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The establishment always has its way


BuhariThe on-going debates by personages in the United States seeking to be the presidential flag-bearers of their respective parties (Republican and Democratic) in the November 2016 presidential elections are interesting without a doubt.

This is so because there seems to be certain candidates on both sides of the party divide that are supported by their party’s establishment, and some aren’t favoured.

All through history, it was and is still rare for outsiders to become leaders of government without the support of the establishment. A handful that did, like President Jimmy Carter, had to bow to the dictates of the establishment. Little wonder he lost to President Ronald Reagan in his second attempt. Even Adolf Hitler couldn’t have become a Gauleiter without the support of the establishment that he courted until the death of President Paul von Hindenburg.

Many analysts have described Hillary Clinton as someone who comes across as obsessive, too wealthy to have a rapport with the poor, received too many donations from wall street and main streets, and wonder: What promises did she make to them in return?‬

She, they went further, responds to serious criticisms/allegations and proof that she is a liar with hysterical laughter. Everything/everyone is a joke to her, but, here is the thing: The Democratic Party’s establishment prefer Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump is not the preferred candidate of the Republican establishment and it appears that they can’t stop his momentum at the moment. Should Trump win the nomination as the presidential candidate and wins the election, he wouldn’t have a choice but to do the bidding of the establishment or he will be forced out of office constitutionally by the same establishment. The rhetoric against blacks, Muslims, Mexicans etc by Trump wouldn’t be tolerated by the establishment if he eventually wins the nomination. You wait and see. This is so because the establishment always has its way. Remember Margaret Thatcher?

All through history, it was and is still rare for outsiders to become leaders of government without the support of the establishment. A handful that did, like President Jimmy Carter, had to bow to the dictates of the establishment. Little wonder he lost to President Ronald Reagan in his second attempt. Even Adolf Hitler couldn’t have become a Gauleiter without the support of the establishment that he courted until the death of President Paul von Hindenburg.

When I was young and an altar boy (a lad who assists a Catholic priest at Mass, we were indoctrinated by no one in particular that the choice of a Pope after the demise or resignation of the other is strictly by God. The signal sign of the white smoke to herald the choice of a new Pope could only have been the work of the Holy Spirit. It was with shock that I learned that a College of Cardinals chooses a Papabile and that votes decide who becomes a Pope. Men, not God, directly choose who becomes a Pope. Issues, I gather, make a Conclave, not contenders. Contenders for votes and all know what everyone else thinks.

When it becomes clear that a particular Papabile will emerge as Pope, he is urged to address his supporters on certain key policies of the Church. The procedure is to pursue papal policies without creating a chasm between supporters and the opposition. That agreements, or compromises, are reached is evident from the smiles on everyone’s face when the new Pope is announced.

Policies drive all papal reigns and as infallible as the Pope is in the eye of the faithful Catholic, he must respect the establishment. This is also applicable to Nigeria. Like the Papacy, the establishment determines who becomes a President. The establishment must have beliefs that border on strengthening national ethos.

There are establishments within and without. It is on record that the establishments within and without were responsible for the ouster of the former president. Could it have done so because of the issues of corruption and that they expect President Buhari to tame it? Could the establishment without have also reasoned that Nigeria was almost on the brink of disintegration and needed someone to help stave it off? Considering that no country in the West African sub-region could take care of our refugees if war broke out, a regional power must be supported.

Could the establishment be behind why Daniel Kanu and Sambo Dasuki have not regained their freedom even though pronouncements from judges have been handed down to the contrary? Only establishment insiders would know.

I believe strongly that President Buhari became president at a wrong time in our history. Maybe he should have become one earlier. At this time, the Nigerian never tires of subordinating leadership to those in authority. Ideological space is diminished by aspiring politicians who lack political awareness. Political parties are not grooming candidates for electoral positions. What we are offered are candidates who lack proper education and have no experience. They deliver nothing. They accept public money to give to delegates for their candidate’s vote at elections. After NYSC, the party hierarchy and establishment recommends cronies for commissioner positions.

We have witnessed situations where folks without work experience have become governors. Gone are the days when the Azikiwes, Awolowos, Mbakwes, Okparas, Jakandes et al created a niche for themselves in the business arena and concerns elsewhere before they ventured into politics. And Jakande knew what to do with power when he became governor and managed resources and handled crisis effectively.

Today folks who do not know the history of Nigeria, the challenges and likely solutions are pushed forward by the political parties to be administrators or are appointed to government positions by cronies.

History has revealed that only a handful of persons in this country truly desired to become president: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and Chief Obafemi Awolowo. No disrespect is intended towards others who aspired to become president. In this fourth republic, none of the ruling presidents dreamed of becoming president. Alex Ekwueme’s ambition was sidetracked at the last minute to accommodate the ambition of the South West over the death of Moshood Abiola which heralded the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo.

Umar Musa Yar’Adua wanted to go back to the classroom after his tour of duty as governor of Katsina State until he was made to see reason to become president. The same can be said about Goodluck Jonathan who said he was in a cage for 16 years. How then do we hope to grow polity when we assign our destiny in the hands of folks without nationalistic ambitions? And when accidental turn of events shapes their presidency for the better, we credit them for taking us to the promised land.

Change, real change, is planned and striven to achieve and not left to accident. Like Azikiwe, Ekwueme and Awolowo, President Buhari seems to be the only one in the fourth republic who truly desired to be president. But this would not have happened without the establishment. That’s the crux of the matter. Establishments determine the fate of every presidency. It takes gall by a president to carve his legacy outside the dictates of the establishment. Nigeria needs a sensible and nationalistic establishment so that we don’t see the fight against corruption as purely a party affair.

Many outside the establishment – have accused this president of going hog-wild against the opposition even when none is in the Hangman’s halter. Even when ‘causes’ have been shown and allegations haven’t been denied. Cases abound elsewhere (China) where the hanging halter was made so strong for folks who stole the patrimony.

The failure of administrators from independence until now for not curbing corruption, for not reigning in subordinates spelled their doom. Maybe the establishment wants President Buhari to forget the route and eliminate the gravy trains.

It behooves the opposition to tackle the party in power on issues. Real democrats should rally round each other on specific issues for national growth and not promote schisms that leave Nigerians weary of the type of democracy we practice.

The onus lies on the opposition to prove cases of corruption. Not imagined corruption but factual. We can then judge the players in this government if they hesitate from settling nationalistic scores.

Fighting corruption would be difficult in Nigeria because of the country’s style of democracy. Another roadblock in the fight against corruption is the type of political parties we have that encourage pointless waffling. Ideologue-less leftists dump these parties to seek elective positions elsewhere. All that these politicians care about is winning elections. The best politicians in this dispensation are worse than those in the Second Republic.

The concept or philosophy of democracy is yet to take root, let alone deepen in us. Isn’t it ridiculous that politicians are decamping to join the party in power? A country is as great or otherwise as the establishment she has. Good establishments develop the polity. Very bad ones promote the emergence of curmudgeons who care less about development.
Abah, a teacher, speaker, writer, campaigner and consultant, lives in Port Harcourt (@abahsimon1)

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