Kebbi 2023: A Choice Between Danjuma and Danjummai!
By Abdullahi Usman
POLITICS DIGEST- The ongoing “Conduct of Party Primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the Primaries” is a very important electoral activity on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the looming 2023 General Elections recently released by INEC on February 26, 2022. It is the third (3rd) in the series of fourteen (14) critical activities leading up to the conduct of the forthcoming general elections, beginning with the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 25, 2023, to be followed by the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections a fortnight after, on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
The general elections holding every four years in the country present the electorate with a welcome opportunity to elect and put in place a new government to preside over the affairs of the country and/or their respective states, expectedly based on informed judgement driven by their own sound assessment of the capabilities and/or competence of the myriad candidates on offer across all registered political parties on the ballot on election day. In practice, however, far too many individuals desirous of occupying the respective electoral positions on offer usually signify their interest to aspire to contest as candidates on the sole ticket reserved for their respective political parties for each of the stipulated positions on offer, necessitating the compelling need for the conduct of intra – party primaries to determine who amongst them eventually gets to occupy the reserved slot on the ballot as candidate.
As such, party primaries serve as the first level contest of sorts for electoral positions, albeit on an intra – party basis, ahead of the eventual inter – party electoral contest through which the electorate gets to decide who wins their majority vote to fill the respective positions on offer, and the primary task of determining who amongst the multitude of aspirants gets to that all – important second level contest rests squarely on the shoulders of the party delegates of each of the registered political parties. Party delegates, therefore, undoubtedly occupy a pride of place in the electoral scheme of things. As such, our never – ending struggle for the entrenchment of an enduring culture of free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process in the polity transcends whatever it is that INEC, as the legally recognised electoral management body, actively does or fails to do in the build up to, during and after elections.
It does, indeed, go right back to the conduct of the party delegates, individually and collectively, at party primaries, and arguably even before then. In actual fact, it sure precedes the primaries stage, in the sense that it should all conceivably start at the point of selection of the party delegates themselves, which is precisely where extra care needs to be exercised to ensure that only credible card – carrying party members with the strength of character and sound judgement to make informed choices ahead of the party primaries, as well of the courage of conviction to stand by and defend those choices on the day of the primaries and beyond, regardless of the level of threats or inducements that may be dangled in front of them to make them settle for obviously far less than quality aspirants.
That way, the electorate will be in a perfect position to elect the best amongst the credible candidates on offer across party lines on election day, with a view to moving the country and state forward for the next four years. And with the prevailing disheartening political atmosphere characterised by the manifest lack of defining lines in terms of both quality party manifesto and political ideology amongst virtually all registered political parties in the country, it is that expected informed choice by the party delegates that the electorate will subsequently rely upon to select from amongst hopefully the best candidate each party has to offer. However, a cursory look at the current happenings leading up to the conduct of the ongoing party primaries by the two leading political parties (one of them has shifted its own primaries by a week) in the state leaves much to be desired, especially as it pertains to the happenings around the conduct of the upcoming Governorship primaries in both parties.
Whatever may have happened or is currently still happening behind the scenes across the two political parties regarding the choice of candidate to fly their respective governorship flags come 2023 is well beyond the scope of this write up, but the optics around the activities leading up to the eventual determination of who gets to grab the ticket does not look inspiring at all. Indeed, none of the leading front-runners as at today, going by the body language of the major gladiators of the two main political parties and/or the leading factions/political tendencies in control thereof, inspires any confidence in terms of the anticipated much – needed quality leadership that the state so desperately desires come 2023 and beyond.
Whether or not the shenanigans currently playing out around the governorship candidate selection process in the two parties in reference represents a decidedly deliberate collaborative endeavour to foist lackluster candidates on the state come 2023 or, indeed, a mere coincidence remains a matter of conjecture at this point. But, either way, the looming outcome of the primaries will be most unfair on the state and its people, and the individuals and/or group(s) behind their impending emergence on the tickets of the respective parties will bear the primary responsibility for the fallouts of any possible unsavoury issues around their stewardship, in the likely event that the current attempts become a reality at both ends and either of them gets to win the election and become the Chief Executive in the end.
Indeed, as the popular saying goes, one will necessarily need to buy a ticket to stand any chance of winning the lottery, and even amongst the numerous aspirants that have gone right ahead to secure the all – important lottery ticket by way of purchasing and submitting the required Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms of their respective parties, these two individuals in reference cannot, in all honestly, be said to rank amongst the seventh or eighth decile class by any conceivable yardstick of measurement, and one is being very generous in this instance. Unfortunately, though, and as things stand now, unless something fundamentally radical happens between now and the scheduled date for the conduct of the Governorship primaries of the two parties during the week and next, the two leading aspirants may well end up clinching the tickets of their respective parties, leaving the electorate with the difficult choice of determining who amongst them will eventually get to have their vote come March 11, 2023.
Interestingly enough, a number of those propping up the two aspirants in the two parties and their respective supporters do acknowledge the glaring shortcomings of their preferred choices in private, arguing that they would support them with capable hands to help them run their government when they eventually come to power, prompting one to wonder aloud as to why on earth they would not take the more sensible approach of identifying one of such capable hands and promoting them for the position, instead. Already, the stage looks set to deliver the tickets of the two parties to these two individuals on a platter, and going by the now very familiar disturbing reports emerging from the conduct of the House of Assembly primaries of one of the political parties across several local governments yesterday, Sunday, May 22, 2022, during which delegates were reportedly locked away some 48 hours ahead of the date fixed for the primaries, thereby effectively denying access to them by all aspirants other than the anointed ones in their respective constituencies, the same scenario will undoubtedly play out again during the remainder of the primaries, including that for deciding who gets to clinch the Governorship tickets.
The most disturbing aspect of it all, though, is the fact that these familiar shenanigans, including the usual fiddling with the approved delegates lists for the conduct of the primaries, along with the open distribution of monetary and other kinds of inducements to the delegates, and the outright harassment of unmalleable ones, amongst many other similar infractions, all happen right under the noses of the supposedly impartial teams deployed to the respective states by the national Secretariat of the parties. Sadly, many of them often confer their individual and collective stamp of approval on a process marred by such grievous misconduct, in spite of the mounting weight of evidence to the contrary.
Insanity, as rightly posited by Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Our existing leadership selection template has woefully failed to deliver the expected results by way of providing the much – needed quality leadership across virtually all elective positions in the state, and the entire process is in dire need of a complete overhaul, beginning, first, with the delegates selection process itself. This, we can and must strive to accomplish by substantially raising the bar in terms of the minimum qualifying criteria for nomination and subsequent selection of party delegates across all the desired parameters to levels far beyond what obtains today.
A situation in which we continue to sit back and watch our practicing politicians entrust the onerous responsibility of selecting who gets to contest for important elective positions in the state as candidates to a set of people that regard party primaries as nothing more than a quadrennial harvest time, which they eagerly look forward to solely on account of the quantum of resources they expect to corner from those aspiring for elective positions, only for us to come back and agonize whenever things go wrong after the elections, as they most often do, is no longer tenable, and we need to rethink this ridiculous approach to the issues, going forward.
A cursory glance at the numerous social media platforms where those employed as social media warriors by our politicians, and for whom they budget and deploy a lot of resources to support and promote their preferred choices for elective positions will give one a fair idea of the kind of characters deciding our electoral fate during every electoral cycle. I came across a post on a social media platform just recently, where one of them who doubles as a party delegate in the ongoing primaries, proclaimed something to the effect that, “mu yanzu madugunmu kawai mu ke jira, kuma ko jaki ya kawo ya ce mu zab’e shi, Wallahi wannan jakin ne za mu zab’a!; meaning, in essence, “we are just waiting for the directive of our political leader, and even if he brings a donkey and ask that we vote for it, I swear to God it is that donkey that we shall vote for!”.
Of course, we all know for a fact just how donkeys are generally regarded amongst their counterparts in the animal kingdom from our own cultural perspective across the state, and while one does not necessarily expect whoever it is that this delegate was referring to as his (or their) political leader to bring a real donkey and ask them to vote for it as candidate, even a little child knows the negative import of applying the term “donkey” to describe a fellow human being. Therefore, whether in the literal or figurative sense, the liberal and open application of the term “donkey” on a public domain to refer to the quality or otherwise of an aspirant for elective position by that delegate, whom he had also sworn to vote for once his political leader so directs, reveals exactly the kinds of individuals deciding for us the quality of candidates we are expected to troop out and cast our votes for on election day every four years across most of our registered political parties, and little wonder we are precisely where we have found ourselves today!
That said, it stands to reason that going by the current trajectory of our ongoing 2023 electoral journey that has just recently began across the state and elsewhere, we may very well end up with the conceivable nightmare scenario of having to make that difficult proverbial choice between Danjuma and Danjummai, which does not really leave us with much of a choice, sadly. Unless, of course, the electorate in the state are discerning enough to cast their net a little bit wider in the direction of far more capable candidates of the numerous other political parties that will be on the ballot on election day, come March 11, 2023.
(Monday, May 23, 2022)