By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
“We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Olusegun Obasanjo
Despotic governments demonize liberal values of democracy, feel endangered by prospects of participatory leadership and criminalize those clamouring for change and liberalization of the political spaces. They are rejuvenated by consensus candidacy and ‘line-up politics’. These are retrogressive ideologies with imprimaturs of in-group dictatorship. Consensus ideas are chance limiting concepts. They rise and fall on restrictions of prospects of inclusiveness because it dissuades free participation. If there is anything selective devoid of uniform standard in political competition consensus idea is. It is an exclusive endorsement process.
In this situation, candidates are selected, endorsed and supported not on merit or popular support but on instruction by the classes of despots. The function of consensus is political triumph at all cost for sustaining the vicious or repressive hold on power and every weapon – terror, murder, money, influence, intimidation, blackmail, media assault and violence- are used to ensure that political power and control are not lost. In this frantic hunt for power, legitimacy is rarely a significant issue.
However, power without legitimacy is stolen, like any other stolen thing; it is in a wrong place and in an unlawful custody of a wrong person. By being truly chosen and voted into power according to free will of the electorates, one is expressively given a contract to serve, subject to terms of the service. This contract of service confers legitimacy on the holder. The contract of service determines what the texture of good governance should be, whether the quantitative and qualitative dividends are sufficient to be classified as good performance. The terms of the contract also define conditions for renewal. By this general principle, the conclusion is that the many solidarity tours by unscrupulous elements that end with calls for continuation are not legitimate enough because they are attempts by political mercenaries and sectional flag-wavers to delude the ruler.
Sovereignty belongs to the people and through the ballot freely expressed authorities to exercise power are conferred. Rulers seek endorsement by all means while leaders have popular endorsements freely given to them in transparent constitutional processes. In brief, the expectations in the contract domesticate the holders and ostracize super ordination of particular interest of particular sections or people. Regime domesticated by the mission and vision of its expectations is likely to partner with the people and therefore, more prone to sticking to democratisation processes, policies and programmes.
Democratization is often described as ‘democratic deepening’, reflecting the continuous ability of democratic institutions to improve political participation to make it become more open and vigorous; and enhance accountability1. Democracy deepening describes those active steps taken by the governance in collaboration with the citizens to make the process more functional and proactive to the political needs of the sundry participants. It is consolidating the processes of inclusive politics through various platforms. Political parties, free media and bills constitutionalising freedom of association are such platforms. Consolidating democracy ‘is the process of achieving broad (and) deep legitimation, such that all significant political actors at both elite and mass levels have the believe that the democratic system is better for their society than any other realistic alternative they can imagine.2 Democracy is all about inclusiveness. If there is no provision for people’s inclusion in the party, there may be little participation since one begets the other. Inclusiveness stresses how wide the circle of party decision-makers is.3 In the most inclusive parties, all party members, or even all party supporters, are given the opportunity to decide on important issues, such as the choice of the party leaders or the selection of party’s flag-bearers.
Due to the fact that inclusiveness is a matter of process and formal rule, more inclusive parties will offer more opportunities for open deliberation prior to the decision stage.4 In Nigeria, some politicians have propensities to see inclusiveness and fair contest as excruciating bumps, unwanted and detestable in a speedy stride to grab the power.
A destabilizing fear of possible failure in a fair political contest creates prospects for subterranean moves to checkmate the other by any means. Just as the 2019 election year draws near, distasteful political skirmishes are progressively becoming visible from unlikely quarters; the fights customarily herald confusions that will orchestrate in the end an imposition of disreputable candidates on Nigerians as new sets of ‘absolute rulers’. Sadly, all manners of depraved and forbidden electoral practices exemplify Nigeria’s election. In most cases, such acts are carried out with active collaboration of those whose duty it is to make the playing field, free, fair and credible. If the playing field is denied of competitiveness, it is ludicrous to call the charade free, fair and credible. When this is the case, such election process is definitely not inclusive.
The intermittent political-dog-fights account for the most principal reasons why Nigeria has never had true political leaders, objective nationalists. So far, we have enough of substitutes- the bigots, tribalists and religious champions- who are today upgraded and celebrated as national heroes. These are the ones that set the house, Nigeria, on fire. With the ascension to power Buhari-led government has dragged Nigeria back to primitive sectional interest with the reintroduction of nepotism, favouritism and clannish politics. Nigeria is being overpowered politically, socially and economically because of demise of merit in leadership selection processes. May I remind my readers that the Buhari-led APC government set Nigeria on downward slope to slip with overt discrimination in the appointment of ministers and security chiefs. Buhari’s appointees are his kinsmen and religious affiliates but the concern of the Nigerian public is that these appointees are incompetent and have failed every good performance test.
Former President Obasanjo, in January 2018 asked Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019. According to Obasanjo, Buhari has failed in leadership, performed below expectation, and should honourably “dismount from the horse”. He accused Buhari of nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. For Obasanjo this has grave consequences on performance of the government to the detriment of the nation. Obasanjo said it would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. There are clear cases of collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action against prevalence of impunity and recklessness in the polity. Obasanjo noted that Buhari has poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided, and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. He accused the government of passing the buck and blaming past governments. This demonstrates unwillingness to accept one’s own responsibility. Obasanjo concluded thus “let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game.”
However, the needs for national heroes, the impartial statesmen who see Nigeria as own constituency gave spin to the ‘alternative heroes’, the ethno-religious protagonists who do not see Nigeria beyond tiny cluster of family members, friends and religious associates. The standards have been lowered. We have searched unproductively for contemporary great Nigerians that can be compared with Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Olufemi Awolowo and many other objectively patriotic Nigerians. And in times to come this list of duplicitous heroes will include the present bigots and brazenly corrupt politicians who have done everything possible to destroy this nation both by words and actions. Of course, the standard for beatification of some of these decadent compatriots was instituted when defunct GEJ’s government lined-up some questionable Nigerians for national award of excellence. And probably before the government of Buhari finishes whenever, all his security chiefs, Bola Tinubu, Lai Mohammed, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi etc, will be canonized. Why not? Tinubu, Mohammed, Amaechi among others gave him power, while the security chiefs helped him to hold the power tenaciously and illegitimately having failed woefully in all facets of good governance out of utter incompetence. Without dispute, there are countless Nigerians that have been excellent and most deserving of this recognition but they cannot be noticed due to perfidious politics and primitive nepotism.
It is thus not surprising that finest candidates hardly ever emerge winners in Nigeria’s elections. They are methodically weeded out in the primary phases of the contests by incredible financial costs of registration forms and discriminating endorsement processes that require prospective candidates to be authorized by the party financiers.
In advance of the election year, politicians are mobilising hastily, aligning and realigning only to disintegrate immediately after the election when the winner has impenitently taken all. For many ideologues in the opposition groups, the principal objective of the frantic political enterprises to harmonise factions is to ensure that the ruling party does not continue, simple and short. Ahead of the 2019 election, ‘powerful forces’ have started laying traps with poison ropes, they have commenced hypocritical fraternity visiting religious centres for endorsement, recruiting and arming thugs for ballot snatching, giving stolen money to electoral officials in anticipation for falsification of figures, and identifying with constructive statements. For the rascals, the six months prudent behaviour in preparation for election in February 2019 can be terrifically tormenting. But this hypocritical ritual (good behaviour) is what is required to fly again exclusively with re-election tickets. For felons the remaining six months are period of dress-up for plump political job. Now is the time to be seen as de-tribalised Nigerians. As a period of fattening for political success the unscrupulous folks tend to give the impression that they are in alliance with the masses against imaginary enemies, the more powerful forces. On the contrary, they are the peoples’ real enemies, the political repressors, the stage-managers of collective plight, and the people that constrict democratisation efforts to limit and contain political and economic successes of others for egotistically.
Democratic consolidation revolves around inclusiveness, accountability and dedication to platforms indispensable for making the processes secure, extending the life expectancy, ‘making them immune against the threat of authoritarian regression and building dams against the eventual reverse waves.5 Some scholars contended that ‘democratization is a process of political renewal and the affirmative acceptance of the supremacy of popular will and consensual obligation over the logic of elitism and parochialism. It embraces both the shift in the disposition of individuals and classes towards the polity and the institutionalization of genuine representative political structures and organs of mass mobilization and conscientisation.6
In Nigeria, as in many other so called developing countries, dictatorial exclusions are increasingly inevitable brands of the politics. The tendency to remain in power and control perpetually until death does one apart has increased in frequency. Hanging on to power beyond the official mandate is ‘questionable legacy totalitarian leaders have bequeathed the world of politics. Too many African nations have had to deal with the prospect of their leaders becoming shamefully irresponsible and refusing to leave office due in part to their ability to muster parliamentary endorsement to continue indefinitely. The elongation of the tenure starts with undemocratic and illegitimate changes of the constitutional order.
We are seriously reminded of Mohamed Morsi, the former democratically elected President of Egypt. Morsi as a President of a New Political Egypt was unable to see himself as a President for the whole Egyptians, a President with gargantuan responsibility of helping the people live the dividends of their triumphant struggle against repression and dictatorship of One-Man-One-Party symbolized by a defunct regime of Hosni Mubarak. In what was considered attempts to consolidate the power for subjective ends, Morsi invested so much authority on himself and was reproachingly preoccupied with programmes considered prejudicial to the collective interests of the Egyptians. With a support of parliamentary majority, he tinkered the constitution according to the prescriptions of a radical Islamic Party on whose platform he rose to power. Unfortunately, Morsi’s predispositions towards the militant religious ideology of his party gave arsenal to opposition groups who accused him of indiscretion, power grabbing and manoeuvrings to Islamise Egypt. It was his unwillingness to critically evaluate the merit of the accusers’ view points as expected of a conscientious national leader that orchestrated flames of protests, violent unrest and finally military intervention.
Egypt went back to a regime of dictatorship this time by soldiers and civilian proxies. The nation Egypt by this has its infant democracy slaughtered prematurely by ravenousness and indiscretion of her self-serving elites. Since the dethronement of President Morsi, Egypt has remained overwhelmed by violent demonstrations as some members of Muslim Brotherhood Party vowed destruction of unprecedented magnitude if Morsi was not reinstated. At present, the military has moved from quick and brief intervention to save the nation to permanent custody of the politics and Egyptian democratisation. It is no more the question of consolidating the achievements of the democratic change and deepening the processes, it is stability. This stability thesis is based on a proposition that civil war in Egypt will be more potent in destabilisation of the Islamic world that what is happening in Syria. We had issues in Libya, Gaddafi refused to concede power until he was slaughtered by his merciless adversaries. We have replications of the Libya’s problems of leadership in many African states including Togo, Cameroun to mention the few. Disloyal politicians work hard enough to make their leaders rulers, dictatorial and tyrant. At the end of legitimate period they persuade the rulers to tinker the constitution for permission to continue holding power until death. The rulers are given the erroneous impressions of indispensability. This phenomenon is universal.
In Nigeria, these dispositions have started playing out with groups urging feeble President Buhari to continue, to go for re-election. These calls are heavily supported by solidarity visits by all colours and shapes of deceitful groups and associations. We are today inundated with combative polemics in favour of the right Buhari to continue. I think the President should be circumspect enough to understand that he must not continue because people with clandestine programmes are pushing him to do so. He should be godly enough to weigh carefully the implications of such continuation when has shown comprehensive lack of capacity.
For me, he betrays his archenemies if he decides to choose the part of honour. The Buhari has not done enough to deserve re-election or continuation call. This fact cannot be negated for fairness. APC-led government has given Nigerians a country basically dysfunctional, deeply corrupt, sectional and plagued by desperate forces of evil. The forces are contented to crash Nigeria. The Buhari needs good judgment to perceive beyond the glossy pictures of indispensability methodically presented to him by rapacious political opportunists. To accept the dubious bait of automatic re-election and promises of easy victory is delusory. Nigerians are truly dissatisfied with Buhari’s abysmally low accomplishment and destabilising politics. It has always been the regular Nigerians that bear the burden of the scorch-earth government.
Chris Odinaka Nwedo +39 331 191 8496, +39 351 290 8503