Epochal declaration and the people
The current biggest news in the Nigerian political terrain is the declaration of Mr. President to seek the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contest for a second term of office in the 2019 election. This epochal declaration has brought to sleep, several speculations surrounding the issue over the last few months. Whilst some sections of the populace have commended the president for his boldness and determination to continue with his good works; others, especially the oppositions, have condemned it because of what they termed a failed first term and a-would-be disastrous second term, if allowed to happen. Whichever way(s) we look at it; one thing is sacrosanct; and, that is the position of the law (our constitution) which makes a person eligible to hold the office for two terms of four years each. As a patriotic law abiding citizen, I can only align with the constitutionality of the declaration by wishing Mr. President the best of luck. As a result, this review is not meant to delve into the content of the declaration per see because, it will not deduct or add to the fact that the move is legally in order. But, it is meant to draw the attention of the government to the state of the nation vis-à-vis the major factors that would determine the consequential response of the people to the declaration at the pools in 2019.
In view of the above, it is pertinent to mention that in every successful democracy, there is usually an all important link between the government and the people. This link is the pursuance, attainment and sustenance of the basic needs of the citizenry. Any government that is found wanting in this aspect of the relationship is classified as unprogressive and unpopular. Needless to say that, it was the breakdown of this link that led to the fall of the PDP`s administration. The people were in urgent need for a government that will positively turnaround the unpleasant situations in the country through the revamping of grounded manufacturing industries; genuine supports for small scale businesses to thrive; implementation of policies to create jobs for the ever growing unemployed youths; the provision of affordable health care and educational facilities; introducing measures aimed at reducing prices of essential commodities that will enable majority of the masses to afford reasonable meals and manageable accommodation; and, provision of adequate security to mention but a few. The `apostles of change` were seen as credible option and the electorates massively voted them into power at the 2015 general elections. Thus, one would have expected this administration to pursue such policies that will ensure satisfaction of the immediate basic needs of the already disgruntled masses but, the present situation in the country speaks for itself. It is very disheartening that with few weeks to its 3rd anniversary, our leaders are still finding it difficult to positively turn around the situations. It has now become a common thing to blame the ills inherited from the PDP`s government for their inability to live up to expectations. Interestingly however, it was these same ills that were used as electioneering campaign tools to woo the supports of the electorates in the countdown to the elections. So, it is surprising that the people who were supposedly fully aware and prepared for the task of turning around the situations are now using those challenges of common and public knowledge as excuses for their hampered performances. Presently, things are getting much more complicated in the polity and the people are already clamoring for `changing the change`.
Ironically, Mr. President and some notable members of the government are working tirelessly towards ensuring that they deliver on their campaign promises; but, the state of the nation has taken off the shine from their patriotic zeal and commitments. Though, some of us have been enduring series of verbal attacks and abuses over the years for our unflinching supports and convictions about the good intentions of this government; it is expedient at this point to let our leaders know that majority of the masses are not satisfied with the position of things thus far. At this stage of our existence, we should be able to hold on to the truth at all times; because, it will eventually set us and our nation free. Our leaders should not be deceived by the lies and sweet coated talks from aides and allies that all is well in the polity. We may not be in the corridor of powers to contribute our quotas but, we can always shout out to the government through the press; and, that is the essence of this review.
Presently, the bitter truth is that the masses on the street are now panicky, hungry, impoverished and angry. Therefore, there is urgent need for the government to reprioritize its objectives for optimal results. It is obvious that this administration embarked on the anti graft war to fighting corruption and creating instant impact. This initiative was widely commended by the generality of the people because the menace is one of the major factors militating against the progress of our country. However, some of us had identified and advised the government on the need to handle the war with intelligence and tact due to its sensitivities and expected `fight-back`. It was suggested that the exercise requires clinical approaches that can only make meaningful impact when devoid of partisan influence and sentiments; the overhauling of the judicial processes and other law enforcement agencies with standard facilities to aid acceleration of justice dispensation and; most importantly, the identifying and blocking of loopholes and avenues used as conduit pipes to siphoning the wealth of our nation.
The above caution was predicated on the conviction that, any mishandling could spell doom for the corporate existence of the country. Unfortunately, the government carried on the exercise based on its superior understanding of the situation. Every discovery/recovery was celebrated with a `carnival-like jamboree` to making political statements and setting up new topics for discussions across the nooks and crannies of the polity. Aside from the fact that these celebrations and washing of dirty linens in public have negatively affected our corporate image in the comity of nations (as depicted in the latest ratings of Transparency International); it also gave perpetrators ample time and opportunities to be smarter by changing tactics and the location of their loots. The lacuna notwithstanding, the people applauded the exercise and called for more. Consequently, our leaders got carried-away; and, the overwhelming enthusiasm made them to place more (excessive) emphasis on the war at the expense of reinvigorating the already battered link (which is the satisfaction of the masses` basic needs) and, this misplaced priority has turned out to be an impediment and a clog in the wheel of progress. Presently, corruption is fighting back and firing from all cylinders and the country has been put in a state of confusion where every policy seems to be retrogressing. The prices of essential commodities have sky rocketed beyond the reach of majority of the masses; and the rate of unemployment is on the increase with multiplier effects on poverty, crimes and spate of insecurity because all other aspects of governance have been subjected to the outcome of the anti graft war. (Un)fortunately, democracy is guided by the principles of ‘Rule of Law` where a nation is to be governed by the law rather than by decisions of the individual government officials.
Thus, the recognition of the fundamental human rights of the citizens (as provided under the rule of law) has tacitly impeded on the war. This is based on the fact that the accused persons are presumed innocent in the face of the law until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction (unlike under dictatorship where arbitrary and draconian approaches would have sufficed). Consequent upon the aforesaid, it is obvious that, the success of the exercise is largely dependent on accelerated dispensation of the court processes. Therefore, the most appropriate question to ask at this juncture is, ` how prepared is our judiciary and other law enforcement agencies in carrying out this noble and all important function of achieving and upholding timely dispensation of justice? Your answers are as good as mine.
Today, the understanding and endurance capacities of the people have been overstretched to breaking points because things are not working out fine as envisaged. Consequently, the same people that had earlier hailed the initiatives and achievements of government concerning the anti graft war have now turned back to accusing the same government of insensitivity to the plights of the common man. They are of the view that the huge recoveries made so far have not translated to any meaningful returns for the citizenry. Some also believed that the war has been politicized and aimed at intimidating and victimizing members of the opposition. So bad is the situation that, all members of the ruling party are now seen as `saints` without blemish while, members of the opposition are said to be the `criminals and looters` of our commonwealth. Thus, the trend of the moment is the cross-carpeting of the opposition politicians to the ruling party to join the `saints` in order to avoid harassments and probes. More troubling, however, is the fact that, with the array of `well informed advisers and socio-economic and political heavyweights` in its fold, the government is carrying out the war against corruption as that which could be fought and won within a limited time frame. This is a monster that has eaten deep into virtually all facets of the polity over several decades. It is a war that cannot be successfully executed without proper planning and preparations because, doing so, would amount to `fighting never to live to fight again`. The so called `strategists` have suddenly became helplessly dumbfounded and lacking the guts to advising our leaders that the present approach cannot defeat the menace even if the administration is given four (4) unbroken terms of sixteen (16) years. It can only aggravate the damning consequences of `a fight back` because it is not impossible that some perpetrators are hiding under the cover of government and the ruling party to frustrates the efforts of government.
Currently, the spate of wanton killings and destructions of properties is causing serious ripples amongst the people. There have been several calls on the government to step up its game to forestall the country from sliding into a state of anarchy. The situation is deteriorating by every passing day and this has led to distressed call on the masses to rise up for self defense. So bad is it that there are strong allegations of biases against the military in their handling of the mayhem; but, thanks to the Chief of Army Staff for his swift response in setting up a commission of enquiry to investigate the true position for appropriate actions. These uncertainties about the security situations are pointers to the seriousness, relevancy and cruciality of the earlier advises given by two former leaders and statesmen in their letters to Mr. President. Sadly, some close political allies of government were quick to wave-off these advises of the ‘concerned statesmen` without taking time to peruse the nitty-gritty and the key issues raised therein. These same political allies have tacitly started to exonerate themselves from the people`s predicaments. They are now talking from both sides of their mouth and subtly prostituting with different camps across parties for their own selfish interest. The youths that are being looked upon to take over the mantle of leadership are also not helping matters. They are constantly promoting religious, tribal and political bigotry on social media without exhibiting leadership traits. Candidly, the whole situation is most complicated.
Now, that the bombshell has been dropped by the President`s epochal declaration; the issue of retiring back to his country home (Daura) has been put on hold. The most appropriate advice for him at this juncture is to urgently put measures in place towards alleviating the sufferings of the masses and halting the wanton destruction of lives and properties. The situation of things in the coming months will go a long way to determining the people`s response at the 2019 pools.
Finally, Mr. President should have it at the back of his mind that, it is not all the people who are advising him to retire that hates him. And, it is not all those who are `supporting` him to re-contest that are his genuine friends. Some supports could be mere lip service; some could be evil intended hinged on their calculation that age/health might fail him along the line; some could be to play safe while secretly entering into alliances with other candidates to guarantee selfish interests and; some could be to continually hide their misdeeds under the cover of the ruling government to mention but a few. Whatever be the case, it is only time that will tell.
Oise-Oghaede, public policy analyst, wrote from Surulere, Lagos.
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