It is gradually, albeit dangerously, becoming a norm for the Nigerian to define politics and democracy within the prism of his fantasies and whimsicality. When it does not serve his interest, he is quick to pick quarrel with a political godfather who anoints a candidate. Yet, when a democratically elected governor finishes his constitutionally guaranteed terms and decides to give every qualified member of his party the latitude to vie for any office, regardless of their numbers, the same Nigerian begins to mouth invectives and condemnation in utter disregard to the nobility of the action. In Zamfara state for example, the Governor there was reported to have anointed one of his Commissioners as the next gubernatorial candidate of his party and as expected, most Nigerian rose in condemnation of the action, apparently due to its undemocratic nature. Many people argued that it narrows the space and infringes on the rights of other equally qualified members of the party who may wish to cash in on a level playing field to exercise their franchise. Again, when in Borno state, Governor Kashim Shettima refuses to interfere and allows every interested party member including his Commissioners, serving ministers, ordinary party members and even those who recently defected to the APC to pursue their inalienable rights and freedom to contest, the same colony of hypocrites quickly became emergency opponents of the policy.
In a nutshell, the Nigerian is perpetually imprisoned by his nauseating and appalling tendency to disconnect with the fundamentals and realities of his environment. I am personally perplexed by the needless noise that greeted the ‘’high’’ number of APC members from Borno state who picked nomination forms to aspire for the governorship of their state. My anger is, firstly directed at the hypocrisy of some holier-than-thou Nigerians who would be quick to lend a voice only to policies or actions that feed into their self centered calculation regardless of the righteousness or otherwise of such actions. On one hand, Governor Abdulkarim Yari of Zamfara is taken to the cleaners for the audacity to anoint a candidate thereby shutting the door against several other aspirants who have signified intention to run. Rightly or wrongly, many people view such anointing as undemocratic and therefore unconstitutional simply because even if a candidate is thereafter allowed to contest, the anointing by the Governor has already given his prepared candidate a head-start. In the case of Borno where a lot of noise is being made against the number of aspirants, one begins to wonder how anybody will expect the Governor to muscle some aspirants out by singling out only one of them, in clear contravention of the tenets of democracy and in contrast to the principles of justice and fairness. Each and every aspirant for any political in Borno state is a bonafide member of the APC, is qualified to vie for any office and each believes he stands a chance to secure the ticket. What better alternative is there to do justice and be impartial to all of them than to open the space, ensure level playing field and stay neutral until one of them emerges through the instruments of fair play as enshrined in the spirit and letters of the nation’s electoral laws as the constitution of the country?
I recognize the dimension the argument for or against the source of wealth of the contestants in relation to the seemingly astronomical fees charged for securing expression of interest forms is taking. I also key into the temptation to question the inability of some of the contestants to eschew their ambitions in order to make the number manageable, like it apparently looked in other states. Of course, the number of the contestants may look somewhat on the high side ordinarily or may appear to suggest a prevailing atmosphere of disunity and lack of internal cohesion. If you questioned the source of their wealth for example, then the onus is on you to provide evidence of corruption against anyone of them and make same available to the appropriate anti-corruption agencies. The EFCC had just announced that it will look into election and campaign expenses in the current electioneering processes and we all have a chance to take advantage to clean our politics by exposing corruption anywhere. If, on the other hand you feel the number of the contestants should be pruned down unilaterally by Governor Kashim Shettima in order for Borno to appear to tow the line of other states, then you are, invariably suggesting that the Governor should narrow the space and shut the door against legitimate aspirations of his people. I wonder which of the two positions is democratic and just: to open the space or to narrow it?
I am conversant with the nature of Borno politics and without sounding immodest, I will quip that Kashim Shettima is one politician that has shown a high level of political sophistication, is broadminded as well as being progressively democratic to the point that it will have been against the grain of his traits to have stood in the way of any APC member, no matter how ordinary, in his or her quest to navigate a political future. If anything, I see the plethora of contestants in the positive. There are states in the country that have not yet come out of the quagmire of the endless bout of enmity and instability that arose out of attempts by political leaders to force candidates on their party members. Borno is still trying to quench the fire of insurgency bequeathed by untoward political decisions at some stage in the past. If some states could afford the luxury of reckless and self-centered political infractions, Borno will do well to keep off.
Ahmed-BK wrote this piece from Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State