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Pendulum: The Bitter Truth PDP Must Be Told

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 By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, these are not the best of times for our dear party PDP, a party that prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, and rightly so.

My romance with PDP could be traced to the pre-2019 Presidential election when I voluntarily supported its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, free of charge, without joining the party. I have always been more of a supporter of candidates rather than Political Parties. The reason is simple and straightforward. Political Parties in our country lack marked ideological differences, the reason it is easy to wake up in APC this morning and go to bed in PDP the same evening. No principle, no philosophy and no ethics. Our Political Parties, including the smaller ones are home to rampaging, itinerant and mostly unconscionable politicians who are only in pursuit of power and vainglory without the interests of the people at heart. Thus, it has been virtually impossible, and extremely difficult, for the few exceptional leaders to find solace, succour and anchor in any of these Political Parties.

It was with a similar view that in 2015, I supported Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari without being a member of the APC. When I finally gave up on him later on, in his first term, I exercised my right of freedom of association by supporting Atiku, in 2019, hoping he would at least tap into his vast business experience and cosmopolitan nature to rescue Nigeria from the doldrums and the backwardness that the APC government had unleashed on our hapless nation. Unfortunately, he lost, under controversial circumstances.

Atiku was already over 70 at the time, and I thought he would retire graciously and peacefully, to enjoy the comfort of his family and friends, for several reasons. He is a Fulani man like Buhari, who by God’s grace should complete eight years in power, at the helm of Nigerian affairs, in 2023. He belongs to almost the same age bracket as Buhari. As Nigeria currently stands, I believe the country urgently requires a younger, youthful, energetic, visionary, cerebral, charismatic, decorous, humble, self-accomplished, tolerant, leader to re-unite our country and re-set it on the path of peace and prosperity. According to the zoning principle of PDP, power should move to the South, wherever the Southerners in PDP and APC decide to situate it. At that time, Peter Obi’s Labour and Kola Abiola’s  PRP were not yet in the equation.

I did my permutations and assumed that PDP would have recovered from the blistering defeat it suffered as a ruling Party in government, in 2015, and learn new lessons that would help it recapture power from those who made grandiloquent promises that hoodwinked Nigerians, including myself, in 2015, but fell short on deliverables so soon after. I never imagined that PDP will studiously ignore an opportunity to rebrand itself as a refreshingly new Political Party that would open a window of fresh air and offer hope to already critically frustrated Nigerians at home and abroad. My confidence was also predicated on the emergence Dr Iyorchia Ayu, a famous scholar and distinguished politician as the PDP National Chairman. I had promptly dismissed the rumours in certain circles that he was installed to supervise and guarantee the coronation of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. I knew him as far back as the turbulent days of the June 12, 1993, Presidential election, which was won by Chief Moshood Abiola, but annulled by the military establishment.

I finally decided to join the PDP after my chance meeting with Dr Ayu at the home of Governor Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt last year. Dr Ayu was in Rivers State to commission some of the landmark projects of Governor Wike, aka Mr Projects. While waiting downstairs for Governor Wike to come down, I was opportune to spend some quality time, and engage with the Party Chairman, on some serious conversation. I presented him three of my books and he appeared elated. He thanked me profusely because, according to him, he loves to read voraciously as a former university lecturer. By the time Governor Wike joined us, we had discussed a lot about the Nigerian polity, and we thereafter took a few pictures, and it was time to go.

That meeting convinced me that PDP was a better option to APC because the Chairman seemed earnest and sincere. I kept in touch with the Chairman a couple of times via WhatsApp and developed more respect for him.

Before taking a plunge, I knew I needed to speak to Governor Wike who had graciously engaged the Ovation Media Group for the rebranding of Rivers States. He was understandably a busy Governor keen on leaving a genuine legacy for his successor to build on, and for his people to enjoy. He was full of praise for our work, and I felt obliged to reciprocate his confidence in us by consulting with him and confiding in him first about my intentions. Unfortunately, once I sent a message about my intentions, it became mission impossible to speak to him. On one occasion, I spoke to our mutual friend, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, who told him I had complained about his unreachability. Wike finally called me around 1.00am and said he was shocked to hear that I said he was deliberately avoiding me. “You should know me by now that if I had anything against you, I would have told you…” I then told him I needed to let him know of my plan to join PDP. Unfortunately, even after this encounter, Governor Wike became even more incommunicado. So, I decided to go ahead with my decision, after fulfilling that righteousness.

On Friday, October 29, 2021, I took a leap of faith, when I formally joined the leading opposition Party, PDP. The news came as a surprise to practically everybody, except my Wife and very close friends and associates. It went viral globally. It marked the beginning of my return to active politics since 2011. And I was truly elated and enthusiastic about using my extensive networks and public relations skills to re-energise PDP and galvanise young, first-time voters to our Political Party. One of my first self-appointed roles was to encourage online registration on the PDP membership platform for these new and young voters. So many youths responded positively but they were soon frustrated and discouraged by the cumbersome screening process and unnecessarily tedious verification exercise required by PDP in order to join a Political Party. I forwarded many of the complaints to our Party headquarters but not much changed or improved.

I soon discovered that there were several powerful and contending forces and opposing blocks in the Party. There was also the glaring North/South dichotomy. It was fashionable to hear of new and old members. You must be a Governor or a former big man for you to be recognised and respected in the party. All our education and personal achievements meant nothing to many of the staff at our national headquarters in Abuja, but my team decided to remain calm and steadfast and play the game to the very end. For us, every experience is a new lesson in the school of life. 

It is noteworthy that most of our politicians can never see themselves as the servants of the people who pay for all the perks they enjoy ceaselessly and endlessly. For me, this unreasonable arrogance of our politicians is the beginning and end of our problems in a country overflowing with milk and honey. Since 1993, when Chief Abiola contested on the platform of SDP, I have observed that the Governors have been inordinately powerful. They were amongst those who misled Chief Moshood Abiola and forced him to pick their candidate as his running mate. Chief Abiola had even been ready to pick a Northern Christian as runningmate but was ambushed and dissuaded by the almighty Governors. Fast forward to 2022, the same Governors have become mini-Presidents and causing untold hullabaloo and unnecessary ruckus everywhere. Only a few of them are humble enough to climb down from their high horses to engage ordinary mortals like us. I often wonder that if they can treat those of us, who in our private capacity contributed immensely to the present Democracy that they are now enjoying, at a time many of them were still in school, with such disdain, how would they see the citizens of their respective states as humans who are worthy of their services not to talk of being accountable to those them. I was not surprised when former Governor Peter Obi broke ranks with the Governors and abandoned a Political Party that made him a Vice Presidential candidate in 2019. I heard horrendous stories of how he was snubbed by some of the Governors during his visits to many PDP controlled states as a PDP Presidential aspirant. Just imagine.

Let’s move forward please. The Presidential race truly divided our Party beyond imagination. I will not bore you with details but whatever tragedy has befallen our Party today was a prophecy long seen and definitely foretold by me. I saw it clearly and tried to help my Party, PDP, but the so-called big men were not ready to listen to “featherweights! They treated us with derision and openly derided and denigrated us. 

I knew, as far back as early March, that Governor Wike was interested in running for the highest office, at a time many did not know it. Ovation Media Group was in the forefront of his rebranding process so I knew it could not have been for fun. The manner we suddenly became estranged merely because I had mentioned my intention to him via a phone message was also an indication of what was to come.

I knew, almost from the time I joined the PDP that the Party’s zoning formula was going to be jettisoned for the sole benefit of one aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. This was not a hidden fact and therefore did not need much deduction. I knew that the United States Dollar was going to play a prominent and crucial role in who becomes our Party’s candidate. A former Governor had boasted to me that Wike was going to defeat Atiku and go on to become the next President merely because he commanded a huge war chest that nobody could even remotely match. I told this ex-Governor that I was aware that Wike has the capacity to defeat Atiku but that there was going to be a massive gang-up against him, such that his financial armoury would eventually be reduced to nothing. My brother refused to listen to me despite my genuine and palpable love for him. He said I was not a politician. I could feel the irritation in his voice and body language as he berated me for telling him an obvious, evident truth. In all honesty, Wike is probably one of the best performing Governors in Nigeria, but many people complain that he is too volatile and irascible. Naturally, this got him incredibly angry when I told him this fact which is what most of his friends couldn’t tell him. I knew there was going to be a volcanic and cataclysmic eruption against Wike at our Party Primaries, but Wike and his team did not believe it was possible.

I knew Atiku could not win without some help from Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and I told my team on the morning of our Party Convention that this was likely to be the scenario that would play out. But for the sudden stepping down of Tambuwal, Wike would have beaten Atiku black and blue in that contest. Tambuwal not only persuaded his supporters to vote Atiku, but his withdrawal also meant that the votes he would have received which would have reduced Atiku’s votes and made Wike the clear winner were residing in the Atiku camp.

Once Atiku emerged as Presidential candidate, I knew he would never pick Wike as his running mate. I’m surprised that big politicians who claimed to have the power of clairvoyance could not see this coming. It would have been a slap on Tambuwal, who had stepped down, for Wike to suddenly become a Vice President, according to those in Atiku’s camp. Additionally, they claimed Wike would be too strong for Atiku to contain and an Obasanjo/Atiku scenario would occur with Atiku being on the receiving end this time.

However, I believe Atiku should have made every effort to reach out to Wike by all means and make him offers he cannot resist or reject. There are positions more powerful than that of Vice President in Nigeria. Former Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, has been like a Prime Minister under the Buhari Presidency. Wike is too strong to be ignored. It is a known fact that Wike’s predecessor, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, was a major factor in Buhari’s 2015 and 2019 victories. Wike is even much stronger today. Also, Atiku should have invited his co-contestants and carried them along in his decision, because no one is too small in politics. I doubt if the hasty decision to pick Governor Ifeanyi Okowa would not cause irreparable damage to the Party. I would have freely and gladly told His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar that PDP cannot ignite a passion in the Nigerian youths with a lukewarm team. Atiku has practically donated the entire South West, free of charge, to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the South East, a primarily PDP enclave, to the Labour Party candidate, former Governor Peter Obi and possibly even Asiwaju Tinubu, who is personally well respected there for his vision and industry, attributes which the Igbos recognise and respect. Apart from perhaps Delta State, I don’t know where else Governor Okowa has much influence in the South South. This is a sad fact and the bitter truth.

Lastly, many had asked me why I contested when I had no chance of winning the PDP Presidential Primary. My simple response. I did not believe that I could not win. It was my view that if the contest were free, fair and devoid of the money politics that overshadowed the Primaries, I would win. Moreover, I needed to demonstrate how to run a decent and healthy campaign. I needed to showcase the vast and diverse array of my uncommon network and my ability to reunite and secure Nigeria instantly. I’m glad that I did so to the admiration of many normal Nigerians.

Time will indeed tell our story in glowing terms!…

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Pendulum

Pendulum: My Personal Take on Atiku, Wike and Ayu

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians,

I come in peace. According to the Holy Bible: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…” Matthew 5:9.

The political party I belong to is PDP. I had contested its Presidential Primary months ago but lost spectacularly. I’m not here to offer excuses about what happened or did not happen. I’m writing this epistle first as a peacemaker and also, secondly, as an academic exercise. I’m interested in exploring the possibilities of how our big gladiators can re-embrace one another. Once upon a time, they were all friends. Friends sometimes fight bitterly. Even husbands and wives do disagree vehemently and, at times, to a point of irreconcilable differences. However, even in those times, miracles can happen and events and circumstances bring them back together.  This is the stage we are right now. Only a miracle can save the once buoyant and vibrant relationships that existed between these major anchors of the PDP and restore the trust between The Wazirin Atiku Abubakar, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and Governor Nyesom Wike.

The key words in the middle of this war of attrition are MISTRUST and DISTRUST.

I need to emphasize that earlier this week, I and four other former Presidential aspirants visited our Party’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in Abuja.

The delegation was led by Alhaji Mohammed Hayatudeen. Those former aspirants that attended the meeting were Mohammed Hayatudeen, Dele Momodu, Tari Oliver, Bar Charles Ugwu and Bar Chikwendu Kalu. This was the first official meeting of it’s kind by any group of aspirants after the National Convention that saw Alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerge as the Presidential flag bearer of our great Party, PDP. I must emphasise that we represented the small group of six former aspirants who had met in Lagos and reached a decision to meet our candidate. Only one of us was absent, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, because he had to leave for the US before the meeting took place.

It is not true that our small group was snubbed by anyone of the other aspirants. We did not invite Governor Nyesom Wike since he we understood and knew that he is still angry about the conduct of the election, it’s outcome and events that transpired shortly thereafter. Before meeting with our Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku, we had reached out to some of our party’s leaders who were reachable. We had even paid a visit to former Governor Ayodele Peter Fayose who is currently recuperating from a major surgery, in order to show our empathy and consideration for him and his condition. Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had actually agreed to host us soon. Chief Anyim Pius Anyim also promised to host us since he was unavoidably absent and away from Abuja at the time we met Atiku. Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki also offered his apologies as he was out of the country.

The truth is that everyone is anxious to see an end to the imbroglio rocking our party. Even our opponents are eager to see an end to it, one way or the other, because PDP has been getting all the good and bad attention (and every publicity in PR parlance, is good publicity). So we decided to start the peace process from our own side as former Co-contestants for the Presidential ticket of the PDP, in a bid to ensure that we reduce the almost perennial bad news about our Party.

Our candidate was happy and delighted to see, and welcome us to his home. The atmosphere was both convivial and jovial. He expressed his great pleasure to see his former colleagues and co-contestants and assured our team of his readiness to collaborate and build a formidable team that would not only see the PDP winning the upcoming election, but also strategically position the Party for the upcoming business of governance after our resounding victory.

The team spoke about our foremost interest in ensuring peace and stability in the Party, stressing the need for the Party to walk and talk through the difficult challenges that it currently faces, and restore peace speedily through meaningful dialogue and reconciliation.

I need to interject by stating that my article and opinion herein is strictly personal to me. This would be my third troubleshooting intervention following on the earlier two I had circulated widely on other platforms. The first was addressed directly to my very dear friend and Brother, Governor Nyesom Wike as follows:

“MY KOBO ADVICE TO GOVERNOR NYESOM WIKE…

My dear Brother, good evening. I have watched you in recent months with trepidation. I’m scared about your inability to comprehend the country called Nigeria. You must have underrated how the owners of Nigeria operate. I have studied the biography of CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO. I was an insider in the June 12 1993 crisis, and a veritable witness to the tribulations of my great mentor, CHIEF MOSHOOD ABIOLA. Closer home, you must have seen how your predecessor, DR PETER ODILI, was stopped in his tracks in 2007.

You’re certainly one of Nigeria’s best performing Governors, if not the best. Personally, I’m very proud of your uncommon achievements. I know you are very angry. It is your right to be. But I’m begging you in the name of God not to take decisions based on anger… Nigeria has been very kind to you. Rivers State has been extremely generous to you. GOD has blessed you beyond imagination. You have such a beautiful family. Your people love you stupendously for services delivered to them. PDP has been your solid platform. You should never destroy a bridge after crossing the river. Even if you no longer need the bridge, what of your friends and family? I pray you kill this excessive and perpetual ANGER. It is getting out of hand. Most people around you will keep quiet for fear of losing patronage. Many politicians survive only on power. My Brother, I love you. But someone must be able to tell you the truth. No General fights on too many fronts. Please, apply the brakes, before it is too late…”

To his credit, Wike called me that night and although he was still simmering we spoke briefly, but cordially, about my humble admonition.

Wike has been like a combination of Ronaldo and Messi in our Party and I believe he must be appeased by all means possible. I was encouraged when I saw pictures of his meeting with our Party’s Presidential candidate with a few of our Governors having dinner in London. But nothing seemed to have come out of what I thought was an auspicious meeting.

So I wrote a second letter addressed to the generality of the Party faithful as follows:

“A LETTER TO PDP MEMBERS

My dear party members, good morning. I woke up thinking about the sad and unfortunate crisis rocking our party. I’m wondering if we’ve not been victims of mass hypnotism. Someone needs to wake us up from this state of somnambulism.

Months after we concluded our Presidential primary, we are still busy fighting and calling ourselves unprintable names, thus forgetting that, once upon a time, we were friends, with shared dreams and aspirations. We all looked forward to how our party would dislodge the APC behemoth that deceived Nigerians with highfalutin promises but failed spectacularly on delivery.

Agreed, costly mistakes were made in our party Presidential primary, some of them avoidable, but we cannot continue to dwell on it, lest we  throw the baby away with the bathwater.
Now that we’ve narrowed the principal actors to our National Chairman, Governor Nyesom Wike and our Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, I wish to appeal once again to them to urgently rise above this war of attrition for the sake of long-suffering Nigerians who need our attention desperately. PDP is the oldest party in Nigeria, since 1999, with the requisite experience to tap into in order to reverse our perfidious descent into anarchy.

I salute the courage of Governor Wike in boldly and vociferously letting the world know what went wrong and what should be done moving forward. He should please sheath his sword and allow party machinery fix the rest. I also appeal to our party elders to resist making inflammatory statements that may further escalate the crisis. Truth is, we can, and should, defeat APC spectacularly in the next election and hopefully form a Government of National Unity in 2023, as suggested by our candidate. Let’s not destroy this opportunity with our own hands.
Nigerians are waiting to see the practical presentations and demonstrations of our manifesto. Majority of the other candidates and members of their parties were at different times members of our party, PDP. For every finger they point at us, four others will point back at them.
Time has come for our party to retake the victory and regain the glory.”

My personal takes today are that one, we must recognise that issues of injustices in our Party must be addressed and not swept under the carpet. No attempt should be made to make the Southerners in our Party feel like bystanders. We need massive votes from every part of Nigeria. Two, whatever promises were made privately to Wike should be re-visited and reviewed and if they have changed and can no longer be sustained, fresh decisive and sincere negotiations should take place between our candidate and Wike. The aim should be to try and meet him at a point closely aligned to those initial promises. That is the hallmark of justice and integrity on which our great Party was founded and built. I’m not saying anyone is indispensable, but Wike deserves our respects for his humongous support for our Party. There was a time that PDP would have been consumed and destroyed, but Wike was one of those few who stood tall like a colossus and held the Party together. Three, I will plead with Wike to calm down and let God fight his fight. I’m not happy the way the media is exploiting the crisis while making him look too cantankerous and obstinate. He has proven his point too well. Now he should let his cause take its course. I believe history will eventually vindicate him. The head that will wear the crown can never be denied. No matter how long it takes, it will happen if it is God’s will. King Charles III is the most recent example of this truism!

Four, PDP should link up more to the many younger talents and self-accomplished technocrats that abound in Nigeria and abroad and stop giving attention only to career politicians. A political party that wishes to dislodge a ruling government must target and attract first time voters.We must appeal to those in the Diaspora who send money back home to their families and friends.

I pray our leaders and elders would see reason and embrace peace urgently…

GOOD NIGHT OUR DEAR BELOVED QUEEN

I have often been asked who’s the greatest personality I ever met and my unequivocal response was always: HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II. The extraordinary and remarkably graceful and regal woman and monarch has impacted the whole world in a way none other has. She is one of the few people known only by their Titles, the Queen. But, of course, she is the most renowned of them all.

On July 29, 1995, I landed at the London Gatwick Airport from Accra, Ghana. For me, it was the beginning of an unplanned and unanticipated sojourn in the land of unpredictable weather for the next three years.

I will forever treasure the unbelievable support and the unimaginable protection my family and I enjoyed as asylum seekers and later, refugees, from Her Majesty’s Government…

I was so grateful on behalf of myself and family that I started dreaming of meeting Her Majesty, but never knew how this tall dream could ever be actualized. However, nothing is impossible with God. And when things happen for me they do so oftentimes in a blaze of honour and glory. Indeed, when the appointed time came, the Deputy British High Commissioner was the one who contacted me, shortly before Her Majesty’s last visit to Nigeria in 2003. Apparently, the High Commission had been trying to reach me for a while because they had a mission for me. I recall that I was in Ghana when the call came through that Ovation International magazine and Thisday newspaper were the only two publications shortlisted by Buckingham Palace as the official titles allowed to cover the extraordinary visit…. I was thrilled beyond measure at the recognition and honour. I knew then that dreams come true in the most unusual of ways. Naturally, I was invited to be a guest at the cocktail reception organized by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Sir Philip Thomas, and I got an opportunity to introduce myself to the Queen.

I had rehearsed and rehearsed what I would say to her within the few minutes of standing before her and it was a most fulfilling experience indeed…

The rest is now history…

May her beautiful soul Rest in Peace…

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Pendulum: My Early Permutations on 2023 Presidential Election

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By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me make a few clarifications before going into the nitty-gritty of this epistle.

Today, I’m wearing two caps on this page. I’m a journalist as well as a politician. I have been both for decades, although I remain pre-eminently a journalist. Also, I have been a non-partisan politician for a long time until recently. Even then I have seen it fit to support candidates from the two mainstream political parties depending on the capacity and performance of the ruling government party. Since this is my column, it is expected that it will reflect my personal opinion and not that of any other person. This has always been the case although my opinion may sometimes be shaped by not only the voracious reading culture that I have made the mainstay of my career as a journalist but also the wide consultations and interactions that I continue to have both as a journalist and politician. And opinions can oftentimes be subjective, although I try to be as objective and fair as possible. I am aware that even objectivity and fairness can be relative, but they are standards one must strive to attain, maintain and exist by in life. Equally importantly, I am also brutally frank and open to self-criticism at all times.

Going on to my early permutations for the 2023 Presidential race, let me state categorically that I have at least six good friends in the race, namely, Mr Abdul-Lateef Kolawole Abiola, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr Omoyele Sowore, Mr Peter Obi and Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. All six of them are eminently qualified to lead our country Nigeria. They all have distinctive personal characteristics and attributes which enable each of them to be individually considered strong candidates for the position of President. However, each of them cannot be considered in isolation. They must be looked at from the viewpoint of Party, background and relationships. I must therefore establish some methodology for my assessment of what would determine the ultimate winner of the 2023 Presidential contest.

In present day Nigerian Presidential elections, there are certain major factors at play. These factors have become majorly important given the prevailing circumstances in the country particularly those of agitations for restructuring and secession, insecurity, failed economy and poverty, gross unemployment, infrastructure deficit and decay, educational maladministration and maladjustment and parlous health services. These major factors include the following:

One. There were usually two mainstream political parties. In 2023, they will be APC and PDP. A third force is still warming up as a major challenger, especially in the Southern regions. It is not yet known how much power it can garner and galvanise in the coming months. That is the Labour Party. In all honesty, that is as far as my third eye can see for now. I apologise therefore to my three other friends in what I call fringe parties, namely, Kola Abiola, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Omoyele Sowore. Kwankwaso has a chance of doing much better than the other two because of his popularity in the massive electoral cauldron that is Kano State. He also has some following in the North, but I still do not see him making such an inroad as to garner more than 3-5% of the total votes cast.

Two. Ethnicity, or what is called the race factor in the United States of America, will play a major part in 2023. A lot of Nigerians have seen the ethnic factor play out by a division of the country into three large parts, the monolithic North, the South West Edo and Delta States, and an amalgam of the other South South States and the South East States. On my part I do not see a monolithic North as well. The Middle Belt including Kwara and Kogi States have been much maligned and marginalised in this respect. Yet they have their own strong force and voice. I will break down its beneficiaries in the next few paragraphs.

Three. Religion will play a significant role in 2023. We have already seen how this has become a major thorny issue due to APC’s decision to present a Moslem/Moslem ticket. It is also frontloaded as a major factor because of the prevailing distrust and insecurity that is all pervading in the country. This used to be largely a Northern thing with grave vicious violence being unleashed upon one another by Moslems and Christians alike. However, this distrust, and insecurity, has spilled over into the South and is part of the reasons why agitations for restructuring and self-determination have risen to a crescendo.

Four. Money. This has always been a major player in determining who succeeds to the Presidency of the country. The ruling Party has always had an advantage in this area. For starters, as of June 2021 there were almost 180,000 polling units in Nigeria. It is not unusual for additional polling booths to be created a few days to the election. What is constant is that every serious political party has to have at least one agent at each polling unit and these polling agents need to be adequately remunerated and provided with all necessary logistic material to ensure effective and efficient return as a party polling agent. To man all these Polling stations will need at over N20 billion by my reckoning and that is being on the cheap side. Loads of cash will therefore be needed by all of the contestants.

Five. The Buhari factor. The Federal Government is too powerful as it controls INEC, Police, Army other security agencies, even the Central Bank and so on, to a large extent. This is a major tool for any government which is unwilling to give up the stranglehold it has on power, particularly when it realises that the populace is thoroughly dissatisfied with its performance.

Let me now take you on a tour de force of what you should expect to see next year.

From my crystal ball, I can foresee a straight fight between APC and PDP candidates. In this round one, APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu seems to be at an advantage. His party is currently in power and controls all the appurtenances of government. Nevertheless, the strength of APC is also its main weakness. After eight years of monumental failure in office, it has lost most of the attraction that brought it to power in 2015. Its victory in the 2019 Presidential elections is still controversial till this day. Nigerians may wish to punish APC for its terrible performance which has not only seen them more impoverished but also more insecure and afraid for their very lives. Tinubu’s case is worsened by the fact that he has a dilemma in being unwilling to distance himself from this government’s policies which have failed the people so woefully because of the fact that this will be seen as wilting criticism of the Buhari administration. The withdrawal of the support of Buhari apparently still sends shivers down the Tinubu camp.

On the issue of ethnicity, this may be the major clincher in the race. There are two Southern contenders in the Presidential election. The major Southerner is the former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and to a lesser degree, the other Southerner is former Anambra State Governor, Mr Peter Obi. My brothers and friends, Kola Abiola, and Omoyele Sowore, both Southerners as well, have little say in this battle royale which the 2023 Presidential election portends. The principal challenger for Tinubu and Obi will be former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. In the South East, I believe that the Igbos are likely to back their son, Obi and the Labour Party for the most part. Obi’s Anambra State is a hybrid State presently controlled by APGA. The State does not have a serious Presidential candidate contender. It is noteworthy, that the South East has traditionally been a veritable stomping ground for the PDP. The Party presently controls Enugu and Abia States. This is not likely to change too much, and the PDP may win or come a close second to the Labour Party. Notwithstanding the fact that APC has made some inroads into the South East by virtue of the fact that it controls two States, Imo and Ebonyi, one of which it does by virtue of the defection of the Governor, I still feel that it will come a distant third. My opinion is that the Labour Party is likely to take the lead with about 45 to 50 percent of the total votes cast in the South East because of the Obi factor, even though it presently has no showing in that region at the moment. Atiku will follow with about 30-35 percent and Tinubu 15-20 percent.

In the South South, Atiku will take the chunk of votes because these have always been predominantly PDP States, although in some States like Rivers, Delta and Edo, the crisis in the Party may cause the PDP to lose votes some of its normal votes, if not quickly resolved. Similarly, the defection of Governor Ayade of Cross River State may also cause the PDP’s margin of victory in the Zone to shrink, especially in Cross River State. My belief is that the Zone is guaranteed for Atiku because his Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, comes from this zone. There are usually huge votes from here, although these were emasculated in 2019. PDP is likely to record up to 60 percent in most parts, if Governors Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Okowa, Udom Emmanuel, Douyi Diri, Godwin Obaseki and other party loyalists give their all. If the Party’s crisis in the zone is allowed to fester and worsen, the PDP may get no more than 50%. The rest will be split between APC and Labour with APC taken between 20 and 30% depending on how the PDP intra Party mess develops.

The South West will be extremely dramatic, and the results may be very shocking. APC controls four States here, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo and PDP, two States, Oyo and Osun.
While Tinubu will definitely win Lagos, his margin of victory may be reduced by the popularity of both Obi and the mass grassroots mobilisation of the PDP Gubernatorial candidate, Mr Olajide Adediran, aka Jandor. This is the only State in the South West that may feature three strong contenders. The Igbo population in Lagos and the EndSars Movement will favour Peter Obi more than it will favour Atiku. The other South West States will witness a tough battle between Asiwaju and Atiku with Tinubu holding the sway because he is a Yoruba man.

Now, let’s move to North Central and start with Kwara and Kogi States. The Saraki factor will help PDP in Kwara. The former Senate President has obviously regained his bounce especially because of the perceived frugality of the incumbent governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. This may give Atiku a major edge over Tinubu here. Kogi may be tougher to win for Atiku because of the young Governor, Yahaya Bello, an APC stalwart, but the two parties will run almost neck and neck. Obi is unlikely to feature significantly in these two States. Plateau State is an APC State but with the Muslim/Muslim brouhaha, APC will face an uphill task because this is a major Christian State in the North. PDP is in charge in Benue and again the Muslim/Muslim ticket of APC is highly contentious here and will swing even more votes to PDP. I feel that most of the Northern Christians may support Atiku for having a more balanced ticket. Though I understand that some people in these parts of the North Central are tempted to consider Peter Obi, but their leaders are reaching out to them and telling them not to waste their votes. Niger and Nasarawa are presently controlled by APC Governors. Obi will not feature in these States. It will therefore be a straight fight between Atiku and Tinubu, with Tinubu winning more than 60% of the votes in Niger State and no more than 55% of the votes in Nasarawa State based on the incumbency of the APC Governors countered by the Atiku factor.

The North East will be very interesting. Many pundits are wondering why Tinubu chose a Kanuri man, Kashim Shettima, from Borno State, as running mate and not someone from the largest voting zone in the North West. Well, as an experienced politician, he probably knows what we don’t know. The PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is a Fulani man from Adamawa, a North Eastern State. The North East has not produced a Nigerian President in a long time and the crave for one favours Atiku sentimentally. I know Atiku will do much better than he did in 2019 because the Buhari factor is absent. And in any event Buhari has performed abysmally. This may spread to Bauchi, a major PDP State, as well as Taraba State which is also a PDP State. I believe that there will be some swing towards Atiku in Yobe State although the State is a prominent APC State now and Shettima’s Kanuri influence will help the APC ticket here. The race will be hotly contested but the result will still be a victory for Tinubu though the margin will be slimmer when contrasted with the massive victory for Buhari and APC in 2019.

The king of voting in Presidential elections remains the North West which is the largest voting bloc in Nigeria. It is almost impossible to become President of Nigeria without winning big in this region. The State of Kano takes the cake in this respect. Kano State alone could close almost any margin that a Presidential candidate is bringing from other Zones. Despite being an APC State with a strong Governor in Umar Ganduje, Atiku Abubakar may likely lead others, namely Tinubu and Kwankwaso, because of his Fulani lineage and heritage. Blood, they say is thicker than water. Having said that Kano is predominantly a Hausa and not Fulani State and this should augur well for Tinubu. What is clear is that Tinubu definitely needs Kano, like a million dollars lifeline, to borrow that popular proverbial cliche. To this end he has worked assiduously to build bridges in this State and other North West States. This is one of the primary reasons that he won the APC Presidential Primaries, and he still count on the people of Kano to vote for him against the Fulani, Atiku Abubakar. In fact, the three Ks of Kano, Kaduna and Katsina are absolutely needed for victory by any Presidential candidate. Kaduna is a bit tricky because of its preponderance of Christian population, but Nasir El-Rufai is a strong no-nonsense APC stalwart who will want to deliver massively for his Party. Sokoto, is a major PDP State and Tambuwal has shown deep loyalty to Abubakar and his cause. Atiku will win easily here. Zamfara and Kebbi States are under the control of APC, but Atiku’s cultural affinity may give him some edge in these two States but maybe not too much as to give him overall victory, which still seems likely to go to APC in these two States, if the 2019 results provide some indication although again, the Buhari factor will reduce APC votes here as in other core Northern States as he is not on the ballot….

I will be back with more updates in the coming months…

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Pendulum Guest Columnist: The Audition for the Inciter-in-Chief (And Other Concerns)

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By Segun Awosanya (Segalink)

In 1949, George Orwell described a nightmarish future in the classic dystopian novel 1984 and one of the most popular quotations in his oeuvre is “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

In the Nigeria of now, we can conclude that there are several conspiracies playing out towards the 2023 general elections and the leading propagandists are those claiming to bring about a change, while deploying old antics just to pull a wool over the eyes of the vulnerable masses.

Unfortunately, wittingly or unwittingly, the fourth estate of the realm, the Press/Media, with the explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues are also part of this conspiracy, given the fact that of the 18 different political parties slated to participate in the elections, only three (3 or 4 occasionally) are showcased based on the need to engage the roving mob that keeps the three in their mention, thus systemically disenfranchising the remaining 15 with substantial values to bring to the political dialogue.

It can be argued that the mainstream media have bills to pay and would need to supply narratives based on demand, but can click baits, trending rhetorics and well worn lame narratives being projected as substance be a solution to the Nigerian political conundrum? In a secular state, should the internal rancor (Muslim/Muslim or North/South debacle) of any political party become subject of national discourse over the pertinent matters of the state of our union? Is populism a solution to our leadership crisis given all that we have gone through in the past years (especially in the past seven years)?

A Yoruba apothegm states that when brothers come out laughing from a family meeting, they have economized the truth to avoid conflict and have thus, began a war within themselves, however much they may choose to avoid confronting this reality. There has been a tremendous attempt to silence the voices of reason through cyber bullying, blackmail, character assassination via contracting a rogue self acclaimed investigative journalist (on self exile), who specializes in libel and notably the deployment of threat to life in some cases as have been recorded with Reno Omokri, Pastor Poju Oyemade, Sam Omatseye, Deji Adeyanju, Aare Dele Momodu (and many other notable figures) and most recently Femi Anikulapo Kuti, whose family was threatened along side the promise to set the African Shrine ablaze, simply because Peter Obi’s ‘IPOBean’ mob failed to force an endorsement. They also did not spare Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and HE Atiku Abubakar from their unhinged malevolent and vicious online mob attacks.

The Candidate of the Labour Party (ex-PDP Chieftain) HE Peter Obi keeps riding the wave of these online violence and cyber bullying with inciting words that are mostly semiotics of social standing and cultural posturing (half information and pretentious piety). The Cable quoted him as saying— “We’re going to take back Nigeria and give to the Youth” as though he is not part of the same old system he has chosen to target for harassment. He knows quite clearly that the mob he is leading on are void of independent thoughts and were mostly secession agitators amongst other hate groups that have found a comfortable abode under his negligently chaotic, mendacious and divisive campaign, that disturbs public peace within the online community and may soon degenerate into civil disobedience if the coercion and abuse is not curbed.

Nigeria belongs to ALL Nigerians and no one can give to the youth what already belongs to them. The click bait campaign will not upstage the dominant contenders. We must stop raising false hopes and address the real issues. Insults and abuses are no structures and encouraging division must be jettisoned! The well worn political tactics of promising to give to people what already belongs to them is like picking their pocket and displaying what was stolen from them. This is highly manipulative and justifies the reservations some deep thinkers have about Peter Obi’s campaign (which is mostly implemented by his mob in the form of campaign of calumny against dissent). Nigerians do not need deceivers posing as a solution at this point of our polity!

Nigerians are vulnerable now more than ever in yet another quest to solve their leadership crisis and what is substantial is for the candidates to prove to us WHY they should be supported and HOW they will mitigate the critical issues buffeting the development of the nation. On this account the valid criteria for attracting audience would be the presentation of documented manifesto that the people can study and ask crucial questions during the campaign and debates in order to make objective decision in the know.

There are efforts to deliberately lower the bar and reduce logical national discourse to sentimental rhetorics set to further incite and divide the people along ethnic and religious lines. It usually begins with the coordinated attacks on public figures, especially the ones the people rely on for factual and objective engagement on national issues. The irony here is the fact that the real Third Force Candidate —Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) standard bearer— Prince Adewole Adebayo Esq, the AAC’s Omoyele Sowore, NNPP’s Sir Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, have all remained on topic addressing critical issues as well as the Candidates of the Legacy Political Parties APC (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) and PDP (HE Atiku Abubakar). None of the supporters of these prominent contenders have gone rogue enough to threaten the unity of Nigeria or the freedom of expression and association of others like the ‘Obidiots’ (The Militia Wing of Peter Obi’s Campaign) have chosen to do so brazenly.

In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, written a century and half before Collingwood’s memoir, the great economist and social theorist Adam Smith defined why a civilized society is not a war of all against all – because it is based on sympathy. It is my considered view that empathy, responsibility and conscientiousness are all being defenestrated in the political amoral macabre dance, because there are no consequences for political recklessness in Nigeria, despite the rising security vulnerability of our clime.

No matter where you are in the world, you will agree that it is very easy to identify a Nigerian a mile off. It is either by their demeanor, dressing, manner of speech or use of words. When in a business meeting, Nigerians exhibit their nationality by making statements like, “We are the first ever to do so and so” or “We are the only one in this market” My candidate is the Only candidate on the Ballot” etc. These statements as well as others, spare not the people in high ranking positions neither does it respect social stratification. They are symptoms of a religious annexation to fallacies and the undying love for Monopoly and recognition.

Our firms, government as well as individuals, seek dominion across spectrum. Those in the business sector want to dominate the market, dictate pricing and profit perpetually from the market. Little wonder the aim of most is usurping political power enough to own everything that works across sectors. It explains why politicians own/fund media outfits, since the very first leg to ruling the market is to control group minds, beliefs and ideas of the masses. The same way politicians use public funds to stabilize the financial status of their private firms under the guise of ‘saving it in the business they trust’ and brag with this fraudulent unethical behavior during campaign to the cheers of copiously ignorant unfortunate ethnically bigoted souls.

Public intellectuals and authors have argued that monopoly, however desirable is the failure of capitalism. When Monopoly is ignited (especially in our clime, with the aid of government), the consumer no longer has a choice, prices escalate and innovation plunges with the forceful gag on the voice of the consumer public. Since we are being factual, looking around you today, you will see glaringly that this is the summary of what is happening across spectrum, while our government pay lip service to creating enabling environment or ease of doing business on paper. The same can be said about the folksy and deceitful “From Consumption to Production” campaign void of any meaningful framework beyond exciting the ignorant masses on yet another trajectory of forlorn hope.

Majority of Nigerians are susceptible to the entertainment reality TV shows brings, which is more like a desired bride of the Post-Modernistic age, where people embrace the simulation of a simulation just to avoid the harshness of reality. This need not require statistics because we know this is true. DSTV rakes in Millions if not more annually with their Big Brother reality TV show. A lot of our youth erroneously believe reality shows are about reality but forget that they are principally shows, designed for entertainment and profit. This has become a culture because we make heroes of flawed people in our society and create narratives around them as though it were some game we can vote on.

Our lives have since become reality shows, while lurking behind avatars and social-media handles (surrogates). The more uncertain the real world gets the more people long for escape. We often take refuge behind our surrogate lives on social-media, where we can do the impossible virtually to compensate for our failures and uncertainties in reality. It is no surprise that a nasty, flawed, bad behaved Facebook/Twitter/Instagram personality living through daily drama and tragedy will gain more followers on Twitter and Facebook simply because people love flawed (hilarious) fictional characters they can jeer and root for.

Brands are not left behind. They will move their products and services cum promotions to the pages/handles that get the attention of the crowd for visibility, endorsement, exposure and impressions. The same theory holds true for train-wrecks and badly behaved characters on reality TV shows who get more votes to stay on, while morally good characters are evicted.

Our world has changed indeed as superhero movies no longer attract huge views based on the goody two shoes act of protagonist but for their flaws, drama (in their lives) and the threat posed by the villain in the movie. It will interest you also that this explains why men wants good girls, who will become bad girls for them alone in the confines of their bedroom. Likewise, why ladies want bad boys who will be good to them and them alone. Something in us just want the intrigue, drama and adrenaline pump from escapades and wild adventures that take our breathe away.

The reality however remains that we all love to watch this play out in other people’s lives than be a part of the drama ourselves. The dichotomy however presents itself when we are confronted with the need to vote political leaders. We somehow cannot seem to make that transition enough to understand clearly that our culture of choosing characters on reality TV shows is confined only to the screens and not in real life. Fundamentally, politics have real life consequences.

Nobody reserves the rights to tell you who to vote for, not your Pastors, Imams, Governor, Traditional rulers or Celebrities (custodian of societal behavior). It is your constitutional right to choose freely without coercion and not to be discriminated against based on that inalienable right to choose. Cyber bullying remains a crime in Nigeria and the authorities are aware of the current development and will start taking action soonest against known extremists constituting a nuisance online with threats to the life of others.

The valid directive remains taking -personal responsibility to study the options and decide in the know based on Competence, Capacity, Capability, Credibility, Character, Clarity, and Conscientiousness. Nigeria belongs to all of us and all forms of extremism MUST be shunned along religious and ethnic lines. Identity politics of hate is never a useful approach to lifting any nation out of political doldrums and any individual or political party deploying this clearly should not be encouraged with an engagement at our collective expense.

John Boyd’s framework for action in conflict is highly recommended here as there is a cause to; OBSERVE (collecting data and analyzing same) across the sectors of our economy, ORIENT (Frame the analyzed data on issue based basis) along the confines of global Culture and best practices, knowledge and the application of education and experience, which makes informed DECISION (Strategy) easier towards picking a course of action. It is until then that we can simulate (TEST) our idea before taking it to the market with ACTION. The figurative primitive animism of the attribution of sentience to inanimate political figures on a trial and error basis will only claim more lives of innocent souls as done once before. It is time to put an end to the elect and regret cycle of the politics of ethnic extraction and religious bigotry as mired in identity politics of hate.

The Children are watching and absorbing and it is incumbent on us (custodian of societal behavior and responsible and active citizens) to take seriously the prayer in our National Anthem that admonishes that we pray to the “God of Creation to direct our noble cause, and guide our leaders right, while helping our youth the truth to know.” Talking at each other, hating on each other and dividing the people along ethnic lines only favor our collective enemy (social injustice). We can put an end to this and recalculate our coordinates towards building a nation where Peace and Justice shall reign.

Segun Awosanya (SEGALINK) is the CEO of a futuristic Brand, Media, Tech, Research, Business & Strategy Consultancy firm (Aliensmedia), The President/Founder of Social Intervention Advocacy Foundation (SIAF) and the Convener of #EndSARS #ReformPoliceNG Advocacy.

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