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We Need A Messianic President, Not The Old Guard, By Emma Nwosu

March 9, 2022

These juggernauts may have good intentions but no longer fit the bill, by all parameters, including age, perceived health status and currency of knowledge. None is the messiah Nigeria needs at this time.

When some of us warned stridently against the borrowing streak of the Muhammadu Buhari government (Emma. Nwosu, “Borrowing to Death?”, ThisDay, June 22, 2020, page 26) the Federal Government rebutted the warning with the fallacy of GDP Ratio - which does not apply to a moribund economy - and everyone kept quiet. With a complicit National Assembly, we have ended up in the ‘shithole’ of debt. We are again warning against the impending doom of a Bola Tinubu or Atiku Abubakar Presidency but will not be surprised if ignored again. Nigerians do not read between the lines and can be easily railroaded.

These juggernauts may have good intentions but no longer fit the bill, by all parameters, including age, perceived health status and currency of knowledge. None is the messiah Nigeria needs at this time. 


They have been in the field for too long and must share in the blame for messing up the country. We cannot keep recycling the old guard and hope to get a different result. In particular, Tinubu must take responsibility for foisting the current government on us. 

Regretfully, their cronies and charlatans are using examples from elegant systems to rationalize their obsession with the Presidency of a disconsolate country. The drumbeats have not changed. It is the same rustic hype, that always left us shortchanged, that is being mindlessly deployed.

The serial breakdown of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (for poor health) and Muhammadu Buhari (for old age) under the weight of our peculiar presidency, should have compelled a search of conscience and a paradigm shift in our idea of the next President, at least, in terms of age, health and vitality. 

Atiku is said to be 75 this year and, by 2023, would be older than Buhari was when he became President in 2015. He is seen as a lover boy and a jolly good fellow, with an extravagant lifestyle - always having something to celebrate in Dubai and elsewhere. Currently, he parades four wives (one is Moroccan, married as recently as 2017) and 28 children. His lifestyle does not look like that of a potentially terrific (workaholic) President. It is not the stress-tested type by which to overlook age.

The impression is that Atiku is obsessed with the Presidency (the way Buhari was) given the manner he has serially shopped for it (at one time, even elbowing his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo). In the obsession, he has been changing parties like clothing without scruples. In 1993, it was the Social Democratic Party. In 2007, it was the Action Congress of Nigeria. In 2011, it was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). 

In 2014, he led some Northern Governors to derail the PDP and Dr Jonathan’s re-election, to force the Presidency back to the North, claiming that Jonathan had overstayed into the turn of the North. He then contested for the 2015 Presidential ticket under the APC but lost to Buhari. Atiku shamelessly ran back to the PDP in 2018 and, paradoxically, still picked the 2019 Presidential ticket but lost the election.   

The height of this rascality is in Atiku defying the clear provisions of the PDP Constitution on rotation and the logical and unanimous position of Southern Governors (that the 2023 Presidency is the turn of the South, after eight years of Buhari) to seek the 2023 Presidential ticket of the PDP – against the same principle of rotation, between the North and the South, for which his Movement derailed the party in 2015! We now know (by current experience) that this type of desperation cannot be altruistic. 

His track record portrays Atiku as an unprincipled politician and one with the born-to-rule mentality who wants the Presidency to remain permanently with the Fulani. Action speaks louder than words. He is not alone though. Almost all the Northerners seeking to usurp the 2023 Presidency are Fulani. It is laughable to hear that Atiku will do only one term and step down from the Presidency for a Southerner! 

Indeed, it has become imperative that when next it is the legitimate turn of the North, only the non-Fulani should be supported for the Presidency, in the spirit of federal character. The North is not only Fulani! Otherwise, we would sleepwalk into slavery or Nigeria’s back would be finally broken. 

Atiku has not enunciated specific measures on the economy and the restructuring he is said to be offering. He is seen as lacking in the complex and advanced knowledge required to negotiate the country out of the socio-economic abyss, in a techno-economic world. Like the traditional politician, he could only be strong in deal-making, with the same predatory oligarchy, which would still leave the populace in the cold.   

Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu does not seem to have any attested age but is, evidently, in fragile health. If, truly, he already suffers incontinence (which is a symptom of declining organs) while at ease, as a private citizen, what do we expect under the weight of the Presidency, going by the experience of Yar’Adua and Buhari? What do his medical trips to the United States, United Kingdom and France portend? 

Yet, typical of the politician’s delusion, he has been caught saying that he is a youth, with trembling hands. He has also been quoted as saying that he does not need the raw energy of an artisan for the job, whereas, the job of the President is more energy-sapping than that of the artisan - because it is both physically and intellectually consuming. He should consult Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for an idea of the frenetic pace required of the Nigerian President (or read Dare Babarinsa, Obasanjo and His Cabal, The Guardian, March 3, 2022, page 32). Tinubu is only struggling to deny the fact of his fragile health!

Furthermore, it should be noted that if Tinubu should fall into the same vegetative state as Buhari, as President, he would be promptly impeached or overthrown by the same forces which have shielded the latter, given the country’s skewed power configuration. Where would that leave Nigeria?

Yes, Asiwaju raised the bar of governance in Lagos State, particularly, in terms of revenue generation and service delivery. He also has an outstanding record in democratic struggles, particularly with the NADECO and June 12 Movements. But it is not the same Tinubu that we see today. The fire is gone. He has even forgotten the fundamental dynamics for socio-economic growth and development, to the extent of simplifying the solution to unemployment with the conscription of the youth, in large numbers, into the Armed Forces, whereas it is cultural, constitutional and macro-economic re-engineering that is required! As the Good Book, the Bible, says, there is a time for everything under the sun. It is time to retire. 

The next President must be fit as a fiddle and a man of wide-ranging, complex and up-to-date knowledge, who is analytical, can quickly grasp concepts and can do a lot of things by himself, without dependence on aides. He must be versed in our history as well as international affairs and connections to tap into. 

He must be someone who understands that the larger part of our challenge is cultural cum economic (arising mainly from the predatory Constitution and perennial resource misallocation, resulting in low productivity, impoverishment and marginalization of the people and the entrenchment of a deadly oligarchy). He must be someone who has the will and the capacity to re-engineer the shattered polity and economy to suck the unemployed and miscreants off the street, to douse the prevailing upheavals in a fundamental way. We need nothing short of a messianic President and not Atiku or Tinubu.