By Muhammad Ajah
As significant as this piece can be, let me begin with three quotes that can impress on Nigerians to make informed, unbiased and patriotism-driven choice of the next President of Nigeria on February 16, 2019, at least according to the political aphorism of the two major contestants, President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Buhari wants to take Nigeria to the next level on the premises that much has been achieved by his government to deserve another change.
Atiku, on the other hand, wants to get Nigeria working again on the grounds that Nigeria was working before Buhari took over in 2015 but it was terminated by something – the Buhari’s incumbent regime. In the simplest words, Buhari requires consolidation while Atiku requires restarting. Atiku wants to take back Nigeria to the PDP style of governance that spanned between 1999 and 2015, Buhari insists on the path of the progressives with the change mantra that has pushed through with difficulties in the last three and half years. Wherefore lays the rhetoric of these two antithetical approbations?
Before we approbate, let’s reflect on Plato’s dictum of political maturity when he said: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics in that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. Socrates followed it up with his view that; “The wise who refuse to rule should prepare to suffer the rule of idiots”. But George Orwell pulled the conduit with his thesis that: “A people who elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims….but accomplices”.
Late celebrated Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, while speaking with former Monitor Africa correspondent Scott Baldauf about his political views burst out: “…That elusive great Nigerian leader that is able to transcend our handicaps – corruption, ethnic bigotry, the celebration of mediocrity, indiscipline, etc – will only come when we make the process of electing leaders – through free and fair elections in a democracy – as flawless as possible, improving on each exercise as we evolve as a nation.”
According to the late super narrator and novelist, “Once we have the right kinds of leaders in place – the true choices of the people – then, I believe, it will be possible to solidify all the freedoms we crave as a people- freedom of the press, assembly, expression, etc. Within this democratic environment, the three tiers of government filled with servant leaders chosen by the people, can pass laws that will put in place checks and balances the nation desperately needs to curb corruption.”
On his own part, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka picks holes in Nigerian old politicians who have failed the country in the past. Speaking at Elizade University in Ondo state, the University don encouraged young Nigerians to participate actively in politics and to ensure that they elect people of integrity into government. “All I can just tell you is this; don’t make the mistake of following those who failed you before; those who are pretending that they have nothing to do with the disaster that has overtaken Nigeria.”
According to him, “They are very quick to smell failure, they are very quick to shout it; but then, they exculpate themselves, whereas they are the founding malfeasance of the Nigerian condition: that is what I am warning against.” He opted for proper mobilization against failed politicians of the past. As for the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk Umar, Nigerians believe that going by the unprecedented achievements by Buhari, they may beg Buhari to go for a third term.
If the Buhari government has not done anything to convince the oppositions that Nigeria has been working, thus the essential need for move to the next level, something uncommon has to be done to them. There is definitely no base to claim that Nigeria needs to be brought back to “working again”. It is a dangerous dictum. It is like revolting against a God-sent which is a futile risk. The worries of Nigerians should be the actualization of the next level.
It has never happened before in the history of Nigeria that general elections are just nearby and politicians are not wasting “looted funds” on campaigns or political assassinations are unheard of. It has never happened before that Nigerian politicians are refusing properties and monies found on transits or transborders. I would have sworn before now that no sane Nigerian can ever refuse multibillion naira edifices in places like Banana Island in Lagos, Central Business District in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja and other cities like Kaduna, Kano, Port Harcourt, amongst others. Even people who were often used as guises for the looters are refusing to associate themselves with such illegally acquired wealth and properties. Why?
As the case used to be, Nigerian elites looted the commonwealth with impunity. It is no more so. It will be hard folly to believe that politicians are not stealing under the current administration. It is never with impunity because whoever does knows the consequences if caught. It is unlike before when looters were celebrated, when looters stole without fear to buy luxuries and build mansions at tophill, downhill, sidehill or even inside hills. Then they invited political heavyweights and businessmen and women to the launching, leaving the poor Nigerians within the vicinity whose fortunes have been brazenly stolen to peep through from afar and lick the plates and leftover.
It has never been heard before that “big men” mostly political office holders in Nigeria who used to show off their expensive costumes and vehicles at every occasion, are complaining of hardship. Those who used to lavish “illegally acquired” wealth and stupendously donate at peer regular events have devised tactics to dodge the law. They now maintain very low profile. They have abandoned their monies in bushes, deserted building, water storages, soak away pits and graveyards for the fear of Buhari. The volume of recovered stolen wealth by the Nigerian anti-graft agencies between 2015 and 2018 is unprecedented.
Some who have attempted to “import” hard currencies into the country as the general elections approach have been caught by the eagle-eyes of the Nigeria Customs. This never happened in the 16 year democratic experience under the PDP. Even when the former President Olusegun Obasanjo used the EFCC and ICPC to clamp down on political opponents to his third term desperate bid, it could not yield desired results because he sought equity with unclean hands. Corruption, according to reports, reached a full-blown stage during his eight year leadership with Atiku. Most national requirements at the National Assembly were “bribed” through.
A point to reckon is that whichever is more appropriate to close the shop and chase the thief away or open the shop and chase the thief, it is not the type of pot or the means of cooking: gas, firewood or charcoal that determines the deliciousness of the food. Rather, it is the style of cooking and the ingredients. Therefore, some of these rhetorical superimpositions and supercilious speechifying by different Presidential candidates are mere cacophonies of heart-hardened intellectuals bargaining for relevance. They can only be of essence when the masses testify to the practicability.
Before 2015, it was always promises and failures, re-awarding of capital projects every year without completion. From 2015 till date, it has been promises and fulfillment, even though not total but that which has been attested to nationally and internationally. Nigerians, therefore, require the next level of development. Let it be forward ever, not getting what is already working back “to work” by restarting it again.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail email@example.com.