Nigeria is a funny country.
Even if you were to time travel from late 2006 and arrive at this very moment, it will feel as if nothing has changed. The same paranoia that exists in your mind will remain, so will the hustle and bustle, the breaking news and streams of photos depicting prospective public servants eating corn, promising heaven and earth and declaring their undying belief towards the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity. This can only mean one thing and one thing only: The Presidential election is around the corner.
It is what has always defined the Nigerian political season.
Once you begin to hear tales, court dates, premature celebrations and unsolicited releases and interviews, then you will know that power is about to change hands. It is the Nigerian political story and it will remain so for as long as Nigerians exist.
We love drama.
And so it is with this fact in mind that we launched into proper electioneering season a few weeks ago. The entire quagmire that has surrounded the National convention of the ruling parry, the APC, and the crooked politics being played by interested parties, not in the least Nasir El Rufai, has proven to many who were still slumbering away that there is no longer time to waste. The political chess board is in full swing and the first major move has been made.
2023 will witness much more drama which only the 2015 and pre-2007 Third Term agenda drama will be able to rival. The famous “Buhari block votes” will finally be out of his iron fist, and it will be interesting to see on whose head it will fall. The Nigerian people are also displaying the mindset of a people thirsty for new wine, displaying tiredness for old faces, similar, customary tales with shaky hands, barking unreasonable, bizarre propositions that would have sounded weird in 1979 in 2022.
I think we, as Nigerians, deserve more than that.
Most importantly, I think the Nigerian people have finally opened their eyes to the realities of this nation. It is my sincere belief that the passage of time has finally illuminated the minds of the Nigerian people, such that stories which used to appeal to us have begun to smell like rotten fishes.
The North Central is a case in point.
Earlier this week, I made a rather controversial, yet factual point during one of my discourses on twitter. It is without a shadow of any doubt that any country whose mind is set on moving forward must disregard the concept of “zoning”. Not only is it rather lame and without basis to existential problems, it has simply become a sad tool for certain sections of the Nigerian political circle to hold on to power by all means. After destroying what was left of the People’s Democratic Party, it has somehow found itself into the ruling party and is attempting to tow, to the delight of the salivating opposition, the same lane.
The concept of movement of power from one section of the nation to the other sounds like a nice initiative until the intricacies are laid bare for all to see. Zoning to the North does not always mean the North, it simply means the North West. Zoning to the South has never actually been about the South, it simply denotes movement of power to the South-West. What then shall become the fate of the other regions that make up this nation? Were it not for the twist of fate which heralded the rise of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, I doubt if the South-South had, until that moment, ever been considered for anything important in the larger scheme of things.
I have thought about it, and I see nothing sensible about it.
The North Central, like I earlier pointed out, finally has a case in these matters. The Nigeria which we live and exist in has a lot of immediate problems whose solution ought to be the number one priority. Insecurity, class divide, poverty and ethnic bigotry continue to cloak the prospects which the Nigerian people possess in abundance.
Whoever rules this country post-2023 needs to have all the attributes that can solve or at least, attempt to solve these issues. Passive leadership can no longer and must no longer be tolerated, which is why the clamour for youth in governance has gained far more traction than some presumed, urging certain aspirants closer to a century on earth to call themselves “youth leader”.
I want to believe that the love for one’s country must guide the ambition of anyone whose desire it is to rule such a country. Mental and physical fitness, as well as reliability, doggedness and grit: attributes needed to be able to make a mark in governance must be evidently on display for every aspirant and eventual candidate. You cannot be lacking in at least, three of these criteria and still be fighting tooth and nail to be President.
It reeks of stark selfishness.
I have been watching with keen interest the maneuverings of certain mischief makers in their quest, and have been rather saddened by the depths upon which many are prepared to plunge just to see their aspirations materialize. I have analyzed, debated amongst friends and colleagues and come to the conclusion that if the characters of those who have managed to swallow delusion for breakfast in their quest for governance witnesses no real change, the people, upon whose head the brunt of bad leadership has always fallen, must take a stand.
Thankfully, a silent trumpet has been blown.
It is the trumpet of a section of people who know their rights and are prepared to fight for it. The more I see things, the more I discover than it will be more difficult than ever to simply hoist a President upon Nigerians any longer. The seat of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is not a right. It is not a promise to be fulfilled. It is not a privilege for a certain region of the country. It is not an algorithm that can be calculated to produce any defined result.
The North Central as well can no longer be used to make up the numbers for when demands are made, and then spat out like early morning saliva when the same demands are met. If the North should tremble tomorrow, it is because a section of it, consisting of over thirty million law abiding citizens of Nigeria, contributed seismically. It is one thing to say you count, it is another thing to mean it and show it.
This generation wants to see it happen.
I regularly speak in glowing terms about Bello and supported his quest for Presidency from the off because he is charting a course heretofore unforeseen in Nigeria’s political history. I love his bravery, intelligence and singular desire to unite wherever he finds himself.
However, what I love the most about him is the determination to raise a standard for the youth.
When he became Governor under divine circumstances, Bello cancelled what was often regarded as the forsaken right of the regular Kogite. The right to vote and be voted for and the right for equitable distribution of power were once alien to some parts of Kogi. Only a handful of names could ever dream to become Governor of Kogi state, and it was so bad that there was an assurance that if such an individual does not get it at that time, all he had to do was wait his turn.
I maintain the pronoun because before Bello’s ascendancy, women, just like the North Central in the national scheme of things, never counted, but were used to make up the numbers.
Perhaps it is because he operates with a mindset of someone who knows what it means to be disadvantaged due to past political happenings, or because of his youthfulness or something else I cannot put a finger on, but Bello knows what to do to unify. He knows what moves he needs to take to edify, and no one needs any further proof on his gallantry to demystify insecurity.
Proof of this is scattered across his reign in Kogi state.
I think Bello is the man. He represents, for millions of youth across the nation and beyond, the sonorous voice for something different from the norm. He is a refreshing breath of fresh air, readily available, physically fit, intellectually sagacious and irredeemably positive in his dealings. I think, for many who continue to underestimate the man, that the scheming of dwarves and cunningness of ingrates will only make the victory sweeter.
Bello always triumphs when he is underestimated.
In this unravelling tale of political iconoclasm, Bello is Achilles, and he leads the Trojan brigade.
By Sam Aina from Kogi State.