The stage is now set for
the much awaited and much talked about 2015 general election. It is a crucial election. This election offers us the opportunity to prove our self before the international community, whose eyes are all over us.
“We are interested in Nigeria because it is the Big Brother of our region. What happens in Nigeria affects us all, not just in West Africa but Africa as a whole”, says Mr. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Beyond Africa, Nigeria is a major contributor to the UN Peace Keeping Force and currently sits at the UN Security Council. Certainly all eyes worldwide are on us and we face a huge political test for our future rating in the international forum. We must pass this crucial test.
The presidential candidates, the gubernatorial candidates, the National and State Assembly candidates have talked to us. We have all listened to the issues they raised. Some draw us to the fact that most of our politicians are very desperate. Their utterances give the impression that Nigeria will become a super state where the system of delivery has fully developed overnight. For instance, a vice presidential candidate of one of the political parties told us that her party if elected, would create eight million jobs in one year. Most politicians believe they could use whatever means necessary to achieve their objective. It is a huge insult on the enlightened electorate for one to fool us by making us believe they are magicians who will turn the country into an utopia state overnight. This is the handiwork of weak politicians whose desire is to hoodwink the electorate.
We all know that the presidential garment will be won by one of the aspirants. No one can predict right now who will win. Obviously some have what others lack, and we all have our shaky favourites in the race.
The best leader is the one who has the support of majority of the people he aspires to lead. This is why the conventional method of choosing leaders all over the civilized world is to go to the polls to seek the choice of the people. Unlike the pre-war political parties, all the present crew have national outlook and the appearance of competence. Nevertheless, whoever wins will still require the team-work of the other crew.
In the words of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan “the present system of winner takes all is causing problems. We should come up with a system that will ensure that when a party wins the governorship or the presidential at the national level, in forming cabinet, the parties that did very well will also by right, by law and not by privilege or discretion of the governor or the president, be meant to have a share of appointments in that government. If this is done, they will be mindful of their conduct and utterances”
Twenty years ago, late Professor Claude Ake strongly warned against this when he said, “ln Nigeria the struggle for political power is so intense that political competition escalates to a form of warfare. What causes this is the simple fact of political power being so highly valued. The more political power is valued, the more intense the struggle for it. In Nigeria, where the capture of state means everything, it is naturally pursued with maniacal zeal. Those who win state power can have all the wealth they want even without working while those who lose the struggle for state power cannot have security in the wealth they have made ever by hard work. The capture of state power inevitably becomes a matter of life or death. This is one reason why our politics is so intense, anarchic and violent”.
A world renowned Professor of History, Prof. Philipp Gigantes in his book – Power & Greed, described some human beings thus: “There are people who insist on breakup or circumventing society’s rules. They always want more and more and hence they disturb the social order. They are Manichaeans, creators as well as destroyers. They can be compared to the dominant male in a pride of lions. The rest of the pride does all the work to get a kill, the dominant male gets the best share of the mean, all the sex and he does the serious roaring, the dominant lion has the power and he has the greed … Augustus, the first Roman Emperor acquired absolute power which led inevitably to absolute corruption”. It is obvious he was referring to Nigerian leaders.
The plain truth is that politicians who are seen not to give a damn about morality are increasingly finding themselves devoid of support. But mere lack of support could easily spread outward and onward to a wholesale distrust and lack of interest in politics in general. And if that were to happen we would have a situation in which the mass of the people would abrogate their political responsibility. For that to happen would be a calamity.
Let us avoid doing things that bring disgrace to Nigeria. At the 2015 General Elections Sensitisation Workshop on Non-violence held in Abuja recently where the former Secretary General of UN, Mr. Kofi Annan, was the guest speaker, one of the presidential candidates, Professor Comfort Oluremi Sonaiya (Kowa Party), said that it was disgraceful to invite the international community to discuss how we can organize our election. I totally agree with the ‘professor. This is because in 2005, a cabinet minister in President Museveni’s government of Uganda while addressing a political rally asked the people not to behave like Nigerians who do not know how to count themselves. What a huge insult. A swift, prompt and brilliant reaction from Nigeria High Commission in Kampala saved my face.
Let us aim at having a credible election this time around. Let us give Professor Jega and INEC a chance and for once have a credible election. Let us for once surprise the world by conducting a free, fair and credible poll that would satisfy the democratic tenets of one man one vote. Let us all work and move this great country forward.
What is necessary now is the re-establishment of solid moral standards of behaviour. We as a nation now stands at such an advanced stage of knowledge of all kinds- medical, technology, scientific, agricultural and educational. What a great opportunity. Never before in history has there been such a colossal potential for achievement or wastage. Let us use our perception, intelligence, sensitivities and nerve ending to avoid disaster and to save something true and fine.
We will have one president after the elections. The first assignment of our president should be to assume the role of a political agent of national unification. He must rule with a truly national face otherwise he is not fit to lead. He must dare to offer the country the truth in the hope that it will have the sense to embrace him.
The duty to cast coyness aside in the interest of national unity does not lie upon the President alone. But he as a leader cannot afford to be arrogantly reluctant to tell the nation of its sickness and to specify his remedies.
There will be people of proven political integrity who may not belong to the same political camp with the President. Mr. President should endeavour to bring such men and women to his fold to help build a healthier and happier nation. It requires great political will to take such a decision. But it is time to set aside old bitterness and rivalries. Let us agree with each other and live in peace.
Many will say that such a unification is impossible and that one excludes the other. But just as a week is long time so nothing is impossible in politics. The division and animosities of the past will remain, but politicians are used to pretending these do not exist. We are all Nigerians and it is time we forgot our personal antipathies.
One thinks the president and the rest of the national leaders must acknowledge this fact with appropriate humility and offer themselves as non-sectarian nationalists pledged to clear up the mess we are in. This can only be achieved by team work.
We all know all the people contesting election in the places we registered to vote. Let us examine each of them thoroughly and vote wisely, using our God given conscience. This is the most essential duty we all owe ourselves, our children and our great country, Nigeria.
Let us learn to tolerate one another and live peacefully together like brothers and sisters and avoid doing things that will make us perish together as fools.
Sir Ichoku (JP), was Director, Public Enlightenment, Ministry of Information and Communications, Rivers State.