By Kenneth Michaels, Lagos, Nigeria.
The All Progressive Congress party has just concluded its national convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja after much expectations and an earlier postponement. Nigerians waited anxiously, hoping that the party would get it right this time. Not since the spread of wanton killings across the country have Nigerians been so involved, praying for a messiah who would help curb the violence, killings and inspire a new lease of life.
At least, there was every reason to be expectant, since incumbent President Buhari made the famous declaration to leave what he called a “lasting legacy” for the country! This meant that Nigerians were to look forward to real transformation, something akin to a renaissance. Who is not tired of the terror that ravages the land, the fear and drop in the standard of living? Who is not tired of the reign of godfathers and treasury looters?
Now, one of the kingpins who has held Lagos by the jugular over the years has emerged as the undisputed flagbearer to lead the party into the 2023 general elections. This development has thrown Nigerians into confusion and sent shock waves around the country. The questions are endless: how would they cope? Where are the promises of President Buhari? Was this what he meant by leaving a lasting legacy?” As Nigerians bemoan their fate, supporters of the Jagaban of Lagos have taken to town—dancing, jubilating and blowing trumpets. While it is a sad day for the majority of honest and forward-looking Nigerians who yearn for genuine change, to these praise-singers the bazaar should continue unabated!
The impression is clearly made: the winner takes all in present-day Nigeria and nothing cements this assertion more than the victory of Asiwaju. What seemed an opportunity to exorcise the ugly past has become a platform to strengthen the stranglehold of oligarchs on the reins of power. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the nation’s vice president, one of the hopefuls who contested, was roundly defeated as were other contenders notably Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Emeka Nwajuiba, Godswill Akpabio to mention but few. Nothing is really sensational here and the fact that Asiwaju won is no big deal. He had boasted often in the past that “it is my turn to rule” —-please note (he is not saying the Yoruba turn…. but his own)! Yet, at the most critical moment when Nigerians needed change the Establishment abandoned them while Asiwaju crushed his opponents. The president who said the party’s ticket is not for the highest bidder sat— quietly, as the dollars rained down. Nigerians watching live on television cringed, while party officials with swollen pockets cowardly pretended as Asiwaju coasted home. A betrayal? Well, this seem to have been the hallmark since 2015 when the APC first came on the scene.
Surely, this is not the best of times for the country. “We always count and hope on our President to pull last minute surprises; but at the end we get disappointed”, disclosed a party faithful who was at the arena. Another delegate who was at the venue was so shocked, he wondered if this was real. “Asiwaju couldn’t have been the legacy the President talked about”, he said in in a disappointed tone. The same applies to Nigerians who are no less visibly disturbed and stupefied. If inspite of all the dirt thrown up about Asiwaju he has emerged as the man to lead the ruling party into next year’s general election, it says a lot about Buhari’s persona. Although he had said that he belonged to everybody and nobody, in promising a nation of a lasting legacy he should have done better. “I was expecting the APC to produce someone with a good track record and grasp of the nation’s problems”, said James Umeadi, a public affairs analyst based in Lagos. “I never expected this landslide of a man so well known to carry baggage”, he stated. Umeadi believes that aside from age, which is not on the side of Asiwaju, and his failing health, he is too well steeped in corruption and may not be the ideal material to pull the nation out of the woods. “The moral ground following his emergence is something worrisome”, said Stephen Adaobi. According to him, there should be questions about the hefty amounts spent in dollars during the convention. “Where did they get the dollars from?” he asked. From the look of things unless God intervenes, we may as well get set for another long spell in the cold.