Now is the season of politics. Everybody is in it either as an actor, supporter, or foot soldier. There are hardly any neutrals.
What is now occupying the minds of all those involved in politics is the mode of the emergence of candidates out of the plethora of aspirants “who have accepted the call to serve”.
The burning issue, especially in the All Peoples Congress (APC), that has taken over our political debates, is the issues of direct and indirect primaries and, in some places, consensus.
Like in everything fashioned by humans, each has its advantages and disadvantages as well as its marketers and demarketers. But none is absolute since each is a subjective and relative exercise fashioned to meet or suit certain criteria, circumstances and conditions. And one can give a thousand and one reasons why the one he chooses is better than the one he abhors.
I have read very ridiculous reasons on why one should prefer direct primaries as against indirect, most of the reasons hinting at threats, blackmail and outright insults.
By the way, direct primaries, otherwise known as open ballot system or Option A4, is a voting method in which card carrying party members queue behind or vote openly for the candidates of their choice, while indirect or secret ballot is when some selected or elected representatives do so for card carrying members where voters’ choices are confidential.
But direct primary is not a novel idea to us. Nigeria has tried it before and even then, it was subjected to abuse. A good instance was when the late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua was voted by over one million people in Katsina in reaction to him being defeated in the west by a co-contender from there in the days of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and Social Democratic Party (SDP). It is like the Nigerian football league – everybody wins at home! And even at that, money talks because aspirants’ agents bribe voters as well.
Seriously, there is also the fear of availability of resources, financial and human as well as infrastructure, but most importantly, that of violence. Any general gathering that would present a potpourri of ideas and ambitions within the same political party, in more cases than one, breaks into violence.
Again, anyone in the states who thinks that direct primaries would favour him should be aware that the structures to be used – primary or secondary schools – as well as personnel belong to the government. To beat the government at this game, one must be from Planet Neptune; otherwise one will just be pumping resources into bottomless pockets of political desperados and jobbers.
It is in this regard that indirect primaries become more advantageous in comparison to direct.
There are some schools of thought that believe that consensus, wherever it can take place, is the best, and therefore should be pursued irrespective of the fact that some may cry against the method. This is because, according to them, rancour and sharp divisions are avoided and the party remains united and stronger to face the next elections.
Parties in America, where we copy our brand of politics from, do not vote its candidates through the direct method. It is through delegates and the super delegates.
There must always be disgruntlement, of course. In Nigeria, there is no method that would guarantee that losers would not complain about losing out. We are sore losers and poor sportsmen whenever politics is involved.
Despite all the aforementioned, it is trite knowledge that no party in Nigeria, including the APC, is owned by the people. The APC has not yet changed the way ruling parties are funded, which is by their governments at whatever level.
No party is being sponsored by its individual members. The APC lost that golden opportunity at its conception when the people thought it was their own. Therefore, it is the governments that sponsor the parties that would decide what obtains in them, after all, as the maxim goes, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
In this respect, the method adopted by the Yobe State APC is commendable and, depending on circumstances, other states can adopt the same method. President Muhammadu Buhari will, God willing, be the presidential flag bearer of the APC. Primaries, in whatever name, are mere formalities; it is consensus, whether called by that name or not that will give him the ticket.
Those who know Mai Mala Buni, the APC national secretary and now the party’s Yobe State adopted flag bearer, know him as an honourable, humble gentleman who sees all, irrespective of tribe and party, as his brothers and sisters.
A very charismatic man with an arresting personality that is noble, who has the inclination of the intellectual, Mai Mala is a highly philosophical leader who believes in God’s will and the goodness of man. He is very sympathetic to the plights of the needy and downtrodden, and Yobe State will see the continuation of the developmental strides of the incumbent, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, who will not have any course to regret his decision because his anointed is a capable and loyal fellow.
The clamour of the youths, vanguards of #nottooyoungtorun, has also been answered because Yobe will now have a youth who believes in human and infrastructural development as their governor.
Elders will have in him a governor who respects age and pedigree, one who knows the value and wisdom in age and who has a not only a listening ear but whose words are his bonds. He keeps to, and fulfill, promises just as Ibrahim Gaidam, his mentor. He values kinship and understand loyalty.
Politicians will have one of their own because he was born and bred by politics. He was a local government councillor before his 20th birthday and was there when the NRC and the SDP were birthed.
He was among those that ushered in the current political dispensation and was the pioneer Yobe State chairman of the Action Congress (AC), and later the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) who are both legacy parties of the APC. He has a wide network of political associates that cuts across the political parties on ground in the state.
He has gathered experience in governance, having been a senior special adviser to the governor, board member in various boards, including that of the Federal University, Uyo, and currently chairman of the Board of Nigeria Shippers Council, an A-Grade institution.
Calm and level headed, Mai Mala is an orator who has done very well at the APC National Secretariat and helped the party make huge inroads into the South East and South South of the country.
The advantage the Yobe APC will have with him as its gubernatorial flag bearer is that he would, in his usual humble way, build bridges and reach out to the aggrieved who lose out in the contest.