By Niigerian standard, all of them are young but none is rich enough to run for the presidency. However, all of them are passionate about how Nigerian should be properly run. In this report, SAMSON BENJAMIN looks at the presidential aspirants with big dreams for post 2019 Nigeria.
As the 2019 general election approaches, an increasing number of vibrant and relatively young Nigerian technocrats, most of whom had no political experience, have expressed interest to run for the highest office in the country. In some cases, the aspirants have no platform or political parties as yet. In addition, they don’t have the deep pockets or goodwill of the people that they want to contest against. Similarly, most of them have not held any public office. However, their raw passion, disaffection with the status quo and their quest for a paradigm or generational shift are the driving force behind their individual presidential quests.
In particular, they cite the loss of confidence in the older political class, especially to deliver the nation from perennial economic and infrastructural backwardness, to justify throwing their hats into the ring. Specifically, most of them have no baggage of any kind and their lives and activities suggest that they may make a difference if given the mandate. Perhaps, recent events on the global stage have contributed into nudging these neophytes into the power game.
The Trump/Marcon/Weah effect
Mr Donald Trump, the current United States President, had not held any political office before clinching the most powerful office in the world. In addition, he had no record of military service. Similarly, has been married three times and has five children, three from first wife Ivana Zelnickova; one from second wife Marla Maples; and one from current wife Melania Trump. More damming, he has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including non-consensual kissing or groping, by at least 15 women since the 1980s. Those accusations have resulted in three widely reported instances of litigation.
Interestingly, his then-wife Ivana made a rape claim during their 1989 divorce suit but later recanted that claim. In 1997, businesswoman Jill Harth sued Trump for nonviolent sexual harassment. In 2017, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos filed a defamation lawsuit after Trump called her a liar. In spite of these baggage, Trump went ahead to defeat Mrs Hillary Clinton who had nonetheless won the popular votes.
Similarly, the victory of France President Emmanuel Macron ,who defied all odds to become the youngest president at 39 last May, seems to have inspired some of the aspirants.
In addition, the grass to grace rise of Mr George Weah, the Liberian president, may have been a motivator for some of the aspirants. In 2005, Weah had formed the Congress for Democratic Change on whose platform he ran for the presidency, after a successful footballing career. While Weah was a popular figure in Liberia, opponents cited his lack of formal education as a handicap to his ability to lead the country, in contrast with his Harvard-educated opponent, Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. However, in spite of this handicap, Weah got 28.3% of the vote and this qualified him to compete in a run-off election against Sirleaf, the second placed candidate. In the end, he lost the run-off to Sirleaf on 8 November, garnering only 40.6% to 59.4% for Sirleaf.
In 2014, he ran for election to the senate as a Congress for Democratic Change candidate in Montserrado County and was overwhelmingly elected, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Sirleaf. Significantly, two years later, Weah announced his intention to run for President of Liberia in 2017 elections. After winning the first round of the 2017 election with 38.4% of the vote, he and Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party went into the second round. Eventually, in the second round, Weah was elected President of Liberia, winning a run-off against Vice President Joseph Boakai with more than 60% of the vote.
So far, the aspirants who have dared to run for the Nigerian presidency, against all odds and permutations, include Senator Yusuf Datti Baba- Ahmed, founder and Pro– Chancellor of Baze University; Mr Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, political economist, lawyer and former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Alhaji Yunusa Tanko, Chartered Accountant and a politician; Omoyele Sowore, a human rights activist and publisher of SaharaReporters, Fela Durotoye, motivational speaker and leadership coach. Below is a profile of these aspirants with tall ambitions.
Baba- Ahmed: Eyeing his mentor’s job
A former federal legislator, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed has a BSc in Economics from the University of Westminster, United Kingdom and a PhD from the same school in 2006. Previously, he had worked in the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting company, Lagos before entering politics. From 2003 to 2007, he was a member of the House of Representatives, where he represented Zaria Federal Constituency on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). In 2011, he was also elected to the senate on the platform of the Congress For Progressive Change (CPC), when he defeated two-time Kaduna governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi. However, his tenure at the upper legislative chamber was shortlived as Makarfi went to court and reclaimed his mandate.
Specifically, Baba-Ahmed is popular for his principled activism and speaking out against corruption. For example, during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, he was among lawmakers who opposed third term. In fact, he vowed to resign from the House if Obasanjo secures tenure elongation.
He recently declared his intention to run for the office of the President in 2019. Whether the activism of the 48-year-old Zaria born politician can translate into electoral fortunes, is left for the electorate to decide. As yet, Baba-Ahmed has not indicated on which platform he wants to actualize his dream but most likely, he may pitch tent with PDP. However, clinching the party’s ticket on whose platform he intends to run, may prove difficult because he will be running against formidable aspirants like Alhaji Sule Lamido, a two-time governor and minister for eight years, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dakwambo of Gombe state and his former adversary, Senator Makarfi.
Moghalu: Aspirant without platform
Professor Kingsley Bosah Chiedu Ayodele Moghalu was born in Lagos on May 7, 1963. After his secondary education at Eziama High School, Aba, Government College, Umuahia, and Federal Government College, Enugu, Moghalu obtained a degree in law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1987. He left Nigeria in 1991 for his post-graduate education at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he obtained a Master’s degree in International Relations in 1992.
Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), headed the Financial System Stability (FSS) Directorate, which oversaw the regulation and supervision of all the nation’s bank and non-bank financial institutions. Similarly, prior to his tenure at the CBN, Moghalu was a Director at the United Nations, where he was involved in legal, management and strategy issues. In that regard, he was the political, legal and human rights advisor in missions in Cambodia and Croatia, and spokesman of the UN International Tribunal for Rwanda.
Dr. Moghalu has written several books, including Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ Can Prosper and Matter. He holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics.
… Driven by recent world events?
resently, he is a professor of Practice in International Business and Public Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Even though Moghalu has a career spanning public and private service, and has served at international levels, formulating policies on macroeconomic, social and political issues, including helping steer the country through the 2008 financial crisis, he has no political experience and he is yet to join any political party . Nigerians are waiting to see how he intends to translate his vast technical knowledge into electoral gains come 2019.
Tanko: Stepping into Fawehinmi’s shoes
An accountant and Management expert, Dr Yunusa Tanko is more known as an activist and politician. Significantly, the seed was sown at the Army Children School, Ikeja, where he had his primary education Lagos between 1974 and 1981. Thereafter, he proceeded to Ikeja Grammar School, where he completed his secondary school education in 1985. Dr. Tanko holds a HND in Marketing from Kaduna Polytechnic (now University of Technology, Kaduna) in 1992 and bagged a Post-Graduate Diploma in Co-operative Studies from the same institution in 1994. In 2006, he obtained a second HND degree in Accounting from Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria which followed with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria as well as an MBA from the same institution.
A Chartered Accountant and member of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants (ICMA) 2006, his working experience traverses civil service, politics and civil society. He has served in various capacities as Head of Accounts, National Population Commission, Kaduna, 1993-2000; Head of Revenue, Nigerian Immigration Service, Kano, 2000-2002 and Head of Finance, Team Nigeria Trust Fund Limited, FCT, Abuja, 2002.
Dr. Tanko was former Deputy National Chairman of the late Gani Fawenhinmi’s National Conscience Party (NCP). Since 2009, Dr. Tanko has been Secretary of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) of all political parties in Nigeria, which was led by Prof. G Nnaji of Better Nigeria Peoples Party(BNPP). Also, in 2003, he was as the Assistant Secretary of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) whose chairman is Alhaji Balarabe Musa.
With a rich background in social activism, Dr. Yunusa Tanko is a Secretariat Member of the Pastor Tunde Bakare led Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and played a very prominent role as Field Marshal of the popular SNG protest at the National Assembly in 2010, prompting the law makers to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity to allow Dr Goodluck Jonathan to be acting president.
In 2007 general election , he was running mate to NCP’s presidential candidate Dr. Osagie Obayuwana. Similarly, in 2015, he was selected again as Vice-Presidential Candidate to Bashorun Dele Momodu, who ran for the presidency under the NCP ticket. This time around, Dr Tanko wants to gun for the ultimate political prize.
Sowore: Willing to take back Nigeria
Publisher of Saharareporters, a citizen journalism platform, Omoyele Sowore is a human rights activist from Ondo state. Specifically, Sowore was born on 16 February , 1971 and he studied Geography and Planning at the University of Lagos(UNILAG). In addition, he has obtained a master’s degree in Public Administration from Colombia University. Right now, Sowore teaches Modern African History at the City University of New York and Post Colonial African History at the School of Art, New York.
At UNILAG, he was deeply involved in anti – military demonstrations and student unionism which culminated in his election as the President of the Student Union Government, where he served between 1992-1994. His activism began in 1989, when he took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of $120 million.
In 1992, Sowore led 2,000 students to protest against Nigeria’s notorious kleptocracy and the police opened fire, killing seven people. Sowore was arrested, interrogated and beaten, but he refused to back down in the struggle for decent education in his country. Subsequently, he has been harassed, arrested and detained about eight times in various detention centers. However, Sowore fled the country to the United States in 1999 from where he has continued to launch his anti – corruption missiles against the Nigerian ruling class using SaharaReporters.
On February 25, Sowore declared for presidency on 13 A, Isaac John street, Ikeja and since then, he has been holding Town Hall meetings within and outside Nigeria. On April 4, he returned to the country to a rousing welcome as youths virtually took over the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, where he declared that ‘’I just arrived in Nigeria to lead a movement to change power in the country.’’ Significantly, his campaign slogan is ‘Take Back Nigeria’ and he has been engaging youths to buy into his aspiration.
Recently, Sowore and the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu had a face-off over the latter’s eligibility to run for the presidency . According to reports, they clashed during a public affairs radio programme , in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, where both of them were invited as guests. Specifically, Sowore fired the first salvo, when he greeted Shittu as ‘’ the minister of an outgoing regime″. However, Sowore had barely concluded his introductory statement when the Minister fired back, saying “You are a dreamer. By your wish or by God’s wish? You are just dreaming. You are a day dreamer. You think the presidency is for people like you? Go and start from being a councilor”.
Already, the National Chairman of Peoples Redemption Party(PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa has offered him the party’s platform to actualize his aspiration. However, its not clear if Sowore will be the sole candidate or whether he will have to slug it out with others in the primaries.
Durutoye: New face, new platform
Fela Durotoye was born to Layiwola and Adeline Durotoye, both professors at the University of Ibadan. After his parents moved to University of Ife , he attended the Staff Children’s School between 1974 and 1981 and graduated to Moremi High School between 1981 to 1986. He proceeded to earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science with Economics, as well as a Master’s degree in Business Administration (M.B.A) at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is an alumnus of Kennedy School of Government.
Fela Durotoye was a project finance analyst at Ventures & Trusts Limited in 1992. In addition, he was the head of customer service department at Phillips Consulting Limited in 1998. Two years later, Durotoye went on to start V.I.P Consulting Limited, which soon became notable in customer and human management in Nigeria. However, the firm has been restructured and it has changed focus to a social enterprise called Visible.
On 22 February, 2018, he made his intention to run for Presidency in 2019 under the political party Alliance for New Nigeria. However, not much is known about his vision and mission in politics.
Significantly, there are other less known names that have shown interest in the presidency and they include, Professor Olufunmilayo Adesanya Davies form Kwara state and Mr Charles Udeogaranya, Lagos state chairman of the defunct African Renaissance Party(ARP) as well as several non-descript others. However, one of these aspirants may emerge as president in 2019 because nothing is impossible in politics, as Trump’s victory has shown; the candidate broke all the rules in the book of United States’ politics but voters still preferred him.