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Who should be our President in 2011?

I can’t help but remember how when I was very young and in primary school how my ambition when asked was to one day become the president of Nigeria. Then, all I could do was visualize myself as a military president because General Ibrahim Babangida was Head of State then. I’d also read in civics about the former presidents and regimes that had occurred and found out that the military had ruled for most of the time since our independence.

I obviously took it for granted as a naive young school pupil that the military uniform will perpetually remain the costume of our presidents. I therefore kept visualizing with all sorts of armed forces uniforms as my attire. Needless to say that things took a turn for the better and now in the civilian era. Many people will argue that we were better off during the military era than during the civil regime. That is a topic for another day. However, looking critically at Nigeria since the new civilian era started in 1999 with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo flagging it off, the country seems to have moved 2 paces forward and 5 backward.

Yes it’s true, now our courts are empowered. Our votes are counting (or are starting to count), our debt has been written off (even though we’ve started borrowing on a massive scale again) and we have a booming telecommunications industry. However, the rate of corruption has increased, politicians are greedier and the economy has fallen like a pack of cards. And though this country has reached a ripe, full age of 50, it’s still been run like a jungle by those who are willing to kill it just to enrich their pockets, build their empires and serve their selfish agendas.

“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.”  said Frederick Douglass

If we must grow as a nation in all aspects then we must take responsibility for who we allow to become our next president.

Nelson Mandela said,

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”

Abraham Lincoln said,

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that others consent”

Whoever emerges as our leader in 2011 does so because we have deemed him good enough to govern us by giving him our consent actively or passively.

Such thoughts make me reflect on the choices before us as a Nation with regards those who have indicated interest to run for the highest office electable in the most populous black Nation on earth. I’ll chronicle the few that I know and their achievements or lack of it while still asking myself the question: Out of all these, who should be our president in 2011?

1. President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan

Present position: Incumbent President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Geo-political Zone: South-South

Age: 53

Religion: Christian

Political Party: PDP

Goodluck Jonathan was deputy governor in Bayelsa state. He became governor when the governor (Diepreye Alamieyeseigha) was impeached on grounds of corruption. He was later nominated as running mate to Late President Umaru Yar’adua and b came Vice President in May 2007. Due to Yar’adua’s prolonged chronic illness, hospitalization and absence from Nigeria, Jonathan was made Acting President by the National Assembly Saudi Arabia and eventually was sworn in as President at the demise of his former boss. Since then, Goodluck Jonathan seems to be clawing at whatever chance he has to getting re-elected as president on the platform of PDP – his current party. Already, he has shown his ineptitude in a few circumstances. Case in point is the bombing in Abuja on Independence day. He publicly declared that MEND wasn’t culpable as if he was familiar with their plans and strategy. He has sinced unleashed the wrath of the army on MEND and other Niger Delta militant groups.

President Goodluck Jonathan has been unable to present a substantial score card for the while he’s been in office. corruption is touted to be at an all time high in Aso Rock and it doesn’t seem like it’ll abate. Already, it’s being rumored that PDP delegates are being bribed at least N2million ($13000) to swing the vote at the primaries in his favour. The race for him is not getting easier at all as all the Northern presidential aspirants have appointed a consensus candidate in the person of Atiku Abubakar who has a strong following and enjoys good support. Also, news of his botched attempt at bribing Lagos-based Pastor Tunde Bakare (find details here) and the Save Nigeria Group is losing him points with regards his moral capability to take the country forward. It is also worthy of note that Goodluck Jonathan currently has no known testimony or achievements in favour of his leadership ability or capablity. Note that GEJ has the power of incumbency in his favour and may play his advantage unfairly.

2. Alhaji Abubakar Atiku

Present Position: None

Previous Position: Vice President (1999-2003)

Geo-political Zone: North East

Age: 64

Religion: Muslim

Political Party: PDP

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was in the PDP, moved to AC to contest against Musa Yar’adua in 2007 and returned to the PDP in 2009 under controversial circumstances. His only good deed among Nigerians seems to be his fight against his boss’ 3rd term agenda (Olusegun Obasanjo). In fact, some believe he did so only because he had plans to be president and not because of a love or devotion to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. News has it that he had his hand in many shady pies as Vice President especially while presiding over the National Council of Privatization (NCP). As a result, many feel he has no moral credentials to represent this country as its No. 1 citizen. However, Atiku has been nominated by the Northern People Leaders Forum led by Adamu Ciroma as the consensus candidate of the North in PDP, the ruling party.

President GEJ therefore has a very strong opposition at the primaries. In fact, for the first time in the history of the party, there’s no clear cut direction or indication of who will pick the parties presidential candidate ticket.

3. Nuhu Ribadu

Present Position: None

Previous Position: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman in last adminstration

Geo-political zone: North-East

Age: 50

Religion: Muslim

Political Party: ACN

Ribadu who was in exile for a few years as a result of the role he played as EFCC chairman against corruption confirmed reports that he may run for president in 2011. What wasn’t clear initially was what platform he’ll run on. Eventually, he declared to run for president on the platform of ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria). The former anti-corruption crusader enjoys a massive support from youths and middle income professionals who feel th only way to go in the next elections is to vote in not only an a leader that is not corrupt, but one that is incorruptible. Ribadu’s time as EFCC boss was untainted by corruption. He may have left some corrupt public officers untouched, but he investigated most and charged them to court. He even got a few jailed.

Young people feel that one who isn’t afraid to jail corrupt officials at whatever level is qualified to lead this country. However, some reports say that he is a bit high-handed and dictatorial in his style of leadership. Having known only military or paramilitary leadership by experience, some fear that his tenure if elected president may amount to some kind of monarchy. Others feel what we need as a leader at this point in Nigeria is someone with those same qualities.

Anyway, some Nigerians seem to think he’s driven by personal ambition alone considering the fact that he declared to run on the platform of ACN, a party known to be majorly controlled by Bola Ahmed Tinubu who Ribadu investigated as Chairman of EFCC while the erstwhile governor of Lagos state was in office and was reported to have said Bola Tinubu’s money laundering crimes were of an international proportion. Why not choose another party they ask? Why cavort with those you consider criminals? Anyway, I guess politics isn’t black or white?

4. Muhammadu Buhari

Present Position: None

Previous Position: Head of State (1983-1985)

Geo-political zone: North West

Age: 68

Religion: Muslim

Political Party: CPC

Buhari is a name that has been ringing in almost all geo-political zones of the country. The retired general seems to have credibility with the old by reason of experience and the young from history. His government waged war against corruption and staged a campaign against indiscipline termed – War Against Indiscipline (WAI). He had a zero-tolerance policy against corruption and it was effected Nationwide. People haven’t stopped wondering what Nigeria would have become if he had been Head of State a little longer instead of the ‘evil genius’ who ousted him after just less than 2 years in a coup d’etat.

Buhari has contested for the No. 1 office of this country on the platform of ANPP(All Nigeria People’s Party) twice and lost each time to the PDP candidate for that position – First, Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 and Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua in 2007 under very controversial circumstances. For instance, He was said to have totaled over 6 million votes in the 2007 elections against Yar’adua’s 24 million votes. Even the former president, Yar’adua admitted that the election was very flawed and local and international observers reported it as one of the worst held elections with wide spread rigging and stuffing of ballot boxes especially by agents of the ruling party, PDP and INEC.

Buhari challenged the results of the election and was declared the loser under controversial circumstances by the Supreme Court after 3 courts had ruled in his favour and 3 others against him. It seemed the apex court simply took a safe route out of the appeal by retaining the status quo. Rumor has it that Buhari has a very high level of discipline and morality. He is known to be uncorrupted and incorruptible. No known scandal has been even remotely reported against this former General either while serving in the military or while serving in Gen. Sani Abacha’s government as Chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). He was said to have refused salary as Chairman PTF because according to him, he was already earning a pension from the federal government and wouldn’t want to be paid twice by the government.

Buhari is very popular among grassroots in the North and that popularity is growing even in the South west. “Mai Gaskiya” as he is known in the North meaning “The honest one”, has a chance of clinching the presidency this time with support from notable leaders like Pastor Tunde Bakare and courting from ACN and some other parties. PDP is taking his candidacy seriously this time around and are hoping that his lack of stolen wealth will be a strong factor in weakening his run for presidency.

Buhari however, is regarded by many as high handed and an Islamic fundamentalist who’ll never be able to govern without an ethnic and religious bias.

5. Donald Duke

Present Position: None

Previous Position: Governor, Cross River State (1999-2007)

Geo-Political Zone: South South

Age: 49

Religion:

Political Party: Labour Party (uncertain)

Donald Duke is a fine gentleman who can be referred to as one of the arrow heads for change in Nigeria. His stint of 8 years as governor of Cross River state witnessed a complete overhaul of the state and record breaking achievements. It took my getting to calabar to appreciate his vision and execution of it. Calabar in my opinion is the cleanest, greenest and most organized city in Nigeria. His creation of Tinapa Free Trade Zone and transformation of the Obudu cattle ranch with the introduction of cable cars speak volumes on his ability to move us in the direction of a New Nigeria.

He is very popular with the youths and technorats alike. He represents the change they desire. Donald Duke is likely to run for president on the platform of Labour party. However, he may need to battle Dele Momodu (Publisher of Ovation magazine) at the primaries to get the ticket. One can’t help feeling the odds are heavily stacked against him even if he wins the candidacy with Labour party even though there’s no denying his capability to progressively and radically effect change in the Nation were he given the helms.

The question on people’s mind though is, “Does he have the fortitude to combat and eradicate corruption?” He doesn’t seem to have had a history doing so but who can tell?

6. Dele Momodu

Present Position: None

Previous Position: None

Geo-political Zone: South West

Age: 50

Religion: Christian

Political Party: Labour Party (uncertain)

Dele Momodu is a journalist/publisher known to almost all as his OVATION magazine is a brand that is second to no other. Many people were surprised at his declaration to run for the office of president of Nigeria debunking their expectations that he’ll start on a lower rung of the ladder, that is National Assembly or even Gubernatorial office.

Dele has shown exceptional leadership qualities in the private sector by building an international brand over the years from scratch. He fought for democracy during the MKO Abiola era, was arrested and had to go into exile to escape being charged for treason. He was reported to have helped in creating and running Radio Freedom which became Radio Kudirat after the wife of the late mogul, Chief Abiola was murdered. He has learnt the ropes of politics and has made immense contribution through his many articles and columns in National Newspapers.

Dele Momodu enjoys the support of the elite and youths alike. He also represents the young generation and without doubt has proven himself morally capable over the years. The questions on the minds of many however is, “Does Dele have the structure and platform to achieve his dreams?”, “Should he run for a National Assembly office first or governorship?”, “Can he move directly from private sector straight to president without holding any public office or serving in any public capacity?” “Is he actually doing the first things first?”

7. John Dara

Present Position: None

Previous Position: Special Assistant in the Ministry of Defence (1999-2003)

Geo-political Zone: North Central

Age: 50+

Religion: Christian

Political party: National Transformation Party (NTP)

John Dara is known to many within the PDP by reason of the roles he has played and his stand and values. He has been involved in politics for over 30 years and has seen contributed immensely at ward, local government, state and national levels over time. He’s been relevant across the last couple of republics and has fruits to show for his labour. He has managed campaigns successfully, some of which are for Sir Michael Otedola in Lagos, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and even Prof. Jerry Ghana in 2007. A former PDP power broker, John Dara has walked the corridors of power and is very experienced in the politics of this country. A baptist by conviction, John has walked in and out of public office with his head held high. No news however remote has been said about him in relation to corrupt practices or the like.

He was special assistant to General TY Danjuma during the Obasanjo government from 1999 – 2003. Danjuma was then the Minister for Defence. John Dara was said to be the back bone of the ministry at that time.

John Dara believes he’s going to upstage popular candidates in this election as experience has taught him that many times the underdog takes the day because he’s usually dismissed as not been a worthy opposition. He’s sure that the “stone which the builders rejected will become the chief of the corner”. He has managed and supported candidates over the while who have disappointed the polity and has decided to take responsibility to be the “change that we want to see”.

Can this geo-political northerner and geographical south-westerner change the metrics of the current direction of the politics of presidency or should he just collaborate with a stronger group and negotiate relevance in the new government?

8. Ibrahim Shekarau

Present Position: Governor of Kano State (2007-2011)

Previous Position: Governor of Kano State (2003-2007)

Geo-Political Zone: North West

Age: 55

Religion: Muslim

Political Party: ANPP

Ibrahim Shekarau’s declaration for presidency came on the heels of Gen Buhari’s exit from the party. Many Nigerians feel Kano state has not undergone any transformation enough to warrant that the CEO of the state for the past 8 years be vying for a more responsible position. News of his performance has been neither here nor there. Ibrahim however has quite some support and the machinery of ANPP with enjoys quite a following in the north.

Many believe Ibrahim Shekarau may not be the transition we need in 2011?

9. Professor Pat Utomi

Present Position: None

Past Position: Special Adviser to the President

Geo-Political Zone: South South

Age: 54

Religion: Christian

Political Party: SDMP (Social Democratic Mega Party)

He contested in 2007 for the seat of president of Nigeria on the platform of African Democratic Congress (ADC). He has shown himself impeccable over the years from government to government. His knowledge on economic strategy and policies has been invaluable to several state and federal government administrations up till now. He’s recognized on sight in most countries of the world and regarded by the west as one of the top 20 statesmen for progressive and positive change in Africa.

None can boast of a leadership resume as robust as his. None can present a pedigree as high as his. None has yet brought a railing accusation against his person. In fact, if Nigeria was a country that considered accountability and international repute/acceptance, Prof. Pat would be one of the most popular candidates running for the office of president. Personally, I feel his presidency would be the best thing to happen to Nigeria at this time.

However, some fear that he lacks the moral stance to push for true federalism being from the oil-rich south-South region. If he pursued that angle, it may be perceived as seeking interest for his region alone.

Prof. Pat Utomi hasn’t declared for the race this time yet, but promises that he’ll do so as soon as the party has finalized their strategies. There is absolutely no doubt however that Prof. Pat is one of the arrow heads of change for a new Nigeria in Nigeria. Whether the people will put their confidence in him by voting is another question.

Of note are some likely contenders who haven’t declared yet but may declare for the race depending on factors still under consideration. Among these are Attahiru Bafarawa, Usman Muhammad Bugaje, Pastor Chris Okotie (he has declared already) among others.  These officers in the chess game of Nigerian politics are simply watching the scene to see if they’ll be required to move out of their current positions to save the Queen(Democracy) and defend the King(Nigeria).

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14 comments

  1. John Dara for president. That’s the only viable option. Change is what we need.

  2. as much as i admire your effort in putting pen to paper, you lack sound basis for most of your statements. you rely on hearsay and of course unsolicited and less credible sources for your information. please let the investigative journalists who have the skill, tact and pedigree to do this sort of write up do their job.

  3. also at this stage of your virile life, you must understand that there are higher levels of decision making and responsibility that even you at the moment are unable to grasp its intricacies. bottomline you dont know what you are talking about! be sure to do credible research and verify your claims next time. the pen is a strong medium of communication exchange and you must please understand that to abuse its power goes beyond mere offence, it is sacrilege! hone your skills more before you attempt such a piece again!
    Yes! am being overly critical of you because you were carelessly brazen in your write up. Nigerians are tired of reading such doom messages ant its more saddening thats its coming from a voice of the next generation…

  4. Great! I don’t know who the next president would be, but I know those that will not get there.

  5. @ GracedOne,

    I have read through this article, and I think it’s a brilliant piece.

    The writer has his style, and it’s appealing to some of us. I also think people are free to write and to share their perspectives. He has been kind to all and unfair to none… and it’s his perspective.

    If you can write… please table your opinions here for our reading pleasure. What you see is part one…there is more to come 🙂

  6. @GracedOne,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the article. It means I’m getting better. I believe investigative journalism is subjective. It depends on who your are investigating.

    If you have a problem with any of the points in the article, please feel free to enlighten us on this blog by addressing them directly. No one has monopoly of knowlegde and writing is always from someone’s perspective.

    Besides, I’ll have you know that even the National dailies apologise regularly for mistakes their “Investigative Journalists” made in their articles.

    Anyway, most of what was written can be verified by “Investigative journalists” and I can provide references if you so desire.

    As far as heresay is concerned, it is admissible even in court depending on some particular conditions and circumstances.

    If you are not going to either substantiate or debunk any of the claims, you’d be better off appreciating the writer and ensuring that “your speech be always with GRACE, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man.”

    Stay tuned…….there’s more to come

  7. I think the article is a great one. I agree with most of Busayo’s points and I think it’s a good representation of Nigeria’s current political scene. I must point out though that I’m hearing for the first time that Ribadu was an Inspector General of Police 🙂

    What gives me pain is that the people with the strongest chances (especially through the usual pathway of bribery and rigging) are the thieves and thugs like… The really honest and principled ones like Prof Pat Utomi don’t stand much of a chance. For me however, I’m voting for principle and honesty even if the candidate can’t win. Perhaps one day, Nigeria would be mature enough to choose the right leaders. It will happen if more people post articles like this to enlighten people, if more media houses published the truth fearlessly, if more pastors preached the truth in their churches instead of organizing thanksgiving services for election riggers…

  8. Hmmm…Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Only God can tell

  9. Nice piece worthy of much thought.

    I once asked “Who do you think will win Nigeria’s 2011 Election” on Google Baraza. (This is the link to the question http://www.google.com/baraza/en/thread?tid=1f33f9dc06b8f3a0). Most of the answers was for Goodluck Jonathan. To me, he should not be the president in 2011.

    I know who I would vote for among those on the list. I will cast my vote where my mouth is…

  10. Of all the contenders only Donald Duke is more qualified than Goodluck Jonathan, but his party is not strong enough to compete and win.This is why I have advocated for Nigeria to go back to a 2 or 3 party system. It gives more qualified people stronger party backing to contest and possibly win. Gov Fashola of Lagos state would also have been a better candidate but he is not in the race!

    On GEJ, how do u measure a “substantial score card?” Do you honestly believe GEJ would try to bribe Pastor Bakare by himself…I think not! What is the sense in trying to bribe Pastor Bakare when it would make better sense to try to bribe CAN since it would represent a larger group?

    On the contrary, GEJ is not doing badly…he may not be moving fast enough (you can attribute this to the fact that elections are around the corner)…have u noticed that fuel scarcity has become non-existent (except for the incident a few weeks ago but note that by the next day the strike was called of), strikes are few and far between bcos his govt moves quickly to solve the issues causing it, the economic climate is stable (maybe not progressing, but at least not deteriorating), how many Nigerian politicians would nominate a radical as INEC chairman, knowing that the chairman is not likely to work for his interest (trust me, I can’t even pick out any other person who would be that transparent & “foolish”). Politicians would call him foolish but we appreciate the honesty in that decision!

    From what I have seen so far, I am entrusting my vote to GEJ for the next 4yrs!

  11. I wish the best for your country. May you have a leader that is judicious, fair and is not easily corrupted by the pleasures of the world that comes with power and position. It actually also requires a lot of support from the people around you to not be easily lured to those kinda riches.

    I am from Singapore and my country have been known to be one of the countries with the lowest corruption in Asia. However, the leaders in my country had to work hard to ensure that corruption doesn’t takes its roots in early Singapore independence.

    Nevertheless, I also understand the complexities in your country given its bigger geography.

    Best regards,

    Ardy

    Ardy

  12. No human entity has a viable solution to any country problems,Obama with all his sugar quoted mouth has not solve any problem in America.What we need in Nigeria is a complete change from the past and am sure that change is traceable to Buhari.if you give President Jonathan a close look you will notice that is just one of them,i mean d likes of Obasanjo,Ibb,Abacha,Yaradua,we don’t need to be deceiving ourselves on this page,Nigeria needs Buhari at d moment period.

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