More on dummy candidates - By: Gambo Dori | Dailytrust

More on dummy candidates

Further to my piece last week on dummy candidates, it seems as if we have not heard the last word on the matter. Their presence has now gone higher and higher to the upper reaches of the frontline political parties lining up for the 2023 elections.

Now we are talking about dummy presidential candidates, dummy vice-presidential candidates, and dummy senatorial candidates. There is a clear indication that the matter has gone to the next level if readers will allow me to borrow from the upbeat slogan of one of the political parties.

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We begin with the dummy senatorial candidates where the fight is becoming messy for the All Progressive Congress (APC). The dummy candidates in the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North senatorial districts are reported to have dug into their trenches refusing all entreaties to relinquish their victory at the primary election. Even though the APC had decided to jettison their victory and forward both Senators Akpabio and Ahmed Lawan to INEC, the adversaries have given notice that they were ready to fight it out.

In particular, the stance of Bashir Machina of Yobe North refusing to let go of his ticket has seemed to pique the anger of APC chairman Abdullahi Adamu. In a fit of anger, the APC Chairman had warned Machina to desist from making further inflammatory utterances against the party’s decision to field Lawan as its senatorial candidate for Yobe North. He said, “Machina … needs to get back to his senses immediately. He should also be warned to stop inflaming the polity else we’ll not hesitate to take measures; Ahmad Lawan is our candidate for Yobe North”.

Similarly, DIG Udom Udo Ekpoudum, who won the primary election in Akwa-Ibom North West Senatorial District is even more trenchant in defending his victory. Ekpoudom insisted that he will under no circumstance relinquish the ticket to former Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, no matter the degree of financial inducement. He was quoted to have said that he will “under no circumstance, relinquish, withdraw or be substituted no matter the degree of pressure and inducement dangled by anyone”. 

To worsen matters for the party, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has excluded the names of the embattled prospective candidates from the list of senatorial candidates issued last Friday. This was confirmed by Festus Okoye, the INEC spokesman, who said that the commission was not obliged to publish the names of candidates that did not emerge from valid party primaries. I watched him making this assertion on Channels TV on Friday when he appeared as a guest on the programme, Politics Today. From my perspective, this can only mean that INEC has issues with the processes that brought forth the two candidates.

Fortunately for the APC, there seems to be no problem with the vice-presidential candidate, Kabiru Masari, who has confirmed in an interview in the BBC Hausa service on Friday that he is always ready to toe the party line when the need arises. That in effect settles the anxiety that surrounds his candidature in case a change would be necessary before nominations close in September. Nevertheless, APC needs to rise to the looming danger or they risk the loss of high-ranking senators in the next election.

As for both the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the candidates they presented to INEC, including the president and vice-presidential candidates, are probably all dummies. The two parties are in a stage of delicate negotiation which when firmed up might lead to a merger or alliance which might necessitate reselecting fresh candidates. All the parties acknowledge this, and we might not envisage any rancour should any change occur thereafter.

Closure of Abuja Millennium Park

I am not surprised that the Daily Trust on Saturday featured concerns by fun-seekers over the continued closure of Abuja Millennium Park. The park was closed along with all other parks in Abuja at the height of the coronavirus pandemic two years ago. The gates of all other parks have long been opened to the public, while that of Millennium Park has remained closed.

The park, the largest in Abuja, was inaugurated in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II, in the presence of President Olusegun Obasanjo and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. The park has always been a very busy social centre day in, and day out over the years, particularly for fun-seekers. However, for many of us residents of Maitama and Wuse 2, the park is more of a centre for invigorating early morning and evening walks. It is one of the few places in central Abuja where one can enjoy a quiet walk without the distractions of the sound of vehicles and the dread that one could be knocked over by a distracted driver. The extended walking pathways in the park are well designated on interlocking tiles and one would be free to happily walk along amidst leafy trees and scented flowers while being serenaded by hundreds of chirping and hooting birds.

I pray that the FCT Minister will find it in his heart to reopen the park or at least explain to the public the reasons for the continued closure.

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