Many don’t accept it’s fair to offer Nigerians who look forward to a promising time in the 2019 presidential poll this anti-climax in the form of two devils. The relief is that there are other candidates asking to be given a chance to govern us. The electors can break the jinx of a perennial two-horse contest in Nigeria’s politics.


The just concluded ‘presidential’ debate is incontrovertible proof that Nigerians must cast a revolt vote to throw out the two geriatric contenders, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress Congress (APC), and Abubakar Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next month’s poll. They failed to show up before Nigerians to evince their eligibility for our trust. That is where the relationship between the voter and the candidate begins. When it goes awry at that stage, where we should know each other with them intimating us, the electorate, about their visions and missions; it is inevitable that all else would go amiss with that partnership upon its consummation on ballot day. The morning shows the day, and the night, if I may add for sarcastic emphasis! The one who contemns your right to evaluate his fitness for your vote by refusing to debate is unwittingly giving early warning signs that he would be a consuming monster unaccountable to those who polled him into power! That’s a scary future if allowed to come upon us.

It makes me recall an earlier essay that came with a question: Will there be a revolt vote in 2019? In its slightly edited form today, following the debate that took place without Atiku and Buhari, I can answer affirmatively that we can do without the old duo; we should settle for the new face of Nigerian politics. The reasons we gave for questioning the senile order are still valid. So, here we go as I reproduce the piece…

It is impossible to arrive at a salutary outcome through a process flawed from Day One. But in Nigeria, we appear to be guided by the thinking that the result is more to be celebrated than how the event came about. The end can’t justify the means. A show, let it be the utmost in flamboyance, would always owe its success to its process and planning.

We have again begun to ignore these apparent platitudes as we head for a classic poll in 2019. The two warriors of the major parties – incumbent Muhammadu Buhari (APC) and Abubakar Atiku (PDP) have said so much about each other as to trigger grave concerns about our destiny being in the hands of either of them. Their handlers haven’t fared any better. They’ve fed us pitiful and painful portraitures of their personaes, which are pulling the mind apart.

Of Buhari, we have the picture of a colourless, clueless and clannish character. This is not my position. Atiku and his army of supporters critical of the president clothe him in that garment, hoisting him as one unfit to rule, not to talk of deserving a second term in office. When they speak of Buhari, they reach for expletives dug from hell, home of all that is despicable to man, beast and nature. They question his ‘integrity’, wondering if the word is different from the meaning reasonable everyday men and women attach to it. With regard to Buhari’s current travails over his inability to produce his secondary school certificate, the president’s political foes say his ‘integrity’ ought to come to the fore to persuade him to throw in the towel now or refuse to pursue a second term bid. They believe Buhari’s government has battered the economy and rendered it worse than what was on the ground in 2015. The conclusion of Atiku and his camp: the president is ‘smoke without fire’.

The president’s friends and sympathisers have been busier than bees in hitting back at Atiku. They see the former vice president as a corrupt person who isn’t satisfied with the loot he allegedly took when he served under Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007. They’ve asked Nigerians to be wary not to turn over our enormous resources to Atiku’s presidency as he would skin us dry and leave nothing for the generations to come. A skit mocking Atiku’s alleged thieving propensities is reported to have been produced by the Presidency and delivered to many homes to warn the electorate not to trust the man. Buhari’s handlers have repeatedly referred us to the judiciary of the United States of America, where they claim Atiku can’t visit because of corruption charges. They’ve retrieved old slanderous stuff to suggest that Nigeria would cease to exist the day we witness the ex-VP’s coronation as the president. Buhari’s verdict: Atiku is a consummate thief not suitable to oversee oil-rich Nigeria.

Of course, both are naysayers on these charges against each other. But observers say it’s neither here nor there to merely contemplate the accusations and denials as normal in a do-or-die election where the winner takes all. They declare that both sides present themselves as two evils the electorate must pick from. It’s a case of choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. Or is it a question of: better the devil you know? By their statements, they inadvertently admit they are two evils.

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Many don’t accept it’s fair to offer Nigerians who look forward to a promising time in the 2019 presidential poll this anti-climax in the form of two devils. The relief is that there are other candidates asking to be given a chance to govern us. The electors can break the jinx of a perennial two-horse contest in Nigeria’s politics.

The widely televised debate involving Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Democracy (ANN) and Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) revealed that Nigerians have a better and younger crop to harvest from on decision day on February 16. How more impressive the ingathering would be if we had the Tope Fasuas, Omoyele Sowores, Remi Sonaiyas and the other emergent voices to market themselves. After all, democracy isn’t a stale turgid tale or narrative. It has sweet twists and turns seasoned by surprise and revolt of language along with a dynamic displacement of faces, scenes and systems.

Banji Ojewale writes from Ota, Ogun State.