For the sake of our nation
For the sake of our nation exposed to insecurity by absence of governance, the time has come for us to differentiate between a political jobber and a statesman. A political jobber is a merchant who buys and sells loyalty in order to be in power. He does not care about the morality of his means. He would, therefore, do everything to win an election or be declared the winner. His sole and ultimate objective is access to power and to the perks of office.
But the ultimate aim of a statesman is not power. It is service of the common good. And even if he plans to win an election, he does not transgress the boundaries of morality. He is fair in running for office and fair in running the office. He works for the good of the nation and for the good of its citizens. Rather than use or threaten to use violence, he shares his vision with the citizens, respects their right to share or repudiate the vision, and their right to decide through an electoral process free of fraud or coercion. Political jobbers manipulate the electoral process. Statesmen respect its integrity. The choice before Nigerians in the 2019 elections, therefore, is that of choosing between political jobbers and statesmen. And, for the sake of our nation, we must make a right choice this time around.
Nigeria’s two major parties, and, almost without exception, all the other parties have been hijacked by political jobbers lacking in statesmanship. Bereft of internal democracy, they have become gangs of the fraudulent and the violent. Boko Haram continues to bomb, herdsmen continue to murder, while parties stage congresses and primaries, their members unleashing thugs on one another and on us. Silence is reasoned discourse, but loud is the sound of gunfire. And as the year 2019 approaches like a fast-moving train, we the people are chained to the rail line by violent and deceitful politicians. Our politicians threaten our peace.
Outwitting and outfoxing each other within their parties, emerging through a nomination process that breaches all tenets of democracy, candidates without democratic credentials prepare to rob us of our votes. Recycled, packaged and repackaged, like fake products, they tell lies, they make false promises, promises they have neither the capacity nor the intention to fulfill. Parties insult our intelligence by imposing utterly incompetent and unworthy candidates on us and ask us to choose the lesser of two evils. But the lesser of two evils is evil, and no upright person will choose what is evil, not even the lesser of two.
Our psyche as a nation was militarized when young and immature men, wearing army uniforms and holding guns and bullets, shot their way into power. Our multiethnic land lost her innocence when they resorted to ethnic cleansing, leading us into a totally avoidable war. At the end of the first and second rounds of bloodshed, they declared: no victor, no vanquished. But the wounds remain. They held us hostage from 1966-79, and from 1983-99, pretending they were endowed with the sagacity of statesmen. Their antipathy for democracy destroyed its institutions, instituting violence and lawlessness as means of getting into power. Then they were young men in ages twenties and thirties. Now they are grandfathers, kings and kingmakers. After brutalizing the nation, they refused to show remorse and they refuse to quit the stage. Nursing their illusion of integrity, of being sole proprietors of patriotism, they put on the toga of infallibility. But they would have been unable to hold us hostage without the collaboration of civilians with whom they enter into friendship of convenience, civilians whom they use and trash like paper towels in an era of politics without principle. Who then can say there are no kingmakers? They are still alive. Call them by any other name, a spade is still a spade.
Do we still wonder why our country has been damaged? Should it be otherwise where selection is election? Would it be different when democracy has been turned into the government of godfathers, kings and kingmakers, for godfathers, kings and kingmakers, by godfathers, kings and kingmakers? Now, therefore, is the time to advise ourselves to break away from this unhelpful past and paralyzing present, and embrace a future of sanity and decency in politics. Our voices must unite in persuading yesterday’s warlords and their civilian friends of today to quit the stage and allow a truly democratic culture to emerge in 2019. For where no one manipulates the democratic process, even if you are not elected, you have not lost, because your fundamental rights as a citizen are protected.
For the sake of our nation, let us, in 2019, practise true democracy, disband an oligarchy of kings and kingmakers, free ourselves from politicians who, for decades, have held us hostage. For the sake of our nation, let us, as a people, insist on internal democracy within the parties, on a nationally-televised debate among contenders for various offices, especially the presidency, and let us insist on a credible electoral process. Such will be for the good of our children and our children’s children. For the sake of our nation, we are watching and waiting.
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