Will the new faces please stand up?

With about 6 months to a pivotal presidential election in this country, if it is to be held in January 2011 as widely reported, you wouldn’t really know it is that close by. It feels like a year or two years to the elections. There has been the usual declaration of interest in the Presidency, first by Donald Duke, then Ibrahim Babangida and Bashorun Dele Momodu but we have seen zero campaigning so far from the two new candidates, or even IBB. It seems like everyone is waiting to see if the zoning formula by the PDP will be scrapped and whether or not Goodluck Jonathan will contest. I could understand the case of IBB as he belongs to the PDP, but Dele Momodu is contesting on the Labour Party’s platform and Donald Duke has left the PDP. I bet he didn’t foresee what is happening now though. I am quite surprised that we haven’t seen any manifestos or policy positions from these candidates. It has been mostly slogans that leave me in particular largely unimpressed. This presidential race is begging for someone to take control of it and a real leader would have done so by now. Dele Momodu for instance is not yet seen as a serious candidate even by many of the youths he claims to represent. The perception is that he is just looking for relevance and he hasn’t done much to change that. Donald Duke has the same problem. Although he’s been governor of Cross Rivers state, he also doesn’t have that instant name recognition throughout the country. It’s also instructive that he declared his ambition in London. Is 6 months enough to convince a majority of people to vote for either of them? Is 6 months enough for a truly nationwide campaign? Is 6 months enough to build a national profile? The answer is no. Barack Obama declared his intention to run for President of the US on February 10 2007, 11 months before the Iowa caucus. David Cameron was in the opposition to the Labour Party since 2005 before toppling them in the UK elections.

My main problem is the lack of real excitement around either of them and i think it’s because people sense the lack of command, the lack of leadership on display. It’s not just about uniting around one person for the sake of doing so, but we need to know that even one of these men understand the scale of the problems we face and have a good road map to solve those problems. With so little time to go before the elections, we don’t know the positions of our candidates on all the key domestic issues. We don’t even know how the plan of one candidate differs from another. I expected to see both of them make the rounds on all the TV stations, give interviews in newspapers and go on radio programmes to meet the press and the people to push their case, but none of this has happened. Many, many people are slowing leaning towards Goodluck for the elections if he decides to run because he has shown a capacity for strong action by removing Maurice Iwu & Vincent Ogbulafor in quick succession, removing Ibori’s protection and bringing back Nuhu Ribadu & Nasir El- Rufai. You can query the overall motives, but the fact is that those moves have been effective in winning him public support. People also see the hand of God in his life in the manner of his ascendancy into high office. The longer other candidates wait before giving Nigerians a credible, fresh alternative the closer we will move to a Jonathan presidency by default. Time is running out for the new faces on the block to make their case. If the ‘youth can lead’, then ‘the time is now’ (pun intended).

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