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2023: If I were a delegate

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WALE ADEDURO 

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) shut the door for the submission of expression of interest and application forms for elective positions on the night of Friday, May 13, 2022. The jostling for various elected offices has now moved to another phase in APC. In a few days, all the politicians who have submitted their duly completed nomination forms to APC will go through a screening process. The political gladiators who pass through the needle’s eye of the respective screening Committees will be qualified for the delegate’s primary elections.

 

Historically, primary elections which started with the progressive movement in the United States, are aimed at taking the power of candidate nomination from party leaders to the people. Whoever is favored by the majority of the delegates during primaries becomes the flag bearer of the party for a particular office. There will be a few winners and many losers. This is the expected outcome of the party primaries in all the political parties in Nigeria throughout next week.APC is leading the way by holding its party primaries on May 30 and 31, 2022 for the Presidential aspirants. Primaries for other offices would come up a week earlier.

 

By design, the delegates of every party are saddled with the responsibility of determining who will be presented to Nigerians for elections. Delegates in APC, as in the other registered Political parties in Nigeria, are very powerful. A measure of their perceived influence can be viewed from how a few serious-minded politicians have been visiting the delegates around the States in Nigeria, explaining why they should get the votes of the delegates.

 

As seductive as being a delegate is, the privilege imposes onerous burdens on each delegate. If I were a delegate in any party where primaries will take place, I would have been experiencing trepidation by now. If I were a delegate in APC my anxiety would multiply because the stakes are higher than if they were in the finals of the Olympics competitions. The enormity of what is at stake for a delegate in APC consists of what I call the burdens of delegates. There are five main burdens of APC delegates. They are political, moral, cultural, preservation, and Generational in dimensions.

 

POLITICAL BURDEN 

A huge political burden sits squarely on the shoulders of every delegate as he or she will walk into the booth to cast his or her vote in the open-secret ballot system. Every party fields candidates for general elections to win. As a delegate, I shall consider the fact that my party, the APC has only had a chance to be at the helm of power for only seven years in Nigeria while the main opposition party has spent an unbroken period of sixteen years. In that moment of truth, I shall cast my vote for a man who has what it takes to win an election based on popular acceptance. Since the build-up to Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, one man has towered above all in attracting popular acceptance, support and crowds everywhere he has visited in Nigeria. Popularity is important to winning a Presidential election. We all remember how, close to the 2015 Presidential elections, the buzzword was, “Sai Baba!”. Today, the buzzword in every state of Nigeria is “Osinbajo!”.

 

Going by what we are hearing, at least 14 Governors out of the 22 Governors elected on the platform of APC endorsed thenomination form of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. If these 14 Governors are able to influence delegates from their respective States then it will be an exercise in futility for any delegate to cast his vote on a dead horse. If I were an APC delegate I would vote for the individual who reportedly has the highest endorsements from the Governors in my party.

 

MORAL BURDEN 

Nigerian politics is generally perceived as murky. It is also characterized by money sharing, stomach infrastructure where bags of rice and salt are shared as well as the manipulation of facts, figures and the minds of the masses. Yet, anyone who chooses to stand for his or her convictions is a real patriot. Morality still has its place in politics. If I were a delegate I would hold dear my high principles for proper conduct and do only what I believe is right for Nigerians and the future of Nigeria. I will cast my vote for a candidate who is principled, just, and fair-minded. I will use the current case of Deborah Samuel who was gruesomely murdered in ShehuShagari College of Education Sokoto by students who accused her of blaspheming Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for posting “Jesus o!” on a class group WhatsApp platform. While other contenders for the position of President have kept mute, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has unequivocally condemned the criminal act of mobbing Deborah Samuel to death. This shows that Osinbajo has a strong principle about what is right or wrong. He also spoke out during the #Endsars protests across Nigeria in 2020 when another notable political gladiator voted with his weak feet into hiding. An elder who cannot publicly condemn the murder of an innocent girl should not be trusted with the destinies of Nigerian youth.

 

CULTURAL BURDEN

There is also an inescapable cultural burden of taking a decision that ensures that Nigeria is transformed into a united nation with growth opportunities for all. This is what a typical delegate in American politics considers when he or she steps out to vote during primaries. By his conduct, Osinbajo has proven that he is a unifier and a bridge builder. His foremost advocate for the office of the President is Senator Kabir Gaya, who represents Kano-South in the Senate. Senator Gaya also doubles as the Coordinator of Osinbajo Support Groups. Commenting on the desire of Professor Osinbajo to be Nigeria’s next President, His Eminence Nteyin (Dr.) Solomon Etuk (JP) President General of Akwa Ibom State Traditional Council of Chiefs, who is also the Paramount Ruler, NsitUbium LGA said: “Your excellency sir, you are a symbol of love, peace and unity of this country.”

 

PRESERVATION BURDEN

Preserving the honor and dignity of Nigerians is imperative at this time. When the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out last February, most of our young adults studying in Ukraine had a hard time entering most European nations because they were not well regarded. Nationals from Ghana, Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and other smaller nations were more favorably treated than those who carried Nigeria’s green international passport. If I were an APC delegate I will be guided by the line in our national anthem that affirms, “The labor of our heroes past shall never be in vain.” I would therefore vote for a man who I am sure values the dignity of Nigerians and honors the legacy of our past heroes. Osinbajo has amply demonstrated that he values the legacy of Nigeria’s past leaders. That is why he is committed to ensuring that Nigerians build “…on the foundation laid by our predecessors…” Any man who seeks to obliterate the great vision and work done by his forebears cannot birth a new order.

 

Osinbajo towers above others in this regard because he is taking his vision for Nigeria from the inspiring prism of the founding fathers of Nigeria. His declaration, “Let us now birth the expectation of greatness conceived many years before us” is instructive in this matter.

 

GENERATIONAL BURDEN 

Every leader must confront the reality of being a purveyor of bequeathing a legacy of hope, performance, and growth to the next generation. This imposes a generational burden on every delegate. If I were a delegate, I would cast my vote for the leader who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to deliver the dividends of democracy to all and sundry. He must not be a leader seeking to convert our common patrimony into his patriarchal estate of the mum and pop system of government. With the huge humanitarian work which Osinbajo did pioneering the social investment scheme for the masses and what he has done in the North East for the children of internally displaced persons (IDPs) using his personal resources and networks, it is clear that he sees the entire nation as his constituency. He is passionate about serving Nigerians. Osinbajo will not convert our natural resources into his personal assets. Moreover, he will not treat those who help him to achieve success, when he becomes President, as his slaves who must never aspire to greatness.

 

If I were a delegate I would know that it is time to do what is right for the future of Nigerians ignoring the sack of money or dollar notes tossed at me. Let all delegates vote based on their conviction that Nigeria needs an active, healthy, analytical but pragmatic intellectual as her next President.

 

Dr. Adeduro is a Productivity Consultant.

 

 

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