Quasi News & Commentary

By Wordworks2001

“You can’t telll the players without a program,” was a familiar old marketing line some enterprising young hawker selling team programs as fans entered sports venues across America. Well the presidential political arena has attracted so many players, you almost need a program too sort them out. Over the next four months, until April 12, election day, I will try to help you sort out all the players in this dirty game of Politics Nigeria Style.

The field is virtually an alphabet soup of various political organizations, all seeking the right candidate to back in the 2007 presidential election. The biggest and baddest of the bunch vying for their party’s favor is the 30 hopefuls of the People’s Democratic Party, the folks who have been in power since 1999. Although large and powerful, the party has become very fragmented over the years, especially since 2003, when the current vice president and president began to have a falling out.

President Obasanjo is constitutionally not allowed to run for his office in 2007, despite attempts by his cronies to change the constitution at the last minute. The vice president, Atiku Abuakar, is the last person Obasanjo wants to replace him and he has done many a dirty deed to try to intimidate his deputy. Many of the vice president’s staff members were summarily fired by the president at one point. Each has accused the other of threatening coups and assassinations. About the only thing they haven’t dome was TPed each others’ front yards.

Last week, PDP leaders, hoping to consolidate their party’s presidential choices into a few viable candidates and praying to end the divisiveness that can only serve to bring the party down, met with many of the would-be candidates in Abuja, the capitol. They brought duct tape and glue hoping there was some way to put Humpty back together again, or at least from becoming more fragmented.

Several PDP state governors have turned in nomination forms, among them Adama of Nasarawa State, Odili of Rivers, Uma Musa Yar’Adua from Katsina and Atah, the governor of Akwa Ibom.

Others included two retired naval officers: Admiral Akhiyke and Commodore Ukwe. Royalty is also represented in the persons of Chief Rochas Okorocha, Chief Sarah Jibel, and Princess Hadiza Ibrahim. Dr. Mary Olimitayo and Ambassador E. Ogbon-Day are two more women contending for the nomination and the group of hopefuls was rounded out by Dennis Uzoma Ehedura. There were eight men and four women in the group.

The PDP does have some more very prominent and well-known candidates vying forthe privilege to run for Nigeria’s top spot, some who have sat in it before. One of the former military heads-of-state (that’s the politically correct way of saying “dictator.”) and possible early front runner is General Ibrahim Babangida, who was one of the most ruthless leaders of Nigeria, if you don’t count Sani Abacha, who was also insane. Generals Buba Mohammed Marwa, Mamman Kotangora, and Aliya Gusau round out the other missing PDP former military candidates. A civilian aspirant, Professor Jerry Gana also missed the meeting.

With so many PDP candidates with such high opinions of themselves and not much for each other, the party leadership will certainly have a hard time whittling this field down to one. There is another meeting of the contenders this weekend to try to sort things out. Perhaps they should have a Survivor Challenge. At least that might make for interesting TV.

Alphabet Soup

Perhaps the PDP’s biggest rival is the upstart ANPP (All Nigerian People’s Party). Retired General Mammadu Buhari, another former military head-of-state and a 2003 three presidential candidate, has turned in a nomination form for that party. The general seems to have a well-oiled and well-heeled political machine that is officially called The Buhari Organization. TBO, more acronyms. Sounds like an Indy racing team to me.

Buhari’s campaign will be managed by former Nigerian Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh. He already has been endorsed by a coalition of parties called, CNN (not the news network, Coalition for New Nigeria). The member parties include: the MDJ (Movement for Democratic Justice), who pulled out of the coalition shortly after CNN said they support Buhari.

Remaining members of the coalition who continue to support Buhari, include: the NCP (National Conscience Party), PRP (People’s Redemptive Party), ARP (African Rennaisance Party), the PSP (People’s Salvation Party), and the PAC (People’s Action Congress).

When all is said and done (and unfortunately that won’t be until four months from now), only a handful of aspirants will show the wearwithall to lead the most populace nation in Africa. Hopefully the person that ultimately wins the presidency will have gotten there by way of the ballot box instead of the bullet. If that happens, it will be a first for this 46 year old country.


Daily Trust (Abuja)

Vanguard (Lagos)

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant who lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. He blogs at wordworks2001

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