There is no doubt that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has enormous work in its hands when it begins the screening of the six or so Nigerians who picked the expression of intent form of the party to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Towering above all the aspirants is the incumbent president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, the only one amongst the pack who already has a running mate in the person of the former governor of Kaduna state, Architect Namadi Sambo.

The campaigns for the party ticket have been on and this comment would not have been necessary if not for the diversions and divisive tendencies introduced into the process by some of the candidates.

First is the conspiracy of the self serving candidates from the north to divide the country through their fabled search for a so-called consensus candidate. The search was limited to the aspirants of the northern extraction because of the deceit from those propounding the theory that the presidency in 2011 is the birth right of the north. This is a fundamental flaw in the aspiration of the northern candidates because Nigeria is not the North alone but an amalgam of over 250 ethnic nationalities distributed among six geopolitical zones.

Incidentally the champions of this consensus theory are Atiku and IBB, who believe though erroneously that they stand better chance of being accepted by the generality of north to have their mandate.

These two cleverly linked Gusau and Saraki, just to create the semblance of transparency and without taking into consideration the power bases of the others in the north and the interests they intend to project.

Sadly enough the Northern Leaders Political forum (NLPF), chaired by Mallam Adamu Ciroma and populated mainly by Atiku’s men already shot themselves on the feet. They excluded the only female presidential aspirant from the North, Sarah Jubrin in the so called consensus talks.

This clearly demonstrates the level of ineptitude, insincerity and chauvinism that the self acclaimed northern leaders forum has displayed in the conduct of a democratic exercise.

The other issue is the claim of experience by several of the aspirants who arrogate to themselves the all-knowing powers which only God himself possesses. The most guilty of this offence is Atiku Abubakar, who in several of his advertisements and radio and television gingles dangle this as the selling point of his campaign. IBB also claims that he is the most experienced.

Without sounding immodest, one would want both Atiku and IBB to define the experience they mean: is it academic experience, traditional experience or administrative/political experience.

Of all the aspirants so far for the presidency of the country, the least in academic qualification is Atiku whose highest level of education is a Diploma in law obtained in 1967.

Atiku needs to ask Rev Barrister Chris Okotie, the presidential candidate of Fresh party where the diploma can lead him to in the legal profession.

Granted that Atiku’s CV reads that he worked as a customs officer for 20 years before joining business and later politics, his claim of having the widest political experience may be punctuated by the simple fact that he has held political office only for eight years as a troublesome and highly canterkerous vice president under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. In fact it is out of magnanimity that Nigerians could give him the eight years from 1999 to 2007 but everyone knows that all of that experience was just limited because apart from the first term where his boss delegated some responsibilities to him, including the privatization and commercialization programmes, which he Atiku messed up, the rest of the period he spent in fighting his boss because of his inordinate ambition to take over his seat. Under a military set up Atiku could have staged a coup but thanks to democracy because such could not be condoned by true democrats.

Yes, Atiku was a foundation member of PDP but if one really goes back to the political platform that thrust him up which was the PDM of the late President Umaru Yaradua’s elder brother, late Shehu Musa Yaradua, one wonders why it was difficult for Atiku to support Umaru’s administration knowing full well that without the tutelage of Shehu he would have been nowhere politically. Atiku simply betrayed the Yaradua’s.

IBB had a successful military career which he capped with the forceful occupation of the office of Head of State for nearly eight years. Although IBB does not poses any civilian administrative experience, his joining PDP early would probably have opened his eyes to the workings of democracy.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan began his civil service career as a customs officer after his school certificate exam then proceeded to the university for a degree programme. Thereafter he had 10 years of unbroken service as a lecturer in the River State College of Education before moving to the defunct OMPADEC as an Assistant Director. Jonathan resigned from the office in 1998 and moved straight into politics and had served as Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state, then became Governor after the ousting of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha from where he was nominated as running mate to late president Umaru Yaradua in the 2007 presidential polls. Both were elected and out of divine providence Jonathan graduated from Vice president to Acting President and now President of the country. What is this progression called? It is not experience, but Jonathan has it more than other PDP aspirants.

You can give Saraki his eight years experience as Governor something that Atiku did not acquire for one day.

The point here is that the electorate will not be deceived by the frivolous claims of aspirants just because they want to take over power. It is quite obvious that every one’s track records will count in the choice of who leads Nigeria in 2011. So far the credentials of Jonathan and Sambo are enough to give them the PDP ticket and return them to office with ease.

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Articles by thewillnigeria.com