Quasi-News & Commentary
by Wordworks2001
Nigeria is a relatively young republic. It’s only been seven years since it elected its first president to serve out a complete term without a coup and also the first to be elected to two terms. If it is fortunate, in April 2007, Nigeria will finally achieve another milestone, the unprecedented election of its next democratically elected presidential administration — quite a feat for a country that is only 46 years old.

It stands to reason there will be stutter steps and barriers along the way. Nigerians still should be proud that there are some men and women with enough courage to keep on marching and breaking down barriers.

The country has great cultural and religious diiversity. Tribal ways and ingrained mores and habits are hard too break and perhaps the biggest stumbling block to Nigeria becoming everything it ought to be. Faith in God is great in Nigeria. Unfortunately, too many Nigerians act as if they are all worshipping different gods and not the same one.

Yet the biggest problem I see in Nigeria is that most people talk the talk but very few are willing to walk the walk. Greed and corruption are epidemic. This is particularly true among politicians, who, for the most part, seem to have a ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ attitude. Most act like they are immune from the very laws they would have the rest of Nigerians live by.

This brings me to the topic of today’s sermon: The Presidential Candidates.

There are more than 40 aspirants to that psoition that is up for grabs in April of 2007. Of those 40, only a handful and a half are competent enough to do the job. Less than a handful are capable or powerful enough to hang on to the reins of state for a full term. And you don’t need more than two or three fingers to count the leading candidate who are honest enough to be considered for the presidency. Let me point out the top ten contenders:

  • The current vice president, Atiku Abubakar is competent. Is he capable? probably? Honest? There are better candidates.
  • Ibrahim Bangangida, a former military dictator is competent and capable but was thought of as a tyrant when he ruled the country. The fact that he was dictator puts his honesty in question.
  • Mohammed Gusau is an unknown. But he ran Nigeria’s spy agency and worked for Sani Abacha, two strikes against Gusau.
  • The governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili clearly has the saavy. He has the guts. He has the money. An obvious front runner.
  • Donald Duke, governor of Cross Rivers State. A proven competent administrator, squeaky clean with no black marks against him. His state government is the most honest in the federation. He clearly is competent and honest enough to do the job right. He may lack the ability to stand up to the military however. Still, if I were a Nigerian, I’d wear his campaign button.

All of those candidates are in the People’s Democratic Party, the party in power. There are three candidates from smaller parties who are worthy of note:

  • Muhammed Buhari is a former military dictator. His loss to incumbent President Obasanjo in 2003, does make himm damaged goods and again, as a former military head of state, his honesty must be questioned.
  • Ahmed Sani Yerima is the Islamic fundamentalist governor of Zamfara State in the north. His main claim to fame was instituting Sharia law in defiance of the constitution. He also ahs a corruption problem.
  • Chukwuemeka Ojukwu is the oldest candidate. A hero to the Igbo for leading the Biafran War from 1967 to 1970, the old man is competent and may be incorruptible. But is he capable? I don’t think so.

Ther you have it, eight contenders, each wanting a place at Asa Rock in Abuja. Let’s hope Nigeria makes the correct decision in April. This country not only deserves great leadership, it dearly needs it.

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant who lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at Wordworks2001

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