Watchers of the unfolding race for the 2023 Presidential elections in Nigeria will clearly notice that since the starting gun was fired by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, his running mate, His Excellency, Ifeanyi Okowa and the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP) have gained a head start, while Ahmed Bola and the APC are still rehearsing, in the self- conceited misconception of entitlement and power of incumbency.
The wide acceptability of Atiku is also becoming evidential, incontrovertible and unassailable. To be sure, Atiku has not only launched his campaign, he has moved from the South to the North and from the North to the South within a spate of 2 weeks, drawing great and enthusiastic supporters and selling his agenda to Nigerians. Atiku does not carry the baggage of an ethnic champion. He makes no claim to entitlement, either among his kinsmen or on the National stage. He had no inhibitions in declaring his PAN-NIGERIA status in Kaduna, which some mischievous lot attempted fruitlessly to turn upside down.
In Kaduna, the clay-footed opponents of the PDP and its flag bearers erected all obstacles including the denial of the use of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium. When all barriers failed they physically deployed thugs to invade the Ranchers Bees Stadium, but it was too late to use ignorant urchins to stop a moving train.
In Benin, the capital of Edo State, a key state in the South-South, Atiku was at home, and was well received. Excitement pervaded the atmosphere. He struck the right chord with the people. Atiku is a lover of culture, education and development. He gave hope to the youths, assuring them of his desire to see the youths of Nigeria becoming global citizens through the right education, innovation and entreprise. This was an inspiration away from the APC administrator that has kept Universities shut for about 9 months. This is also a departure from the vision of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who has a vision to sentence Nigerian youths to a life of perpetual subsistence where their main diet will be cassava and agbado.
The outings in Uyo, Kaduna and Benin are significant, because the PDP has not only designed a campaign plan, the Party is implementing it, while Tinubu and his confused bunch are still rehearsing their take-off. Nothing has changed about APC. It’s the same way the National Executive Committee of the APC was lately organised. It’s the same way a Presidential Convention was poorly dragged to the dying minutes of extended time. It’s the same way the choice of a running mate was turned into rocket science. At the rate the APC is going, it may be requesting that its members be allowed to vote one week after the general elections had been concluded!
In the face of these failings, it is ridiculous for APC and Tinubu to contrive an action plan and tag it ‘Renewed Hope’. It is nothing but a renewed hopelessness. As the Holy Bible teaches, how can a man hope for what is seen?. Romans 8:24b states: ‘Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?’ The same hope dressed in the garb of change in 2015, is the same hope that is being hawked now under a new mantra of renewal. Nigerians have seen the hope. No discerning Nigerian will be placed on the hopeless oxygen of APC in 2023. One of the faces of the campaign for change and hope then was Alhaji Lai Mohammed whose first name actually connotes a baggage of wealth, but at the end of the tenure of APC he and the APC will be beqeathing to Nigerians a baggage of misery. To recourse to the Bible again, the assertion in Romans 6:1b-2a will provide a clue; ‘…shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? …God forbid.’
Flowing from the hopelessness that Nigerians have experienced under APC, the good citizens of Nigeria will no longer be misled to more hunger as ascertained by Festus Keyamo, or more disappointment as confirmed with apologies by the first lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, and as reinforced by Tinubu himself, who has assured that he would sustain Buhari’s policies of instability, internal displacement, parlous economy, excruciating poverty and a crushing debt.
Apart from the admonition in Romans 8:24, the Book of Hebrews ( 11:1-2) also says that ‘faith is the substance of what is hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In the face of the loss of faith in APC, where is the substance of the hope in its perpetuation of bad governance that has culminated in poverty promotion and loss of nationhood? There is therefore no need to hope against hope, and no wisdom in renewing hopelessness. Nigerians must be guided by what has been seen under the watchful eyes of the self- acclaimed National Leader of APC, who now wants to be rewarded for his excellence in failed leadership. God forbid!
Senator Dino Melaye
Spokesperson PDP Presidential Campaign Management Committee