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Founder's Notes

Nigeria's Presidential Election: Is it just for the Highest Bidder?

by Chido Nwangwu 
Founder & Publisher 
USAfricaonline.com
BBJonline.com


The fact is that many of the leaders of the APP and the leading, dominant Peoples' Democratic Party, PDP, (especially the APP) were unrestrained zombies for the recent days of darkness military dictatorship, many of them barking shills, propagandizing footstools and shameless protagonists for the late and disgraced former dictator Sani Abacha to succeed himself.  Of course, some in the left of center Alliance for Democracy has its own share.  So, the question, I must ask is: What Now?  Or, am I asking for too much of these politicians and their partisan, equally corrupt troops?  May be so, because in Nigeria's recent civilian political history and military mismanagement and squandering of its resources, those finer noble sense for shame, accountability, decorum, basic decency, and principles of responsible and truly representative governance all seem like Olympian bars of morality all too high for its two-a-penny crass political and ethnocentric partisans, a majority of them in search of assorted but filthy lucre and conversion of agencies of state power for their self -enrichment. 


Nigeria's march to civilian democracy is a fairly intricate game.  Sometimes, it seems like the fabled game of the more you look the less you see.  Allow me a twist on that view, as it pertains to the games and horsetrading by Nigeria's politicians and retired army generals in 1999 it's now almost like the more you see, the less you want to look.  There are quite a umber of unseemly things which has been going on in the name of political transition.  For example, many of those men of "timber and calibre" in the All Peoples Party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Alliance for Democracy - to borrow a phrase from the late but colorful neologist of Nigeria's politics K.O Mbadiwe still have questions to answer to progressives in the country of over 100 million people and posterity for their roles and shameless chants that Abacha must succeed Abacha or Nigeria could not move forward.

Having secured the nomination of the PDP, Gen.  Obasanjo, and before him Chief Olu Falae (former secretary to the regime of ex-General Ibrahim Babangida) with the ticket for the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and Dr.  Ogbonnaya Onu carrying the mantle for the All Peoples' Party (APP), the stage is, again, set for another round of power-play and deal-making by Nigeria's political unprincipled class, and its ethnic warlords.  Fact is that many of the leaders of the APP and the leading, dominant Peoples' Democratic Party, PDP, (especially the APP) were unrestrained zombies for the recent days of darkness military dictatorship, many of them barking shills, propagandizing footstools and shameless protagonists for the late and disgraced former dictator Sani Abacha to succeed himself.  Of course, some in the left of center Alliance for Democracy share in this malaise. 

So, the question, I must ask has to be: Is Nigeria's Presidential Elections just for the Highest Bidder?  What Now?  What next?  Or, am I asking for too much of these politicians and their troops knowing that in Nigeria's recent civilian political history and military mismanagement and squandering of its resources, that noble sense for shame, accountability, decorum, basic decency, and principles of responsible and truly representative governance all seem like Olympian bars of morality all too high for its two-a-penny crass political and ethnocentric partisans, a majority of them in search of assorted but filthy lucre and conversion of agencies of state power for their self -enrichment. 

For example, one of the PDP presidential candidates, former Governor Jim Nwobodo, is an ex-convict (following the ruling and probe by a panel of investigators over his tenure as Governor of Anambra, October 1, 1979-September 31,1982).  During the nomination, he was one of the power players and spoilers rather than a serious, realistic candidate in the PDP fight between former vice-President of Nigeria Alex Ekwueme and former military ruler retired Gen.  Olusegun Obasanjo.  He sought and diluted Ekwueme's effort. 

The fight over who will be Nigeria's next president will enter its final phase the weekend of February 27 when the critical contest will feature those flagbearers of the AD, APP and the PDP.

If the PDP nomination fight offers a fair indication of the ghost of things, the march to Nigeria's next civilian rule will be weighed, defined and its outcome determined in dollars, pounds sterling and the local Nigerian currency, the Naira.  In a sense, it is more about who will get more funds to ouspend and buy more votes.  For example, the nominee of the PDP,Obasanjo, even after telling every willing ear he had no funds to even pay for his kids school fees (he said the same thing to this reporter's while I moderated a townmeeting regarding his visit to Houston, Texas, in August of 1998 -- see Publisher's Notes index for a number of other reports and essays on the issue), the former army officer will in just 2 weeks after that enter politics to donate 100 million Naira and buses to donate to his party.  When the questions followed, he said that he did those enormous funds from his "friends" -- a euphemism for the phalanx of influential and "officially" retired deep-pocket army generals, wealthy politicians and international patrons. 

Interestingly, the current regime in Nigeria led by Gen.  Abdulsalami Abubakar apparently sees no evil and hears no evil, on such matters as how politicians buy votes.  Similarly, the international community is more animated by the motion of transition to civil rule and less about the content and dynamic of the raw, unrestrained political horsetrading, the buying and selling of delegates and votes, the naked appeal to ethnic sentiments and provoking of civil war sensitivities and such reckless comments as retired Gen.  Theophilus Danjuma's that he'll go on exile if Obasanjo did not win the presidential spot in Nigeria.Obasanjo had said at the townmeeting that Danjuma, his colleague while he was Commander-in-chief was one of those paying his kids' school fees. 

For Nigerians, politicians, heaven and ethics can wait but anything to win the presidential spot and succeed Gen.  Abubakar in May, 1999.


Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award HABJ 1997, served on the editorial board of the Daily Times of Nigeria. He is Founder and Publisher of USAfrica The Newspaper, USAfricaonline.com, The Black business Journal, BBJonline.com, and the Nigerian News Network. 

The LATEST edition of USAfrica The Newspaper offers all the results and critical analyses and insight of the transition.  Additional excerpts and reports will appear daily at the African community in America's most quoted and authoritative web site http://www.usafricaonline.com

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