By Bala Ibrahim
According to the dictionary, a running mate is an election candidate for the lesser of TWO CLOSELY ASSOCIATED POLITICAL OFFICES. I put the phrase, two closely associated political offices in capital letters on purpose, to compel the reader to comprehend the closeness in the connection and correlation between the office of the principal and his deputy or vice.
It is also my ambition to make the principal realize the expected reckoning of the electorate, with regards to the running of the two offices and how the occupants behave towards each other.
In short, while the choice of a running mate may be within the absolute control of the principal because he or she would be his or her deputy, the consequences of his or her mistake in making a careless choice, could come with a combatant calamity.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been hammering upon the nemesis of such mistake since he left office in 2007, and I think as patriotic citizens, we owe it a duty to draw the attention of those that have been elected to lead, to be not only canny, but circumspect in the choice of their running mates, and here, more attention should go to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaba of Borgu, and the presidential flag bearer of the ruling party, the APC.
While Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa, had since named Dr. Ifeanyichukwu Arthur Okowa, the incumbent Governor of Delta State as his running mate, for the 2023 Presidential election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is still silent on who would be his authentic running mate in the battle.
In an attempt to beat the June 17 deadline for the submission of presidential and vice-presidential candidates, some political parties submitted names of vice-presidential candidates or running mates, who they described as placeholders. The ruling APC and the Labour Party, LP, are the ones caught in the web of this mess of a placeholder, in place of the running mate.
In the APC, Kabiru Masari, the party’s Welfare Secretary was named as the running mate to Jagaba, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while Dr. Doyin Okupe, the current Director-General of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign Council is submitted as the placeholder for Peter Obi, instead of a substantive running mate.
Whether the term placeholder would pass the legal test, and secure a place in Nigeria’s constitutional and legal framework, is a task for the legal barons, but as public analysts and commentators, our task is to harp on the merit of making a careful choice, and the malady of making a mindless mistake, through the careless choice of a running mate.
For some times I have seized to be a fan of Obasanjo, because of his penchant for ridiculing everyone, and his self-appointed position of being the best God-given gift to Nigeria, but when a man or woman keeps lamenting endlessly, on an issue that touches on patriotism, or selfless devotion to the support for one’s country, it would be foolish to flout such a forewarning.
There is a Hausa proverb that says, “Idan kunne ya ji, to jiki ya tsira”, whose literal translation is, that when the ear hears, the body is safe.
As a war veteran, and an indisputable patriot, that is prepared to defend his country against enemies or detractors, Obasanjo’s position on Nigeria is unchallenged. Of course, he has his weaknesses, but compromising national unity is not amongst.
Chief Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Ogunboye Aremu Obasanjo was Nigeria’s military Head of State from 1976 to 1979 and later the elected President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. In between the two tenures at the top, he served as a prisoner, after being convicted by a secret military tribunal for plotting to overthrow the government of General Sani Abacha in 1995.
On his release and pardon by the regime of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Obasanjo was washed into the PDP and promoted to the position of an elected President.
On the advice of his backers, Obasanjo chose Atiku Abubakar, as his running mate, or Vice-Presidential candidate for the 1999 presidential election. Together, they emerged victorious and ran the offices of the President and that of the Vice President almost in conformity with the dictionary ambition of the phrase, CLOSELY ASSOCIATED POLITICAL OFFICES.
However, under his satanic scheme for a third term in office, beyond the second term that should expire in 2007, which runs contrary to the provision of the constitution, and which Atiku Abubakar fought tooth and nail, the relationship between Obasanjo and Atiku has been everything but wholehearted.
As Nigerians await the final decision of Tinubu on who would be his running mate, Obasanjo, Tinubu’s kinsman, though one that always takes an opposite position, has once more voiced out his grief or sorrow, with special reference to the two mistakes he made in life. The first was the choice of his running mate, while the second was his refusal to accept an asylum when he was told that the late Head of State, Gen.Sani Abacha, wanted to arrest him.
We don’t know what repercussion would have come had he succeeded in the third term plot, which his running mate aborted, but he paid on his refusal to accept an asylum abroad.
So, on the subject of choosing a Vice Presidential candidate, and to avoid lucid lamentations, occasioned by the malady of making a mindless mistake, I would advise Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to discard his political disagreements with Obasanjo, and take seriously the issue of who becomes his authentic running mate.
“Idan kunne ya ji, to jiki ya tsira.”