It never ceases to amaze how Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari seem to worry whether former rulers like Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo endorse their respective bids for the highest office in the land.
Both Obasanjo and Babangida, each in their well-pampered bubble surrounded by a battalion of sycophants, have also convinced themselves that their say in who should rule Nigeria is critical.
The Nigerian media also join in the bandwagon, reporting who endorsed who, when, and who has changed his mind about who he previously endorsed. In recent weeks, Babangida seems to have endorsed Jonathan, then endorsed Buhari and then Jonathan again.
The fact both candidates seek such endorsements, plus the fact that the huge egos of the endorsers make them feel it is necessary, and the fact the media considers those endorsements as newsworthy, illustrate the democracy deficit in Nigerian politricks.
In any real democratic process in which the will of the people is paramount, two former rulers such as Babangida and Obasanjo, who should be pariahs and serving life sentences for their looting and the misery they caused millions of Nigerians, would not be in a position to be endorsing even candidates for the position of dogcatcher. Such an endorsement would have been a kiss of death for your chances of being elected in a process where public opinion matters.
In the US, whose presidential system we have copied, when George Bush became toxic following his disastrous eight years as president, his own party’s candidate John McCain avoided Bush like the plague. He refused to share a platform with Bush because he knew Bush would alienate voters.
In Nigeria both Goodluck and Buhari are happy to visit Babangida seeking his endorsement. They both court Obasanjo.
This behaviour is a clear indication that Goodluck and Buhari don’t care what Nigerians think. It demonstrates that the “votes” of two of the rulers that contributed the most to Nigeria’s underdevelopment are more important to Goodluck and Buhari than the votes of millions of Nigerians. This is because the financial muscle from looted funds of Babangida and Obasanjo, their capacity for mischief, and the type of skulduggery necessary for rigging the vote, are what really count in Nigerian (s)elections.
Albert Camus said: “In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” Thoughtless Goodluck and Buhari are quite happy to take the side of Babangida and Obasanjo rather than be on the side of millions of their victims. As a thinking man, I choose to be on the side of the victims.