If God be for us…
Labour Party Presidential candidate, Peter Obi waves to his teeming supporters at Minna campaign rally.
In the annals of post-independent Nigeria, the APC-led government is, in my opinion, the worst of the series of governments the country has had over the years, characterized by deceit, crass incompetence, corruption in all ramifications and anomie. The ordinary Nigerians are suffering, deprived on all front – socio-economic, amid rising cost of living, high cost of fuel and scarcity, unemployment, poor wages, insecurity, high debt profile (N44 trillion) compounded by unresolved borrowing from CBN (N23 trillion) by ways and means. The FGN –ASUU crisis ignited by the parlous state of the University and government’s insouciance is on hold by sheer Judicial/Executive conspiracy and rascality- a pyrrhic victory, the fundamental issues unresolved.
In the countdown to the February 25, 2023 Presidential election there are concerns and questions notably: will there be election; will it be free and fair; will it produce a leader who will be committed to steering the ship of state from the precipice? These are legitimate questions at this momentous crossroads of our national life, particularly against the backdrop of complex sociological factors that will determine the outcome of the presidential election. The primordial ethno-religious factors in the body politic are deep across social strata. In between are self-enlightened interests, particularly amongst the educated elite, all of which make the up coming presidential election unique and the outcome, unpredictable.
There is the desire by many Nigerians that this election will birth a new order – social, economic and political. But this can be achieved when the focus is on fixing the twin problems of leadership and of system of governance. The subsisting dysfunctional governance system is the bedrock of leadership and institutional failures that must be discarded. This issue is beyond the comprehension of the ordinary citizens and underlines their vulnerability to manipulations by unscrupulous and unpatriotic politicians. The maxim: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time” (Abraham Lincoln) is instructive in the recognition that some of the people can indeed be fooled all the time. This latter group is a target for APC-led government that has failed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. They are the ones who will willingly surrender their PVCs for pecuniary returns; they are ones seeking for opportunities to sell or buy votes. They simply do not know the implications of their actions.
In recognition of the foregoing, the Catholic Church of Nigeria prays: “ God our Father, we stand at the threshold of fresh general elections in Nigeria ————- cause your Holy Spirit to expel from us all unjust tendencies and fraudulent practices, rid us of the evils of vote-selling, vote-buying and election rigging. All powerful and benevolent God, without You, we cannot succeed, left to our own devices, we cannot progress. We therefore fall on our knees, seeking your intervention. Transform our electoral officials into impartial and incorruptible umpires.
Fill them with the spirit of patriotism, justice and fairness; so that they may conduct free, fair and credible elections. Make our votes count transparently, that we may have honest, true and just election results. Oh God of justice and love, inspire us to vote solely for the common good of our nation; so that we may elect visionary, honest and competent leaders, with hearts that beat for the welfare of one and all in our nation. Enable us to embrace and usher in a new dawn in Nigeria through these elections; so that our children can look forward with hope to a more bright, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria. We ask all this through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
The Obi-Datti campaign mantra, a paradigm shift from Consumption to Production is implicitly an advocacy for a shift in governance architecture. In “Our Pact with Nigeria”, the Obi-Datti, pursuant to restructuring the polity, stated inter alia: We shall strengthen our federalism by critically reviewing the 68 items in the Exclusive list of the Federal government with a focus to move some items to the Concurrent list”. Undoubtedly, the bane of our quasi-federalism is the failure to recognize the federalist principle of subsidiarity by which federating units exercise power on matters exclusive to them as amply dealt with by Nwabueze, stating on federalism: “ Its purpose is to enable each group free from interference or control by others, to govern itself in matters of internal concern, leaving matters of common interest to be managed centrally, and those which are of both regional and national concern to be administered concurrently” ( see Federalism: Its Application in Africa as a Constitutional Device for Creating a Nation and Furthering Democracy. P53 – Nwabueze). Thus, ultimately, in seeking to restructure the polity, the Obi-Datti candidacy must recognize the overarching need for a new Constitution, not constitutional amendment.
Standing on a seemingly weak and untested platform – the Labour Party, and in a manner speaking, without structures, the Obi-Datti campaign messages have captured the imagination of many youths notwithstanding the daunting task ahead. The message is apt; to move away from “Consumption to Production” and in the process engage the energetic youths in productive activities for the greater good of society.
The youths are ecstatic about this possibility; so are the elderly who now bear the brunt of providing for their children not gainfully and productively engaged. For the daunting task, the youths seem to be saying, “If God be for us who can be against us?” (Roman, 8:31).
This hope is not naïve or misplaced because we know that God rules in the affairs of nations and demonstrably, He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; the weak things to confound the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). The rising profile of the Obi-Datti candidacy is a testament to this scriptural context and a foretaste of how the outcome of the presidential election may confound political pundits.
Eromosele, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) University of Agriculture, Abeokuta.