Let me shoot straight – the next president of Nigeria is most likely the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari or former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. This is no rocket science; any keen observer of the Nigerian political space in recent months would have seen that the presidential election has been reduced to a two-horse race.
Perhaps, I will be proved wrong and one of the many other presidential aspirants will come out of the blue and, against established political order, triumph in the election. I seriously doubt this though and the reason is that the failure of these aspirants to work together and choose just one of them to be a strong third force has made their task much more difficult.
I am a fan of some of them, especially Oby Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye and Kingsley Moghalu. They have all shown, at least, by their speeches, that they have a clear idea of the problems besetting the Nigerian nation and the best solutions to these challenges.
Even Omoyele Sowore has articulated some intelligent solutions to the problems bedeviling the nation. Although Sowore sometimes comes across as being very rude, especially when he is taking on the old political class; you cannot but be fascinated by some of his ideas if you look beyond his lack of tact as a political communicator.
That these sound minds cannot work together is a missed opportunity for the country and further shows the lack of political sagacity of the younger political class. Perhaps, a lesson or two will be learnt by these minor political parties that will put them in good stead post-2019 general election.
Nevertheless, it still beggars belief that a presidential election in 21st century Nigeria could be reduced to a straight bout between a 76-year-old Buhari and 72-year-old Atiku. And let me state clearly that I am not insinuating that their age is a hindrance to them performing. I am against ‘age shaming’ and it is because I know that what is required to excel in all tasks is the capacity to get things done which most times has nothing to do with age. I am, however, more concerned about the age of their ideas.
I like Buhari and even voted for him in 2015. He got my vote in 2015 because he looked the better candidate to deal with the security challenges facing the nation then and his pledge to fight corruption resonates well because of his antecedents. However, I have not been impressed with his performance in the last four years.
I also like Atiku as a person. He comes across to be more cosmopolitan than Buhari and will probably be a better manager of the economy because of his business acumen. However, he was a vice president for eight years, even though, in his defence, he was not the man who makes the final decision, he was however, especially during the first four years very prominent in the Obasanjo government and almost single handedly handled the privatization exercise. It is debatable if he covered himself in glory with that assignment, especially with all sorts of allegations of impropriety against him.
The more fundamental question for me will be who between the two candidates will do better for the health sector? The fact that Buhari as president has been in and out of a London hospital for treatment is a sad commentary for the nation’s health sector and doesn’t inspire much hope of a positive change for healthcare delivery during his second term.
Atiku doesn’t inspire much hope either, as I can recall that he was also flown abroad some years back for treatment when he had a domestic accident. The Obasanjo government he was part of as vice president also failed to transform the health sector.
That’s the reason I said the fundamental question is the age of the ideas of these leading presidential candidates and awaiting presidents of Nigeria for the next four years.
Therefore, while I wish Nigerians luck as they go to poll to choose the next president, my take is that this election seems to be a choice between two unstimulating options. This shouldn’t be for a country of over 200 million people, a country that has produced some of the best minds in the world in different fields. Sadly, that is the reality of our politics and I dare say that until we get the politics right and begin to select our best eleven to play for us in the political field when choosing leaders in democratic elections, the Nigeria nation will continue to underperform.