Running mate quagmire: The need for Abacha’s vice-presidential proposal

Politics is a game of scheming that one plans to out-smart his/her opponents by deploying all kinds of tactics and/or tricks. This might be one reason war time British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, defined politics as “governance by deception”. Another reason is also why politics is often called a dirty game. Despite being the dirtiest game on earth, we humans tend to like the game more than any other one, which is why Plato referred to humans as “animals”, but social in nature. We are all into this dirtiest game with the sole purpose of establishing government and leading our societies out of the woods to a more prosperous life. But it all depends on the nature of the humans that capture and run the government. Are Nigerian politicians capable of doing that without rancour? Going into historical lanes will provide the answer for someone, which Nigerians will not like.

Since the attainment of political independence from Britain, our politics and political structure resembled that of Mother Britain! That is, we practiced a parliamentary system of government, which is less rancorous than our presidential system that encourages winner takes all syndrome. During the first republic when Nigeria was practicing a parliamentary system of government, our politics was dominated by regionalism, rather than religion which is the dominant factor of our politics today.

Since the emergence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) as the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the national political temperature was raised to its highest ever level for no reason except for the position of running mate or vice-presidential candidate. This is due to the fact that BAT hails from the South of river Niger, thus, they believed that only people of Christian faith should emerge from the South of Nigeria as presidential candidates!

Nigerian media is the guiltier for creating the notion that only Christians can emerge from the South as presidential running mate, while only Muslim presidential candidate should hail from the North. This has forced our elite to embrace and build a reckless and unconventional tradition that whenever a presidential candidate hails from the North and a Muslim, the vice-presidential candidate must hail from the South. This unconventional wisdom sold to the elite and the nation in general, went further to make almost all national or presidential appointees based on North and South, Islam and Christianity. This is despite the fact on ground from the regime of General Yakubu Gowon (though not elected). With the exception of General Hassan Usman Katsina, all the rest of Gowon’s Supreme Military Council (SMC-which is the highest ruling organ) were Christians. The administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Yes, Shagari a Muslim from the North, had a vice from the South and Christian. That is all. The chairman of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was a Christian, the then president of the Senate was a Christian, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives was a Christian. The chief of defence staff, chief of army staff, chief of naval staff, chief of Air staff, and the inspector general of police were all Christians! Just flip the coin, to have an administration that only the president is a Christian. What would be the reaction of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN? Your guess might be the same with mine.

Since late June this year when APC conducted its presidential primaries, CAN and some very few disgruntled elements in the Nigerian political landscape have let hell loose. CAN particularly has been at the forefront of the agitation for a Christian vice president. This is despite the fact that both CAN and her allies in the APC, APC Northern Christian Leaders Summit, vigorously campaigned for Tinubu against a well-known Pastor Yemi Osinbajo. Thus, what does CAN want us to believe they are championing? CAN has been using different fora for its agitation, and sometimes with serious security risk, which if coming from an ordinary citizen, that person would have been visiting the yellow house at the corner of the three arms zone. But it is CAN. According to Thisday newspaper, CAN national secretary general, Rev. Joseph Bade Daramola, said “… deliberate action to plunge the country further into religious violence and extremism and destroy the foundations of the continuation of the Nigerian state” (emphasis mine). Thus, one wonders if our politicians have the right of their personal choice? Whatever choices they make, there are consequences from the electorate on election day. Period. Several times, CAN officials have been telling us that Nigeria is a secular state. Thus, why are they insisting on a Christian vice president, if truly the country is a secular state?

This is where late General Sani Abacha outsmarts our politicians! If our politicians were honest, frank, and sincere to themselves and ordinary citizenry of the country, this running mate quagmire would have been avoided. It was during the late General Abacha constitutional conference (1994/1995) that the current six geopolitical zones were introduced in the country. There was a proposal for six vice presidents, one from each of the six geopolitical zones, all in an attempt of being fair and just to each section of the country. But to the true colour of Nigerian politicians, they trashed the constitution entirely, for their personal interest, and here we are today. Today, Abacha, despite this foresight, is the most maligned leader of all Nigerian leaders.

Not only CAN, but individual persons are also contributing to heating the polity for nothing. Individual people of questionable character, are now championing religious causes. These are people that in a sane clime, they should be behind bars for the crime they committed against the people of Nigeria and the state itself. But here in Nigeria of PMB, they even got the chance to open their gutter mouths. These are persons that have various scandals in the open market of Nigeria. We are all witnesses to the N544 million grass cutting scandal.

Thus, if Nigerian politicians have any decency, they would have tremendous respect for late Abacha for the fact that the six vice presidents based on the six geopolitical regions his regime proposed for the country would have addressed a lot of issues in our politics. What we are experiencing right now in regards to running mate, as well as what we experienced when the late President Umar Yar’aduwa was bed ridden, the doctrine of necessity will not have been necessary in the first place. But to the chameleon colour of Nigerian politicians, still they did nothing good out of Abacha’s proposal, particularly those whose character is to lie and ride on the so-called “June 12” crusaders. Honour needs to be accorded where it is deserved. Period. And General Abacha is laughing at all Nigerian politicians from his grave. May Allah forgive you General, Ameen.

Abdullahi writes from Texas, United States via [email protected]