Many may not have heard of the Caiaphas Theory in electoral politics—may be because I don’t command an intimidating Ivory Tower presence nor am I a political household name. This theory was born as a campaign vision that saw the success of President Donald Trump, in the defeat Hilary Clinton in the 2016, US presidential election. Its application was claimed to have also led to his defeat in 2020. With great relevance in electoral politics, this work proposes the application of Caiaphas Theory for the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria. Before presenting this theory and its application, it will be pertinent to note that this work is the fourth volume in a series of my humble contribution to chart a better course for Nigeria’s future.
Caiaphas, was the Jewish High Priest during the trial of Jesus and his validation for the death of Jesus, in the absence of a criminal evidence against him, was phrased in this statement, “it was better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish” (Jn. 11:50). Christian scholars interpreted the statement as prophetic—in the sense that Jesus was to die in order to redeem the whole people. Simply put, Caiaphas found a way to express the peoples wish to sacrifice Jesus as scapegoat, for their national safety. This is the sentiment in the development of the Caiaphas theory as a canon in electoral politics. Therefore, Caiaphas Theory states that, “In electoral politics, the people must be ready to sacrifice a contestant or contestants whose emergence work against their collective objective, thereby causing greater (collateral) harm to the people.” That sacrifice is not predicated on their incompetence or incapacity—whether they exist or not. The imperative of the sacrifice is more cumulative of the persons character, policy, world view, party-platform, etc. that are seen as bringing greater harm to the integral good and standing of the community.
Nigeria, no doubt is a country whose democratic electoral field is primarily two-footed: PDP and APC. The mud and praises thrown at them over the years notwithstanding, Nigerians, rightly or wrongly, think that electoral contests are always between the two parties. But we cannot hold the same position in the emerging 2023 field, giving the presence of other visible crowds. Therefore, our application of the Caiaphas Theory is to identify parties and candidates that must be sacrificed in order to salvage what is left of the country and to save the nation from implosion. To do this, it will be important to identify some of the core objectives and things the nation needs to survive—things that are for the greater good of the people.
Nigeria’s quest for independence can be summarized as the desire to be a united and self-ruled nation whose leaders, systems, and intuitions will work for the greater benefit of the people. Consequently, every facet of national life should really be under scrutiny; but it suffices to limit ourselves to the following. Firstly, in the face of concatenated voices for the balkanization of the country, there is need for one who can be seen as having less baggage in the things that are seen as divisive. Secondly, in the face of economic turmoil and an eternal slide into depression, there will be the need for one whom the people can see as a better custodian of the nation’s resources. One with the capacity not to build and favor acolytes but able to create a level playing field for all. And thirdly, in the face of restiveness in the country, there will be the need to have someone who does not seek political power with desperation to fulfil a personal ambition; knowing that such, stokes the flame in a place already charged up with peoples disenchantment.
With regard to national unity, every candidate will claim to be a unifier and a bridge-builder, able to heal all balkanization-spirits. However, it will be good to look at the different parties, their actions through the primaries, as well as their principals to determine their stands on issues that make for national unity. The PDP had rotational principle on their platform with presidential power swinging between the North and the South. However, the ill-luck of death, placed President Jonathan on the driver’s seat after the death of President Yar’Adua. Unable to contend with that, the northern political eggheads in PDP had to put together a consensus arrangement (Atiku) to effectively snatch power from GEJ and to restore the rotation. When that project failed, that candidate found home in a new party to bring the goodie home to the North but was unsuccessful. This laid the foundation for the Northern political collusion to make sure that GEJ did not get a second term—although Buhari became the inheritor of the pie.
Consequently, after eight years of presidential power in the North, one expected, for the sake of national unity, that all will accept to cede the position to the South. Not really. PDP deceptively went for an “All Nigerian open primaries” in order to manipulate it to Northern advantage. When this result threw up the issue for the resignation of the party chairman as a show of unity and inclusivity, the courage to be decisive jumped off. With this, it is doubtful that the wielders of this party apparatus, can be trusted to eliminate the things that stoke the fire of national balkanization.
Furthermore, how much trust can be seen in their exclusion of the South-East that continued to be the PDP rock of Gibraltar—something for which they suffered the consequences of being called a 5 per cent nation, a dot, and people who needed to be spoken in the language they can understand; because some of their sons and daughters could no longer endure the feeling of exclusion in the bigger Nigerian space. These issues did not touch the PDP heart in electing her principal nor in the selection of a running mate. What a way of seeking unity—ignoring totally what this series enunciated in the “Balance of Governance” (Vl. 1) and also opined by many others.
Similarly, the APC cannot easily be left off hook in this lack of the spirit of national unity. For although the flag bearer is of Southern extraction, it was clear that the preference of the party echelon was someone of Northern extraction (Senator Lawan)—and it remains to be seen how they will respond after that defeat by Jagaban. In that apparent zoning outcome, they were still insensitive to the cry of the South-East as the only Southern zone to hold presidential power in democratic Nigeria—thereby affirming one of the reasons why some South-Eastern youths are agitating to leave the Nigerian state. Furthermore, the choice of their vice presidential candidate (in what is referred to as Muslim-Muslim ticket) did more to stoke the flame of division because it showed insensitivity to the tension that religiously-motivated terrorism brought into the country. Viewed more as an act of political expediency, that arrangement was also revealing: that the Yoruba Muslim is not considered Muslim enough and the Northern Christians have no electoral value in the building of the Nigerian democracy. One wonders how these lies are supportive of national unity.
The next force in this electoral cycle is Mr. Kwankwaso and his NNPP. Being one of the arrowheads against GEJ for usurping their considered Northern slot, one wonders if they do not reckon the APC administration under Buhari as one led by a Northerner. And when many had hoped that he would align with Mr. Obi to create a formidable machine he balked because he felt that a Northerner would still be in-charge. What a way to build unity.
Therefore, in following the Caiaphas Theory, it would be better to sacrifice all these parties that are erected with untrustworthy bricks and with arrows aimed against the chords that unite us, if we still want to have a united country. And when these sacrifices are made, of all the people standing, Mr. Obi stands head and shoulder above all. He does not carry the negative baggage that can ruin our national objective for unity, faith, and trust—and we do so because it is better to embrace a candidate whose emergence will help in the actualization of a basic national objective for unity; as well as the trust that the country belongs to all equally.
Thinking about the economic considerations, it is an open confession from all the political attack-dogs that Mr. Obi will be a good husbandman of the Nigerian economy. Even some suggested that he should bury his ambition and accept a Vice Presidential slot since the VP supervises that area of national life. How true? When one brings up the PDP candidate, many see him as an economic emasculator that maximizes every position to seek personal gain. It is no better with the APC candidate who many claim emasculated the economy of Lagos for himself and sending his acolytes on the same mission in the whole of Western Nigeria, for eventual remittances. It follows therefore, that all who fear that these Presidencies will add the Nigerian fortune into these conquered business empires, should apply the Caiaphas Theory as reason to vote for a different candidate—in this case voting for Mr. Obi.
Although such megalomaniac qualities are not thrown at the NNPP principal, it will be great to compare his stewardship as a governor alongside that of Mr. Obi to see who was a better husbandman. But we can spare ourselves that because their confession during the failed merger talk with Mr. Obi, acknowledged Mr. Obi’s acumen as a good husbandman and better to oversee the economy of the country. Therefore, those who want Nigeria to come out of her economic woes cannot but accept the Caiaphas Theory as providing the ground in identifying whom to sacrifice so that a good husbandman can emerge for a better and greater Nigeria.
The other area of consideration in the application of the Caiaphas Theory is the need to have someone who does not seek political power with desperation; knowing that such stokes the flame, in a place where the anger in many have reached boiling points. Here the desperation of the APC candidate is legendary. He ruffled many feathers when he blurted that it is his turn to be president. Thus to get the ticket, he spoke condescendingly about the sitting vice president; when he said that he has no son old enough to be a president and it is on record that his (eventual) VP jettisoned the aspiration of the sitting Vice President by describing him a better ice-cream seller. This desperation led to the bulldozing of the APC cabal’s choice of Lawan and all others on the way. The same desperation metamorphosed into the Muslim-Muslim ticket and the clothing of clowns as Christian clerics to make it look that the Christian community has endorsed that arrangement in the present day Nigeria.
It is not different with the PDP candidate who had been a serial contestant of the presidency. It is his desperation that made him not to reckon with the zoning of the presidency. It is the desperation that influenced his manner of reactions to the cold-blooded killing of Miss Debora Samuel. And how best to explain the manner of his measured response to the lingering issues trying to blow his party apart if not a desperation to win—in the calculation that keeping his promise for Ayu to resign, may erode a support base he needed to win. The same desperation defines everything about the NNPP candidate and his affairs since the inception of present democratic dispensation. Without trying to enumerate them, one remembers his carriage at the PDP convention many years ago and the recent failed merger discussion with LP.
Considering that desperation is like fuel that
can worsens a burning polity, the application of the Caiaphas Theory suggests that Nigerians should not hesitate to sacrifice the candidates of PDP, APC, NNPP, at least, so that the LP candidate can emerge. Mr. Obi of LP, unequivocally said that his manner of desperation is not to be president, but for the good of Nigeria. This desperation is in line with the rest of Nigerians who are desperate and passionate for a Nigeria that works for all instead of a few. This desperation agrees with those of most Nigerians who want to take back their country from those who want to conquer and enslave them.
A reinforcement of the Caiaphas Theory’s imperative, can be found in the PDP, APC, and NNPP running mates. The PDP running mate hosted a meeting that resolved that the presidency should rotate to the South but when it mattered he looked up North. Knowing the divisive nature of this solution it is certain that he is in it more for himself than the people he represents—only adding to make the fire of division larger. One can say the same thing about the NNPP running mate. Even though he was not part of the meeting that endorsed the shift, he ought to know that his decision to accept the position affirms the notion, in some parts of the North, that no Southerner is fit to take over from Buhari. So in them are the spirits that work against national unity and exhibit desperation for higher political office. And if the notion that the VP supervises the state of the economy is true, then the choice of people bereft of the happenings in the economy is only a recipe for continuing the economic precipice the nation is on.
It is worse when the APC running mate is considered. His utterances so far showcase the Asiwaju-magic in Lagos and not his own eight years of stewardship. Did he fail to make his state an economic heaven? Then how will he do so for Nigeria as a whole. His desperation showed when he threw up a picture with religious leaders who visited him as a governor to deceive the nation that Christian leaders are okay with the Muslim-Muslim ticket. Moreover, the amnesia of Nigerians about the activities of Boko Haram and the Chibok girls under his watch are not total. Therefore, sacrificing these parties for the good of Nigeria is the best thing Nigerians can do; and that is squarely in the application of the Caiaphas Theory. By this we are not judging their capacities, probable good intentions, and abilities. The theory only maintains that, when weighed on the scale for the party and candidates whose emergence will be for the greater good of Nigeria, the PDP, the APC, and the NNPP and many others fail. Consequently, it will be better to sacrifice them so that the nation can recover, survive, and progress. Nigerians, therefore, in compliance with the Caiaphas Theory should be Obidati in the 2023 electoral cycle.