As the 2019 general elections inch closer by the day, Nigerian voters should be wary and indeed, careful in taking sides with politicians, especially when they engage in brick-bats and all forms of altercation. This is because in most instances such are for selfish ends rather than the overall interest of the country and its good people. All in the bid to capture political power, or retain it, more by crook than by hook, good governance has been sacrificed for subterfuge, betrayals, outright use of force and fiat and all manner of laughable intrigues.
Taking a retrospective view of Nigeria’s political landscape since the return of democracy in 1999 and the major events that have defined and shaped it, it should be obvious that ordinary Nigerians have not had value for the sacred trust and immense goodwill they have invested in the political class. Whereas, many of them had looked forward eagerly to the deepening of democratic culture, much of what they have got is that of politicians leaving the substance (of good governance) to chasing the shadows (of self aggrandizement).
Whereas, ordinary Nigerians had the fervent hope that the new crop of policy makers would understand and assuage their mounting pains of poverty and ignorance, what has dominated the political sphere are issues that are predicated on the personalizing of political power. Making the rule rather than the exception from 1999 were controversial issues such as certificate forgery scandals, the use of impeachment by the lawmakers either as a bargaining chip. We have had other distractions such as intense intra-party squabbles, killings of perceived political foes with voiceless victims such as Chief Bola Ige, Harry Marshal, Aminasari Dokubo, Funsho Williams and Dr. Ayo Daramola (all of blessed memory).Hardly does anyone talk about them again. That is Nigeria’s brand of dog-eat-dog politics for you!
Not done, we have been served other political melodrama of the weirdest kind such as the use of the anti-graft bodies especially the EFCC as a veritable tool of treachery, as weapon of witch hunt against perceived political foes or for political vendetta. We have had incessant increase in the pump price of petroleum products and the comatose state of the four refineries whose Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) has remained only a pipe dream!
As expected, the political class has redefined the concept of corruption. Chief amongst these is using one’s position to feather the nest, be bold enough to be paraded in the court of law as having corruptly enriched oneself, while putting on a cosmetic smile and raising a fist to acknowledge the cheers from the rented crowd! That is not all.
As a former governor, the best bet is to use part of the ill-gotten wealth to find your way to the otherwise hallowed chambers of the National Assembly as a Senator. There you have the audacity to make laws for those who still do not understand that here in Nigeria, political power is meant for the favoured few who must trample on our common will with our common wealth?!
Even after Senator Shehu Sani revealed that each Nigerian Senator smiles home every blessed month with a whopping N13.5 million as running cost in addition to the over N750,000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances no Non- Governmental Organization(NGO) has deemed it fit to fight for its reversal. None has sponsored any bill in that regard or led any mass protest to decry it.
So, why the hue and cry that one of them, Gbajabiamila actually went ahead and bought a N75m Mercedes G-wagon car as a birthday gift for his darling wife? As criticisms trail the show of opulence in the midst of grinding poverty, the man in the eye of the storm says that he saved for years to achieve his dream. “Tell that to the marines!”, an angry analyst expressed his angst. But that is only a part of the larger problem.
The wave of violence and related blood-letting that trailed the recent primaries of the ruling APC as well as the parallel versions across the states should inform us that all is not well with our polity. Another controversial issue is that of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration always baring its fangs when his erstwhile political friends suddenly turn into ferocious foes. It happened when Alhaji Atiku Abubakar cross carpeted back to the PDP. Soon after, Intels, one of the companies he has interests in became EFCC ‘s target for investigation!
In a similar odious replay of the use of political power for personal gains, when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo dared the president not to attempt to return to Aso Rock, come 2019, Nigerians were suddenly reminded of the long-forgotten alleged financial scam of $15 billion electric power probe. So, the question is this- should the fight against corruption be selective? And why must former PDP stalwarts, alleged to have soiled their hands in shady deals suddenly become saints as soon as they jump ship to the APC? What moral lessons are our politicians teaching the younger generation? Who is fooling who, and who is allowing himself to be fooled?
In essence, one would want Nigerians to ‘shine their eyes’ and realize that most of those who hold our collective political destiny in the hands have no allegiance whatsoever to the Nigerian state, or the people. They do not believe in people’s power or terms such as ‘in the interest of the people’ or the ‘common good’. They have misconstrued political power as the easiest avenue to enrich themselves and their cronies. But we cannot go on this weedy way for long. Not at all!
It is in that wise, that enlightened citizens are asking for a thorough review of the constitution so that power is returned to the people where it should rightly reside. Devolving political and economic powers to the federating units (states or geo-political zones) as against this injurious unitary system of government (with state governors going cap-in-hand every month-end to Abuja for crumbs from the master’s table) has become imperative, if we want good governance.
We want institutional review that would make it impossible for political appointees to dip their hands into the national till and like avaricious locusts strip our green fields into desert wastelands and yet get away with blue murder. We want Nigerian politicians to be true ‘servant leaders’ as former President Umar Yar’dua rightly advocated.
The electorate should therefore, get registered and use their voter’s card to elect only leaders that are sincerely desirous of restructuring the polity to benefit the people.