Top to bottom: APC’s withdrawal letter and Emefiele presidential aspiration

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Nigerians dreamt and were hopeful that the 2023 elections will present an opportunity for course correction, for the country to retrace its steps from the recent years of aggravated clueless leadership by a regime that promised so much but deliberately failed in catastrophic proportions in its mismanagement of all aspects of national life. However, recent developments seem to point in the direction of a reaffirmation and deepening of the race to the bottom, the race to a complete failed state that may have no redeeming features. The prelude to the elections, especially the issues of aspirants and the process of nomination and expression of interest points in the direction of the bastardisation of democracy and further retardation of development.

Two key issues present case studies for interrogation and fuller understanding of their implications for our democracy and quest for nationhood. The first is the mandate of the All Progressives Congress for all presidential aspirants to complete and sign a withdrawal letter as part of the process for their valid nomination, while the second is the insistence of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to aspire and contest for the presidency while still occupying the non-political and elevated seat at the CBN.

Ideally, democracy should be about contestation of ideas and philosophies of governance and leadership for the improvement of the security and welfare of the people. Under the 1999 Constitution, aspirants at the level of political parties should be free to present themselves to the electorate to seek their endorsement. The Electoral Act 2022 provides for direct primaries which would involve all members of the party; indirect primaries which would be done by delegates who could be statutory or elected delegates. The third procedure is for consensus which requires the free and voluntary written consent or withdrawal from the electoral race by all aspirants in favour of one of them. The Act did not provide for enforced or involuntary consensus or the achievement of consensus at gun point or through any other illegal and immoral means.

By making it a condition precedent for the validity of expression of interest and nomination forms and insisting that aspirants should sign undated withdrawal letters before their forms can be accepted by the party, the APC has violated the consensus option provided in the Electoral Act. It is not only undemocratic, it is illegal, unconscionable and an affront of unimaginable proportions on the foundation of constitutionalism, liberty, human rights and fundamental freedoms. This emerging scenario has been informed by the manner of reaching “consensus” adopted by the party for the election of their national officers. Once aspirants for national offices were successfully harangued and intimidated to step down, the success of that illegality has emboldened the beneficiaries of the illegality, being the current national officers, to think they can use the same method for the nomination of a presidential candidate for the party. If the APC succeeds in doing this, they would have denuded internal party democracy of its effective content and reduced it to the dictatorship of the presidency and party apparatus.

It is even ridiculous that members of the party and the media have been boldly proclaiming that the presidential aspirant that would transform to the presidential candidate of the APC will be anyone endorsed by the outgoing president. It will not be someone who commands the largest following and votes in the party. Pray, are we still discussing or thinking of a democracy or the rule of one man or a cabal? Where is democracy in all this and where are the democrats to power the democracy? It is, therefore, imperative for all presidential and other aspirants in the party who are faced with this dubious demand from the leadership of the APC to stand firm and resist the devilish democracy truncating agenda by refusing to complete and return the undated withdrawal form so as not set a dangerous precedent.

Now to Godwin Emefiele and his attempt at insulting the intelligence of the Nigerian people. The CBN is a hallowed institution for serious minds and persons of distinction in monetary policy and economic knowledge. The task before the institution and its leadership are so enormous and demand independence of mind and thought beyond the theatricals of the murky waters of politics. S1(3) of the CBN states that in order for the Bank to achieve its mandate under the Act and under the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, and in line with the objectives of promoting stability and continuity in economic management, the Bank shall be an independent body in the discharge of its duties. The Bank is led by a governor in the name of Godwin Emefiele who evidently is a card-carrying member of the APC. Yes, his membership of the APC is what qualifies him to tender the nomination and expression of interest fee and for the fee to be accepted by the party leadership.

How can the CBN be independent in the performance of its duties when it is led by a partisan, a member of the ruling party? So, in essence, all the drama about intervention funds and purported achievements of the CBN is to position one man for the candidateship of a political party. It is about using public funds, taxpayers money to make Emefiele the candidate of the APC. This is not only absurd but one of the greatest desecrations of democratic and monetary policy norms. Emefiele states that he is about to make up his mind which implies that he has been a part of this charade. For Emefiele to claim that his friends bought a form for him is simply to think he is clever. But that line of reasoning is bereft of logic and seems to come from a mind that looks down on the intellect and understanding of the majority of the population. In actual fact, there is nothing elevated about CBN policies under the leadership of Emefiele beyond the sheer pedestrianism of throwing money at national challenges and none of those challenges has been resolved by the money the CBN has thrown at them. Indeed, most of the beneficiaries, for instance, under the Anchor Borrowers Programme have failed to pay back the loans.

Do we still have a president in Nigeria? If the answer is in the affirmative, then Emefiele should either resign, be compelled to resign or be dismissed by the president. If we still have a president in Nigeria who claims to be elected, then he should stop the charade of asking APC aspirants to sign withdrawal forms before their nomination and expression of interest forms can be accepted by the APC. If the president is not interested in any of these options, Nigerians are at liberty to interpret it as a continuation of APC promise to bring down every institution they met in Nigeria, “from top to bottom”.

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