• Friday, July 19, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

2023: The invincibles and the vulnerables

The Nigerian youth: Caught between apathy and ambition

On this Thursday morning, as I am putting thoughts to paper on this pre-2023 season, the mind is crowded; possibly as crowded as the 40 or so presidential aspirants, who are hoping to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. What we are seeing would have been a comedy of sorts. But it is not.

This is because we are, in actual fact, dealing with the fates of over 200 million people. A lot is therefore at stake. What is beyond argument, however, is that anybody who has publicly declared that he wants to lead this country cannot be regarded as a light weight.

Or, to use the lingo of our brothers and sisters in the East, such an individual cannot be an ‘efulefu’. Indeed, such a person must belong to the class of the invincibles.

And mark you, what is being said here can easily be observed from the fact that most of those who have put themselves forward or are being egged on, as the initial narrative usually goes, are stupendously rich people. It will therefore not be wrong to call them the invincibles of our land.

Take a cursory look at the roll call. What you see are governors, former governors, a serving vice-president, and a media impresario, whose specialty is to focus on the rich and famous.

There is quite a lot of intellectual diet for our political sociologists here. It speaks in a way to what can be called the recruitment process to the highest office in the land.

On this score, what is beyond argument here is that, by and large, and to a very great extent, the governorship position is something of prerequisite for stepping into the presidential shoes. The governor of the apex bank is also to be counted among this exalted lot. There you have it.

Perhaps the only exception to much of the immediate foregoing is a politician like the former vice-president – an Atiku, who perhaps for the umpteenth time is also running for the same position.

And in what can be seen as a touch of comic relief, in faraway Ekiti State, one of the politicians decided to cast aspersion on the chances of another politician who is currently running for the position of governor in Ekiti.

This was done by describing the said governorship candidate as the Atiku of Nigerian politics. This is something of a double jibe here. It is at once a dig at Atiku, who happens to be a perennial presidential candidate, and the governorship hopeful in Ekiti, who is also on the lam perpetually.

But those involved in this rather expensive joke should watch it. For one never knows the minds of the gods about these things.

One sure way of appreciating this is to look at the career of the incumbent president himself. In times past, it was also easy to dub him as a perpetual presidential hopeful.

Today, however, he is firmly ensconced in the Villa. Such indeed are the ways of the gods, and as human beings, we cannot fathom what the divine has in store for each and every one of us.

We have also had other issues that border on the comical. But in fact, they speak more to the tragic dimension of life.

For instance, one of the front-runners, a veritable member of the invincibles, came forth with the rather startling announcement that if elected president, he would pay the fees of all the candidates sitting for the school certificate examinations. Horror of horrors!

Read also: Why 2023 should matter to Nigerians

I can almost hear the reader say. That in the midst of all the problems buffeting this country, this indeed is the priority of this political juggernaut.

However, he himself has since recoiled from this gaffe. And it must be said that since then, his depositions have been carefully choreographed to sound more presidential.

But those who are familiar with Nigerian politics will readily appreciate that another politician in the past once came forth this way. This was the late Braithwaite, whose initial deposition was that he was going to go after the cockroaches and rats in Nigeria with a view to getting rid of them.

Almost irreparably, his chances were damaged. But in the current dispensation, the situation is not as dire. The honourary man from Borgu, who seeks to replace Buhari, has since positioned himself in a better way.

What is evident, however, from much of the foregoing is that in this game of the invincibles, money, in stark terms, is really the name of the game. At the level of preliminaries, millions, if not billions, are involved.

The procurement of the nomination forms alone or expression of interest, as the saying goes, does not come cheap. Then the involvements with delegates, and of course the media positioning, which would be ably arranged by some of my colleagues out there. Indeed, if you read the newspapers carefully, such contributions can easily be seen.

Meanwhile, for effect, many of the presidential candidates are currently criss-crossing the land with the overall message, which goes thus: I am He… I am He…

However, in the midst of this hurly-burly, I was brought down to earth by one of the governors, a veritable member of the invincibles. He, of Ekiti State, was of the view that in this season of sober reflection, which is embodied in the fasting season that is being observed by adherents of the two faiths, it is incongruous that politicians are busy on the hustings.

I was brought down to earth, if only in an implicit sense. My thoughts were riveted on the dispossessed i.e. the vulnerables among us. At least one major component of the fasting season is that it forces even the invincibles among us to spare some thoughts for the vulnerables in our land.

Next week, we will focus, among other things, on these vulnerables and how they continue to be affected by the blandishments of the invincibles – even in this season of sober reflection, which is embodied on a day like this, Good Friday.

So see you on Monday for the rest of this stuff. Till then.