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Teachable narratives of the presidential election

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Atiku Abubakar

The overheating of the polity by different religious, political, tribal, class and restructuring actors prior to the presidential election befogged the consequential issues informing the electorate’s voting pattern. There was a co-termination of interests between the educated elite and the pulverized masses on unalloyed significance of the fight against corruption and the use of the bully pulpit to alleviate the burdens of the downtrodden across the country while the economic elite were more interested in prehensile accumulation of wealth without accountability.

The tribal paladins instantiated by Afenifere, Ohanaeze and Arewa were misguided by illusion of grandeur in overplaying their hands. With the exception of Ohanaeze that was able to evoke tribal sentiments for Atiku based on selection of Obi for prospective presidency and restructuring, the other tribal associations’ rationales for endorsing Atiku did not gain traction. Afenifere’s unilateral declaration of Yoruba support for Atiku based on restructuring underscored the abysmal severance between the self-righteous Afenifere leaders who did not broker broad-based consensus across the Yorubaland.

Just like in most part of the North, the message from the yearning masses was restructuring of the economy for poverty alleviation before restructuring of the geopolitical entity. To the talawakas, taking immediate care of physiological needs trumps self-actualization. The reelection of Buhari avows the preferred sequence of things by the masses, the educated elite and the youths.

Buhari’s enamour to the teaming youths and lower class in the North is redolent of the synthesis of the dominance of Ahmadu Bello and the poor’s endearment to Aminu Kano in the first and second republics; needless to opine that such a domineering endorsement by the less- privileged is impregnated with monumental expectations which Buhari must attempt to live up to for his legacy.

It should dawn on the ruling party that potential catalysts of our development are not only pigeon-holed in APC but are also diffused across parties. Every patriot is seething with ideas to hasten our transformation. Accordingly, there is impatience for the incorporation of the ideas and/or personalities of some of the losing presidential candidates into national policies; after all, we are all Nigerians clamouring for the metamorphosis of this country in parity with the developed nations.

Areas where security is of paramount issue, Buhari was beaten. Without more, the people of these states have resoundingly expressed their urgent concern by massively voting against the president. The notice is simple: call the marauding Fulani herdsmen to order, or we take to arms to defend our lands and lives. It is not sufficient that the president is working on improving security now; the only convincing action is the complete cessation of the killings by the Fulani herdsmen. Lest we forget, these agrarian victims did not trespass into the Fulanis’ lands; it was vice-versa, this paints the Fulanis as aggressors. The bottom-line is that to be the president of all Nigerians, an exigent solution is imperative.

God-fatherism is fleeting from Nigerian political landscape. The trouncing of Saraki in Kwara, Ajimobi in Oyo State, Amaechi in Rivers, and the APC’s rejection of Okoroach’s choice in Imo and Amosun’s gubernatorial candidate in Ogun are an affirmation that god-fatherism is in comatose. The illumination of Tinubu as god-father is not held in context. In all the states that he holds sway, he still defers to the localities to elect their candidates, whereas the undiluted god-fatherism epitomized by Okoroachi, Amaechi and Saraki is spawned by the alchemy of nepotism and self-aggrandizement.

Most voters proclaimed their disclaimer of superannuated for integrity and reformation policies of the president. They collectively asserted that old age is not inversely proportional to integrity and performance. They seconded the rate of development, albeit slow but steady and purposeful. Age is not a function of good governance. Ex-President Johnathan was in his early fifties when he became the President of this country. What did he accomplish besides making an art of corruption and inaction? Excellent performance is age-blind.

The notion that religion played no part in the presidential election is an understatement. The epileptic actions of the government to permanently halt the incessant killings of the inhabitants of Benue, Plateau and Taraba by the Fulani herdsmen is evocative of the defense of these regions from the colonizing Islamic jihadists under Othman Dan Fodio. The fact that churches were burnt and congregations were petered with assault guns amplified the religious undercurrent of the herdsmen who are proclaiming their right to all lands in Nigeria. In as much as the government and the Fulani associations would like to downplay the religious undertone, when churches are frequently touched and votaries and priests murdered in cold blood, the issue of religion takes a bona-fide ramification that warrants urgent attention.

A presidential election that yielded infinitesimal number of women in the Congress and other elective positions clamours for instant rectification. The inconsequential number of elected women in the Federal Parliament is a national disgrace because no matter how much we men believe in gender equality we could not feel the pains and the concerns of female as women would do. They are in better position to articulate their plights and chaperone solutions to them.

Again, the absence of female president and female state governors is both a manifestation of interplay of culture and religion. Even in the solidly conservative nations, women have emerged as presidents and prime ministers: Ghandhi in India, Bhutto in Pakistan. It is high time for the president to avail his bully pulpit to initiate changes in religious and cultural hindrances to women empowerment and political involvement. It is not only acceptable for women to vote; they must also lead, unless the men subscribe to masculinity test as a measure of citizenship.

Knowledge-based world has emancipated humanity from bestial display of exertion for dominance. Women by nature possess the intrinsic skills—perseverance, communication skill, tolerance, competency and decision-making capacities propitious for strategic and tactical leadership in Knowledge-dependent universe. A rethink of our macho-dominant policies and polity are not only an issue of morality but also an issue of developmental imperative because we need to unencumbered all energies vital to our developmental evolution. The presidency must take front and center position in driving the female empowerment in parity with male dominancy in our public domain.

In a country of circa 200 million people, it is disconcerting that less than 35 million Nigerians voted for the presidential candidates, especially when about 80 million people registered to vote. The disheartening voter apathy is symptomatic of the lackadaisical efforts by the government to timely issue PVC, to make the PVC centers easily accessible to the populace on regular basis instead of on ad hoc basis. The federal government has to do whatever is necessary to increase voter participation: stimulants and/ or penal measures. The fact that the winner only garnered 15 million votes is not a call for celebration but a moment for reflection on how to make the electoral process fuller and better.

The continued wanton rigging and violence that marred the electoral process must be proactively neutralized through sustainable political education, secured digital voting, prevention-focused intelligence, show of force, if need be, and stricter electoral penal system. Obviously, there is documented causal linkage between electoral violence and voter-apathy. Our violence-marred electioneering is enough to demotivate fuller female participation. The president should help spur enabling climate for peaceful, credible and reliable electoral process.

The teachable narratives of these aforementioned variables are that the conceptualized mercantile capitalism articulated by Atiku and the inchoate welfarism informing Buhari’s actions are not compatible with components of sustainable development. Both approaches are devoid of underpinning policies and strategies for today’s development. Free, market-based economy is irreplaceable by medieval mercantile capitalism; sooner populist agenda without an ideological anchor would run out of gas. The skill-less masses that voted for Buhari need trade or academy to transform their miserable conditions to material improvement.

Until the PDP jettisons the reverie that Nigerians should latch on and condescend to a re-run of yester-years, open-day plundering of our commonwealth through specious promises based on illusive privatization that never alleviates the material wellbeing of Nigerians by the very poster-children—Atiku, Obasanjo, Johnathan— of corruption in Nigeria, PDP will be habitual loser in future presidential election or go out of business.

Moreover, the profound outcomes of the dialectic process of the presidential election should not be lost on Nigerians, especially on the participants: the electorate are neither content with spineless mercantile capitalism that consigns them to excruciating and hellish conditions nor are they excessively patient with populist programs that short-changed on deliverance of the promised programs. Failure to connect with the electorate’s yearnings may shorten the life-expectancy of the two major parties just as the relevance of zoning is about to be anachronistic.


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