If Atiku (or anybody the PDP presents as a presidential candidate) is the only alternative to Buhari, then Buhari’s victory in 2019 will be a definite shoo-in, and that’s terrible for the future of Nigeria. As a political party, PDP is a hopelessly damaged brand.
It’s too soon to forget the agonizing blight that the party inflicted on Nigeria. However one tries, it’s hard to get past the insufferable arrogance, insensitivity, and impunity of the henchmen of PDP. To be sure, APC (which is actually old PDP in a new bottle) is continuing where PDP stopped. In fact, APC is a crueler, less transparent, and more sinister monster than its older PDP brother. That’s why presenting Nigerians with a choice between PDP and APC is a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.
Like Buhari, Atiku has no new ideas, is barely educated, is deeply invested in the same retrograde politics of patronage that has held us back, disdains the poor (recall his boast about how his private secondary school students speak better English than UniZik students who are products of public schools?), and is a classic flip-flopper. When he wants to wrest power from southern politicians, he is a closed-minded northern chauvinist, but when his opponent is a northerner, he suddenly transmutes into an exhibitionistic nationalist, playing to the (southern) gallery. It reminds one of Buhari’s theatrical and faux nationalism in 2015 that saw him donning the symbolic ethnic attires of numerous Nigerian ethnicities, even going so far as to attend church functions, but we all know what he has turned out to be.
But why hasn’t any transformational, forward-thinking, truly educated, and energetic non-career politician emerged yet as a presidential contender? Why is our country’s fate perpetually left in the hands of insouciant, doddering, uninspiring, incompetent, and provincial gerontocrats who have no earthly clue what it takes to govern a modern, multi-ethnic nation?
As it stands now, if fractured and feuding PDP is the only alternative to Buhari’s APC, I can bet the farm that Buhari’s second term would be a blowout. I hope I am wrong because I doubt that Nigeria can survive 4 more years of Buhari’s dreadful ineptitude. This is the time for a fresh, viable third force to emerge. I have no idea who that would be, but I know it wouldn’t be the usual suspects; it must not be from the same cast of cancerous characters that have held sway in our polity these past 18 years.