Our dear country Nige
ria and the rest of Africa today face a multiplicity of political, economic, social, environmental, security and cultural challenges that have disrupted our developmental efforts at all levels of governance and social engineering and eroded our identity. Violent conflicts associated with the unremitting struggle for power and scarce resources often result in costly crises at the national and continental levels. As we are all too aware, the African continent is not poor on account of lack of resources; rather, we are victims of ‘resource cause’ and poor leadership that have combined to impoverish our people, who are compelled to helplessly watch this shameful power struggle amongst their insensitive elite classes from the sidelines for too long.
What end should politics serve in contemporary times? As two famous Colombian University scholars, Daron Acemoglo and lames Robinson note in their explosive book appropriately entitled: Why Nations Fail, describe politics as process by which society chooses the rules that will govem it. Politics, according to them, surrounds institutions for the simple reason that institutions may be good for the economic prosperity of a nation, some people or groups, such as the elites of the ruling party or common citizens. Conflicts usually plays out in favour of the powerful groups in any society. It, therefore, follows that the political institutions that are in operation in any society largely determine the quality of life to be enjoyed by the citizens.
In Nigeria, for instance, the correlation between this unrelenting power struggle amongst the elite class and national underdevelopment is so strong that in many instances, citizens willingly forego their franchise in a desperate attempt to avoid being engulfed in election related conflicts that inevitably result in loss of lives and widespread destruction of property by hired thugs and private armies that are commissioned and armed by these despate professional politicians. For instance, in the build-up to the 2011 and 2015 general elections, there were violent conflicts that posed concerns to Nigerian election managers, the helpless electorate, the international election observers and even analysts in the political science community.
Our situation is worsened by the sad fact that political parties are in a constant state of unhealthy rivalries and Implosion from within. The lack of internal democracy in these parties have left a huge dent in our brand of democratic practice. Our experience is that rather stay put to build a formidable opposition to the ruling party, members troop to the winning party to safeguard their pecuniary interests that are usually at variance with the best interest of the people. A former Senator recently declared and I quote him: Life outside the Senate is very suffocating”. He did not ask the rest of us who may never get near the premises of the Senate how life is treating us. That is the paradox of the Nigerian situation today.
Given the inexplicable desperation of the average Nigerian politician to cling to power with or without the expressed mandate of the electorate, it is only by the special grace of God and a dose of good luck that we have not been consumed by the dire security challenges posed by the insurgency in the North Eastern parts of the country, the unremitting daily violence in the
Middle Belt between farmers and well-armed herdsmen, the agitation of Blafran separatists in the South East and militancy in the Niger Delta.
Now, if we add the rising cases of kidnapping of innocent citizens, especially academics to the tally, the full burden of the various conflicts we face in Nigeria begins to become clear. Wherever you look, there are more than enough centripetal forces lurking in hidden and open places, seeking to dismember our nationhood. Some of these contrived or genuine grievances have waited for too long to be frontally addressed by our. leaders, who appear not to read the warning signals emanating from the various crises flash points.
This Conference is coming at a time when security challenges in our environment, particularly during elections are at their peak. The distasteful phrase: Inconclusive elections, is gradually finding a lasting place in our political lexicon. The increasing violent struggles for power is at the centre of several inconclusive elections in recent times, making it not only impossible for election umpires to discharge their statutory obligations, but also leaving many constituencies without representation at both the State and National Assemblies.
I am also happy to note that in the midst of the contrived chaos that brings us a negative image, countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania, and lately Nigeria, have conducted relatively free and fair elections that resulted in peaceful transfer of power from the ruling party to opposition parties on the continent. We hope that this trend would be replicated in the rest of Africa where leaders sit tight in power
until death do them part with the victims of their high-handedness and family dynasty.
Let me hasten to add that Nigerian political scientists stand in a good position to help the nation overcome these challenges through research and enlightenment programmes. As a nation, our journey to improved socio-political and economic advancement would depend so much on committed scholars like you who have a moral and professional obligation to proffer functional solutions to some of the problems I have outlined above.
Prof Ibe is of the University of Port Harcourt.
Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership
Chief John Odigie-oyegun, former National Chairman, All Progressives Congress APC), has charged the party’s leaders to be more progressive and responsive to the people.
He said this at the public presentation of a book”APC’S Litmus Test, Nigerian Democracy and Politics of Change”, written by Dr Salihu Lukman, Director-General, Progressives Congress Forum (PGF) in Abuja, yesterday.
“We are in charge today, a progressive government, a progressive regime, and I think it is proper that we show to the nation that when the people want some degree of change, “we should be responsive to it, we should address it, compromises have to be made, there’s no question about that,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that the APC document on true federalism was still being worked upon before its release.
Odigie-Oyegun said the ideas of people from different parts of the country would be different up to the extent that they would want to go with the proposals in the document.
He said it was however, necessary, vital and mandatory in the interest of the survival of the country that issues regarding federalism were addressed.
“We cannot continue to allow the subject to become something that threatens our nation at any turn.
“So, the earlier we address it, the earlier we show that as a party we are responsive to the feelings of the people, the desires of the people and the wants of the people.
“It becomes easier then, to diffuse the kind of stresses that the nation is passing through today,”Odigie-Oyegun said.
He added that for those at the formation of the APC, the uniqueness of its Constitution and its manifesto promised change was meant by all members with their hearts and beings.
He said unfortunately, the forces of economics had made things not quite the way it was planned.
The APC former national chairman said there was need for the party members to do everything possible to keep it not just alive but very virile.
He added that in spite of general belief, the APC was one party that had put together things that meant hope for the country.
He said the fact that things were bad and people were angry and hungry was not questionable, saying that these were worldwide phenomenon.
Odigie-Oyegun decried the current security challenge in the country.
“It is my hope that we will begin to get control of the security of this nation,” he said.
PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), House of Representatives member has enjoined Nigerian leaders to tow the path of justice, equity, dialogue, and rule of law in the country.
Rep. Toby Okechukwu, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, said this in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja to commemorate the Democracy Day
He added that such path would help to arrest worsening insecurity and arrest separatist agitations across the country.
Okechukwu said that opportunities still abound in preserving the nation’s democracy and reconstruct the union to a more workable piece.
He said that June 12 was designated Democracy Day in honour of a symbol of the nation’s democratic struggles, the late Chief MKO Abiola.
He added that Abiola was unjustly denied the opportunity to exercise an overwhelmingly popular mandate handed him by the Nigerian people on June 12 1993, but only to be celebrated at death.
“The greatest debt the governments and leaders of Nigeria owe every part of this country and every Nigerian is a sense of justice and equity according to the letters and spirit of our constitution.
“The golden rule of justice is to do unto others as you would have them to unto you,” he said.
He called on the Federal Government to take conscious steps to do things that would promote national unity and earn it loyalty.
He also called on leaders to be proactive in creating a clement environment for peace to reign to arrest the present security challenges in the country.
Okechukwu commended the leaders of the South East and the Federal Government for the June 11, dialogue in Enugu to deescalate tension in the region.
He stated that it was a right step that should be sustained and replicated nationwide, while wishing Nigerians a happy Democracy Day.
Democracy Day: PDP Lawmakers Wants Observance Of Rule Of Law
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has called for strict observance of the rule of law to improve democratic practice in the country.
The caucus made the call in a statement by its Leader, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) last Saturday in Abuja.
Chinda called for an environment that would guarantee freedom of speech and standard operations for the fourth estate of the realm.
The lawmaker stressed the need to place greater value on Nigerian lives and for decisive and pragmatic steps to end the avoidable deaths in the country.
He called on the government to restrain the Police and other security agencies from further unleashing violence on unarmed youths and other peaceful protesters.
“They choose to go out and exercise their rights in commemoration of Democracy Day.
“June 12 is a symbol of democratic freedom and supremacy of the people’s power and should be respected by ensuring that all the tenets of democracy are adhered to in all ramifications.
“June 12 is not only about introspection, it is about renewing the commitments of all to the growth of democracy in our dear county.
“It is about ensuring that our country is never again enveloped by darkness, hemmed to the abyss by the sinister forces that threaten our collective rights and freedoms,” he said.
Chinda urged all Nigerians to hold on to democratic principles in spite of the challenges facing the country saying that “good will triumph over evil.”
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