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From Soludo through Tinubu – pot shots, no substance

Politics and elections bring out the best of times, and also the worst. On a good day, a quarrel between PDP presidential flag bearer, Atiku…

Politics and elections bring out the best of times, and also the worst. On a good day, a quarrel between PDP presidential flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar and his APC counterpart, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would be a class feud. Both men belong to the ruining class, the notorious one per cent. Both have tasted the liquor of power and filled themselves to inebriation. 

The same could be said of Chukwuma Soludo and Peter Obi. However, in their quest for relevance and power, these bourgeois contestants have been firing shots at each other to the applause of their supporters. An innocent bystander could be forgiven for thinking all this is about the welfare of Nigeria; regrettably that it is not entirely true. Politicians only care about one thing – power. 

As spectators or supporters, the electorate deserve to dictate the rules as elections draw near. Our naira is not out of the woods yet and there is a budget on the table. While the current ruling clique has put a December terminal date to end insurgencies, their supporters are not guaranteed to get there due to increasing insecurity. Twenty years of ‘democracy’ has left Nigeria’s social infrastructure in complete ruins. Schools close and open at will and the hospitals are worse than slaughter slabs. Poverty exacerbates the indices. 

At the paid rallies, organised noise prevents issue-based campaigns for which candidates could be held to account post-election. Opposition leaders split air on the propriety of snatching ballot boxes. 

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Before we get there, what is the physical and mental state of our candidates? Are they able to shoulder the responsibility of state, or would they, like Buhari, be preoccupied with their own health challenges at the detriment of governance? 

While the declaration of mental and physical health is not a requirement for public office, the conduct of public office holders past and present and history demand that it should be. As long as politicians are making the laws, their inordinate ambitions would inhibit them from making laws excluding them from the power game on grounds of insanity. The electorate is too stupid to focus on this as a demand. 

Sadly, the history of our political past requires us to take a serious look at the health status of would be leaders, especially at the presidential level. Employers consider the physical and mental wellbeing of their hire to the bottom line and a nation should not be different. 

Recent tragedies that stretched the elasticity of national entente demand a rethink. If 62 years after independence, these recycled leaders have not prioritised the building of a single standard hospital able to cater for their health needs, we should make remedying that a campaign item. These ruiners have instead built state-sponsored foreign medical trips into their retirement benefits, leaving the people to die of diseases already eradicated in other parts of the world. 

Sani Abacha died in office. So did Umaru Musa Yar’adua. Obasanjo lost Stella, his wife in a Spanish hospital. Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience confessed to ‘dying’ and resurrecting more times than Jesus Christ before being discharged from a German hospital only to waste state resources organising a thanksgiving. Buhari has wasted time required to attend to state matters convalescing in a London hospice. His wife goes to Dubai. In all these tragedies, Nigerians were kept in the dark as to what ails their first families. 

Even when frontrunners to our presidency exhibit traits of physical and mental lethargy, we are shamed into silence and asked to pray. When a candidate’s speech slurs into incoherence and a times utter gibberish, their supports explain it away as pun for their supposed sickness. How does a sick nation heal with a sick leader? 

We have kept the antecedents of our potential leaders in closets. Leaders evolve and they must have traceable roots and credible antecedents. Unfortunately, political parties just ‘clear’ the highest bidder as candidates. Security agencies march in sync with the establishment in tacit agreement not to exhume the past of our potential leaders. Those without traceable history should stay away from politics. 

How do we fight corruption, hold our heads high in the comity of nations when our political leaders carry an albatross and travel only on the strength of their diplomatic immunity? How could we be taken seriously when our leaders have inexplicable gaps in their resume? What would be the moral justification for them to sign legal warrants knowing that they are fugitives of conscience? What lessons are we bequeathing on posterity when the leaders carry these questionable traits into high office? 

The spat between Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo and his favourite whipping boy, Labour Party flagbearer, Peter Obi, is worth re-x-raying. Anyone who listened to the famous Anambra governor’s debate and hearing Soludo quoting the achievements of his predecessors attributed to the National Bureau of Statistics would shudder at his volte-face. 

In normal climes, this spat between Soludo and Obi should count no less than the ungrammatical ‘two-fighting’ of secondary school days. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. During that debate, Soludo quoted more Obi and Obiano ‘achievements’ saying that they both have put his state above the rest in the eastern region and Nigeria. He was only going to build on their solid foundations. 

Today, he appears to be eating his own vomit so much so that if we had not watched the debate live, we could have succumbed to thinking it a deep fake. 

By age, Soludo is far from the medical phase of selective amnesia. It is becoming customary for Soludo to recall history only as it suits his narrative.  From where and how he met Obasanjo to the tiff with his late sister-in-law Dora Akunyili to what turned Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala into a quondam friend. Soludo constructs history as he deems fit, hardly as it is. 

Being governor of a state forced to adopt a four-day working week and a bloody secession, this governor ought to have better fish to fry than adorn the toga of Johnson Suleman on who would win elections that is yet to be conducted. The insecurity in Anambra should give the governor sleepless nights and steer him off the course of questionable controversy. 

Soludo believes that Obi is wasting his time and those of his supporters. All the indices he attributed to the National Bureau of Statistics have disappeared. If his major angst against Obi was his refusal to contest under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) could that have whitewashed Obi’s faults? 

Soludo is not the only one firing potshots. Incoherent Tinubu, who speaks more in contrived press statements than needed appearances, has described Atiku as shameless for quarreling with his principal, Obasanjo. Tinubu forgets that he sacked several deputies and withdrew support for the best of his mentees once they exhibit a mind of their own. 

One wonders if the Jagaban Borgu has heard the expression – the case of the pot calling the kettle black? If only he returns to reading social media posts, he would see a true face of himself in the explanation of that idiom. If these people have shame, they should have settled as patrons and not perpetual candidates.