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2010 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: JONATHAN, RIBADU, BUHARI, CHRIS OKOTIE, ETAL

PHOTO: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (Middle); FORMER HEAD OF STATE, GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R) AND MALLAM NUHU RIBADU (L).
PHOTO: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN (Middle); FORMER HEAD OF STATE, GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI (R) AND MALLAM NUHU RIBADU (L).


Before the presidential debate for would-be presidents in 2011 was postponed on that fateful day, the moderator listed some of the followings as the next heated debate: (1) Whether it'd not make perfect sense for citizens who dwell in the region where petrol or other natural resources are mined, to be the ones who'd give the go-ahead for prospecting companies to mine oil in their backyards (2) Why have past governments not ploughed back money gotten from petrol tax into repairing roads? (3) How each aspiring presidential candidates would change the can't-do attitude in governance in Abuja since 1999 and replace it with a can-do one where institution is put above the worship of individual ruler (4) How money would influence the 2011 elections and whether being born rich would not hamper the electability of highborn contenders etc.

Chris Okotie has just opened the first of a series of debates to come. By saying that his first presidential task in 2011 if elected, would be to cancel the National Honour Award, disqualify all winners since - re-negotiate and re-award it only to those who actually deserve them. The outspoken presidential aspirant cum pastor bashes Jonathan Goodluck for awarding honours to robber politicians, businessmen, weird jet-set Nigerians and notorious highborn in our society. After which, he calls Jonathan a hypocrite for professing to be a devout Christian and despite enmeshed in taking bribe or anticipating to, while bastardinsing our National Heritages for his 2011 election self-gain. Ending with the note that Nigerians must not vote for Jonathan Goodluck for another four years to massage the egos of the rich and famous, mighty and almighty in Nigeria.

Ribadu immediately, fires from the podium attacking Jonathan Goodluck for adding and abetting the Halliburton, Siemens, Daimler suspects instead of prosecuting them. Telling Nigerians that they should vote for him and not Jonathan Goodluck. He'd compounds his argument by stating that Jonathan has a lustful bent to look after the special interests of the haves in our society at the brunt of the have-nots. Ribadu would opine that Jonathan, while still vice-president, had said that's not the corruption from top-down that hampers Nigeria's progress but the ones done by ordinary citizens. Punching the air with youthful seriousness, Ribadu would maintain that Jonathan and wife were criminal indictees and his suspects when he championed EFCC. Now with soberly mood, away from the air-punching posture, Ribadu warns Nigeria to prepare for the direst of consequences should they venture vote another four-year for Mr. Goodluck.

Jonathan Goodluck not wanting a greenhorn 'foreign-sponsored' president-to-be, like Ribadu to spoil his chances of making Aso Rock back, would sincerely repent and confess that what Ribadu has just accused him of was the same thing he did when he exempted Obasanjo from the monumental corruption he did during his era. He'd dress Ribadu down, that the Halliburton and other scams happened under his watch without doing nothing. He'd badmouth Ribadu for being a system man and part of the problem and not the solution. He accuses Ribadu for being an outcast who allies with other countries, leaking Nigeria's secret for personal self-aggrandizement. With a very weak appeal, Jonathan would beg Nigerians to give him another chance, promising to hand himself to law-enforcement people for probe after his tenure ends in 2011. In addition, almost on bended knees while still holding the podium furniture, he promises to bring Obasanjo, Bankole, IBB and co. to justice and jail if given another chance. And all of a sudden, an eruption of boo greeted Jonathan's conclusion. Meaning that the crowd of attendees did not believe that Jonathan would do any better if given another four-year opportunity.

Buhari has just taken the podium thanking his opponent Jonathan, for sincerely repenting that he and Ribadu were bedfellows enmeshed in corruption and giving them leeway to thrive unopposed. With a stretched hand, Buhari adjusts his agbada and delve into memory lane how he containerised Umaru Dikko from abroad en route to face corruption charges in Nigeria because sleaze irritated him majorly. With one hand in the air to stop the crowds from endless cheers, he positioned himself as the only one who has the temerity and moral fineness to tame criminals across the board for their criminalities.

Pontificating further, Buhari told the crowd that he has rock solid family, booming with all the moral decency there are. Crying out loud that a good president is the person who could control his home and has a responsible family, not dysfunctional ones where father in-law bed-son's wife. He also took a swipe at the dire conduct of Turai Yaradua for grave sins against the Nigerian state and pointed accusing finger at Patience Goodluck for siphoning Bayelsa State money. Arguing that future First ladies must live by modest discipline. Buhari almost by sheer mistake nearly praised his wife before the public as not being irresponsible like the two women he had just mentioned, but resisted the temptation, before he is labeled a 'woman wrapper!'

If elected president, he promised to appoint Ribadu as his EFCC champion while banning Jonathan from Aso Rock, not because Ribadu is from the north and Jonathan not; but because Ribadu is a better human than Jonathan. Okotie and other would-be presidents just laughed aloud after Buhari ended his debate, you could notice with the way they nodded their heads that, they enthused how to curtail their personal interests when voted president. Just then, there was pandemonium as NEPA aka PHCN took light and everyone sweated like ewu (goat). Then there was half-current light.

In heat of the moment, a saharareporter.com blogger who was present at the presidential debate gate-crashed by asking the aspiring presidents how they'd check the kind of disconnect that went on during Obsanjo and late Yar'Adua's era when there were no love lost between president and vice-president? Yar’Adua had hardly trusted Jonathan Goodluck to give him any assignment. The hatred that churned between Obasanjo and Atiku at the tail end of their regime is a blockbuster in the history of officedom. As our by-now president Jonathan neared the podium to clear the air on how he wished to mastermind amity between him and his vice, before other contenders would say their own version, the moderator announced an extension of the debate which will last for a whole month.

This writer will inform you about all the debates that our presidents in-waiting would engage serially. Thank you!

President Obama opines "And I think that if you think of the presidency just as a bureaucratic job, then you will not be effective. If you think of it only as a rhetorical, political job, you will not be effective. And I think that our goal has been to say, how we function as good managers and good stewards of government and reform it and clean it up and make it work and make it right."

Talk about rhetoric! It is in the newspapers of today that the same Jonathan Goodluck who gave National Honour to criminals lately, had while addressing a section of diaspora Nigerians in Niger State, said that corruption will cripple Nigeria if the rich would not check their ways. Jonathan has been high on rhetoric, assuming that the presidency is just another office job not meant to add value to people's lives.

Since the Obasanjo political class of 1999 hit town, we have come to see their loose underbelly. And no one is left in doubt that their lack of readiness has been the reason while Nigeria has raced to the bottom of Ice Age backwardness. In 2011 or before, we want to see fierce hustle of political campaign and debate amid mostly presidential candidates and sundry political officeholders in-waiting. It should not be the traditional pushover of presidents being begged and forcefully goaded to come and govern Nigeria. Would-be presidents in 2011 have to hanker and sweat it out on their way to Aso Rock - that's when they realize that the government of men and resources is not a cakewalk done by children at birthdays.

Past presidents and the extant one, have pooh-poohed the esteemed office because they get there with no hassle of proving either their intellectual or interpersonal sociocentrism or street-smartness. They rig their way through, that trend has to stop henceforward. We want to see them debate, campaign, challenge one another, throw mud at themselves, do due diligence on others, spy upon and wash their co-contenders dirty linen in the public. That's how it is done in the USA and other First World countries that we copied their democracies and way of civilization.

It's noteworthy in today's world, that the ability to set up a political campaign from the ground and win any election devoid of malpractices is a signal that one has the clout to succeed in that post or office. Political campaign these days is a serious business that involves all aspect of institutionalism that prepares you proper. You have to manage man and material while campaigning. And it takes a real man to excel these stumbling blocks. In the end, you are ready to take up the challenges of office, inclusive of good management and stewardship. Away from mere rhetoric and mediocre that comes in when you are godfathered into the presidency with the ease of not throwing a punch or slinging mud at your opponents or receiving any. To be continued...

Sunday Njokede writes from the European Union. Email: [email protected]

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