On your marks, set…’ is a familiar tone of command during athletic competitions. Immediately the starter fires his pistol, the athletes take off. Some run with a genuine zeal to win the race. Some run with no conviction beyond participation and undue craving for popularity. Some are so confused they do not know exactly what they want. Some are sure they will lose, so they resort to distracting the spectators from recognizing committed contenders. At the end of the race, only one athlete will brace the tape of victory. The muse immediately reminds me of the Biblical admonition in the Book of Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to the men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all”. Indeed, the foregoing concise metaphor describes Nigeria’s current political terrain which has formalised the race to Aso Rock in a strange rehearsal of the Absurdist Theatre … a regular designate of the abasement of reason and logic where purpose lacks meaning.
It is confounding how some Nigerians can muster the financial muscle to embark on the race to Aso Rock. Initially, when the two leading political parties, APC and PDP announced the cost of their presidential nominations forms, 100 million and 40 million naira respectively, Nigerians cried blue murder because they thought that the amount was prohibitive, vile, and unrealistic. But alas, our politicians have made total nonsense of the amount, especially APC aspirants. 100 million naira currently flies about like 10 naira. If APC leadership had known, they would have pegged the cost of the forms at one billion naira. I am sure these politicians would have manufactured fictitious friends to buy the forms for them. And so ladies and gentlemen, the race to Aso Rock finally commenced and the gates of 100 million and 40 million could not prevail against it.
The race has opened new vistas to the country’s internal political complexity. First, it has shown that the wealth of the country is comfortably harboured in the inner recesses of few Nigerians, who through crafty, devious opportunism have enriched themselves to stupefying dimensions. Second, it has exposed the chameleonic nature of some Nigerians who scream lion lion at night but are themselves proven, marauding wolves during the day. I see Nigerians who have pretended to care for the impoverished masses, those who pretended to be guided by a Socialist, Marxist philosophy in the past shamelessly display unsteady, filthy byways of the mind in the race to Aso Rock. While at it, these people could not inspire their fictitious friends to help impoverished Nigerians with 100 million naira but could easily earn the sympathy of these friends to pay 100 million naira for party presidential forms. These Nigerians would not do any better than the failed successive governments which they have consistently maligned and criticised. If indeed these people can easily cough out 100 million naira directly or through proxies, then there is no need to embark on a further search for the whereabouts of the country’s commonwealth. To understand the race to Aso Rock better, let us at once examine the different categories of the aspirants.
The race has opened new vistas to the country’s internal political complexity. First, it has shown that the wealth of the country is comfortably harboured in the inner recesses of few Nigerians, who through crafty, devious opportunism have enriched themselves to stupefying dimensions. Second, it has exposed the chameleonic nature of some Nigerians who scream lion lion at night but are themselves proven, marauding wolves during the day.
Some aspirants are stupendously wealthy, those who have held political positions earlier and amassed wealth to mystifying levels. Some people describe this category of politicians as greedy, plundering, insatiable knaves who do not have any meaningful intention in Aso Rock beyond fulfilling a deep-seated life-long ambition to answer Mr. President. These aspirants share some similarities with the current emperor who knew ab initio that he didn’t have anything to offer Nigeria than to drag it, by his admission, from top to bottom. Regrettably, these aspirants have all the war chest to manoeuvre their ways in Nigeria’s slippery political space. They depend on their mutually complicit collaborators who sing their praises to high heavens in the face of the obvious reality that their ascension to power will spell tragic consequences for the country. In this group, you will find the infirm, those whose health conditions carry a big question mark. Nigerians can’t be so stupid again. The motive of aspirants in this category does not go beyond a morbid libidinal yarning for power but unfortunately, they carry with them self-thwarting, inhibiting adornments which will ultimately submerge them down the ocean of oblivion. No, they can’t make it to Aso Rock. The race was lost before it started.
There is another category of aspirants, those who have criticised APC, calling the party a church of Satan. So eventually, they have returned to their vomit, kneeling to worship at the temple of Satan simply because of their depraved hankering for power. These people know too well that in the race to Aso Rock, they can’t even make it halfway before they will ignominiously lose out. The question is – if this group of aspirants know too well that they will not win the primaries much less the race to Aso Rock, why did they expend the colossal amount of 100 million naira to purchase forms? Perhaps they are banking on a settlement scheme which will see them smile away with 500 million naira in which case they will be approached by the financial behemoths to step down and turn in their supporters to them. This kind of poor degraded politics is never far away from figure and fantasy. Yet the race to Aso Rock is alive and well and some people have already lost out.
The next categories of aspirants in the race to Aso Rock are those who stand a slim chance of succeeding the current but inactive head. Nigerians across ethnic and religious divides agree that out of these people one person has what it takes to pull Nigeria from bottom to top. It is easy to know a few in this category. They have the mathematical indices of global economic realities at their fingertips. They would not enthrone a system of power control that will see them transmute to an ultimate emperor. In these kinds of aspirants, it appears that the missing puzzle in the Nigerian equation has been found. One of them is qualified and competent but his romance with seven years of anguish in the political process disqualifies him before the court of public opinion. That leaves us with just one credible choice but can he survive the tide of Nigeria’s political ocean to win the race to Aso Rock? Yet, Nigerians are wary of our political gymnastics where white can easily become black overnight. We know that in Nigeria, with the benefit of hindsight, the best do not always emerge as winners. But this time, we sincerely hope that the Almighty, the God of Heavens, will deliver us from the hands of serial political predators as we make the much-needed move to national recovery from the abyss of drudgery.
The last categories of aspirants are those who will never get to Aso Rock under any circumstances and they know it. Their indication of interest to become Nigeria’s next president is in itself a huge insult to Nigerians. These are people who have been rightly accused of criminal complicity, stealing, financial impropriety, incompetence, lack of accountability and many other demeanours in their present and former positions. As governors, some of these people have not paid salaries for months in their states, they have not paid pensioners, they have not improved the civil service sector in their states, and they have not commissioned one project in their states too, yet they have been travelling all over the country, sharing millions of naira. Hallucination is indeed real. In this category also, you find those who are still holding public offices yet refuse to resign as stipulated in the electoral law. They use the largess of their offices to induce voters and delegates toward the party’s primary elections. For these people also, there is a hidden, undisclosed reason why they have gone to purchase the presidential forms when they are far from winning the election. Nigerians are witnesses to these developments.
As 2023 approaches, every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to race towards Aso Rock. 100 million and 40 million have been rubbished and continue to be rubbished in a country generally known as the poverty capital of the world. Many Nigerians are angry but helpless. In our shell-shocked conditions, we observe and inwardly wish for something drastic to happen to correct the glaring corrosion of our country, but it is only a wish. I don’t know why Jerry Rawlings is crossing my mind today. It is gratifying to know that a few people in this country can easily donate money to fund the country’s budget but it is also depressing that they will not do it. A few people can donate money to pay ASUU and have millions of youths return to school. A few people can come together and resuscitate electricity in Nigeria, thereby attracting foreign investments and creating employment. No, they will not do these things. We wait with anger and frustration to see who will win the race to Aso Rock.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University