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2019: A motley crowd called presidential candidates

In Nollywood circles, the expression “waka pass” is well known and used by many. It describes wannabe actors and actresses who are given some inconsequential roles in movies. Their interest is just to create that feeling that they belong.
In many Nigerian movies, you see such characters; it is either that they are in a group that is crying for the sake of it, or they are dancing; nothing reasonable. Sometimes, from nowhere you see a “waka pass” mimicking a drunkard; uttering incoherent words. Once that scene passes, you will never see him again in a movie that lasts for one or two hours. Those who play such roles have no serious line to deliver.
Like many things Nigerian, the too-many number of presidential candidates for 2019 does not mean they are all serious about the race. Many of them are simply using it as a bargaining chip for something bigger than their current status. Some others just want to add “former presidential candidate” to their long resume.
In July, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and about 38 other political parties declared that they had gone into an alliance with the aim of effecting a change of government in 2019.The main opposition PDP went ahead to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the parties. But before the ink dried on the pen with which the agreement was signed, some of the parties had pulled out, preferring to go it all alone. They expressed doubt over the workability of the pact and feared that their interest may not be served at the end of the day.
On August 30, some presidential aspirants under the aegis of Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT) had formed a coalition and elected FelaDurotoye as their presidential candidate. Those involved in that coalition were Kingsley Moghalu, Yele Sowore, Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, Ahmed Buhari, Tope Fasua, SinaFagbenro-Byron and EragbeAnslem.
Others are Jaye Gaskia, Mathias Tsado, Victor Ani-Laju, Alistair Soyode, Godstime Sidney Iroabuchi, Clement Jimbo and ElishamaIdeh.
A few hours later, Moghalu and Sowore recanted; they separately issued press statements, saying that whatever that happened at the level of that coalition involving them remained null and void. They claimed that Nigerians had pressured them to go represent them.Moghalu was quoted as saying that “joining PACT was a mistake.”
ElishamaIdeh, the only woman in the coalition, said: “I’m still in the race.”
Among those who supervised, monitored and moderated the election where Durotoye emerged was ObyEzekwesili. At that time, she said the process was credible and that the choice made was in tandem with the yearnings of the youth clamouring for generational power shift.
Today, Ezekwesili has become a candidate herself.
In a multi-party country like Nigeria, people masquerade under the pretence of service toto the fatherland, but the target is service to self (self-interest).
Recall that Thomas-Wilson Ikubese, founder of YesWeFitRevolutionary Movement had expressed disappointment over the decision of some of those who had participated in the emergence of Durotoye under PACT consensus to pull back.
He said that the PACT MoU prescribed that all aspirants shall terminate their presidential aspirations and support anyone among them who emerged as the consensus candidate.
“I have only one ambition, that is, to see Nigeria work. I am not desperate to occupy office, but to contribute my quota to making Nigeria functional, by collaborating with like-minds where necessary,” he said.
In the month of August, acting in line with the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had registered additional 23 political parties, bringing the total number of parties to 91.
Unlike in some other climes, where parties play at different levels of election depending on their size, every party in Nigeria wants to produce the president even when they have no structure on ground for such lofty ambition.
Most times, that inordinate ambition leads to desperation, even when it is clear that they have no chance, and even if the election were to be conducted 1000 times all over.
A Lagos-based policy analyst, who craved anonymity, said that although he was not speaking in favour of the established parties in the country, the smaller parties should not dissipate energy going to play at the national level.
“All I can say is that it is part of us, Nigerians. We learn our lesson when things have gone wrong. The question to ask is, do we get to hear about these parties after elections? No. People are simply out to leverage the election to make money. They seek grant from within and outside the country. They trumpet that the country is in dire need for a new government and the Western world being always kind will always dole out some hard currencies and they become richer. I am sorry if I sound harsh, but the truth is that most of those jostling for the presidency lack substance. Beyond their oratory and sound criticism of government in power they have nothing to offer should they get there tomorrow,” the pundit said.
According to him, “One would have expected these new parties and other smaller ones to do what the Alliance for Democracy (AD) did in the South-West in those days. The party concentrated in the region and got well-accepted to the point that it controlled almost all the states in the zone. Its concern at the time was not in going national. Even when it changed name to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), it did not win the presidency until that alliance in 2013/2014 with other parties that produced the All Progressives Congress (APC). We are always in a haste in Nigeria and that has cost us a lot as a country. We are not patient to plant and wait for the harvest time; we want to plant today and reap today. That is why we have depended on one resource-oil- for the greater part of Nigeria’s life and see where we are. Those in power only mouth diversification of economy, but no political will to drive it. We don’t think tomorrow; we only think now, now. That is why every party, including the mushroom ones would want to produce the president two months after they were registered. We need to have a rethink.”
Lambert Okon, a psychologist, said he did not expect crowd in the presidential race this time around if the motivation is to effect a change of government.
“If people say that the present government is not serving them well and must be changed using the ballot, I do not think that bringing out one thousand and one candidates is the route to that change. Let’s look at it this way, the best option should have been a workable alliance. Since the goal is one, there should be no need dissipating energy. What they are doing now is simply to create opportunity for the government they want to change to come back. They will end of sharing the votes they should have mobilised for one candidate. There is no sense in the huge number actually they’ re working toward achieving the same thing. Remember the story of the Tower of Babel, when the people failed to achieve the project because they began to sing discordant tunes. I am yet to be convinced if there are no moles among the so-called candidates,” Okon said.
MuyiwaAkintunde, a Lagos-based public relations, events and marketing consultant,shared Okon’s sentiments, wondering why every Dick, Tom and Harry wants to be a presidential candidate and why all the parties, even those registered recently would want to field a candidate.
“Not all political parties can play on its own strength at the national level. There ought to be room for alliances and promotion of regional/other interests,” Akintunde noted.
“All these wannabes parading themselves as presidential candidates will only make the ballot paper rather unwieldy and the election process so cumbersome.It’s about time political parties be given a target in terms of number of votes they must pull in general election, failing which they ought to be fined for wasting national resources deployed into running elections,” he further said.
The candidates and their platforms
  President Muhammadu Buhari – All Progressives Congress (APC); AtikuAbubakar – People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Donald Duke – Social Democratic Party (SDP); Kingsley Moghalu – Young Progressive Party (YPP);Obiageli Ezekwesili – Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN);Fela Durotoye – Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Omoyele Sowore – African Action Congress (AAC); Tope Fasua – Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP); Eunice Atuejide – National Interest Party (NIP); Olusegun Mimiko – Zenith Labour Party (ZLP); Adesina Fagbenro-Byron – Kowa Party (KP); Chike Ukaegbu – Advanced Allied Party (AAP); Hamza Al-Mustapha – People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN); Alistair Soyode – Yes Electorates Solidarity (YES); Obadiah Mailafia – African Democratic Congress (ADC); Ahmed Buhari – Sustainable National Party (SNP); Usman Ibrahim Alhaji – National Rescue Movement (NRM); Eniola Ojajuni – Alliance for Democracy (AD); Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim – Alliance for People’s Trust (APT); John Ogbor – All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Edozie Madu – Independent Democrats (ID); Williams Awosola – Democratic People’s Congress (DPC); Habu Aminchi– People’s Democratic Movement (PDM); Yabagi Sani – Action Democratic Party (ADP); Moses Shipi – All Blending Party (ABP), and Peter Nwangwu – We The People of Nigeria (WTPN).

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