By Dahiru Maishanu 

Watching the flurry of activities happening in the political spectrum as the polity is being heated on daily basis in the build up to next year’s elections, the Presidential candidates of the major political parties exchange banters, one is naturally obliged to focus on the central figures and dwell on the Principals. 

One is not bothered to waste useful time on candidates who can best be described as ‘third eleven’ who themselves, know they are running only to fill-in the gaps, if the gaps really exist. 

Obviously, Dr. Peter Obi is raising some kind of dust and is being celebrated by certain group of elites and some ethnic ‘jingoits’ who are only spoiling his run and doing more harm than good to a seeming force that’s  running ahead of it’s time. Evidently, Mr. Obi's time is tomorrow, rather than today.

That leaves only the two real heavy-weights in the ring, both veteran foxes. Both focussed and dexterous. Both experienced and armed with resources beyond the ordinary bounds. These are the Waziri of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Jagaban Borgu, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola. 

This is no doubt going to be  an unprecedented game of wits between two foxes. One of them must of course, outfox the other. Most certainly, it is a titanic encounter, a battle royale.
At the moment, most pundits are loathe to put their money into the bet. They think that, "it is too close to call."  I differ by refusing to seat on the fence.

From my years of experience as a Journalist and a media manager, with more than a causal sojourn in the intriguing world of partisan  politics, I should be able to decipher between the sand and the real castles. After all,  the sand castle can not stand the slightest threat of the wind.

My position is based on a clear-headed, unencumbered reading of the scientific, empirical facts so glaringly obvious.   

Based on over flogging albatrosses, only the most self-serving and delusional will expect the pendulum to swing the way of the contender from Bourdilon. 

Yes, Bola Tinubu will no doubt,  put up a praiseworthy show. But, that will be just so far that he can go. That is because, like the fable Don Quixote, the man is coming into the duel, so heavy-laden, so war weary and so much bereft of several critical accoutrements of war.

Firstly,  the much vaunted magical effects of the contents of the famous (or infamous?) Bullion trucks cannot do the trick as in the past. This is Nigeria, the vast space of Nigeria and not the narrow enclave of Tinubu's empire of Lagos. This time around,  the stakes are much higher.

Nigerians know they are at crossroads when their decision or choice,  will either make or mar their  Country. It is a moment of choosing  between progress and stagnation or, as it has been their experience in the preceding seven painful years, backward steps away from all gains made over the years!

Beside the prevailing currents that show that the nation's electorates are now wiser and therefore, resolute in electing their leaders,  the impending scenario will be, unlike the way the humongous sums of Dollars did the abracadabra enacted at the last presidential primary of the APC. Anyway, Tinubu will be meeting his match in Atiku, in all ‘fronts’!

Again, it doesn't look like wads, bags or tons of Naira will be a major determinant of victory in 2023. Not in the face of the many measures, such as the Biometric Voter Accreditation System, BVAS and the electronic transfer of results being perfected by the INEC. 

Did I hear somebody saying that the APC is already strategizing on ways of subverting the new security measures? My simple response is: they are joking. The opposition parties, the electoral umpire and the citizens are on the lookout as they are united in their zeal to, for once, have credible and transparent elections in which the votes of the electorate count.

From his utterances such as his infamous Abeokuta gaffe, “Emilokan"( translating to: "it is my turn),  as well as the remarks of a number of his key campaigners, Tinubu is clearly playing the primordial ethnic and regional cards. 

This is an obsolete political balderdash that cannot fly in present day Nigeria. At best, he will be going back to the situation of a regional champion or a chieftain at the head of the opposition.

Among his other myriads of handicaps, Tinubu has, hanging heavily on his shoulders, the albatross of President Buhari and his APC government. How can the Jagaban distance himself from the abysmal failure of a President he played very important role in installing? 

Coming into the duel, Tinubu has yet to shed off the odious pall raised by issues of the vital credentials about his age and academic qualifications.
Is the Asiwaju seventy years old when it is widely known that he has a daughter who is sixty-two? Was he at the University of Chicago or the Chicago State University? 

Finally, who needs a talisman to know that Nigerians will be wary of electing a sick President so soon after their experience of the debilitating repercussions of a leader that is most of the time on a sick bed in London? 

Head or tail, after all the hullabaloo and the razzmatazz, the pendulum swings the way of Alhaji Abubakar  Atiku, Wazirin Adamawa. That's my bet, my take. I leave in peace. 

Dr Dairu Maishanu is a former Commissioner of Information, Sokoto State

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