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Amidst the ongoing trend of purported buying of forms by supporters to woo or beg politicians to run for political office, a group of seasoned political analysts and opinion leaders in Enugu have on Thursday distinguished between pretenders and contenders in Nigerian politics while featuring as guests on Freedom Square an interactive radio program on Solid 100.9 FM.
They all agreed that the false claims by those politicians that their nomination forms which ran into millions of naira were purchased for them by youths as not healthy for our democracy. One of the guests, Ebubeagu Felix Okafor who is the Enugu State Coordinator, APC National Coalition for Peace and Mobilization, posited that the actions and the antecedents of politicians will show whether they are contenders or pretenders. He identified Doyin Okupe as a pretender for stepping down already after claiming he had bought expression of interest form to run for the office of the president. He also cited Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State as another pretender going by his flippant utterances in recent times.
As for serious contenders, Ebubeagu Okafor pointed out Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as an example stressing that he has plans and manifestoes and has remained consistent in his quest to occupy the seat of the president. He advised politicians not to be pretenders but serious contenders who have concrete plans and execution strategy to deliver for the people.
In his submissions, another guest on the program, Comrade Chinedu Nyia Nwobodo (JP), Former & Founding National Chairman Joint Health Sector Union, Nigeria, argued that buying of forms alone does not mean that the person is a serious contender because many buy those forms to be visible and to have a platform for settlement. He blamed the ugly trend on the anointing of candidates who have no agenda or plan for the people maintaining that if our votes count, the pretenders won’t even go to buy forms because nobody will settle them knowing they will fail if they go through with the election. He therefore canvassed for direct primaries and not a situation whereby a few individuals will gather and dish out money to buy the decision makers.
The fact that the Nigerian society has not been developed for critical stakeholders, the masses and the media, to start asking critical questions, was a point raised by Dr. Obasi Obasi, a Public Health Analyst and Research Scholar on Igbo Apprenticeship Program. For him, the society actually determines the contenders and the pretenders and it at times get pretenders to succeed. He expressed sadness that he was yet to see any of those picking forms come up to discuss issues that concern the people like provision of portable water, roads, healthcare delivery and so on. He therefore advocated for issue based politicking where there will be town hall meetings for mass enlightenment and a platform where office seekers will be interrogated on their plans for the people and how they will actualize them. He also advised that candidates should not be anointed and imposed on the people rather the best candidate should be encouraged by way of deserved endorsement to emerge for the good of all.

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