Nigeria on the rise (2)
And if the national elections went well and the world celebrates the conduct of the presidential contestants in stabilizing the polity today, it was not for lack of trying by some self-serving parvenus who did their best to foment trouble and abort the process.
It is remarkable, therefore, that the right attribute of the nation triumphed over its ugliness.
Last week’s event at the collation centre of Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, where the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, in a public display of untamed anger before worldwide television, accused the INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, of bias against the ruling party, was a discourteous and shameful act of immense proportion.
By the way he was hauling invectives at the INEC chairman and ambling in front of the platform, it was clear Orubebe’s action was capable of dismantling the whole system. He was on the verge of precipitating crisis.
This was an act capable of taking Nigeria two decades back, of discrediting the humble advance made by INEC, of belittling security efforts, and of needlessly heating up the polity. Had Orubebe’s unruly and irresponsible conduct degenerated into some violent altercation between rival political parties; had any form of physical assault occurred, and had Jega joined in a shouting match with him, the wind of change that had put Nigeria on the rise again would have become an ill- wind that would have driven this country over the cliff.
Then, detractors and mischief-makers would have been proven right, and the results of the just concluded presidential election would have ushered in a bloody show of shame and unimaginable violence.
In contrast, the calmness and sagely mien exhibited by Jega, through his disarming presentation, saved the country from the brink of violence. Having carefully, eloquently and successfully taken time to respond to Orubebe’s accusation by explaining INEC’s procedure in respect of petitions, he urged politicians not to disrupt a process that had been successfully completed.
Jega’s exemplary conduct shows how the action or inaction of a political actor and people in influential positions could make or mar the fragile stability of the nation. Jega had a total control of every aspect of the workings of the commission. He also seemed to have been anticipatory of mischief and prepared himself to tackle it as thoroughly as possible.
Although the now penitent PDP stalwart has apologized for his discourteous behaviour, it is pertinent that Nigerians learn some costly truths about political behaviour, especially for a nation desirous of positive change. Apart from being a self-demeaning exercise, it is a study of how the folly of a bad strategy to truncate a successful political exercise could be exposed and deflated by the cultivated language of clear thought and civility. Jega’s masterful display of decency and magisterial comportment is a lesson on how statesmen and those aspiring to public offices should comport themselves.
Whilst politics may be deadly, it is controlled by rational beings, whose judgement of right and wrong steers the affairs of state. This being the case, the genuine success of any election is not judged by the amount of anger or brute force displayed, but by the people’s power and a recognition of such.
Besides being a social irritant and an emotional pollutant, anger has the nuisance value of being the litmus test of self-mastery. For the leader, who needs to master self before mastering others and their situations, an uncontrolled outburst of anger, especially in an assembly demanding utmost decorum, is a testimonial of woeful failure of leadership and the lack of capacity to exhaust the ample benefits of reasoned discussion.
It is in this light that the conduct of the security services, comprising the police, the army, and other law enforcement agencies, also contributed to the success of the election. The police officers were civil, courteous and willing to help. Their politeness and display of affinity with the civil community were unprecedented.
Even where and when they seemed to have been provoked to act brashly, the law enforcement agents comported themselves in a remarkably different manner from the usual Nigerian style. What could be termed the electoral comportment of the police gives Nigerians some hope that with the right disposition, a genuine coordination of willing efforts, and a vision, this country can attain whatever goal it seeks in terms of internal security.
The lesson here for the police is that, the earlier they take over their role in internal security, the better for the polity.
Also deserving of commendation is the Nigerian public, whose commitment to making a success of this election was aptly matched by their patience, endurance and good intentions at the polls. Nigerians displayed good conduct and respect for the police. Notwithstanding the shortcomings, it was as if some powerful external force was generally teleguiding the affairs that day.
From the conduct of the dramatis personae so far, it is clear that the prospect of a Pan-Nigerian project is very feasible. Resilient as Nigerians are in the pursuit of their personal aspirations, they also yearn for a social condition that will facilitate the prospect of their collective well-being.
Cognizant of this realization, this newspaper has always been at the forefront in admonishing Nigerians, especially public servants and politicians, on the wisdom in cultivating appropriate decorum when reacting to issues concerning the generality of the populace.
The disdain for needless volubility and harmful grandiloquence is premised on the fact that Nigeria as a country is bigger than a person or group’s political agenda. And the success of March 28 reiterates this fact, which needs repeating: The value of any group or individual should be reckoned with on the basis of its potential to edify and enhance the wellbeing of the collective.
Thus, contrary to the uncritical public perception that politics needs be a dirty, perilous, social phenomenon, a truth that remains constant is that, a people genuinely in need of change, and who sincerely work towards it, would reap the benefits of that public-spirited endeavour.
Indeed, so many things may ail Nigeria. But there is enough inherent in the same country to heal her.
Nigeria is on the rise.