The setting as it concerns next year’s presidential election is getting very complicated.
At least by now, nobody could lay a finger with certitude on how the poll would pan out ultimately. There seems to be movement towards a balance of political forces in the polity.
Consequently, it is not easy to predict the possibility of a clear winner. Based on emerging indices, it would take the more than 80 million registered voters or less than that number that obtained the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), to decide which among the three forces, represented by three candidates-two men and a woman- that would come out tops on February 19, 2019.
There are also two other emerging forces namely the ‘super bikers’ (candidates of youth-based platforms) and wilderness candidates (capable lone-rangers on weak platforms), but whether they could galvanise into serious contenders would be seen from November 1, 2018, when the youth wing, or the super bikers come out with a position.
The incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, who emerged as the consensus candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), comes from the jaded constituency of the military, while Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) comes from the fold of the established civilian political class.
Making up the third leg of the frenzied build up to the 2019 presidential election is the former Vice President of World Bank, African Division, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who unarguably comes from the powerful bloc of the womenfolk.
Despite her emergence on the relatively young political platform of Action Congress Party of Nigeria, (ACPN), Dr. Ezekwesili is not an obscure character or an unknown quantity in Nigeria’s public space.
Prior to her declaration to contest for the office of president, Oby has been in office in Nigeria first as a director in in the Debt Management Office (DMO), where she made a name for herself as Madam Due Process, on account of her contributions to the sanitizing of the procurement process and contract awards.
She was later appointed Minister of Solid Minerals and Education respectively. At each of those posts, Oby left marks of distinction including legislations such as BPP and NEITI.
But, out of appointive office, she caught national attention when alongside other women, including the irrepressible Aisha Yesufu, convened the BringBackOurGirls group to retain the abduction of 219 schools from Girls Secondary School Chibok, by the Boko Haram terrorists.
Armed with an impressive resume and endowed with sound intellect and courage, it is obvious that Dr. Ezekwesili’s entry into the 2019 presidential election would alter a lot of calculations, even to the extent of disrupting the electoral history of the country.
Mrs. Ezekwesili’s declaration that she is the presidential race to win should not be trifled with or dismissed.
The aptness of such a caution came to light recently when the former KOWA Party presidential candidate, Oluremi Sonaiya, who gave a good account of herself during the 2015 poll, came out boldly to throw her support behind the #Hope2019 campaign of Mrs. Ezekwesili.
Sonaiya declared that in terms of her pedigree, Ezekwesili’s foray into politics is one of the best things that has happened to Nigeria, stressing: “When a person like Oby throws in her hat into this whole contest, for me, that is a game changer. I am in support of her candidature.”
The KOWA Party candidate expressed her willingness and preparedness to shelve her presidential ambition to lead the vanguard of support for Ezekwesili.
She recalled her earlier promise to step down “if I emerged as the candidate for my party and Ezekwesili comes up.”
As the leading female candidate in the 2019 presidential race, Ezekwesili is hinging her candidacy on the hope of “lifting over 80 million Nigerians out of poverty and making prosperity possible for every Nigerian citizen.”
While Madam Remi Sonaiya’s endorsement conveys the idea of a possible gender alliance to challenge the political status quo of the country, the convergence of a lot of factors could work in Ezekwesili’s favour.
A curious aspect of Madam Due Process’ presidential ambition is the coincidence of its expression at a time that most enlightened women have decided to take the destiny of their political future in their hands.
Recently, a coalition of Ezekwesili various women groups came together to deprecate the condescending treatment meted to female politicians across political parties in the country during the election primary season, whereby women could not make it after spending huge sums to purchase nominations.
Irked by what they called systematic discrimination against women participation in politics through the denial of access to the electoral process, the women launched the ‘No Woman No Vote’ campaign with the objective of denying male candidates of females’ votes.
Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, who addressed a press conference to flag off the campaign, said the advocacy is meant to use the large population of women to ensure that more women get into elective positions.
According to her, “the objective is to ensure that women are given respect in Nigeria’s political space.
As the primaries have been concluded, we demand that the leadership of all political parties consider submitting the names of all the women unfairly treated during the primaries as replacements for the fraudulently submitted names of men.
We also demand that all governorship candidates select women as their deputies to make up for the shoddy treatment of women in the primaries.
Failure to do these two things will see us mount a sustained campaign asking women not to vote for any ticket that does not have a woman as running mate.
Also, women will be mobilized to vote for women in all constituencies where a woman is on the ballot regardless of party affiliation.
Our “No Woman No Vote” campaign has come to stay and we shall be organizing different activities between now and the 2019 general elections to drive home our point.
The era of impunity in the treatment of women in our political space is over, as we declare that enough is enough.”
The Ezekwesili challenge
ON no other presidential ticket than Oby for President, could Nigerian women say a definite enough is enough in Nigeria politics.
Prior to joining the presidential race, Oby had toured round Nigeria, sensitizing voters on the crucial need to put a stop to the recycling of corrupt leaders that have kept the country in perpetual bondage and retrogression.
Also, through the Red Card Movement, the former World Bank Vice President drew national attention to the harm corrupt politicians were doing to nation and mobilized the populace to reject such leaders that have infested the system with impunity and graft.
Among the three front row presidential candidates, only Ezekwesili would be running on her sterling credentials devoid of any stain of official corruption or primitive accumulations of illicit wealth.
While President Buhari would be taken to task about some prominent corrupt persons that oiled the machinery for his electoral victory in 2015 and his accommodation of corrupt persons in his cabinet, the PDP presidential flag bearer has the age-old incubus of perceived corruption hanging on his neck
The innovative work she did at the DMO remains evergreen and it is a very credible sign that the monster of corruption could be exorcised through effective system and foolproof procedures. As an accountant, Oby Ezekwesili knows what it takes to plug loopholes and eliminate waste in public finance.
In the contest of ideas that would dominate the electioneering season, Nigerians would be forced to acknowledge that for the first time a woman that knows what leadership is all about has chanced on the polity.
With a combination of her agenda and gender, Oby is sure to capture maximum public attention and seize of the moment to usher in a quiet paradigm shift in Nigeria’s leadership selection process.
For sometime now the idea of a third force in the nation’s political configuration has been canvassed as a way out of the predominance of otiose and unaccountable leadership in the two main political parties, APC and PDP.
It is obvious that Nigerians are tired of the recycling of visionless puppets of political godfathers and the introduction of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and Card Readers to the country’s electoral process would come handy in the forthcoming election.
This is where the Ezekwesili alternative would emerge as the game changer. As the presidential candidate of ACPN, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, is sure to harvest the protest votes from disenchanted Nigerian, the bloc votes from women and youth demographics as well as votes for her consistency in social engineering, patriotism and politics of ideas.
While supporters of Buhari and Atiku seem enmeshed in name calling and other unedifying political escapades, Ezekwesili’s blueprint for countrymen and women to occupy the office of the citizen and take back their country is already serving as a rallying point for the emerging new thinking in nation building and demand for good governance.
Come February 16, 2019, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili would emerge as the surprise third force envisaged in Nigeria’s polity? With Ezekwesili as a credible alternative, the women movement is gathering momentum with the Due Process Amazon leading the battle.