‘2015 elections, litmus test for Nigerian democracy’
Rev. Dr. Chucks Alozie, a Methodist Cleric and Southeast Assistant Coordinator of General Yakubu Gowon’s Nigeria Prays Group told Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze in this interview, why Nigeria should build on the success of the 2015 elections. Excerpts:
Lessons of the elections THE election was a litmus test for all of us to learn from to know that Nigeria is matching forward.
The outcome of the election was real but if you look at the pattern of voting, you would know that it is not healthy for democracy, nation building and peaceful co-existence because it appears that certain people with certain belief voted for a particular candidate because of their belief and tribe while another set of people voted for another candidate because of their belief, religion and region and no nation can thrive with this dichotomy of region in terms of voting pattern.
I believe that the emergence of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari reflects the change that our people are clamoring for.
The change is not about President Goodluck Jonathan, it is all about changing a lot of moral decadence, corruption and impunity that Nigerians have witnessed for a very long time in our democratic process, starting from internal democracy to the election, post-election to governance. What has happened is like a magic wand, from the North to the South. Jonathan is a wonderful president, his transformation agenda is very tangible and it is something that you can feel.
He met a decayed system and said he was going to transform all facets of the nation’s economy and he was able to transform to a certain point but along the line, a lot of things began to happen and people became aversive about his style and quality of leadership.
Not that Jonathan is a weak leader, no, he is a strong leader but he believes that he should allow democratic tendencies and culture to grow. People always compare him with previous leaders particularly Chief Olusegun Obasanjo but we know that Obsanjo had a military background and where democracy tendencies cannot work, he applied military approach and people felt Jonathan should adopt the Obasanjo’s leadership style but Jonathan said no, we have to build the culture of democracy and that is the beauty of his conceding defeat because that is the culture of a modern democracy.
If he were someone that is power drunk, Nigeria wouldn’t have been experiencing the kind of peace we are having today but he looked at the bigger interest, which is Nigeria and congratulated the President-elect before the results were announced and also made a national broadcast calling on his party to accept the outcome of the election.
If I may borrow the word of one of my mentors, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Buhari won the election but Jonathan won the peace, so both of them are winners in their own rights.
However, we also expect that if Buhari is defeated in 2019, he should also concede defeat because our democracy is evolving. Today, it is Jonathan that we are celebrating for keeping the peace of Nigeria.
Jonathan is a true democrat and Nigerians should emulate him. I also want to congratulate the President-elect. He is a dogged fighter, he cried in 2011, and in 2015 he is celebrating and all Nigerians are celebrating him. Agenda for the President-elect First of all, he should see himself as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria devoid of ethnicity and religious bias. We want him to be a true father figure. By age, he is a grand father.
By experience, he is an elder statesman. So he should see Nigeria as one. He should replicate what the outgoing president did.
President Jonathan focused more in the North to pacify them and make them inclusive in his government, so I want Gen. Buhari to win the support of the Southeast and the South-South by ensuring that there is massive infrastructural development despite that he did not get much votes from these zones. That will show us that he is not habouring any bitterness.
He spoke like an elder statesman and a man that is taking Nigeria to a higher level when he received his Certificate of Return.
The major issue in his campaign was war against corruption, we want him to tackle corruption but I know that corruption cannot be fought on the pages of the newspapers. All Nigerians should help him to fight corruption right from the family units to the larger society. In our churches and mosques we should fight corruption, Nigerians should learn to be truthful and honest.
The President-elect should consolidate on some of the foundations laid by President Jonathan in the power, aviation, road, education and health sectors. The Transformation Agenda cuts across all sectors of our economy and the Buhari administration should look at the critical sectors of our economy and get experts and technocrats to man them.
He shouldn’t appoint ministers on sentiments as that has been the bane of Nigeria and he must have professionals in the right offices.
I want to appeal to the President-elect to source for credible and honest Nigerians who have passion for the development of the country. Another area the Buhari’s administration should give serious attention is the cost of governance.
It is very important for the incoming administration to prune down the cost of governance; the situation whereby the recurrent expenditure is quite higher than the capital vote is not good for economic growth and development. The president should cut down on the number of aides, cut the allowances and estacode.
How can somebody, after being a governor for eight years would have legislation and appropriate to himself bogus allowances to consolidate his continuous milking of the state in the name that he has served the state. All those legislation that makes people to strive and kill themselves in order to be a governor should be expunged. Buhari has an uphill task considering the dwindling economy he is going to inherit.
Nigerians should brace up to the reality and fasten their belts, I remember those days of essential commodities but I know that his experience in 1984 cannot be applied in this generation, those theories of 1984 cannot work in this modern world so he should look for brilliant Nigerians to assist him.
They don’t have to be in APC to make Nigeria work, but if he makes it an APC affair, he will end up having politicians fill the place and it will be business as usual and if he fails tomorrow, those that are singing his hosanna will be the ones to say crucify Buhari tomorrow.
He should know that by age, he is in his evening time; he should be able to leave strong legacies that Nigerians would remember him for. Mending the cracks caused by electioneering I would suggest that the incoming administration look at psychological re-engineering of the people.
There should be a reconciliatory moves along religious lines, to reintegrate and reassure Nigerians that he has no religious agenda because most Christians were not comfortable with some utterance credited to him.
He should be able to move down to Southeast and South-South and re-assure them that they have nothing to fear because the two regions look as if they are extricated from his government because of their voting pattern.
They should constitute a team that would go from State to State and appease the people because he need the support of all Nigerians, if his government is only supported by the way he was voted, he will have problems and the challenges that would emanate from the South would be unpleasant for him.
I know he is a man with in-depth knowledge and wisdom. He has good people around him and he should sustain those good people around him and beware of sycophants.
They have never helped anybody before. For us, our organization, “Christian Forum for Governance and Righteousness”, we are coming up with programmes that we will use in supporting his government. Buhari’s capacity to lead Buhari is a true Nigerian, he is a patriotic man.
He has led us before in a military form and now he is coming as civilian and democratically-elected president, mixing the two experiences; he will deliver on what Nigerians expect of him. You assess a man by his past, if you look at his past, he performed creditably well in all the offices he occupied.
However, the Constitution provides for the appointment of Ministers and other aides that would work with him.
What will make or mar him is the kind of characters that he brings into his government.
What we have had in the past is a total disconnect from the governed and leaders, he should bring people that are available, accessible and those that can accommodate both Christians and Muslims.
He should be careful to choose those that would work with him; they should be honest and detribalized Nigerians that have tested integrity.
He should avoid these power point ministers because they come with beautiful programmes and powerful power-point display to bamboozle and confuse the President and when he appoints them, at the end of the day, they will not deliver.
He should not run his government by proposal, government should be able to have well-thought out policies and implement the promises he made during the campaign and his party’s manifesto, he might not implement all in four years, Nigerians should pray and support the incoming government to succeed.