Home Opinion Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi: Who Is Our ‘Messiah’? By Kazeem Akintunde

Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi: Who Is Our ‘Messiah’? By Kazeem Akintunde

L-r: Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar

We are gradually inching toward a change of baton from President Muhammadu Buhari to a new man, a new face, and possibly a ‘messiah’ that will, hopefully, rescue Nigeria and Nigerians from the hugely disappointing tenure of Buhari. On May 29, next year, Nigeria should breathe a sigh of relief as a new Commander-in-Chief should be at the helm of affairs in the country. Will it be Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar or Peter Obi? Only God knows the answer. What I pray for is that the Almighty should guide and guard us in making the right decision this time around.

Many Nigerians invested time, money, and hope in General Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, after he tasted defeat on three different occasions, while aiming for the number one job in the land. He was deemed not to be good enough until a coalition, led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu felt there was the need for the retired General to come on board and possibly tackle the issue of insecurity that had almost crippled the regime of the then President Goodluck Jonathan. Many had felt, and rightly too, that being a retired general, Buhari would be able to deal decisively with the threat Boko Haram was posing in the North East and the emerging banditry in the North West. The fact that he was a former Head of State, who was toppled in a coup by his colleagues and known to be frugal and disciplined, counted heavily in his favour. He was also perceived as the messiah Nigeria needed to tackle the twin issues of insecurity and endemic corruption in the land.

But rather than providing solutions to the problems, his regime appeared helpless as the insecurity in the country worsened, to the disbelief of many. Almost two terms later, Buhari is about to leave office with the worst level of insecurity ever experienced in the history of the country. We have never had it so bad. One has to think critically to travel by road in Nigeria, especially interstate travel, one has to think seriously of possible risky scenarios. In actual fact, there are some states in the North many Nigerians won’t venture traveling to. To now travel from Abuja to Kaduna in the day is like embarking on a suicide mission. Bandits and kidnappers have turned the route to a hotspot for collecting victims for huge ransoms. 

The alternative to road travel for Nigerians became the railway, which became popular after the Federal Government took loans from China to rehabilitate the railway system. But the terrorists wouldn’t let go that easily as they devised ways of attacking travelers on trains, crippling the railway as well. The case in point, known and condemned by many, is the attack on the Abuja- Kaduna route of the Nigerian Railways Corporation services, which was bombed three months ago. Eight passengers on the train were killed while scores of others, including women and children, were kidnapped. Those kidnapped are still with the terrorists till now, excluding eleven of them, who were released on Saturday.

In Nigeria and with Buhari in charge, life goes painfully on for Nigerians. 

And as though that was not enough, a church was attacked penultimate Sunday and over 40 people, mostly women and children, were killed. It’s been over a week of grieving for families of victims of the unfortunate incident in Owo, and what we hear from our President is that the terrorists that carried out the attack are members of ISWAP, as though the identity of those that carried out the attack had any impact on the terrible loss of loved ones. One would expect the government to fish out the killers, have them arrested and brought to justice. Are ISWAP members allowed to just walk into a church and kill unarmed worshippers without consequences? But life in Nigeria, under Buhari, can only be likened to the Stone Age – nasty, brutish, and short. 

In the area of our national economy, many Nigerians can no longer afford three square meals a day. The number of beggars keep increasing, and they are no longer limited to those on the streets. With a phone in hand, most Nigerians have been reduced to begging for an ‘urgent 2k’. Majority of our youths are not gainfully employed, forcing most to go into crime, worsened by a forced stay at home for the past four months due to strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other unions in the ivory towers. Not surprising then, that the youths have taken to ‘Yahoo business’ while the females take to prostitution.

 Yet we have a government at the helm of affairs – a former General who vowed to tackle corruption during his tenure has now become the butt of jokes as brazen acts of corruption are perpetrated under his nose. The level of corruption in the country has almost crippled the entire financial system to the extent that our currency, the Naira, has lost its value and has almost become one of the least valuable in Africa. Still, life, under President Buhari a.k.a ‘Mr. Integrity’, goes on painfully for Nigerians.

It is these appalling scorecards that Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi, and 15 other presidential candidates are queuing up to inherit. Going by the mess that is on ground, I do not envy them. But politicians, knowing the fabric of cloth that they are cut from, can promise heaven on earth but once in power, they become something entirely different.

Let me state categorically, and I believe that I would be echoing the feelings of Nigerians that trust in politicians have been eroded and that we need to go back to the drawing board and also put our hope for a better Nigeria on God and voting for men of proven track records while praying for the best man to win. We need to get it right again.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who will be flying the flag of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, has been a veteran of sorts when it comes to partisan politics. Since his resignation from Mobil, Tinubu, has been fully involved in politics. His achievements as Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 are there for all to see and I don’t intend to dwell much on that here. Suffice to say, however, that he is an excellent administrator that can spot talent and make use of such for the overall benefit of the people. He also has a large heart and his tentacles are all over the country. With that, he should be able to assemble a good team that could assist him in turning things around positively for the nation should he be victorious at the polls. The question of whether he is truly the son of the late Iyaloja of Lagos, Alhaja Abibatu Mogagi or an adopted son whose biological parents are from Iragbigi in Osun State, is however a sore point.

Aside that, however, the real fear now is the fact that age seems to have caught up with him. If eventually, he gets the number one job in the land which he said has been his lifelong ambition, would he be able to effectively discharge the functions of that office? At  70, Tinubu is no longer a young man and with the rigours of that office, we may have on our hands, another president that spends half of his tenure attending to health challenges.

The Turaki of Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar, who has also emerged as the candidate of the PDP, can be said to be another old man seeking to lead the country. At 75, Atiku, while also not a young man, seems to enjoy better health than Tinubu. The former Vice President has also been a constant factor in Nigerian politics since 1999 and his record has equally been fully documented. In fact, there is no better assessment made of Atiku than that of his former boss and former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who in one of his books, ‘My Watch’, painted Atiku as one of the most corrupt politicians he has ever worked with. Atiku allegedly made his money playing the system while in the Customs and also cornered many juicy contracts for himself while serving as the head of the economic team under Obasanjo in the first four years of their Presidency. But his strength lies in the fact that he has been able to build a network of friends and colleagues across the country. 

Peter Obi, who was the Vice president to Atiku during the 2019 presidential election also decided to test his popularity when he resigned from the PDP to pick the Labour Party’s presidential ticket. Young, intelligent, and with a good grasp of the Nigerian economy, Obi could be regarded as an underdog in the coming election, the anger in the South-East where Obi hails from, notwithstanding. The South-East region is not happy with the treatment they got from the PDP for refusing to zone its presidential ticket to the region. Indeed, it is a known fact that the region has been very loyal to the PDP only to be denied the presidential ticket of the party when it matters most, and has vowed to ‘deal with the party’. Obi will get massive votes from the South East and South-South but I don’t see him winning the 2023 presidential election. Obi, again, does not have the financial war chest that the duo of Tinubu and Atiku would muster for the coming poll. 

With less than eight months to the 2023 presidential election, it is quite certain that the fight is between Tinubu and Atiku, two political warlords with deep pockets. The duo have come up with their economic blueprints on how they intend to change the fortunes of the country but I doubt if that will resonate with majority of the electorate. What is likely to be a major consideration among the impoverished and politically ignorant grassroots who make up the bulk of the voting population is where the candidates came from, which religion they practise and how much they can get from the candidates. Remember that both Atiku and Tinubu are the biggest spenders during their respective political party primaries. How they reach out to the voters as well as the endorsements they get from the ‘owners’ or ‘cabal’ who ‘run’ Nigeria – an unwritten but generally known fact – will tilt the scale either way, and whoever gets the nod will, of course, have to recoup what was spent getting into office. This is simply why I don’t see any of the candidates as our ‘Messiah’. But as it is popularly said, don’t blame the player, blame the game.

See you next week.

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