24th November, 2010
By Dapo Thomas
The period of election is an apt moment for experiments. It is the right time to fulfil destiny. It is the best time to take a risk. It is the time for gambling and weird configurations. It is the best time to study, understand and experience the relationship between politics and mathematics. In politics, things are not as they seem. In mathematics, figures are what they are. The period of election, therefore, is the time when politicians marry, juggle and match illusions with visions and deception with perception. Simply put, the best time to realise dream and make real, elemental hallucinations.
Today, I am throwing up an experiment. I am contemplating a dangerous and complex matchmaking that is full of intrigues and riddles. It may not be as simple as it seems and may, depending on its outcome, produce the cataclysm for the nationâ€™s many vices. I am thinking of the possibility of pairing Nuhu Ribadu and Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the present governor of Lagos State, for the ACN presidential ticket. Ordinarily, most people seem not to give the ACN any chance of winning the presidential election. But as a student of history, I have come to appreciate the fact that victory in any election transcends the realm of human comprehension. Although certain human elements may be considered relevant, the intervention of a celestial hand cannot be ignored. The Otedola and Obama victories remain proofs that divine intervention is crucial to peopleâ€™s rise to certain positions meaning, in politics, illusion can produce reality.
The ACN already has a fort right, credible, popular and an electable presidential candidate in Nuhu Ribadu. The only way to complement this choice is by ensuring that his deputy is also somebody with high political value and impeccable performance profile. My only choice is Fashola. Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo State, is another candidate but his tenure is still running. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is not available, having just retrieved his mandate. Rauf Aregbeshola is another resourceful person but he is still pursuing his mandate in Osun. Ribadu and Fashola are two young dynamic and irreproachable individuals who are determined to redefine the concept of service and governance in Nigerian politics.
Nuhu Ribadu, as the chairman of EFCC, waged a relentless war against corruption. In the process, he stepped on powerful toes, nay feet. He pursued and chased corrupt public officials into the valley of shame. He exposed them. He ruffled them and brought them to justice to strip them of their loot. He sprinted after 419ers who were tarnishing the image of the country with their nefarious deals. But later, power changed hands and he lost out. He was fortunate not to have lost his life but he lost his job and was made to flee for a while to save his head from these hunters of fortune. He is back to continue from where he stopped but in a higher and different capacity.
Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), is the rave of the moment when it comes to good governance. The young manâ€™s style, achievements and giant strides have become the envy of many and, indeed, he has become a model to other governors. He has become a honey-pot with both the local and international media, raving about his performance in such glowing terms. His economic and health care policies have become a blueprint for millennium governance. His profile has soared to such level that people now see him as a presidential material. The way and manner he executed the Lagos agenda initiated by his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, shows that he now has the maturity and political sagacity to undertake a national assignment.
The combination of these two individuals of great youthfulness and vibrancy may be the alchemy that Nigeria needs to get itself back to the path of greatness.
However, achieving this arrangement may not be an easy task. There are some human and natural obstacles that will have to be addressed and dismantled before this can be possible. Nuhu Ribadu will definitely love this unique pairing knowing how much admiration and respect he has for Fashola. He knows that Fashola is not only intelligent, hard-working and progressive-minded, but that his track record and performance profile will boost and enhance their political value and chances at the polls.
But will Fashola embrace this idea? I doubt it. He is much enthusiastic about an encore in Lagos State that an arrangement different from the one that will return him as the governor of Lagos State will not offer any attraction. Besides, he and his supporters may see it as a ploy by the Tinubu group to get him out of Lagos House and send him on a wild goose chase. Tinubu and the ACN will therefore have to explain to Fashola and his supporters that the party is more interested in the national project than any local glory. They should make it known to them that pairing Fashola and Ribadu is for the greater good of the party and more of a reward for Fasholaâ€™s good job in Lagos State than any form of punishment for his insolence or face-off with Bola Tinubu. Abubakar Atiku, Umar Yarâ€™Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo have been beneficiaries of this kind of political arrangement.
Atiku was governor-elect of Adamawa State when Obasanjo picked him as his vice and it worked. Jonathan Goodluck was the governor of Bayelsa State when Obasanjo made and installed him as Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s vice. Yarâ€™Adua himself was the governor of Katsina State when Obasanjo Umoruised him for presidential office. Namadi Sambo was the governor of Kaduna State when Goodluck appointed him as his vice to complete Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s tenure. Now, the two of them are seeking election on the same ticket to commence their own tenure.
For Fashola and his supporters to decline this genuine gesture under any guise will be unfair to all the progressives in this country who believe that this solid pairing is the surest way of giving the PDP a good run for their money and the only way to muster a credible opposition against the ruling party.
In previous elections, the ANPP was a major opposition to the PDP but at the moment, the ANPP is as good as dead with so many vultures feeding on its carcass. This explains why the ACN has been the major strategic beneficiary of numerous migrations or is it defections from other parties including the PDP?
I understand that one of the reasons for adding â€˜Nâ€™ to AC to make it read Action Congress of Nigeria was to let people know that the ACN was not a Yoruba party out to promote Yoruba agenda. Rather, it is a party with new ideas and visions as conceptualised by the countryâ€™s democrats and progressives. And its objective is to disengage from power all the unrepentant looters of the nationâ€™s treasury.
Again, the crisis in the PDP, particularly on the issue of zoning and the stalemates dotting the partyâ€™s congresses all over the states, are indications that there would be massive defections from the PDP and large scale anti-party activities likely to snowball into protest voting during election. These are the scenarios that the ACN should work on by ensuring that it presented a credible ticket that the people would see as a viable alternative. And the only way to do that is to encourage, facilitate and engineer the Ribadu-Fashola ticket. Shying away from this arrangement on the simple excuse that some people may grumble or read meaning into it is to succumb to cheap blackmail and squander the opportunity to bring the nation from the brink of disaster.
Another advantage that the ACN has to capitalise on is the Jega factor in INEC. Unlike the Iwu era when peopleâ€™s votes never counted, Jonathan and Jega have kept assuring us that the principle of one-man, one-vote would be allowed to work. With the judiciary having demonstrated the capacity to right electoral wrongs and revert electoral victory secured through fraud and manipulations, I think the ACN does not have any excuse not to defeat the PDP in the 2011 elections because it is obvious that the people are tired of the PDP and I am convinced that they will excitedly and joyfully embrace the Ribadu-Fashola ticket without reservations.
What then happens to Fasholaâ€™s position in Lagos State? Simple. This writer has listed possible successors in an earlier piece. But emerging political calculations have led to the formulation of new electoral permutations. Jimi Agbaje, who was not captured in that list can easily move back to ACN from DPA since he was and still is a progressive democrat with popular acceptability and extensive political networking. He is a benign gentleman of aristocratic puritanism. His closeness to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu may facilitate his reabsorption into the party. He has the manoeuvrability and the personality to fit in easily into the ACN structure. Because of his good-naturedness and affable mien, Lagosians will definitely love to vote for him as the governor of the state.
But if this is not working for one reason or the other, let the elders look at the credentials and political profiles of people like Yemi Cardoso a former commissioner under Tinubu, Gbenga Ashafa a permanent secretary in Fasholaâ€™s government, Ganiyu Solomon, a senator (ACN) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Tunji Bello, the managing director of LASAA and Akin Kekere-Ekun, the chairman of LASU Governing Council and a host of others.