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Nigeria’s politics as garden of promises and upheavals

By Matthew Ozah
10 October 2018   |   3:03 am
It is particularly a modern habit to think of politicians as bridge that link development to the people through providing social infrastructure, services and job creation among others. Therefore, no one can accuse Nigeria’s politicians of not speaking frankly during campaign for elections of what they intend to achieve or bring to the people as…

Former Nigerian vice-President Atiku Abubakar (R) is congratulated by runners-up Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal (L) and Senate President Bukola Saraki (C) after winning the presidential ticket of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) during the party’s national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 7, 2018. Nigeria’s main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has picked Abubakar to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a second term in presidential polls scheduled for February 2019. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

It is particularly a modern habit to think of politicians as bridge that link development to the people through providing social infrastructure, services and job creation among others.

Therefore, no one can accuse Nigeria’s politicians of not speaking frankly during campaign for elections of what they intend to achieve or bring to the people as dividends of democracy when elected into office.

However, most Nigeria’s politicians especially in this current government have clearly failed to live up to their promises.

They have made the electorate to become their hostages as Nigerians continue to live on promises upon promises. Currently, party politics has in recent times felt the disastrous consequences of rumblings within the parties over selfish interest.

Ever since defection from the ruling party, the party has maintained a fragile balance.

At the moment, the party is going to the general elections already drunk with the fact that, people of all political persuasions agree on the APC’s presidential flag bearer, Muhammadu Buhari as an established corrupt free person.

Buhari’s credibility stands tall like an iroko tree says the party faithful to whoever cares to listen.

They are blind to the fact that other indices used to measure candidates in securing votes such as performance, economic policies to stabilise the economy and security of life and property among others, could become a telling metaphor in next year’s poll.

In that case, the 2019 elections seem about the most challenging period of governance that has already been extraordinarily feasting with poor performance.

Perhaps, in order to forge a deal with the electorate who sense its weakness the current government has come out with “trader moni” programme.

An initiative fashioned to alleviate poverty in the country through a selective process.

Beside that, the lingering dispute within the party has become a serious factor.

The Buhari’s government has to confront and persuade a multitude of disgruntled party members like Akinwunmi Ambode, Bayo Shittu and others who smell betrayal due to how they were undemocratically treated.

Some “political heavyweights” in APC and the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari recently were not left out in the tetchy and uncomfortable feelings about the growing confrontation with godfathers, the unchecked arrogant powers of the party’s National working committee and all categories of party leadership in states and national level.

Trickiest of all, is how does Buhari get his Bills passed through a fractious National Assembly? None of these suggest that Buhari’s government is about to crumble.

But he should try to mitigate its vulnerability with violence. And he has to do all this knowing that the price of failure could be a political turmoil.

Indeed some parties are profiting from the weakness of the other parties.

Due to a series of undignified coalition squabbles within the parties which have undermined the credibility of members as well as the party. Notwithstanding the misgivings, the message is clear in any language.

President Buhari will battle with opposition parties for votes, in a race that could determine the future of the nation in every ramification.

Of course, the parties and candidates must believe the outcome must come down to which candidate does better job wooing voters, not with money or stomach infrastructure.

But with ideas and programmes initiative on how to steer the nation’s economy ship afloat.

For example, when the Island of Singapore became an independent country in 1965, it had few friends and even fewer natural resources.

The question therefore, how did it become one of the world’s great trading and financial centres?

The strategy explained Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s first Prime Minister, was “to develop Singapore’s only available natural resource: Its people”.

What all this implies is that whoever becomes president after the 2019 elections must have a master-plan to develop not just Nigeria’s vast natural resources but also its human capital.

This will by no means drastically reduce unemployment and give Nigerians a sense of purpose to behold the nation.

Over the years government policies have driven Nigerians into becoming second-class citizens in other countries many of whom Nigeria is better than hundred per cent.

Why then do Nigerians choose to enslave themselves abroad?

Perhaps one could find the answer in Robert Frost, an American poet who once said: “If “home” is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in, then those (Nigerians) who seek asylum and greener pasture abroad are many among the lot that find the home they inherited at birth is not enough” or is not providing the basic human necessities hence.

It is disheartening, therefore, to note that the goal post keeps changing even as politics has made living in Nigeria to be characterized by drastic reversals of the future due to corruption.

Some political analysts argue that the carnival of conspiracy and inevitable backlash is now underway.

And an ever-increasing attacks and counter-attacks among political parties may be on the peak. Nigerians need an unpretentious leader.

Somebody who will not only say things that will give Nigerians hope for the future, but will also accomplish them.

Not someone like Mao Tesun of China who argued that coffin-making was a waste of wood and money and that elaborate burials fostered superstition.

Ironically, his embalmed body still lies in a glass sarcophagus in central Beijing.

Such is the case as questions about Buhari’s integrity judgment and corruption fight were raised recently after his wife’s aide as reported in the media was named in a money laundering case.

Buhari should not allow such murky affairs to wipe out any credit he has earned over the years.

No doubt, to flourish in politics in Nigeria requires a thick skin.

This is because politics in Nigeria has been threatened by the forces of geographical sectionalism, political factionalism and foreign interference.

Hence politicians brace up for tough treatment such as character assassination and death threats.

Such intimidation and harassment is to say the least ugly but it is not new. Most politicians are known for being a master of mendacity and are determined to assent their power over truth.

Politicians are always tempted to define their opponents with insults or blackmail.

They cleverly label opponents into a twist and turn which will be exaggerated and painted to be a true reflection.

Many a time, politicians forget that political identity is a matter of what you do rather than what your opponents say about you.

Nigeria’s politicians should emulate late Senator John McCain who in a recent video that went viral on social media, instead of having a field day on character assassination of opponents, he responded sharply with civility to a woman who at his 2008 presidential rally described Barack Obama as “an Arab who can’t be trusted” McCain said: “No ma’ am, he is a decent family man, a citizen”.

Politics in Nigeria and by extension Africa is becoming less civil.

It has climaxed to a degree that is now damaging. Nigeria’s politicians have to retrace their steps and embrace Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri’s “politics without bitterness” style and learn how to treat opponents well.

However, politicians will face a miffed electorate at the polls, they will use their votes as protest to vote-in or vote-out.