The journey to the 2023 general elections is lately becoming interesting or do I say daily appearing like a huge joke of sorts. With about a year to go, all we have been talking about is the 2023 elections. Those who have argued that we should have a single term of five or six years, appear more than justified if what we are experiencing now is anything to go by.
Governance, for all intents and purposes, is grounded. President Muhammadu Buhari has been distracted by the motley of politicians who have been visiting him to inform him of their desire to aspire for the presidency, or are they going to seek his approval or endorsement?
The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are the greatest beneficiaries of this flurry of politicians seeking to succeed President Buhari come 2023.
Some of these so-called presidential candidates are just mere comics at best or at worst disillusioned. All second term governors want to be president, Ministers want to be president and Senators want to be governors.
To be sure, many of them know ab initio that they stand no chance but to be relevant they seek to be noticed and would use this as a bargaining chip in order to belong and be part of the government.
Last Wednesday, the quartet of Ekiti state Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi; former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Jigawa State Governor, Muhammed Badaru Abubakar, only further swelled the roll call of aspirants within the APC same day.
Before that Wednesday, some other presidential aspirants in the race include; Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ex-Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu, Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi, Kogi state Governor, Yahaya Bello, Cross River state Governor, Ben Ayade, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Labour and Employment, Ken Nnamani, former Senate President, Chris Ngige, Senators Rochas Okorocha, overseer of the Citadel Global Community Church, Nigeria, Tunde Bakare, Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba as well as former governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who joined the race on Thursday, last week. The Senate Chief Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu only recently withdrew from the race.
Nicholas Felix, a US-based Nigerian pastor of the Miracle Church International, announced his entry into the race by procuring the N100 million presidential nomination and expression of interest forms on Thursday.
By last Friday, Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of science and technology, also declared and Uju Ohanenye became APC’s first female presidential aspirant after she acquired the nomination and expression of interest form. Also, the same Friday, Ahmed Yerima, former Zamfara state governor, declared his presidential bid after meeting with Buhari at the state house. Dimeji Bankole, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, had also obtained the APC presidential expression of interest and nomination forms.
Easily the most shocking of them all, is the reported purchase of expression of interest and nomination forms by Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, by some farmers even while the apex bank’s governor, is half-heartedly denying knowledge of it. It means a group of farmers raised N100 million and went to the APC headquarters to purchase the form for him, without first seeking his approval. If you believe that you can believe anything.
In the PDP, the list is equally swelling by the day. So far, the aspirants are Teriela Oliver Diana, the only woman in the race; former vice president, Atiku Abubakar; former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi) and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto); former president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim.
Others in the race are former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose; former FSB Managing Director, Muhammed Hayatu Deen; United States-based medical doctor, Nwachukwu Anakwenze; media mogul, Dele Momodu; a pharmacist, Sam Ohuabunwa; former Speaker of Abia House of Assembly, Cosmos Ndukwe and Charles Ugwu and Honourable Chikwendu Kalu.
For disqualified aspirants in the PDP and the APC it would be forfeiture of N40 million and N100 million respectively paid for the expression of interest and nomination forms.
While businesses and schools are closed or are closing down, the offices of the leading political parties are experiencing a beehive of activities as aspirants and their supporters throng the buildings to obtain their forms. The reason a serving senator would prefer being a party chairman is becoming clearer to me. Both party chairmen are the most sought-after persons now in the parties.
Little wonder that the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja was penultimate Wednesday thrown into confusion as $75,000, about N43, 000,000 in Nigerian currency, allegedly disappeared.
Meanwhile, none of these contestants are paying for the forms from their pockets, they are usually paid for them by their so-called supporters and well-wishers, even when they know it is a lie, how they think they can succeed in deceiving the people is what I do not know.
For governors who are seeking a second term, governance has also taken backstage as their personal ambition is all that is happening in those states.
The way things are now, our children who have been at home for close to 90 days are likely to remain even longer, as little or nothing is being done to keep these children out of the streets.
If my memory serves me right, the President is yet to meet or openly intervene in the lingering ASUU strike and the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, as well as Minister of state, Nwajiuba, who are running a listless education ministry, seem more bothered with other things than waste their time with the ASUU leadership. The minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngege, who had taken it up upon himself to mediate has since given up hope and we have a country where those charged with the responsibility superintending over education either have their children schooling abroad or they are in private institutions, whose calendars are never disrupted by the seeming annual strikes by ASUU.
If President Buhari or his vice, Osinbajo, personally intervene and invite ASUU to their office since their ministers have given up hope, will that make them any less who they are? Is it therefore wrong to say that it is because their children are schooling or schooled abroad that is why they are more interested with the politics of 2023?
Meanwhile, wives of Vice Chancellors of public universities, according to reports, were planning to travel to Istanbul, Turkey for a five-day conference.
According to a letter by the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, the programme is scheduled to hold from 18 to 23 July 2022, in Istanbul.
The letter which was dated May 5, 2022, according to the Punch, was signed by the Committee’s Secretary-General, Yakubu Ochefu.
As for ASUU, it still has not dawned on them that the least worry of this administration is ASUU and its incessant strikes, so for as long as the political office holders refuse to be bothered, for so long will ASUU stay at home and demand for salaries not worked for. What ASUU seems to be saying is that if the federal government ignores them while paying more attention to their political future, for so long will our children remain at home, even if it means until May 29, 2023.
The question that begs an answer is does the APC government not think it necessary that this lingering crisis could affect their fortunes at the polls? Or do they think that with these students sitting at home idly the students and their parents would be excited enough to vote for the party in the 2023 polls for which they have stalled governance?