The emergence of ‘Baba 70s’ as major contenders for the Aso Rock shows how the structures of moneybags continue to hold sway in our politics.
From the vote buying and voters intimidation scenarios of Ekiti and Osun to the trashing of Ambode in Lagos State by the structures that enthroned him and the eventual emergence of party flag-bearers at the State and Federal levels, the political ecosystem of the country has been charged in the past few weeks. Acclaimed progressives have behaved, and are still behaving, retrogressively while the acclaimed conservatives became unconventional as they all deliberately manipulated, excluded, coerced and influenced election outcomes with power, money and authority. Through the political activities of the past few weeks, many people whose economy were in recession suddenly exited recession as monies changed hands from all aspirants in the battle to serve their ‘people’.
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From House of Assembly aspirants who paid up to N100, 000 per delegate to gubernatorial aspirants who mobilised money, food and accommodation and Presidential aspirants of Broom wielders association and the Rain or Sun cannot beat me party, it is obvious that Nigerian politics and its participation is heavily monetised. So, because of monetised mobilisation, the Broom party’s anointed candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari (75 years), emerged, so did former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (72 years) of the PDP extraction after a tortuous nationwide campaign, lobby and mobilisation of delegates.
With the emergence of ‘Baba 70s’ as major contenders for the Aso Rock, it goes to show how the structures of moneybags continue to hold sway in our politics. The establishments in both PDP and APC are now in for the battle of their lives. While there are other presidential candidates from other political parties, PDP and APC appear to be top contenders while the rest can only articulate their ideas and ginger the debate climate ahead of 2019. Without the structure, money and power, the rest will only be seen; they cannot move mountains.
Being itself a mountain, Nigeria is moved only by money, power and authority which both Baba 70s command in excess. While it is a shocking outcome to the APC that Atiku Abubakar, a serial contender for a party’s ticket to vie for the number one position in Nigeria, APC undoubtedly knows that this is not a pushover fight as the structure of Atiku is national and his tentacles is ubiquitous .
The two parties are not totally different. However, the one who pulls the lever may dictate the direction of governance. As the two ‘Old School’ enter the battle ring, no punch will be spared. Specifically, propaganda machinery will be oiled for the tasks ahead: Is Atiku a corrupt man? If this is true, it should not come from the mouth of the APC who has harboured him for some years and may have contributed to the campaign of PMB in 2015, a reason he has representatives in the government. If a man is corrupt and you failed to activate appropriate laws for over three years to prosecute him; that is failure and such a government should be silent for failing Nigeria.
The selling points for Buhari government will be how his government has transformed the economy, increased employment, checked Fulani-herdsmen carnage, and ‘technically’ defeated Boko Haram. PMB will campaign based on interesting movement of Nigeria as poverty capital and how budget to education and health has increased since he came on board. He will tell unbelievers how the poor business women and men are benefitting from N10,000 interest free loans, and how they are recovering looted funds. PMB will attempt to explain away the endless failure to ensure conviction of former Special Adviser on security. We shall be told how the government has strengthened the rule of law by obeying court orders on El-Zakzaky, and others. More significantly, PMB will be sure to remain silent on how he fumigates perceived enemies and deodorises members of his cabinet alleged to have been involved in corruption. He will not be able to explain why he has yet to keep to his promise of stopping health tourism and why flying out for treatment of his ailment remains the best option for three and half years while reproducing same at home has eluded his government.
As an employer of labour, Atiku will be able to ‘Atikulate’ his points based on the wonders performed during the regime of Olusegun Obasanjo. He has stories of how their government inherited an economy in comatose and how they revived it with the assemblage of experts and not saintly Ministers. The Turakin Adamawa will show their achievements in security, employment and the transformation of the telecommunication industry. He will have questions to answer on power and the money invested and its outcomes between 1999 and 2007. He will definitely show his understanding of how economy works and grow with the right policies and how investor-friendly environment is crucial to rescue the country. His selling point will be his overt support for restructuring which his opponent is overtly opposed to despite promising it in 2015. But will ‘Atikulating’ restructuring Nigeria win the heart of Nigerians towards the retired customs officer? Can he be trusted just the way his kinsman, Buhari was trusted with promises made but overtly denied?
The ring is being prepared for these old men by the referee who has told them to wait for the bell to begin the fight before punching each other. But, pre-match vituperations have begun. Throwing the ‘lifeless’ jab to His Excellency, the Prince of Daura, Atiku limited Nigerian’s options to the two of them while marketing his credential as a job provider. The Broom party swiftly responded that Atiku was desperate and his Aso Rock dream would come to naught.
I am interested in ring fight where both men will engage each other and argue as well as proffer solutions to our myriad of troubles. Belonging to the same cohort, PMB camp should no longer run away from debates. They are both in their 70s, Osinbajo should not represent him in debates this time around.
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Let both parties stop throwing punches on corruption because Atiku will show the feat of the EFCC during their administration too. As they battle dirty, we may need to know their fitness level/health status, economic idea, policy for education and health, and idea on restructuring. I know what late Abami Eda, the REAL Baba 70, Fela Anikulapo Kuti calls roforofo battle will soon ensue but what is important to us is to have someone who can get the best team to rescue this sleeping giant and deliver the goods to the teeming suffering masses. Will it be Atiku or Buhari? Only the Nigerian electorate will decide.
Dr Tade, a sociologist, writes via [email protected] yahoo.com