he eventually becomes the President.
I hushed him down, I must confess, the conversation was a hot one. I told him that he will not win the argument anywhere as Buhari had become a wide fire in Nigeria. In 2015, there was a definite need for a change. The talks about change, the sensation from the down trodden, the students were all out, it was clear that the whole nation was engulfed with Buhari mania, it was also a clear fact that the people especially from the North wanted him desperately. The PDP provided those advantages and the three parties in a merger capitalised on it. The election came and all is history now.
When all the hullabaloo on the effectiveness of Buhari started especially after the press release by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, I called my friend from the North again. I needed to be clear on this issue, the views of the people from the Northern flank. These people from the North we cannot wish them away, they play some major roles on who becomes the President of Nigeria. I said to him on phone; my good friend, politics is hitting up the Country and I called because the Oracle has spoken. Who is this Oracle he asked? I replied, the Oracle is former President Olusegun Obasanjo, I went on, Baba Obasanjo said President Buhari has performed poorly, he should not seek reelection. So, now that the Oracle has spoken who will the North be looking at to present to Nigerians since all the political parties will likely field candidates from the North?
My friend asked me to mention the names of the Northern political gladiators that we are expecting to come out for the Presidential contest with Buhari. I mentioned five major big wigs in politics and the gentle man dismissed all of them with some valid points. He said to me, let me confide in you, the North may like to have another person other than Buhari but all the names you have mentioned from the North where I come from will not match him. He said again; you see, in all frankness he is better than these politicians you have mentioned. He went on and on. you know I was never his follower but the challenge in the North is our inability to have a strong person who would be his match.
I was taken aback with his statement. I told him, here in the South we can sit down and count ten Northerners we think can stand with Mohammadu Buhari in 2019 election.
He laughed, we were on phone for almost an hour. He could not see one Northern politician that will be able to give Buhari a run for the position of Mr president. In an attempt to convince him and win I made mention of some very great businessmen from the North and one after the other his analysis and deep knowledge of these personalities kept me silent. Here in the Southern part of Nigeria so many of us may not want Buhari, so also are some people from the Northern part who do not want Buhari but the North may not be able to produce a better and stronger character that may be able to defeat him in the North. He told me that they know their people more than we know them and if the North eventually agree to follow Buhari would he not have greater chances of winning the 2019 election?
We certainly can not wish the Northern votes away. Yes the south south are shouting no to Buhari, the South East also and the South West but have they sat down to think or find out who from the North they will like to support to effect that defeat of Buhari? Politics is a game of numbers and not sentiments or mere desire.
The 2019 election scenario will not be the same with the 2015 elections. The type of character the Northern voter is looking at as a President is very different from the ones we look at in the South. The taste or do I say the interest of a Northern voter for a Presidential candidate and the interest of a Southern voter for a Presidential candidate are certainly different.
Many may not follow my submission but time will tell, soon the game will unfold. There are two major political parties at the moment, chances are that Buhari may run as APC Presdential candidate, this we already know.
But who is the candidate from the PDP? These are the major huddles for the PDP and other political parties. There is the idea of a coalition of Nigeria group. Where will they start from when election is around the Conner? Planning a presidential elections takes a long time. It is difficult, expensive and time consuming. May I appeal that political critics should leave former President Obasanjo alone. They should know that Obasanjo is just a messenger and should not be treated as the message. They should take the message and stop waisting time analysing the messenger. Elections are coming who are those people coming out as presidential candidates? This question is what should interest the people. For me we should stop the blame game. Oh Bakare, oh Obasanjo, oh Mr John, oh this and that.
The right to vote is in your hands. Most of those making all these noise don’t vote during elections. Those who vote are the people on the streets, the common man. They do not believe in much grammar politicians know how to get them. You can exchange their voters card for as low as 500 naira and they will be happy selling their right. It is a Very sad practice in our country. The elite are making all the noise and trust me a vast majority of them have no voters card and they do not vote. There is poverty, there is starvation, the gap between the poor and the rich is very wide. The people don’t even believe in their leaders any more. It is a systemic thing and we are busy fighting over the statements or press release of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. There is a challenge in our hands, the challenge of leadership, and for me blame game don’t solve challenges.
The time for election has come. Though Buhari has not spoken clearly or shown any interest to contest, chances are that he may contest and if he does the major Northern people are saying that they may have the challenge of having another personality that will match President Mohammadu Buhari.
The above is food for thought.
This analysis is done out of outright drive to put the challenges of the 2019 election before us. It is not done to support any political party. The analysis is in line with having the country at heart.
•Christopher Ebuetsel is a political commentator, a critic and social analyst.