The kitchen is getting more populated and the heat is gradually coming on. Omoyele Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters; Fela Durotoye, consulting guru and leadership coach; Donald Duke, former governor of Cross Rivers; Kingsley Moghalu, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
These men, and the usual suspects — Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president and President Muhammadu Buhari — will be vying for the highest political office in the land; the office of the president.
This past week was thoroughly interesting for me. Every day was a relief and a burden in equal sense. Nigerians on and offline expressed some of their hard held notions about Nigeria and the days ahead, and a lot of these opinions were surprising to me. These opinions expressed in a number of debates sort Nigerians into three major categories: the intellectuals, the citizens of the streets, and the ones Fela Kuti says will be shuffering and shmilling.
THE INTELLECTUALS X-RAY ANN MANIFESTO
After Fela Durotoye declared last week that he will be running for president on the wings of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), some of the people in my network were quick to x-ray the ideology behind the party. In their search, they made some interesting revelations. The major one was the manifesto of the party.
The party’s goal is to restore Nigeria to the glory path, to “create and develop a country that will hold its place in the comity of nations, where we rank top 20 in every indices of human development”. The manifesto was built around 20 cardinal points, which move from education to women’s right, to anti-corruption, to transportation, among others.
For targets, Fela Durotoye’s party is promising that “an ANN led government will prioritized and pursue vigorously the expansion of energy generation and distribution progressively to about 40,000 megawatts”. On education, the party says 30 percent of national budget will be dedicated to the sector “to meet UNESCO benchmark on education”.
ANN is also promising to break new grounds in science and technology, especially in raising a new generation of developers, engineers and so on. The party adds that it “will support the idea of connecting every household in Nigeria to high-speed broadband, increase internet adoption, and help hook up anchor institutions so they can offer free WiFi to the public”.
For women, ANN is promising “full equality for women. ANN will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, healthcare, or any other sphere”.
To fight corruption, ANN will employ technology, transparency, good governance and the rule of law. The party also promises to reorganise and equip the Nigerian Police for the 21st century, while reforming the prisons and decongesting the facilities.
As per defense and Boko Haram, ANN plans to “end wastefulness and corruption in Defense budget and ensure the Defense ministry utilizes its budgets wisely” while keeping “faith with our veterans and wounded soldiers”.
VERDICT: The “intellectuals” (for the lack of a better name) believe the document was hurriedly prepared. No time frame for achievement of set goals, no concrete plans on the “hows”. How will you dedicate 30 percent of the national budget to education and still have enough for other sectors of the national life, especially recurrent expenditure and security? No clear numbers and targets on the Boko Haram war, other insecurity issues, and the economy. With Durotoye running against the wind, this class of Nigeria believes more has to be done on ANN’s manifesto.
CITIZENS OF THE STREET SAY NO DUKE, NO FELA
This class of people believe Durotoye does not have what it takes to convince the street to vote for him. The same goes with Donald Duke. They believe these men do not have the structure nor the financial war chest to meet the street demands for an election year. Besides, their principles are seemingly against “settling the streets”.
You hear them say “Duke think say na fine boy dem dey take run for office,” which means being a handsome man is no guarantee of getting the votes. They believe that both men do not have the structure that wins in Nigeria. Though Duke belongs to the leading opposition party with one of the biggest structure out of Africa, the street believes the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in position to win the elections.
Their view of Fela Durotoye is a street way of simplistically echoing Ayisha Osori’s thoughts in her insightful book Love does not win elections. That they like his person is not enough.
THOSE SUFFERING AND SMILING
This class baffles me. They see themselves as the commonsense generation, but they do not have to do anything to change the system. They are the people Fela Anikulapo Kuti was referring to in his 1978 classic, Shuffering and Shmilling.
They say Buhari has failed, they insist the People Democratic Party (PDP) is not the answer. So we have to look elsewhere, that we need young people in power. Then the likes of Durotoye, Sowore, and Moghalu present themselves and they turn around and say “Nigeria is not ready for this kind of people”.
Moghalu asks one salient question: What does Nigeria really need?
In his alternative approach, he presents a website for collating ideas. He asks every concerned Nigerian to submit a solution to build a nation. But these people are saying no to Moghalu, and not submitting any solution to the the Nigerian question.
Their philosophy is that “the status quo must change but we would not be doing anything to change it”. As long as the earth remains, this kind of people will continue suffering and smiling.
CAN A GOOD MAN BE KING?
One of my favourite lines in the record-breaking movie Black Panther, were the words of T’Chaka to his son, T’Challa: “You are a good man with a good heart. And it is hard for a good man to be king”.
This may be the case in Nigeria, our best minds may never lead us, except we go out of our way to make this happen. I, for one, believe we can make the best of our minds lead us, and this, we must.
So Nigerians, can we get a good man, and make him king?
PS: I have not said any of the men above is a good man — neither have I said otherwise.
Reach Tijani across major social media platforms @OluwamayowaTJ