FeaturedPolitical AffairsStrategic Opinions

So Many Are Too Crazy to Run, By Jibrin Ibrahim

I find the request from Buba Marwa, head of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to political parties to support the idea that all aspirants for political office be brought for a drug integrity test very reasonable. Of course, he is asking the parties to accept the tests voluntarily because there is nothing in our laws to compel aspirants take such a test. I was impressed to learn that two parties, the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) have already accepted the challenge. Nigerians should put pressure on the other parties to also accept – that it is in the national interest that drug addicts should not be allowed to run our national or state affairs and that the numerous individuals rumoured to be deep into substance abuse should be kept out of power and the control of national resources.

In its response to the NDLEA, the PRP recommends that in addition to the drug integrity tests, aspirants should also undergo psychiatric evaluation. This is another brilliant idea. Like most Nigerians, I have seen video clips circulating in the media and social media where aspirants for presidential and gubernatorial offices are acting as if they are lunatics and some of them might indeed be mad. Again, we need to ensure that mentally challenged compatriots are provided help in medical facilities rather than being left to run our government houses.

The third concern is that too many hardened criminals have been allowed to hold the reins of power and many more are seeking to get there. Currently, there are petitions against some aspirants claiming they have criminal records and a number of them are reported to have spent time in jail in the United States for their criminal activities. These are the people who have been gradually transforming governance in our dear country into a criminal enterprise. We know from the Hansards of the National Assembly that the late Senator Nuhu Aliyu, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police has affirmed that he found many of the criminals he was investigating for prosecution as “distinguished” colleagues of his when he was elected into Senate. We must break the drift of our politics into the arena of criminal enterprise.

Outside the drug addicts, madmen and criminals seeking office, we are currently witnessing public office holders, the Vice President, State Governors, Ministers and Commissioners on the road travelling all over the country seeking nomination for various offices. For the Vice President and the Governors, there is the excuse they were elected and have a time bound mandate so they should not be expected to resign. Ministers certainly have no such excuse. President Buhari has made it explicit that his ministers must not be compelled to resign to contest for primaries and almost refused to sign the Electoral Act on that score. While in 2019, he asked his ministers wishing to contest to resign, this time, given his refusal to do same, it is his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that has announced it will disqualify the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, from contesting in the party’s primaries slated for May 30 and June 1, 2022. The three ministers are running for the presidency on the platform of the APC but are yet to comply with the provisions of the party’s new guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections by resigning their positions as ministers three days to the deadline. There are also reports that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), would soon announce his intention to contest the Kebbi State governorship poll on the APC platform. APC’s new guidelines for nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections provide that all political appointees must resign 30 days to the party’s primaries or would be disqualified.

Currently, these ministers are busy running from state to state with government resources busy campaigning. They are not doing their official work and they are not allowing for a level playing ground for contest with their rivals who have to fund their campaigns from their own pockets. In this third month of the ASUU strike, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has just bought his expression of interest and nomination forms for 100 million naira and is busy in the campaign circuit. It is to prevent such divided loyalty and the abuse of government resources that all previous Presidents of the Forth Republic have demanded that their ministers resign from their positions before embarking on their campaigns.

Run, Nkoyo, Run

My good friend and fellow civil society activist, Hon (Amb) Nkoyo Toyo has become a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in Cross River State. She has been an active advocate in movements working for the expansion of our political space and encouraging greater participation of women in leadership. In preparation for the 2003 election, I worked closely with her and the then Women Leader of the PDP, Josephine Anenih to persuade all registered political parties to create more favourable conditions for the participation of women in elective politics. Our advocacy had mixed results and would be recounted on another day. What is clear however is that Nkoyo’s engagement in activism over the years has helped produce noticeable and positive strides and changes in many sectors of our society. Nonetheless, the numbers of women who participate on influential platforms of our polity remain miserably low. And this is despite the support women have made to building our democracy and their ongoing determination to significantly affect the way politics advances their interest. 

Nkoyo Toyo has lived a life of service to community and country. Her focus has always been on the deepening of democracy by making it more inclusive of women and young persons. She has the type of profile that makes her a democratic actor and therefore a good candidate for public office. I wish her the very best as she engages in this epic contest to become the next and the first female governor of Cross River State. That male-only glass ceiling must be broken.

Leave a Reply