Preparations are in top gear for the conduct of the general elections in 2015. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is putting in place all of the manpower and logistics necessary to guarantee peaceful and credible elections nationwide. Major political parties and gladiators are gearing up to either retain power or wrest same from opponents. Nigerians too are expectant that the elections would be peaceful, free and fair and that their votes would count to such an extent that the positive and rapid changes they yearn for will at least seem attainable. It’s indeed a flurry of activities in the polity.
But the big question is wither Nigeria in 2015 and beyond? This year has been a very harrowing one for Nigerians as a people and indeed a challenging one for the government in terms of fulfilling its obligations of securing their lives and properties and meeting their basic needs in education, health and power supply among others. Is there hope therefore for expectant Nigerians that whoever will be President come May 29, 2015 will be one that will solve the problems of terrorism, insecurity, corruption and the plethora of ills that plague our land? Will the coming dispensation bring some measure of respite and succor to a traumatized people in dire need of a new lease of life?
A cursory look at those jostling to unseat the incumbent president does not give discerning observers any hope of a greater tomorrow. It is sad that amongst the major contenders for the Presidency, one is yet to see that person that Nigerians can invest their confidence and hope in to pull us out of the woods and lead us to the Promised Land.
While he may have come at a critical time in our national life, there is no gainsaying the fact that with a little more political will, strength of character and decisiveness President Goodluck Jonathan could have done better than his present average performance. One should however give it to him that in spite of the many distractions, he has made some impact in areas where previous administrations have failed. Not many Nigerians will feel comfortable and at home with a President Muhammadu Buhari whose antecedents make many doubt if he could be a national leader especially as he wears the label of a religious bigot. This is not the type of leader Nigeria needs at this period of her national life when ethnicity, tribalism, religious differences and sectionalism seem to define how people relate with each other whereas what we truly need is a leader who will be a rallying point and one who will inspire the spirit of unity amongst us. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar comes across to me as an opportunist who having had the privilege to be Vice President, only one step to the Presidency, dared to, legitimately though, aspire to become President. His activities since stepping out of office showed that he seeks power, not for the benefit and welfare of Nigerians, but for the sake of power and her accoutrements. Other supposed aspirants are just pretenders and mere additions to the pack.
Lack of internal democracy within our political parties had been the bane of our democracy. It is sad that in spite of identifying this problem, not much has been achieved in reversing the trend with a bid to strengthen our democracy. It is sad that the candidates representing these parties still emerge through fraudulent consensus arrangements or outright imposition. Until Nigerian political parties begin to practice internal democracy, it will be a forlorn hope to expect our democracy to take firm root because as lawyers would say, you cannot build something on nothing; and what you don’t have, you cannot give.
Nigeria is certainly not bereft of men and women of character, integrity and competence whose antecedents and credentials can be vouched for. Nigeria is also not bereft of individuals who are selfless, honest and with unimpeachable reputation; men and women who are God-fearing and not possessed with the spirit of greed and mindless acquisition. Unfortunately, such men of honor hardly venture into the murky waters of Nigerian politics because they fear to get themselves smeared in the attendant political brickbats.
Successive leaders of this country have failed Nigeria and Nigerians; the followers also. Citizen participation is of paramount importance at this stage of our national life. The burden of effecting positive change in Nigeria is on all of us. The start is to exercise our franchise. Nigerians must begin to enforce their rights whilst also performing their civic duties. They must familiarize themselves with public issues and moderate how elected officials utilize power. Registration of voters and collection of permanent voter’s cards are on-going and the attitude of some Nigerians is ‘what is my business with this; I don’t need the card’.
I would love to see a better than Goodluck Jonathan assume the Presidency come May 29, 2015. Sadly, there are no indications that we will get such a person from the line-up of gladiators we have seen so far. Internal wrangling and current happenings in the All Progressives Congress (APC) do not indicate that the party is a better alternative neither does it seem prepared to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). If the truth must be told, whoever the APC ends up presenting as its Presidential flag-bearer stands no chance of defeating President Goodluck Jonathan who, even without looking into a crystal ball, is sure to emerge the PDP’s Presidential candidate given the proximity to the elections and the amount of work that needs to be done in terms of campaigning.
Now, back to the question – What hope for Nigeria in 2015? The only flicker of hope I see for Nigeria and Nigerians is perhaps a “freed” Jonathan – a Jonathan that is free of all encumbrances that have made him a hostage in power – and therefore with his own free will to initiate and implement policies that would change Nigeria without the fear of not being re-elected; a Jonathan that would not pander to the whims and caprices of over-bearing god-fathers, kiths and kins of his Ijaw stock as well as political leaders and other corrupting influences that make leaders veer off course . While one may shy away from admitting it, this is the fate of Nigeria and Nigerians. It is my hope and prayer that unfolding events in our country and polity would be one that will herald the positive turn-around of our nationhood.
God bless Nigeria!!!
Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org
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