“The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character.” Professor Chinua Achebe
Most party leaders are always looking forward to the conduct of party primaries, conventions and congresses, because of the perceptiona that it provides an opportunity for them for aspirants to grease their palm. They also see it as a veritable ground to deal with those perceived political leaders, including the elected and the appointed, who by their estimation, had abused their mandate by not looking back after securing the mandate, since political office is seen a veritable goldmine.
There are several sectors begging for attention 12 years into democracy. Putting a fraction of the colossal funds expended informally by politicians holding high public offices in the last couple of weeks would have energised them and translated into succour for the citizenry. But here, it is the interest of the individual politician that is gemaine and sacrosanct and never the aspiration of the majority. That is why for sometime now, those who control the political system have been deliberately starving the machinery of government of necessary funds, which are usually channeled into prosecuting elections.
Our potential as a nation is immense and almost unquantifiable. The huge mineral deposits and agricultural endownments, coupled with a vibrant human population make Nigeria irresistible to investors. All these advantages remain hugely untapped, because we have been led by grossly incompetent and greedy political leaderships. What hope does the April election hold for this big, strong but not totally reliable entity called Nigeria?
We have seen the second phase in the march towards effecting necessary change in April. The first stanza was the conduct of primaries by the parties. Next to it is the ongoing compilation of a new voter register, which symbolises a very important step, if we must get it right in the unfolding political dispensation.
Equally significant is the quality of candidates being put forward by the political parties for the April election. Though we must not compromise on competence, integrity and vision in making a choice of president, those parameters need apply at all levels if we are desirous of producing a sincere, right and disciplined leadership this time round. However, the spate of imposition of candidates by some political parties at certain levels is sufficicient to cast doubts on our collective goal at ensuring quality. How the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the leadership of the various parties handle protests arising from the conduct of the primaries will go along way in building public confidence in the process leading to the main elections.
Understandably, a lot of public attention is on the presidential race after the parties have produced their standard bearers.Such concentration is not necessarily based on very objective analysis but on sentiments, which tend to obscure the signifant issues that should underscore our search for the right, competent, disciplined and pious leadership.
The parties still have till the middle of February or so to forward the names of their candiadates to INEC, which gives an ample room for possible fresh alliances and alignment. For now, a former head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the outgoing governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) appear to be the front runners. Without any intent to impugn any of the current contenders, there is a wide gap between the set of candidates that ran for the same office in 1999.
Most of the issues that were inherited from the long years of military dictatorship remain with us, as the present set of gladiators get set for the presidential election. Because the pre-primaries politicking were charactersied by mudslinging and blackmail rather than core issues, it cannot be said that all the current presidential contenders fully appreciate the depth and enormity of challenges as a nation. Our experience so far points to the direction of the fact that people had only acquired power without understanding the fundamental principle and objectives, especially in a country with an enormous human and material potential. Otherwise, the gains of the past 12 years should have gone beyond the slonganeering that we are still in a learning process or consistently engage in policy somersault and run a mono-economy.
It is not by accident that we now have a political class that believes in creating private institution with the sole aim of undermining the survival of the publicly- owned ones. While the productivity of some multinational firms that contributed immensely to the growth and development of the economy are managing to survive, because of the generally unfriendly business climate, the ruling elite indulge in profligacy.
Nigeria needs a higly-disciplined president in the next dispensation. We need such a man in order to restore public confidence in the system, which has been subjected to abuse by the elite in the past. We need the kind of president, who can galvanise the public in a renaissance that could metarmophose into a new Nigeria. How the present presidential candiadates share this vision can be clealy appreciated through public debates and not by mere press releases that say little about their understanding of our national problems and challenges.
Oderemi, 08023501874 (SMS only)