PRESIDENTIAL RACE: WHY I PREFER THE OKOTIES
At last, the die is cast in the 2011 presidential race to rule and misrule Nigeria. It was interesting that Gen. Ibrahim Babangida declared his intention finally on Wednesday. It is an ample opportunity for us and the gods to demystify this man that dehumanized and emasculated Nigeria for eight years. His were the years of the locusts and cankerworms. Such years will never come back to this nation in the process of healing. The land he defiled can't permit him take the centre stage to mismanage it again. I am not sure there is a nation someone like IBB would mismanage twice and there will be anything left of it.
I also heard the Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki wants to be Nigeria's president, and I knew for sure the sky is overcast for a kind of disastrous rainfall, the type that turned Pakistan into a vast cemetery and the largest refugee camp in recent history in the past two months.
As Saraki has the right to contest the presidency, so do we have the right to remind him that he was the director in the Societe Bank that collapsed years ago. As his family bank went under, like the Titanic, it perished with the life savings of poor Nigerians who went home to die in frustration. We never heard the board he headed as director gave any Nigerian back his money in the bank.
After being governor for eight years, Saraki has been purged of the encumbrances of that incident. He is as clean as whistle to contest and become our president just like IBB who over 17 has deemed the gross errors he committed against Nigeria, including the bloodshed as aftermath of the June 12 annulment as overtaken and forgotten by a people who don't remember their past. After working hard to make sure democracy never took roots in this soil, and after others laboured so much to entrench democracy, he has bounced back to tell us of his experiences to rule. And you would ask experience in what? – In democracy destruction, in mismanagement, in lack of accountability, in greed, in entrenching fraud, in perpetuating graft and creating all avenues for frivolities to thrive.
Very soon Atiku Abubakar will declare his intention to run and become the president to rule us. What are his credentials? Number one is desperation to straggle from one party to another, to remain perpetually unstable, unreliable and hell bent on becoming a president no matter what. This year, it is one party. In another election year, it is another party. As he migrates, the nomadic presidential candidate unleashes his caustic tongue on the party he dumped to adorn another. Next day, the beat changes and he turns around to eat his words on one party and commences another tirade against the latest he left behind. With such instability, he would make the best president for Nigeria's history.
The entire collective of eminent presidents-to-be are either incumbent public officers or past ones. I don't know any of them from a wealthy background from where they made the mega billions of dollars that propel them to insist on ruling us by force. The history of some of them is orphaned childhood. They never engaged in any business venture or operated any enterprise. Their only enterprise has been one public office or the other. As the offices and the states they managed dwindled in fortunes, they grew into billionaire statuses. They have never rendered account to the people. They have never stolen any money from public coffers because we can't prove it. But so much money got lost when they were supervising. The magical politicians and rule-forever powerful citizens throw money about and won't account to us how they managed to leave public service they joined with no ten kobo with billions in dollars.
I looked through them and saw no weight in them. I have written this in the past several times that a nation where those who held office earlier never rendered account but insist on coming back is not a normal one.
That is why I would insist the cerebral candidates who have defied the odds and challenged these dubious men deserve our common encouragement. I wish and pray that a magic should entrench a normal electoral system that would push the hounds aside and encourage the real people to take over.
I have known and heard of Pastor Chris Okotie from my secondary school days. From a student in UNN, he became a renowned musician. From music he became a clergyman, and that he has remained till date. Some years ago, like a joke he declared his interest in politics and formed a political party and contested the presidential election. Okotie's party has remained alive and I might bet he finances it from his legal earning and also does some charity from his purse. As others throw around your money that found their way into private pockets as political bullies, Okotie spends his money and travels round the nation sensitizing the people to vote him.
In sincerity, he appeals to the reason of Nigerians and persuades them to act differently and make sure they introduce a positive change by voting for him. He has contested some two times, and never lost the election because there was none. You can only lose in an election if it held. It never did and he never lost.
If he decides to run again this year, it is our earnest prayer that President Goodluck Jonathan will give birth to an election. Funny enough, instead of the like of Okotie being encouraged, Nigerians look the other direction and laugh in scorn when he says he will contest again.
Okotie's courage has made a statement in several ways - that the good can have a place in our politics, that tomorrow politics belongs to men of ideas, that one can run the presidential race like humanitarian service where he spends his money and bears no pains for that. With good heels in education and exposure, Okotie introduced reason and intellectual debate in political campaign in Nigeria since Zik, Aminu Kano and Awo died. When you watch him, you develop a longing for a sane clime where elections hold and candidates are assessed based on plans and programmes they have for the society. In place of empty bullying, Okotie introduced sound reasoning and argument outlining his plans for the society. He has clearcut vision of what motivates him, unlike the usual lame 'after wide (wild) consultations, my people asked me to run and move this nation forward.'
As he dared the odds, some other sound minds decided to tow his line. That is how the cerebral Prof. Pat Utomi joined the race in 2007. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi had done the same in 2003 and the heavens did not fall.
Okotie's undying interest in the race and those of Pat Utomi in the past is a glimmer of hope for the future of the nation's politics. It is a beacon of positive persuasion that beckons on other sound minds of Nigeria to be part of this game and possibly push out the hoodlums that parade as born-to-rule.
The history of Okotie, Utomi, Fawehinmi and others who joined the race to oust the hijackers and apostles of political terrorism is a long one that smiles on the future of the nation.
If I am given the opportunity to vote and assured that my vote will count, I won't waste time to vote Okotie. Other contestants of his clan I would willingly cast my vote for is Utomi. They are the sane minds of Nigerian politics, change agents for good, and the courageous sincere contenders. They are propelled by genuine intentions and have demonstrated it in their quests.
If only the INEC boss, Prof. Attahiru Jega, by his antecedents can live up to the expectation of entrenching real electoral system, we will be happy with him wishing it will happen in our life time when men of deep minds, without any dent of theft or murder to their names would take over and heal the bleeding land.