Kanu Nwankwo, one of Nigeria’s greatest and most decorated footballers, has stated his intention to run for president, and he wants to do so as soon as the next elections in 2019.
On one hand, it’s great to see a person who is loved by many Nigerians thanks to his football exploits express their intention to run for the office in which, if successful, they can implement truly developmental plans – or at least provide the basic amenities that would make Nigeria far less a burden to live in for the average person.
Papilo, as Kanu is fondly called, came from the bottom rung of the society and played his way from humble beginnings at Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC) with whom he won a league title in 1993, to the glory days Ajax Amsterdam and Arsenal, as well as being pivotal in Nigeria becoming the first African nation to win an Olympic gold after memorable wins over the more favoured Brazil and Argentina back in 1996.
And because of a heart condition he overcame in his playing days, Kanu went on to set up a foundation that served to help people who have a similar condition but cannot afford the treatment required to treat it and lead a good life afterward.
Basically, Kanu has done more than the barest minimum to score a few points towards a favourable political career. Plus, his intention towards the presidency comes at a time when people are clamouring for the Not Too Young to Run bill to be passed. Kanu will be 42 years old when the presidential election takes place on February 16, 2019 – a suitably young age.
On the other hand, Kanu has little to no political experience and in such a political environment as Nigeria’s, running for president based on inspiration from another ex-footballer, George Weah, becoming president of Liberia earlier this year, seems destined to fail.
While some would argue that Kanu running for president would likely open favourable doors along the corridors of power, some would say it is better if the former striker stayed away from politics altogether so as not to tarnish his good image – since politics is considered a dirty game.
That said, we are the same people who criticize the likes of Kanu and other popular Nigerians for keeping away from politics, yet act all brand new most of the time when they do run for a political office. They usually end up scoring a paltry number of votes at the elections but for a few exceptions who run for relatively lower level offices like Abike Dabiri and Desmond Elliot.
Perhaps, Kanu should have opted to run for a seat in the Federal House of Representatives or in the Senate instead of going straight for the main seat of power. Perhaps, going for that seat is with the intention of gaining a favourable footing in political circles and settling for an office or appointment he truly desires to start a political career with.
Whatever the case is, the question remains – when push comes to shove and as the elections become a matter of weeks and not months, and we have aggressive lobbying, stomach infrastructure and trickles of Nigeria’s riches crumbling down during political campaigns – would you, dear Nigerian, confidently go to the polling booth and vote Kanu Nwankwo as your next president, regardless of whichever party’s umbrella, broom or cloud he contests under?