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2023: SETTLING FOR THE LESSER EVIL

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By Abdullateef Ishowo

The phrase, the lesser of two evils is derived from an Islamic maxim—-….Akhafu ddararaen.(أخف الضررين). It is also from a concept put forth by Thomas à Kempis in the early 1400s in his work “Imitation of Christ: of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen”. That is, in two poor choices, the somewhat less unpleasant is selected.

At the moment, Nigeria is presented with two evils to make the less unpleasant choice comes 2023 general election. The question now is, who’s the lesser evil between Atiku and Tinubu? And in this case, the proverbial known devil is better than unknown angel doesn’t come to play. Both are known devils, they’ve paid their dues in their different paths to Nigeria’s political development and there’s no unknown angel between the duo. They’re known devils.

Make no mistake about it, it’s either Abubakar Atiku, the Waziri of Adamawa or Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Lion of Bourdillon in 2023; God spares theirs’ and ours’ lives. There would be no third force. Any other force would be a product of either of the two major forces. And this isn’t peculiar to Nigeria; of all the political parties in the US, it’s either Democratic or the Republican. In Britain, it’s either Labour or the Conservative. The difference however is that, political parties in the two mentioned developed nations are ideologically rooted, and the consistent exchange of baton between the Democrats and Republicans in the US has always been based on ideological stand and development of the US.

Like in the Great Britain and US, Nigerians are going to vote along party lines in 2023. Forget about the neutrality posture of many insincere Nigerians, we’re all political animals and all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

However, while the choice of many electorates in the US and Britain are either based on the manifestos of the party of choice or long standing ideological position of the party that has made certain electorate to stay-glued to it, in Nigeria, people vote for a political party because of ethnic, religion or monetary factor. And once again in the nation’s political life, these three factors are going to determine who emerges between Atiku and Tinubu comes 2023 general election.

For instance, PDP is hoping for a bloc votes from the northern part of the country because of the emergence of Atiku as its flag bearer while APC hopes to secure a bloc votes from the South (especially South West) because of the emergence of Tinubu as the party flag bearer. Hence, the new ’emilokan’ slogan (courtesy of Tinubu) or it’s the turn of my region is likely to play a major role in the coming election. The southerners feel it’s their turn by virtue of Buhari, the current president who’s completing his second term in office, is from the northwestern part of the country. Northerners on the other hand feel it’s their turn because since the return of democracy back to the country in 1999, southerners have spent more years in office than their northern counterparts (ten as against fourteen years).

Religion is equally going to play a major role in who becomes the sixteenth commander-in-chief of Nigerian Armed Forces. For instance, the search has commenced in the two major parties on which of the two major regions should the running mates of their flag bearers come from. Islam or Christianity? No one is even considering paganism; the religion of our forefathers! Are the two major religions not products of colonialism? Islam from the Arabian contact with Africa and Christianity from the British.

Between the two parties, of particular interest is APC, whose flag bearer is from the southwest.

As a Fulani Muslim, while Atiku is at no qualms in selecting the religious and/or ethnic background of his running mate, Tinubu might have little difficulty in choosing a running mate. The reason isn’t farfetched, Atiku is a Muslim Fulani man from the Northeast who’s expected to choose a Christian southerner. Most likely from the Southeast or South-South. Tinubu, a Muslim south westerner, on the other hand may have to choose from the North. Now, judging by the ethnic and religious consciousness of the North, would he choose a Muslim or Christian? Should he settles for a Muslim and flag a Muslim-Muslim candidacy, he should prepare for media war from the south. Should he select a Christian Northerner who are minority, he stands the risk of loosing the votes of the Northern Muslims, who are majority.

Money will equally play a major role in who becomes the next president. The reported activities in the primary elections of both PDP and APC is an eloquent testimony to this fact. The kind of money that exchanged hands between aspirants and delegates and between aspirants and aspirants, as reported, was nothing but national embarrassment.

Besides, they’ve not even started spending. Politics in Nigeria is capital intensive. You must invest well to reap huge. That’s why they laugh whenever we complain on their lack of performance. Both candidates have gotten enough to throw around during electioneering. After all, ‘owo abu l’afin s’abu l’alejo’.

Forget about Tinubu winning the APC primary on what he had previously invested in people. Those he invested on weren’t there for him during the primary. It was the new people money recruited that won the election for him. Same with Atiku. Both had made, empowered and invested in a lot of people in the past. Hence, their formidable structures across the country. Unfortunately, while the delegates at the convention smiled home, Nigerians remain in pain as national security and economy worsen.

Ironically, these are same men Nigerians expected to introduce a change that will usher in a new Nigeria. I doubt they have anything new to offer. That’s why none of them has come up with a reasonable blue print that can tackle the numerous challenges facing the country. For instance, the nation is in dare need of a 21st Century leader to tackle the challenges facing economy, power, security, education and other sectors. How do you intend to diversify the economy and take the country out of its mono-economic status?

I didn’t support Tinubu and never wanted him to emerge at the APC primary, just as I never wanted Atiku to emerge in PDP. I preferred the latter in 2019, not 2023. How can we have brilliant and energetic younger aspirants in both parties and still be happy with these two old men? They’re not only old, they’re weak. I would’ve preferred any of Yemi Osinbajo, Bukola Saraki, Peter Obi, Raji Fashola, Babagana Zulum or Rotimi Amaechi. Sadly, by the time either Atiku or Tinubu completes 8 years in office, these set of men would’ve become old too, and we began to clamour for one of them again. Democracy or gerontocracy?

What moral justification would either of the two men have to embark on corruption war? They’ve for a long time been around the corridor of power with access to our collective patrimony to want to disengage now. They’ve formed ‘padi padi’ clique among themselves and it would be very difficult to brake away from the cult.

Unfortunately, one of them has to emerge comes 2023 as the sixteenth president of this nation. The question now is, who is the lesser evil between the two? Atiku or Tinubu? That’s left for the electorates to decide.

Abdullateef Ishowo, an author and development analyst, writes from Ilorin
ishowo2006@yahoo.com

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