Your Excellencies, happy new year, all courtesies extended!
I must say very quickly that I am proud of all your individual efforts at developing your states. One can say without fear of equivocation that in terms of verifiable, tangible and impacting projects, you all have tried.
My reason for writing you this public letter is to call your attention to some salient facts, especially as we begin this Year 2022, being the penultimate year to the Year 2023, a year where highly defining make or mar elections will take place.
We all as Nigerians cannot pretend not to know how dire the situation in our country is currently. As such, as the real leaders of the main opposition, I consider it necessary to remind you of a few issues.
- The Ayu-led NWC cannot take forever to settle down.
Please do everything possible to aid their settling down. I would suggest that you collectively give them a budget, which can be generated via crowdfunding amongst yourselves and some stakeholders. It is best that these resources be monthly and consistent. Our immediate history where, with the exception of a few governors, others give nothing cannot truly be a responsible way to party sustainability.
Information and Media Management in the year preceding an election.
Whatever we don’t achieve this year in this regard will not be meaningful once campaign starts. I do not see the owned media on our side, compared to our rivals, who thrive on propaganda and have pre-invested heavily in media assets giving them an advantage.
It is best we play smart such that we can be effective. Messaging is better done when it is research-based. We cannot afford to be screaming on ourselves and pretending that we are speaking to the nation. In every significant movement of the mass of the people towards a residual decision making event, which is what voting requires (the buy-in of the electorate), we cannot assume we know what the electorate want or are thinking without research. I will take it for granted that you understand what I am trying to pass across.
- I have seen and heard us scream ‘Rescue Nigeria’ a lot that it is almost assuming the status of our campaign slogan. What does it really mean and can a political party that is not new to governance opportunities (1999-2015) act as though it is without its history? I would suggest that we gather professionals to look at this again. This is because in the face of a potential crossing of narrative and propaganda swords, it may not resonate. I may be wrong but my gut feeling tells me we need to look at this again. I have seen clearly the subtle direction that our rivals will follow and screaming ‘Rescue’ will not cut it. A word is enough for the very wise that I know you all are.
Zoning and its potential consequences. A political party cannot and must not play itself out of advantage. Elections are a numbers game. I fear that we will do more damage to the country if we in error assume that there are only 2 or 3 zones in this country. In fact and in truth, there are 6 zones in our country. This 6 zonal structure was brought into existence by the government of then Gen Sani Abacha primos to ensure national unity and stability.
The South West got the first take in this Democratic Dispensation with Olusegun Obasanjo (South West) between 1999-2007, followed by the short-lived administration of Umaru Yaradua (North West) from 2007-2009. May his soul continue to rest in peace. His death gave rise to the Goodluck Jonathan era (South South) 2009-2015, and of course, the Muhammadu Buhari regime (North West) 2015-date.
By 2023, three zones will be most eligible – South East, North East and North Central. We must avoid the danger of a baton passing between just the North West and the South West. This is way too risky. With the agitation of the South East now, we can least afford, as a country, this type of agitation from the other zones who as of right must feel a need to occupy the Number One Seat in the country.
In all of this, we have not matured enough as a country to think we can go this route. Remember our objective must be to form government because we believe we can “rescue” the country. We must look at the numbers well and play smart. I have refused to suggest where we should look, believing that I am speaking to leaders. May common sense prevail.
- The would-be candidate to be backed. One major consideration must be who can get the job done, who can unite the country, who can assemble a great team and who can hit the ground running from day one. By the time the APC government of President Buhari is done, we will be in so much debt. The value of our Naira will be so low, underemployment and unemployment will be so high, the desperation of a high youth population will be so high that we can least afford a kindergarten president and commander in chief. Everyone wants to be President after Buhari but not everyone can do the work that a post-Buhari President will be called upon to do. Presidential powers and privileges mean nothing if the prerequisite experience is absent. We cannot jump from frying pan to fire.
Our Federalism, we must subscribe to the idea of restructuring.
It is beyond clear that we cannot continue to pretend that we do not know the meaning of the word. That would be playing the ostrich. A nation must be at peace with itself before it can become the country of its dream. The size of our population and the diversity of our cultures demand that we figure out how to become a rainbow country where the constituent parts can increase their pace of development without the systemic slowing down of each part, based on the slightly different developmental trajectory each wishes to follow. More powers and responsibilities must be given to the constituent parts that make the whole.
A political party cannot and must not be only for the highest bidder.
There is a need to make the party more accommodating for women and young people and, as I see, it comes down to the high cost of prosecuting elections. We must, in line with our slogan, become a party for the people. What is observed in our state structures is despicable. It must be corrected. Power must be shared in a democracy and not placed in the hand of any individual, no matter how rich they may be, usually from ill gotten wealth – high level corruption, tax evasion and other sharp practices.
We must never shy away from looking at our state structures and reconciling them with proper democratic ideals. We cannot build something on a shaky foundation. Just let us take a cue from how deliberate our rivals are at managing the issues in their party. A hurried manipulative favoritism will not give us the desired result. A good example is Ogun State where Hon Ladi Adebutu has practically pocketed the party. I wonder how realistic it is for a person from the same ward as an incumbent to become the leader, candidate, owner of structure, and giver of election tickets. And this is done in the most annoying and meddlesome manner than a state with Ogun’s preeminence can take. I use this as an example of what exists in a few other locations.
Brevity is the charm of eloquence, so I will stop here. While I wish you fruitful deliberations, I have the highest regard for your abilities to consider these issues. I trust the capacity of your host, Gov. Nyesom Wike, to make your stay in the Garden City memorable.
Showunmi writes from PDP Itoko Ward 6 Abeokuta, Ogun State