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Of bullion vans, Dubai and presidential candidates for sale by Dan Abubakar

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By Dan Abubakar

In many places politicians are subjects of scorn and derision. And for good reason. They lie to the public as a matter of course and the compliment is sometimes returned with particularly aggrieved persons throwing rotten eggs, tomatoes or shoes at politicians engaged in walkabout in England, France and elsewhere.

Here in Nigeria people sometimes show their displeasure by shouting “yehoo!”, “barawo!” or “ole!”.

The degeneration in the Nigerian specie of politician is alarming, a factor of the abysmal lack of accountability of public officers over the years. Finagling with public funds which should earn culprits years in the slammer or public execution, as in China become a means to run for higher office.

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Some politicians now think it is all a game – one with no rules, no honour and no integrity needed. For them all is fair in politics as in war. Compromise has become the only governing principle of their existence.

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Belonging to a political party means nothing other than as a vehicle to ride unto power. Parties are not grounded on ideas, programmes or ideology.

There is no belief in principle or commitment to civic responsibility. Which is why politicians are acrobats jumping from one party to the other and back again, as Stella Oduah has just done most cynically. The story is told of one fellow who made the rounds with five political parties until he found one nondescript party that agreed to endorse his candidacy.

Today who can with any certainty tell the difference between the APC and the PDP for instance or who is in which party at any point in time?

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The price the country is paying for this indulgence has become a very grave one indeed such that no one is addressing the serious issues that confront its very existence . And politics which is a time-honoured process for a society to choose its leaders is being discredited.

Many of our politicians seem not to apprehend the danger here and are plunging further and farther into the murk.

Let us begin with the number of those who say they want to be president. Surely, majority of those who have announced themselves cannot be serious. Other than media announcements and adding to the garbage on our streets from their falling posters how is one to take the announcements by Mohammed Hayatudeen, Ibikunle Amosun, Adams Oshiomhole, or the Cross River state entrant, Ben Ayade seriously?

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Much comic relief is provided by such pretenders to the throne as Rivers governor Nyesom Wike, Kogi state governor Yahaya Bello and ….this other fellow. Pardon me I forget his name.

Yet the state of Nigeria is no laughing matter. Neither should the contest to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari be an opportunity for the usual horse-trading or massive financial inducements as has become the manner with many. The rule of thumb should be that anyone who bribes to achieve a position such as the presidency is not qualified for it quite apart from being a criminal.

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Our present political predicament bears restating. The process for presidential candidates to emerge for the 2023 election is being confounded by the impression that the presidency is for all-comers. Or is there a certain method to the present madness?

Some presidential candidates may be doing it to seek attention, not wanting to be left in the shadows of others who have already declared. Others may be seeking to use their professed ambition as a bargaining chip for a future demand. Politicians everywhere do this and cash their chips when the opportunity arises.

But there may be something more sinister afoot. There is now strong suspicion that a lot of the declared ambitions are by phantom presidential candidates, individuals who are not at all serious and who for the right consideration will step down for their benefactors thus presenting the impression of a bandwagon. This stratagem, it is said, is by certain candidates in both parties who are known to be flush with funds. That is why in political circles there is now so much talk about bullion vans, opening of Dubai-based financial spigots and impending shortage of dollars in the market.

It is reassuring that money has never been the determinant of who rules Nigeria even if the process had in the past been rigged against the best emerging. But this time Nigerians must make their voices loud and clear to the political parties that the sun must be allowed to shine on the one or two roses in their midst that seek to bloom for everyone’s sake.

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Dan Abubakar writes from Abuja

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