By Ladi Ayodeji
I have been off beat for a while due to a long bout with infirmities. Thank God for his mercies, I’m on the way to recovery. I glorify God for the grace of being able to write again.
In my absence the big two parties, APC and the PDP held their Presidential primaries and, contrary to expectations, the heavens did not fall.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar have emerged as the standard-bearers of the two parties. The sad thing about this is that we have no clear ideas about what each candidate stands for.
I do not know the political ideology of Tinubu or Atiku; what is certain is their avowed desire to rule Nigeria. What we are going to witness from now is a relentless battle between these two for the soul of Nigeria.
In terms of campaign finance, they are evenly matched. In terms of ideas about how to get our nation back on track, they are yet to define their platforms. We don’t have to wait until the Presidential debates to know what Tinubu and Atiku have to offer Nigeria. We ought to have known these even before the primaries.
In developing democracies, candidates are normally identified with their political ideologies, the economic philosophy they believe in, and the governance style they favor.
Such knowledge of candidates is usually not hidden. However, when you mention any political figure in Nigeria, especially those who have been parading the corridors of power for decades, their identity cannot be placed on any clear-cut programme or economic philosophy.
What is coming up from the Tinubu-Atiku candidacies is the tribal and religious affiliations of their running mates, not even their real qualifications as Vice President.
From the price tag placed by political parties on party tickets, our polity has been auctioned off to the highest bidders.
This process has continued to breed fraudulent political office holders, incompetent contestants, unpatriotic aspirants, 419ners, and poor political players.
In a clime where only billionaires can aspire for key political offices, the development will definitely be on holiday.
All these boil down to the fact that the 2023 political process is faulty and cannot portend well for Nigeria.
When only the rich have access to power, the process becomes big merchandise and you cannot run a country like that.
This country has to rethink its destiny, future, priorities and political system if we are to move forward.
Whoever emerges president in 2023 would be encumbered by the same issues Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari faced and were defeated.
Nobody can move Nigeria forward with the current political structures, government processes, personnel, bureaucracy, revenue formula, resource allocation, and system.
Nigeria is due for a complete overhaul, not an election. The next election cycle will produce change without results, motion without movement, and the same consequences of our political actions because we’ve not been able to make a fundamental change needed to lift the country out of the ditch. Under the present political arrangements, whoever emerges president in 2023, Boko Haram would still run rampant, and criminal herdsmen would still be here, like the bandits, ritual killers, and other violent youth.
No new President has the economic magic wand to dramatically increase revenue, bring down spiralling inflation, create jobs, and resolve all the crises in education, health, labour, secessionist agitations, and political exclusion.
Nigeria is in a quandary. We need to restructure, rebuild and retool, otherwise, 2023 would just be another change without change.
However, if we look at Tinubu’s antecedents, he tends to rely fully on tax revenue for development. This is not a bad idea. As Lagos State Governor between 1999 and 2007, he moved the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from single-digit to double digits. He deployed the funds to develop the state infrastructure and ran the civil service even when the then President Olusegun Obasanjo unjustly held up the federal allocation of the state.
Tinubu knows how to raise funds through taxation, borrowing, etc. However, in a federal setting, the situation is different. The financial demands are quite huge and the fiscal responsibilities are vast, especially in the view of shrinking oil revenues and the downturn in the global economy in the wake of COVID-19.
So, Tinubu or any new President would face horrendous challenges if he wins the election. Climate change, terrorism, criminality, and corruption, issue any new Nigerian leader would find daunting.
As for Atiku, his notable contribution to OBJ’s government was his supervision of the sale of the government’s non-performing assets to raise funds to service public debt and expenditures.
He didn’t do anything creative to generate funds for the government. If he wins, he has to find radical ways to get money to run Nigeria. A public declaration of intent to develop the country is not a manifesto. Nowadays, it takes more than good intentions to move a nation forward.
Nigerians are looking forward to seeing active purpose in the plans of their new President to restore confidence in the government.