NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY AT A CROSSROAD

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The Oasis Reporters

October 11, 2018

It is a lot easier to plagiarize some other people’s Constitution but quite another issue entirely to operate it effectively. The Americans whose Constitution we copied did not just wake up to the version we copied rather, they grew their Constitution through a series of amendments for over a period of 200 years and even as effective as their Constitution is, there can be no precluding further amendments in the future whenever the need arises. In Nigeria, tinkering with those aspects of the Constitution deserving amendment has become such a difficult undertaking making it easier for a camel to dash through the eye of a needle.

Over the weekend, I was livid with jealousy watching the American Senators debate the nomination by Donald Trump of Brett Cavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The debate was very serious business as almost all the 100 Senators were present. Character was the main subject of the debate centered around an allegation of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred over 30 years ago against the nominee. In the end, the nominee managed to scale through, but just. The vote count being 51 for the Republicans and 49 for the Democrats. The winning margin was just a vote.
If a similar debate were to come up in our Senate, rather than issue based debates, ‘Ghana Must Go’ Bags loaded with cash would obviously have been the currency of the debate. The Ghana Must Go phenomenon gained notoriety during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration and since then it has become part of our national character. The Ghana Must Go phenomenon is synonymous with corruption and nothing has been done to put the practice in check even with the war against corruption.

One obvious fact arising from the open purchase of delegate votes by money bags is that these politicians may claim they love Nigerians, no, they do not rather they love power much more. If they love us at all, I thought that such monies could have been better put to use in the communities from which they hail. Should they win the positions on the card, they will quickly strategize on how to recoup their investment well beyond what was invested.

Nigeria is once more on the march to yet another election year in 2019 but the prognosis does not give any hope for a brighter future. After the 16 years or the locusts, Nigerian voted out the party in power bringing in the APC which fielded Muhammadu Buhari as presidential candidate. The APC went on to win essentially due to the perceived character of Muhammadu Buhari. So many other candidates also got to positions of power simply on account of the fact they were contesting on the same platform with Muhammadu Buhari. The high hopes and expectations people had of the Buhari government very quickly evaporated as life became very difficult, the consequences of a combination of extraneous as well as internal contradictions.

For a fact Nigerians have never passed through the kind of hardship they are passing and have passed through for almost the entire life of this administration. The change ( positive change ) our people expected has simply translated to excruciating pain for most Nigerians. If anything, the anti corruption war is one area some Nigerians believe that the Buhari government has scored a barely average grading but even at that most Nigerians felt that the anti corruption was merely targetted against opponents of the administration. Nigerians believe that the administration is deliberately shielding many corrupt individuals who are behind the barricades of Aso Rock. Alhaji Lai Mohammed in defence against the allegation that the anti corruption war is targeting only the opposition, responded by saying that “.We are investigating their yesterday, tomorrow, they should investigate our today ” I am praying earnestly for this to come to pass. I am deeply worried that we appear to be missing some steps in the march to 2019. People have been saying that the CHARACTER and SUITABILITY of the candidates ought to be the main consideration in the choice of candidates but when the so-called delegates are largely hungry people how on earth will they not give their votes to the highest bidder so that they can put bread on their tables even if for just a few days.

The present presidential flag bearer of the PDP was an aspirant in the 2014 Primaries in Lagos but in spite of the cash in US dollars which he allegedly deployed, he came third. Buhari made it clear even before the votes were cast that he had no money to buy the delegates and that even if he had the money, he was not going to bribe any delegate. His character won the ticket for him. Since the President is seeking re-election and given that he is the sole aspirant, there was again no need for money to garner the votes. On the other hand, there were 12 aspirants seeking the ticket on the platform of the PDP. Since as I said earlier that hunger is everywhere, it was difficult to resist the bribes by the the aspirants to the extent that CHARACTER did not matter. Nigerian delegates are famous for collecting bribes from all the aspirants and voting for just one and without a doubt the highest bidder.

It is beginning to appear that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is starting the March with the RIGHT foot instead of the LEFT. His victory speech is indicative of amnesia. If he has forgotten how the PDP of old, of which he was a major player squandered the best of opportunities to grow this nation, we have not. If he is viewing the PDP from the lense of the now old and jaded party, then I guess that he is on the wrong train heading out of town heading nowhere in particular. Many of us are thinking that there is a refurbished PDP which must be a party of the people far removed from the old which was held hostage by a cabal thus leading it to ruination. Internal democracy must be entrenched in the party to the extent that all voices no matter how weak should be heard. Had the anti corruption war been holistically persecuted, perhaps some of the characters flaunting themselves around town would have been cooling off their arses within the high walls of our correctional facilities. But because we have a culture of shielding high profile criminals from the law, it will take us much longer to arrive the promise land. We hear and read the stories of former presidents in other climes doing terms in correctional facilities for corruption but in Nigerian our former leaders appear to have immunity from prosecution even when there are heaps and heaps of wrong doings when they held power.
The examples of Brazil, Israel, South Korea, Pakistan etc are worthy of emulating if we are to put a stop to official recklessness in this country.
To God Be The Glory.

Written by Col. Gora Dauda (rtd).

He writes from Kaduna, North West Nigeria.

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Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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