By Salisu Suleiman
The next presidential election scheduled for 2015 is still two years away, but one may be forgiven to think that it is only a few months from now. In what can only be described as a dog-eat-dog affair, the ruling People’s Democratic Party is being racked by a tumultuous struggle for power between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan himself is involved in a titanic battle of wits with some northern state governors who have eyes on the presidency.
As the tempo of political activities for 2015 grows, it is clear that the northern geo-political zone is keen to produce the next president. While there is nothing wrong with aspiring to higher office, ambition should be predicated on achievements and record of service, honesty, transparency and respect for the rule of law. Sadly, of all the PDP governors currently jostling for the presidency, none of them has exhibited any genuine leadership traits beyond the crude and inordinate drive to replace Jonathan.
Already, posters of Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido and his possible running mate Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State have flooded several towns and cities across Nigeria. The recent revelation by Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu that the PDP governors had an agreement with Jonathan to serve only one term is simply directed at promoting his own barely concealed presidential ambition. These days, one can actually visualise Senate President David Mark drooling at the thought of how close he may be to attaining the presidency; for him there is nothing else to aspire to.
Meanwhile, as these men are engaged in strategizing for 2015, the fortunes of the North are undergoing its most severe trial in a generation. Poverty and general degradation have taken a stranglehold. Besides the sledgehammer of Boko Haram, economic decline, poverty, unemployment and diseases are the order of the day. So having led the region to this abyss, why should northern governors, particularly those in the PDP, even begin to imagine that they have the qualities needed to preside over Nigeria?
That these three pretenders – Lamido, Aliyu and Mark – are potential presidential candidates from the North is a sad commentary on the dearth of quality leadership not just in the region, but also across Nigeria. Lamido and Aliyu have reportedly exhibited a level of intolerance, bordering on the dictatorial, that the thought of either of them as president makes many shiver. Mark, on the other hand, has displayed such cosmic resilience for survival on the corridors of power he simply cannot be trusted with it; he is not known to stand for any ideology or exhibit any connection with the yearnings of Nigerians. It is said that for him, everything is ‘from David, and unto Mark’.
Apart from the trio, other northern PDP governors eyeing the presidency include Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Isa Yuguda of Bauchi, and Ibrahim Shema of Katsina. Of course, one cannot rule out the possibility of President Jonathan paving way for Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo if he eventually fails to get the party’s nod to contest the primaries. As the jostle for the presidency intensifies, many Northerners are beginning to wonder: whose interest are these politicians serving? What has the average northerner got to benefit from a northern president?
What makes matters worse is that instead of focusing their energy on the urgent need to provide good governance, the attention of these governors seems riveted on grabbing the presidency at all cost. The posers begging for answer are: Why is it that despite the N8 trillion allocated to the North in the last decade, the region has gotten consistently poorer? Why have injustice, ignorance and inequality burgeoned all over the North? And if they cannot manage their region, can they manage Nigeria? Is there any governor who can walk freely among the people without massive security escort? Are the constant attacks on traditional rulers not cause for introspection, even alarm?
If the performance of the northerners currently holding various public offices across the region is anything to go by, then, there is no guarantee that they can improve on Jonathan’s woeful inability to address the fundamental issues challenging our very nationhood. Actually, regardless of who is in power, the majority of northerners have nothing to gain because the mindset of current northern leadership is the desire to systematically narrow the economic and political space to the exclusion of the majority. They have no interest in the economic and political development of the region, and will probably do the same when entrusted with the fortunes of Nigeria.
True, the PDP governors pushing for the presidency in 2015 have legitimate individual rights to their aspirations, but given the level of mismanagement that has crippled the North, they should aspire NOT to aspire to that position in the name of the North. The region, and certainly Nigeria, deserves better than their ilk.
A version of this article was originally posted on the author's blog