The APC previously reportedly zoned the 2023 presidency to the south. But the virtual certainty that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will win the PDP ticket – for reasons that should be very obvious – has forced the APC to back down.
By Tiko Okoye
The atmosphere surrounding nominating conventions in any part of the world – whether democratic or authoritarian – has always been accompanied by razzmatazz, intrigue, betrayal and power games; and that of the 2023 presidency in Nigeria is no different.
Yet, the 2023 election cycle in Nigeria is unfolding with distinct idiosyncrasies that compel the rest of the world to watch with conspiratorial stares of surprise and disbelief intertwined with sad nods accompanied by anguished and desperate moans and moans just at a time when Africa is at its most populous democracy can pull itself together and serve as a beacon of light and hope to the rest of Africa and the black race. And why not, given the incongruous contrasts that make Africa’s so-called ‘sleeping giant’ a poster child for a country rich and poor delighted by a failed government induced by an unconscionable class of retraining dishonest politicians and incompetent.
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And now this. The two main political parties – the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — have set outrageously high amounts for their expressions of interest and presidential candidacy forms. The PDP is 40 million Naira and that of APC is a jaw-dropping 100 million Naira! Many public affairs analysts argue that the economy is the main driver behind the seemingly outlandish “entry fee” for the 2023 presidency. This school of thought posits that the parties want to generate funds to fully cover the logistics of conducting conventions without being held for a barrel like Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike did for the PDP ahead of the 2018 nominating convention.
Not being beholden to a bag of sponsorship money would supposedly make the leadership of both parties more independent – or give the award to a contender of their choice. The latter most likely explains why the APC requires all of its aspirants to sign no less than nine waivers of rights, although it remains to be seen how this will prevent the glut of post-convention lawsuits that are sure to arise. conditionalities or no conditionalities.
There are others who argue that charging such a ridiculously high fee was just a gamble to reduce the cheering crowd and help distinguish suitors from serious suitors. At first glance, it did not yield the expected results. By the time the deadline for submitting the two forms passed last Friday, 18 presidential candidates from the PDP and 25 from the APC had completed the onerous requirement for the 2023 presidency.
Because loudly, how could that be possible in a country where many states still owe huge backlogs of civil servants and pensioners, talk more about complying with the new national minimum wage of a paltry 30,000M per month ? How could this be possible in a country which has just been declared the “poverty capital of the world”, after overtaking India? How could this be impossible in a country where youth and graduate unemployment is unprecedented? How could this be possible in a country where university students have stayed home due to a prolonged strike undertaken by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)?
These questions and others subsequently made tongues speak. Many people have started asking what the vast majority of those who miss the submission deadline – especially the civil servants among them – earn so they can easily afford to part with that kind of money. Many have called on both the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to respectively investigate how much individuals have declared as income over the years and how much taxes have been paid on the income they paid and what the sources of their “wealth” are.
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Truth be told, Nigeria is one of the decadent countries in Africa and South America, where being nominated or elected to high office turns into an “open sesame” meal ticket for family members and the associates. According to the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Taxation Commission (RMAFC), the Nigerian President earns N1.17 million per month. He also receives an allowance of up to 50% of the monthly salary for the “hardship” we cause him to live in the luxury and comfort of Aso Villa to preside over our affairs. He also receives a constituency allowance of 250% of his remuneration, 10% of his annual salary in the form of leave allowance and 400% in the form of a car “loan” repayable over four years.
But make no mistake because there is a lot more than meets the eye. The Nigerian president oversees an annual multi-billion naira security vote for which he is not accountable to anyone for how he chooses to spend the money. Then there are the solicited and unsolicited under-the-table financial settlements amounting to billions of naira, excluding the construction and furnishing of lavish retirement mansions on prime locations atop a hill !
There are other palatable largesse, too, such as complete freedom to treat and dispose of the nation’s most valuable oil assets as private property; live rent-free in a large, tastefully furnished building complex; access to free meals to unlimited family members and pests; as many free exotic vehicles as he wants; and undisputed access to no less than 10 presidential fleet jets for himself and his family members to use for both official and private purposes.
The Nigerian President is unquestionably the most imperious, as well as the biggest profiteer, among his peers under democratic rule. In the United States, for example, from where we have copied the presidential system of government, the occupant of the White House pays for his own meals and those of his family members and guests. He also pays the bills every time he uses an official vehicle or plane for private business, and the very idea of family members using an official vehicle or plane for private purposes is horribly ‘haram’.
Considering the invaluable benefits of the office, no price is too high for all sorts of aspirants. Also, many are simply running for those most likely to win – to make sure the numbers are in place just in case a ballot is needed among the aspirants to choose a “consensus” candidate, let alone the rebound in popularity that attends the resignation. by aspirants for one of their colleagues. Ultimately, all seekers who withdraw and approve are refunded. This explains why a presidential primary in Nigeria is not for the frugal and the pusillanimous but mainly for the big players with very deep pockets.
Politics, by all accounts, is a numbers game. The Machiavellian principle of the end justifying the means is also said to have fertile ground in politics with victory as the only thing. No wonder many philosophers say there is no morality in politics. It is therefore hardly surprising that a game of cat and mouse is now being played between the APC and the PDP over the area of origin of their presidential candidates. The APC previously reportedly zoned the 2023 presidency to the south. But the virtual certainty that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar will land the PDP ticket – for reasons that should be very obvious – has forced the APC to back down.
By a bizarre quirk of fate, the same Ahmad Lawan who led his fellow APC senators to endorse the party’s former national leader, Bola Tinubu, threw his hat in for the 2023 presidency under ongoing plans. to checkmate the PDP. And make no mistake, the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. When the push turns into a stampede, I can see many of the South West’s political heavyweights lining up behind Lawan rather than Tinubu – reminding us all of the enduring spectacle of Awo’s betrayal.
What the PDP decides would guide the APC to push back with an effective backlash, even if it means – as is becoming increasingly evident – both parties fielding presidential candidates of northern origin. I wish I had said otherwise, but no, the skies won’t fall and, given our very short memory spans, most Southerners would still play the game coyly – after making the usual noises first of course.