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The wages of political crookedness

By Matthew Ozah
03 April 2019   |   3:33 am
How time flies! One can hardly believe that democracy in Nigeria has clocked twenty years uninterrupted since 1999. But looking back, how successful...

How time flies! One can hardly believe that democracy in Nigeria has clocked twenty years uninterrupted since 1999. But looking back, how successful has it been and what have Nigerians really achieved as dividend of democracy? The other day, a friend of mine who probably does not think these past democratic years have produced laudable achievements lamented that politicians have polarized the society thereby making the people fight among themselves, which have greatly dented the country’s image. He pointed out that the first republic politicians took politics off personal riches and built institutions. But, surprisingly, that perspective has changed over the years. Nowadays, one becomes a figure of fun if one leaves political office without amassing wealth. Since 1999 when the fourth republic began, successive governments have used Nigerians as a trading commodity or allowed masses to suffer government’s neglect or its inability to do things in the right manner. For instance, the celebrated freedom from NITEL’s monopoly through the introduction of GSM network by former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration was more of a tariff rip-off than a solution to Nigerians.

Also, in the drive to grow more food saw the government introduce the use of fertilisers into agriculture. But due to government’s lackadaisical attitude, harmful chemical fertilisers found its way into the hands of farmers. Now, the problem is not only the damage in the soil through the application of the harmful fertilisers but the increase in cases of liver and kidney problems among young people who consume the produce from such dangerous fertilisers. There is also the case of fake malaria drug that has killed over 150,000 children annually just because government doesn’t deem it fit to have firm control of drugs production and distribution in the country. Again, the other day, the federal government chose to defend as it blamed importers for its failure in promoting locally made goods. Likewise, medical experts raised alarm over the untreatable variant of tuberculosis in Nigeria. These are all shameful scenarios in a country whose annual budget runs into trillions of Naira with little fractions going into health, education and agriculture.

Of course, this also shows that the government of-the-day is not so sensitive about the needs of ordinary Nigerians. Most political office holders in Nigeria are far from being decent in their actions, which is why they act according to their whims and caprices instead of following the rule of law.

At the moment, the daily reality for impoverished Nigerians is to hope and pray that the ruling government wake-up from slumber to meet their needs and stop blaming past administrations for their woes. Such attitude has only succeeded in dividing the people along ethnic, religious and political lines. In recent years, more people have lost their lives in the hands of rampaging herdsmen under this democratic system than when the country was ruled by iron fist military decrees. Peaceful coexistence among Nigerians seems to have gone with the wind. Only God knows when it will return.

Today, majority of those who were in the fore-front during the struggle for democracy regret what is being played out by politicians. The other day, the Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land, Gani Adams, one of the commanders in the battle to actualise June 12 mandate which finally gave birth to the fourth republic expressed disappointment over the conduct of politicians. His words: “Politicians have become our nemesis…if you want to know why Nigeria has never worked, why Nigeria is a higgledy-piggledy scrap yard of unadulterated confusion, just take a look at the attitude of our politicians…their attitudes present a perfect picture of what a democracy should never be…”

The above lamentation shows that we still have a long way to go before catching up with good democracies. The political obliqueness that is being displayed by politicians is to say the least deplorable. These days, it is hard to find politicians with character and conduct. Once in power many politicians transform overnight and begin to flex mussels arrogantly, display flamboyance and oppressive nature among the people who voted them into office. It must be said without any form of ambiquity that Nigerians barely have any faith or trust in politicians due to their socialization with corruption and subjecting the masses to one thing poor beggars.

Recently, some new problems emerged and they now pose as a severe storm that may rock the yet-to-sail Ninth Assembly’s boat. Prominent among these issues is the scramble for the Senate presidency which has riled most of the APC Senators. The issue in no small measure has left the ruling party in a dire need of moral character especially with the diminishing manner the protagonists are handling the issue. As it were, the leaders of the APC have jettisoned section 50(1A) of the 1999 Constitution as amended that: “There shall be a president and deputy president of the Senate who shall be elected by members of that House from among themselves”. Therefore, in showing that the party is supreme the APC’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole told 65 Senators-elect during a dinner at the presidential villa that Senator Ahmed Lawan has the party’s nod to become the Senate’s president while Femi Gbajabiamila will be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. One wonder, why the ruling party is meddling into the leadership issue of the legislative chambers openly. In a way, it seems the APC is afraid of its own shadow. Hence, it is making delibrate efforts to install a ‘rubber stamp’ Ninth Assembly. This is not good for an emerging democracy. The Legisuators should be lobbied to elect their leaders.

Indeed, the ruling government still harbours some element of fear about the power the out-going Senate president controls. If not, why is his name being mentioned in the Senate leadership tussle? Why not let the sleeping dog lie?
Some political analysts blame much of the political dysfunction we are witnessing on the masses, because many among them sell their votes during electioneering period. However, it would be a huge mistake if politicians continue to underestimate the power of the people in their belief that the people can easily and always be bought over.

No doubt, the ruling government has not acquitted itself well in the past years and it cannot deny that that has been the bane of the party. However, if Nigeria’s political obliqueness does not change for a positive course, the nation’s economic decline may become irreversible and poverty among the people will be multiplied Such cases would only produce what Chinuea Achebe talked about when he noted: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre; The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. May God direct the vision of our leaders.