Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nigerian Presidency 2007 - “Kingibe, the Dark Horse?”

Ambassador Babagana Kingibe’s declaration to vie for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Thursday is yet another punt in the political game leading up to the 2007 Nigerian presidential election. Kingibe could not have come out at a more auspicious time. Had he made his intention known earlier than now, he probably would have been marked for cavil and calumny by other aspirants who had made theirs known (tacit or overt) long ago. Babangida and Atiku, two who had, are under the scrutiny of every Nigerian and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and deservedly so, given the huge wealth both individuals have purportedly amassed allegedly by virtue of their positions in government.

With both men stewing in the morass of the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF) and the Globacom deals, it is hard to see how either man will escape unscathed by the time the dust settles on these allegations. If the case of impropriety and frank fraud either man is accused of is proven, then disqualification from vying for the presidency will be the least of their problems. There appears to be some veracity in the allegations though, as the key conduit, Adenuga, through whom the illicitly acquired wealth is alleged to have been laundered is at large, having fled to Ghana over a fortnight ago to escape interrogation by the EFCC.

There have been speculations of a dark horse in the PDP fold, one believed to have the blessing of Mr. Obasanjo and who enjoys some sort of local and international regard and acclaim, and not tainted with allegations of corrupt self-enrichment. Mr. Kingibe seems to fit this profile and may indeed be the dark horse if there ever was one. He is currently a special OAU envoy in Sudan and was a one time chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the early 1990s. Kingibe was also the running mate to the late MKO Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of the aborted June 12, 1993 presidential elections.

This may count for some political leverage with the western Nigerian electorate. Even though it should not matter, being from the same “geopolitical zone” as Atiku gives him some regional acceptability as well as deals a dilutory blow to the Atiku political machinery. Kingibe is a charismatic orator, with a good command of the English language and a keenly developed diplomatic mien evident in the way he responds to questions and comments. He has also cultivated a grassroots and populist following and so belongs to that rare breed of Nigerian political elites who enjoy the sincere patronage and trust of the common-folk.

The Kingibe candidacy is one that will be keenly watched particularly since majority of the other possible candidates come from the fold of the present PDP governors, most of whom according to the EFCC, are involved in some acts of gross abuse of power or graft. Added to this, none of these PDP governors enjoys as wide a followership as Kingibe. Which ever way this goes, Kingibe and his supporters would have to court the PDP echelon and party stalwarts from the South-south and south-east to get their backing since both regions have vowed to wrest power come 2007.


imnakoya said...

Kingibe is everything you state he is, and even more. There is one major flaw though, "Kingibe was also the running mate to the late MKO Abiola, the widely acclaimed winner of the aborted June 12, 1993 presidential elections", according to your post. The question I want answered, and I'm sure several other people, is the role he played in consolidation the June 12 annulment, particularly his pally with General Abacha, whom he served in the federal cabinent while MKO was in prison.

The problem with Nigerian polity is that almost everyone plays a politics of convenience and not conscience. Kingibe helped MKO win the fairest election in Nigeria, yet he appeared very impotent in fighting for that mandate. MKO paid the ultimate price for that victory, what was Kingibe's price? Do I feel confortable with this man running events in Nigeria? NO I don't !!!

Anonymous said...

There are undoubtedly questions about the solidarity between MKO and Kingibe, especially since the later was defeated at the SDP primaries for the party Presidential ticket in Jos and was allegedly given the position of running mate to pacify his huge following in the party. With this in perspective, it is unlikely that Kingibe was a diehard of the MKO mandate.

The conjecture that comes to mind here, and according to insiders of the SDP at the time, is that Kingibe, being a diplomat, and having analysed the probability of successfully resting power from a sitting dictator, saw the futility in the fight against the brutal Abacha and decided to accept a ministerial position along with other SDP stalwarts like Lateef Kayode Jakande and others.

imnakoya said...

Your last paragraph just about buried this man, Kingibe, alive in my court.