With politicking for the 2023 general election gathering momentum, developments in the polity are already pointing to the complexion of the next election.
Perhaps, it will be a battle between the old and the new order with Nigerians proving that they have attained political maturity.
Indeed, the activities of political actors offer enough basis for tea leaf reading as far as the 2023 season goes.
The earliest of these indicators emerged when an otherwise taciturn President Muhammadu Buhari refused to name his likely successor on the basis that “he may be eliminated if I mention his name”.
This disclosure in an interview with Channels Television indicates that the President already has a horse in the race slated for February next year. While there may be other intelligent reasons why the identity of this person must be a secret, for now, how the President couched his response smacks of fait accompli.
When deconstructed, it suggests that this preferred candidate is bound to become the next President hence it is best to protect the favoured from ambitious politicians who brook no obstacle. The fear of elimination suggests that whoever enjoys the backing of Buhari stands a better chance of becoming President than the person most Nigerians want to occupy Aso Villa in 2023.
Enter Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, former governor of Enugu State. He recently courted controversy and brought opprobrium upon himself when he declared that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi “is the leader who directs affairs” and “will determine who succeeds him”.
As backlash mounted, he didn’t bother to retract nor clarify that sycophantic assertion. How would he when he only expressed the code that has stymied democracy in Enugu State since 1999?
This political culture has seen a cult of power brokers determine who gets what political positions to the exclusion of the electorate. The former governor noted this much when he asserted that this is the “tradition in Enugu State politics”.
While Ugwuanyi with the latitude to “determine his successor in 2023” is yet to openly rub it on the face of Ndi Enugu, the Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is not discreet about who he wants to succeed him. At his party’s stakeholders meeting that took place at the Government House Uyo on Sunday evening, Emmanuel presented Pastor Umo Eno as his preferred candidate to succeed him. It soon emerged that even at the party level, stakeholders were not adequately carried along as Peoples Democratic Party’s founding members in Akwa Ibom were soon reported as warning Governor Emmanuel not to plunge PDP into crisis with “his unilateral endorsement of Pastor Umo Eno, his Commissioner of Lands, as his successor in the 2023 election”.
Instances like this and many other subterranean moves by political gladiators and godfathers have made Naija News ponder on the place of the people in the scheming for the next general elections. The other day, a top contender for President called himself a kingmaker who wants to be the king as Nigeria is practicing a monarchical system of government. We find it distasteful that politicians are by their actions and utterances passing a message that the electorate do not matter when it comes to who governs them. Such disposition is quite antithetical to democracy.
It is for this reason that this newspaper welcomes the conversation initiated on social media by the Co-founder and CEO of BudgIT, Seun Onigbide, who tweeted, “A ₦10bn GoFundMe for Peter Obi will be [a] great starter for those who want [to] crowdsource Nigeria’s next leader.
This will change the dynamics with the space hijacked by moneybags.”
While not promoting the bid of any aspirant, Naija News believes that the use of trusted technology platforms for crowdfunding presents a major opportunity for Nigerians to get involved in enthroning the right leadership for the country and checkmate the shenanigans of political desperadoes.
This is not referring to the stunt of sponsored youth and groups “raising funds” to buy nomination forms for politicians or threatening to sue ambitious politicians if they do not join the race to become the next President.
We are worried that Nigeria’s political process has been hijacked by moneybags ready to deploy bullion vans when the polls open to sway voters. Earlier this week, a Financial Times article estimated that it takes a staggering $2bn (over N1trn) to get a President elected in Nigeria.
Pray, what fit and proper Nigerian can afford or spend such an amount for an elusive office? The other way to look at it is: when an aspirant or godfather spends that much to corner the country’s plum job, the magnitude of looting that will follow can only be imagined.
It is for this reason that Naija News calls on upwardly-mobile Nigerians, who find it difficult to vote during elections, to start crowdsourcing the next leader of the country.
This way, they can route recycled old men whose only claim to the presidency is having lots of money to throw around. The beauty of crowdfunding is that it bears the right answers to Nigeria’s leadership deficit. Through this support, the best of the populace gets an opportunity to lead shutting out misfits and myopic individuals from public policymaking and execution.
The gains are so enormous that crowdfunding should not be restricted to presidential candidates alone but should be extended to gubernatorial positions and elections into the National Assembly.
The Nigerian youth have for long been derided by politicians as mere social media warriors who do not have permanent voter cards. Unscrupulous politicians capitalize on this apathy to buy votes from rural dwellers and the illiterate mass who can’t make informed choices at the polls.
While we call on every eligible voter to register and get their voter cards, it cannot be over-emphasized that with GoFundMe, the elite in various sections of the society can determine who becomes the President or Governor. With little contributions, they can collectively displace moneybags. We recall that before voting by text message was stopped by the organizers, Nigerians spent N7.2bn voting in the ‘Pepper Dem Gang’ edition of Big Brother Naija.
If reality TV show enthusiasts can generate this much through N4 SMS, imagine what can be raised if all those interested in putting square pegs in square holes in Nigeria’s public service donates at least N100. There is no doubt that over N1trn will be generated. Yet, the election of the ideal President won’t gulp so much since it is the people’s project. When enlightened citizens are bankrolling a candidate for political office, they won’t need to be financially induced or demand foodstuff to elect their choice.
It is only unpopular candidates that would need to spend billions of dollars on electioneering just to make up for the baggage they are burdened with.
When such morally-bankrupt persons carry the polls, they shortchange the people by recouping much more than they spent to get into office. Nigeria cannot continue this way.
Ahead of the lifting of the ban on electioneering, Naija News calls on conscientious Nigerians to seek out those with the right leadership credentials and crowdsource their campaigns.
They can work for their victory at the polls either through monetary contributions or by volunteerism. This is towards the enlightened self-interest of the citizenry.