By Bayo Oluwasanmi
In 2019, Nigeria heads to the polls for its presidential election. The ballot will boast the usual cast of characters in the Nigerian political arena. But Nigeria’s best hope for 2019 is Abdulrasheed Maina the erstwhile Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms.
His candidacy will challenge the frontrunner – President Muhammadu Buhari – by buying Nigerian voters with his N100 Billion heist of the pension scheme to shape and shame high profiles of Nigeria’s political elites. His candidacy will be a response to widespread disillusionment with Nigeria’s current corrupt political leaders.
As a presidential candidate, Maina will portray a caricature of corrupt Nigerian politicians. His being able to walk around as a free man after the heinous crime of scamming N100 Billion from the pension fund, is a defiance mockery of Buhari’s war on corruption. I believe Maina is the best presidential hopeful for Nigeria because he exhibits best qualities the present political leaders don’t have. The Maina saga leaves one breathless with waves of irresistible and uncontrollable laughter. But then, Nigerians are used to the parade of buffoons as presidential candidates. Nigerians, should be prepared to laugh a lot at the humorous proceedings as we draw closer to 2019, but also to feel a tinge of sadness about the murkiness of our politics.
Maina for president? Yes, you heard me right. I know it sounds awkward and impossible. I know mere suggesting his name may cause a big stir, some thought dislocation, a shitload of media coverage, and a trick on the entire country into thinking a scammer, a dumb clown, and empty headed megaphone could seriously be considered for the presidency. If you need to set a thief to catch a thief, you need a star – a grand, outsized, fearless star that all the Abuja thieves can neither intimidate nor outshine. Thinking along this line, I believe Maina is uniquely positioned to become the next president of Nigeria.
We’re through the looking glass here. Nigeria has long discarded old approaches to politics. We need to catch the mood of the moment. And that’s where Maina comes in. He’s the mirror image of Nigeria’s politics – corruption but more so. Maina is rich, generous, powerful, influential, well connected, and invincible so much that the Buhari administration had to beg him to relocate to Nigeria to give the badly needed oxygen to a dying government of change. He fled to United Arab Emirate in 2013 to evade arrest from the anti-graft agency, EFCC.
He made his fortune from the N100 Billion pension scam with effortless ease and without any consequence. He’s so invisible and invincible that EFCC could not locate or arrest him though he walks around all over the place and travels around the world. The EFCC still wants him dead or alive. Maina is, himself, the embodiment of the Nigerian Dream of a successful looter of the nation’s treasury. He got famous from corruption. He became vastly more famous and vastly more successful at it.
“The spokesman of the family, Aliyu Maina said based on his “sterling record” at the scheme, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to Maina to key into the “change agenda … their son is not a fraudster but a messiah who brought reforms into the pension scheme.”
Maina is the new normal in Nigerian politics. Some of you may think of Maina as one of the appalling characters of our current politics. But remember, our politics has never been normal. Instead, it’s an aberration, an unwanted usurpation of democratic consensus of what aspiring candidates for Aso Rock are supposed to be like. He’s a parody of how Nigerians see their politicians. Nigerians, a new politician is here to save you. He’s pure and clean!
Whatever the other politicians promise you, he’ll promise you three times more. He’s loved by his townspeople. They are always thrilled to see him. Grown men in handlebar mustaches hug him. Grandmothers pinch his cheeks. He entertains them and poses with them. Maina got what it takes to take Nigeria to the next level. He’ll give jobs to everyone and bring pensions to everyone. He will install and restore sanity in our politics. Best of all, he’s going to move Nigeria out of her economic doldrums. Nigerians love the Maina’s of the world. Take a look at the members of the National Assembly. Maina dwarfs them when it comes to managing our treasury. Nigerians love the absurd. In the baddest times, they turn to laugh. Nigerians choose to smile before crying even before they want to cry.
“There will be no corruption, excluding my own of course,” Maina declares to one crowd. “I’m the best man that can fight corruption. I have the experience, the skill, and the training to exterminate corruption from our system.” Please send me all money directly to my pockets.” Abba Saheed, a 25-year old unemployed engineering graduate laughs and asks for a selfie. He says mainstream politicians have lied to Nigerians for years, and we’re just tolerating it, not doing anything. “But Maina is awesome because (laughter) it’s really a parody on the political sense in Nigeria,” explains Saheed. “So, that’s why my retired schoolteacher parents and I will vote for Maina.”
Nigerians prefer Maina because he’s a better fake candidate who tells the truth about lying, than a real politician who lies about telling the truth. Maina will make government more accountable and transparent. He’s the best candidate that Nigerians should support because we’re so much angry or too much disappointed to support anybody else. Maina is a sensation. People are feverishly waiting for him to declare his candidacy. Though the incumbent president still enjoys some goodwill, but to the majority of disenchanted citizens, Maina is king – the next president.
Nigeria will reap four major benefits from the candidacy of Maina. First, his candidacy will serve as a creative prank that will draw attention to issues especially corruption in the system or promote a certain platform. Second, it will mobilize the energy and engagement of Nigerian youth. Third, it carries similar elements to the humor and public theater stunts that our politics is known for. Fourth, his candidacy will stir a dominant generation to begin challenging the old political order and shake up the status quo political parody.