By Chijioke Okeagu
Ordinarily, it would have been best to ignore the uninformed and inconsequential treatise on the aspiration of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar for the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential ticket for the 2023 general elections but for the obvious need to unbundle the mischief in Kassim Afegbua’s scheme.
According to Afegbua’s statement titled “2023: Atiku and the Age of Methuselah Politics” the former commissioner in Edo State under Adams Oshiomhole and erstwhile aide of the former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, posited that “it will be immoral for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to continue to express interest in seeking election in the 2023 presidential election having attained the retirement age.”
When President Buhari signed the “Not Too Young To Run” bill on 31st of May 2018, we did not see any clause in it that says age is now a disease or an impediment to anyone aspiring to be anything in our country, Nigeria. The bill signed is “Not Too Young To Run,” not “the elderly must die.”
We have listened and watched with nauseating amusement, the fixation on age as the only parameter, especially to the high office of the presidency, under some silly assumption that the presidency of Nigeria is a stone quarry where the occupant is expected to use Stone Age Tools to chip mountains into chips for building.
Can Afegbua and his paymaster get busy and come to the table with ideas and snap out of these bully tactics directed at the elderly.
As said by a concerned Nigerian, No one is stopping anybody from aspiring for any office of their liking. We do not have an age ceiling on eligibility to contest.
Have we not seen wet trees die while the dry ones live much longer? The mortality experience of humans does not justify this lazy frenzy. Do the young not die just as much as the elders? Do the infirmities of health not affect all humans?
The reality of what the contest demands will manage the garrulousness of infantile lackeys of the kindergarten wannabes. Shall we not examine their scorecards on the assignments and opportunities granted them before now? Sure Nigerians will do it!
We know those younger leaders that can bring something to the table, and we know the unstable over-ambitious office seekers who are simply deceiving themselves. Time will tell.
Afegbua thinks he is smart by trying to wrap his paid campaign for one of the aspirants in sectional or rather regional sentiment. Hear him, “Given PDP’s doctrine of political power balancing and fairness, it will be against its own unwritten rule to cede the ticket to any Northern aspirant least of all Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“It will offend national sentiments, emotions and logic for anyone from the North to show such interest given our diversities and heterogeneous political configurations.
“For me, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should quit his quest for presidency and support a southern Nigerian candidate in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice that will assuage the feelings of stakeholders from the Southern part of Nigeria”, he had bellowed.
On the surface, Kassim’s posits sounds like a patriotic suggestion, but below the surface, it is an obvious vengeance mission by a man that could best be described as an ‘adult almajiri’.
On what pedestal is Afegbua standing to tell the PDP who or where to zone the party’s presidential ticket to? Is he still a member of the PDP or he is just trying to buy his way back to the party he ridiculed and was eventually expelled from in Edo state?
He has no moral ground to lay claim to membership of PDP. So, describing himself as a chieftain of the PDP is dubious and an outright insult on the sensibilities of the party leadership in Edo state. Afegbua is well known in the state for his anti party activities for lucre. And his latest antics is to drop left, right and centre the name of the former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida, whom he does not even see nor discuss any political issue all these with the thinking he can use that to intimidate politicians in both PDP and APC in the state.
As he has been telling whoever wants to listen that his anger against the former vice president is that Atiku massively supported Governor Obaseki who denied him the opportunity to be selected as his deputy governor. How do you reconcile that the same Oshiomhole, whom Afegbua served and who knew his penchant for betrayal was the same person who dissuaded Obaseki from considering him for the deputy governorship ticket?
Afegbua should name his own candidate and campaign for the person instead of maligning a man who has an accomplished record of public service. How much was he paid to pen this nonsense?
Atiku cannot be described with the same words Afegbua used for the incumbent president saying “With the abysmal performance of President Muhammadu Buhari on account of age, incompetence and lack of capacity and political will to take deliberate and sustained action to bail out the country from all manner of challenges.”
Atiku is not old for the job. Biden, Trump and Pelosi are older than Atiku yet they were elected to serve. Atiku is healthy and has some workable ideas on how to turn around the mess the present government has thrown Nigeria into.
Thankfully each and every one that is qualified is free to aspire.
Okeagu is a political commentator and wrote from Owerri