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Akinola: A rejection of dodgy ‘transformation’

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THE culture of wanting to induce the support of potential voters with gifts, dates back to the introduction of electoral politics in our polity.  One had observed, while growing up as a child, that politicians of the First Republic gave bags of salt to voting communities in anticipation of their support.  In my community, potential voters considered it a taboo to accept salt from a candidate they would not be voting for.  Even when seeking to induce support with a gift of any nature, as well as accepting it, should be considered wrong, Nigerians of a generation did demonstrate somehow that they had honour and integrity.

   This can hardly be said of Nigerians of today; there are not a few who have been “groomed” into anticipating that they must be bribed by whoever was seeking their support.  It has also become something akin to an official policy – stomach infrastructure – to seek to corrupt the sensibilities of would-be voters with gifts that are merely periodic – gifts at election time by politicians who would not give a damn about the plight of ordinary Nigerians once their motives have been achieved.

   Of course, ours is still a very crude democracy but the need for a change of attitude cannot be more urgent.  In the advanced democratic nations of the world, it would be against the law of the land to offer or accept bribes for the purpose of procuring electoral support.  Politicians of enlightened societies “bribe” with their manifestos.  At every election year, the potential voter is able to judge for himself or herself if politicians have been faithful to their promises.  Without any sentiments, primordial or otherwise, the voting public would ask those seeking their support, especially for re-election: “Are we better off today than we were four or five years ago when we first elected you into office?”  How one wishes our Nigerian voters had matured to this level!

   I was not one of the most enthusiastic advocates of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency in the 2011 election, not least because of my honest support for the principle of rotational presidency.  However, I had wished President Jonathan would succeed with his philosophy of “transformation”.  Transformation, in my honest assumption, should not just be about changing or improving the physical landscape of society; the transformation that can endure should be one that has resulted in bringing about attitudinal changes that conform with acceptable standards of decency and civilised behaviour.

   There are a few things one wished Goodluck Jonathan had done differently if he were a transforming president.   If he was constitutionally qualified to seek re-election, and he believed he had done reasonably well as president, why pretend to Nigerians about his ambition to want to continue in office?  Why would a successful leader have unleashed on our streets a hoard of sycophants, apparently at the expense of our common purse, to engage in the nuisance of having to be begging him to seek re-election? 

   There were those who more or less vowed to divorce their wives if the greatest president on earth, some kind of Jesus Christ, did not listen to their prayers and seek re-election in 2015.  Suddenly the reluctant Mr. Jonathan emerged as sole candidate of his party, having scared away potential rivals from the contest!

     There is also this allegation that “Ghana-must-go” sacks of assorted currencies were ferried into the homes of influential Nigerians – traditional rulers, pastors, and imams, among others.  There would appear to have consequently been a flurry of endorsements, even by those who should know better that wanting to put a new constitution in place would require the co-operation of all major political parties and not just the promise of an individual. 

    Finally, there is this serious allegation of military complicity in the outcome of the Ekiti State gubernatorial election of June 2014.  It was a verifiable allegation made by an identifiable commissioned officer of the Nigerian military.  He would not have taken a risk on his life and career if he were not convinced of what he had observed and felt disturbed by it. It would be supremely dishonest to dismiss his “allegation” as mere “fabrication”, when a genuinely patriotic leader seeking to transform society would have seized upon it to make a political statement of historical significance.     However, if President Jonathan were connected with this infamy, as alleged or suggested, he would have committed an impeachable offence. 

   Of course, President Jonathan might very well win the 2015 election – one is not campaigning against him – but quite a lot of things would have to be done differently in the future.

• Dr. Akinola wrote from Oxford, United Kingdom.



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