By Suleiman Umaru
In spite of the good number of political gladiators that have declared their Presidential ambition in the Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP, and which is increasing by the day ahead of the 2023, general elections, rumours of former President Goodluck Jonathan, dumping the PDP , that brought him to political lime-light to join the ruling a LL Progressive Congress, APC, have been dampened.
The former Nigerian President who has been under intense pressure from some powerful Emirs and power brokers in the north to join the APC, including moles in the PDP, may have looked at the legal hurdles he must scale in the race for the Presidency if he should join the party. To show that he is still A Chieftain of the PD, unlike Obasanjo , who has resigned from active politics to play the role of Adviser to those who may seek his wise counsel to achieve their Presidential ambition, may have broken his silence as he thros his weight on Bala Mohammeed, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory , FCT, during his Administration and now governor of the north east state of Bauchi to be Nigeria’s next President.
He has his reason . According to him the former FCT minister has a ‘’commitment for national service and very competent’’ to rule Nigeria. The former President who could not hide his feelings had expressed his absolute confidence in the ability of the Bauchi state governor to lead the country’’. Beaming with smiles at a meeting with him on Thursday, February 10,2022, he had said ‘’ if you are there as Nigeria’s next President, then I have son’’ , nothing that the joy of every father is to see his son grow’’.
Putting the garb of a Priest, he had prayed for him. ‘’By the divine providence and with the support of Nigerians and Almighty God, you will become the next President of Nigeria’’, he. The prayer may have sealed the hope of other PDP Presidential aspirants who may have planned to reach out to the former Nigerian President to seek his support including Ayim Pius Ayim, a former Secretary General of the Federal Government during his Administartion from south east state of Eboyi.
Note that at the last count, no fewer than five political gladiators in the Opposition PDP had declared their interest for the exalted office. They are Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice president, during Olusegun Olusegun Obaanjo’s Administration and a former PDP Presidential Candidate, in the 2019,general elections and who incidentally is from the south east state of Adamawa, bukola Saraki, a former governor of Kwara state and a one-time Senate President, Aminu Tambuwal, former Speaker Of House Of Representatives and now governor of Sokoto state and Senator Sam Ohuabunwa, from the south –east state of Abia.
The Abia state Presidential aspirant had visited Ibrahim Babangida , a retired Army General and former military President in his hilltop home in Minna , Capital of the north central state of Niger, described as Mecca, for the Presidential Candidates , irrespective of party of affliction ‘’to solicit for his wise counsel as well as members of the party in the state ahead of the party Convention and the 2023, general elections’’.
He had said that he was motivated to join the PDP Presidential race ‘’to change the narrative and the put the country on the right pedestal among the comity of nations’’. He had cited joblessness, which is causing the worsening insecurity, high level of socio-economic challenges and increased level of poverty as the biggest challenges facing the country , and will be tackled headlong by his Administration.
S a prelude to showing to the public that he is still financial solid to fund his 2023, Presidential ambition, Atiku, described as one of the frontrunners among the PDP, Presidential Candidates, may have taken a cue from Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and one of the APC, Presidential Candidates who had doled out N50 million each to Zamfara and Niger states respectively ,for Boko Haram victims to do so in Benue state for victims of armed Herdsmen, thus sending a message to the other Presidential Candidates jostling for the 2023, general elections that money will play a key role in deciding who becomes Nigeria’s next President. This mean that the issue of the Leadership quality, Character and Compentence of the person would be downplayed provide the Candidate has the money to outshine his Competitors in winning the heart of the voters at the party Convention with the help of his foot soldiers.
While the polity has been heated up by the Politicians ahead of the 2023, general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General,, appears reluctant to sign the 2021, amended Electoral Bill by the National Assembly, into Law, which could have given the parties the ammunition to fully prepare for their Conventions to elect their presidential Candidates and Vice Presidential Candidate
Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Attorney General and minister of Justice, had hinted that the Nigerian President may withhold assent from the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill if it was found to have been amended based on’’ personal interest by the Lawmakers’’.
In apparent reaction to why the Katsina born Nigerian President is still reluctant assent to sign the Electoral Bill, which he had forced the National Assembly to Amend last year by including other options for the parties to select their Candidates instead of limiting it to the direct primaries alone, Babajide Omoworare, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters had said that he is still ‘’consulting with critical stakeholders on whether to sign the Electoral Act Ammendment Bill or not.’’. The question on the lips of most people was : who are these critical stakeholders that the retired Army General is Consulting before signing the Electoral Bill that had been amended by the National Assembly?
Omoworare, may have known that the retired Army General do not have all the time world to assent to the amended Electoral Bill that he had made Nigerians to know that he was aware of his’’ Constitutional Constraints for assent to the Bill which is a 30-day frame from the day the document was transmitted to his office to sign into Law’’.
It is instructive to note that the National Assembly had had included in the amended Electoral Bill both Consensus and indirect primaries , in the selection of Candidates by the parties which should have gladdened Nigerian President’s heart but he is still foot- dragging h to do so awaiting for Malami, the minister of Justice’s , legal Advice.
Attahiru Jega, a former Chairman, of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, may not have seen anything wrong in Buahuri, foot dragging in signing the Electoral Bill into Law, insisting that a ‘’good law was necessary for electoral integrity’’. His major worry in the Bill was the provisions made for Campaign financing by the Presidential Candidates. He alluded to the provisions in the Bill that says Candidates for Presidency must spend N5 billion and governors N1 billion for elections, describing it as ‘’a bad Law’’.
An aggrieved Jega, had said that ‘’as long as there is no internal party democracy, in the parties, even if they adopt direct, indirect primaries or the Consensus option to select their Candidates for the 2023, general elections, the money bag politicians in will still ‘’manipulate the party Conventions and the outcome will not be favourable to the people’’.
The former INEC, boss who could not hide his feelings, however, has appealed to the Nigerian President to hasten up’’ to sign the Electoral Ammendment Bill into Law as it is critical to the 2023 general elections’’.