Nigeria: The Leadership Has Faltered

“I can’t take you serious if you think GEJ is Nigeria’s problem.”

“I can’t even take you serious if you think APC is Nigeria’s solution. You are kidding right?”

@allygucci

On a good day, the tweets above should draw out several sympathizers of the ruling party, People’s Democratic Party PDP and the main opposition party, All Progressive Congress, APC. It is very easy to fall into the trap of defending the PDP with the simplistic argument of hating the incumbent president, a tag for APC and its followers.  The Jonathanians and the anti GEJ are the new lingo for this political discuss.

The simple answer is NO. President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan referred to as GEJ in the tweet above is surely not the cause of Nigeria’s abattoir of problems. For a president who has just spent four years in office, our collective problems precede his birth or foray into the political arena. For a man who swayed Nigerians with his “I have no shoes” campaign, it is very evident that the state has failed to provide social welfare for all her citizens. It is of no bias to judge the man by his actions and term in office, he is not the cause of our collective problems but the problems have gained momentum under his leadership.

The president can be likened to an okada man who has no motorcycle license but entrusted with driving a 16-wheeler truck loaded with 40 tonnes of Dangote cement from Lagos to Sokoto, only God will receive the casualties. Especially in a country where emergency numbers and response are surreal, survivors will have their God to thank.  The Yoruba adage says “Orisa bo le gbemi, fimile bi ose ba mi”, that is if the gods can’t make life better, don’t leave us worse than you met us. President Jonathan in his four years of office has taken Nigeria to a new low, when you think you have seen it all, his presidency  possess a  mantra unique to his kind, puerility.

The APC is not the solution to Nigeria’s problems but why not give the party a chance. It is in the best interest of our young democracy, to ensure the country does not become a one party state. If wishes were horses, I would make the citizens vote in APC in 2015, PDP in 2019 and APC in 2023 for presidential elections only, subsequently throw all other elections open. The danger of a one party state is nepotism and impunity, the ruling party becomes docile without any genuine intent to put the best breeds forward.

South Africa is proving to be one, the African National Congress, ANC, which was touted as the savior of the people, fought for the emancipation of a democratic country where all men should be  equal, is gradually slipping into another spectrum. Beyond the existence of institutions which serve as checks and balance in a democracy, the citizens’ power to vote out a failing political party and its leadership is sacrosanct.

How does one explain the £14 million spent on upgrading the private residence of President Jacob Zuma in a country where inequality is high? Perhaps the absence of an alternative political party as evidenced in the last elections in South Africa is the reason why the ANC is comfortable with such an outrageous spending.  Despite losing about 11% of its share of votes in the last decade and fewer votes than all previous elections, the ANC is still with a comfortable majority lead in the 2014 elections.

Democracy does not guarantee us the foresight into the true intents and qualities of candidates at any elections, it does guarantee us the opportunity to change such elected office holders who perform below expectations, provided there are free and fair elections.

 

Can we in any case deny that political parties have managed to have an almost total monopoly of public offices, to the detriment of other actors, such as firms, universities, interest organizations and associations? It follows that political parties are also extremely vulnerable to the accusation of penalizing merit and competence, and restraining the spontaneity and will of civil society.

Alfio Mastropaolo 2012

 

The PDP and APC are made up of Nigerians with a slim edge over one another, the goal is to grab power. Leaving all decisions to political parties or staying away from exercising universal voting rights is not in the best interest of citizens. Voting does have consequences. Any political party will steer off course when left to decide the future of the country without the citizens holding on to the power to vote out failed leadership. Every country must have its own acceptable minimum standard of leadership.

The need to vote out the PDP and President Jonathan through a free and fair election is not one embedded in hate, religion and ethnicity, as many whose daily bread is tied to Jonathan in office will want you to believe. After all Nigerians from all ethnic groups and religions voted for him in 2011 and it is important for the same citizens to ensure he is voted out.

The APC is still doing the catch up, building a political party based on merger and multitude of vested interests will never be an easy task. At the risk of being seen as destabilizing the political system, the APC must begin to outline how it will serve Nigerians differently, address the issues and engage the citizens. It would be suicidal for the APC to continue to think a dislike for the PDP is an automatic support for the APC. Many are gradually slipping into the undecided and stay away voting bracket. The APC in all it stands for must not repeat the PDP folly one has vehemently opposed, a good example is the story making the rounds about APC’s intent to elect a national youth leader who is above 40 years old. I still have doubts about such a story but if it is true, it is not too late to discard the idea. Finding a young party member below the age of 35 should not be a problem for the APC. The PDP at the height of anyhowness, elected a 60-year-old to lead the youth wing but succumbed to the voice of reasoning and now has a national youth leader who claims to be below 35. Anyway, not all dates of births are truly certified in Nigeria, the courts literally provide affidavits to change your age if you can afford to pay for it.

The rise of #BringBackOurGirls campaign is a reflection of the state of the nation, from the failure of the state to ensure the Boko Haram terrorists are kept in check, to the government officials who seem to live in Pluto, the Nigerian army which deceived the world about rescuing the abducted girls and the President who had to take all the time in the world to address the nation over the missing girls, dereliction of duty is the order of the day.  The same government is used to silence when crises arise across the country, is it a way to wish them away or avoid taking responsibility for leadership. The national assembly is nowhere to be found beyond the cameo appearance for the cameras by its leadership under the Abuja rain. If there was no WEFA in Abuja last week, the president and his government would not have responded to the demand to #BringBackOurGirls. WEFA is over, the police have been set upon peaceful protesters, what does this government want? [I am under no illusion that an APC led federal government would not use the police to disperse peaceful protesters]

Yet the same federal government is playing to the gallery by asking for citizens support as if it does not exist, unfortunately the citizens have a clear demand unless the government is not listening. Nigerians are not asking for too much, good governance and a decisive action to end terrorism which includes providing needed resources for the army to stop Boko Haram.

The political parties will not bell the cat but citizen participation should lead the way. The command of the nation has not been lost but it has faltered.

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