Mr President: Before We Reach The Promised Land

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We all know the state of the nation. It is not only about a nation’s battles with Boko Haram, neither is it the fruitless effort to defeat poverty, we are plagued with a tensed up atmosphere necessitated by personal political interests. I sometime wonder if our political leaders genuinely understand what democracy is all about. With events unfolding, it’s obvious that the tenets of democracy as far as our current dispensation reveals are just basically understood in theory and not in practice. 

Who are the leaders? I sometime wonder if we have leaders who understand the capacities they occupy. Leaders are known to be leading a people; it’s laughable to imagine that our own leaders are leading interests. It would have been fantastic if the interest they passionately fight for is a general one. So before we gnash our teeth over misfortunes resulting from insecurity and poverty, we need to fight self serving political leaders. 

Every day, what our politicians think of is the next election and not the people’s needs and in line with such thoughts, some policies if not most are directed towards realizing set political ambitions, therefore, beyond the theory, practical  education in democracy must be carried on within political parties, maybe politicians will understand the meaning of democratic life, the meaning of the relationship between democracy and service, and the way in which democratic tenets should be put into practice.

What have we monitored so far? We have gullibly watched the circus of politics where some aggrieved members of the PDP decamped to APC, the thug of protests and counter protests for and against Gov. Rotmi Amaechi in Rivers state, the replacement of Bamanga Tukur as National chairman of PDP and subsequent compensation as chairman of Nigeria Railway Corporation, the various political discords in Kano, Ogun and Ekiti states and submission of the list of ministerial appointees to the national assembly, most of whom are allegedly selected to hatch political plan for the president regarding the 2015 presidential election. In all of these demonstrations, the only dominant factor is self interest.

More of these demonstrations will evolve this year and the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states will be a litmus test to boasts of political relevance and strong hold. Osun state may not have much torments from opposition compared to what is already playing out in Ekiti state where a former member and ally of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and a sitting member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bamidele Opeyemi decamped from the APC to the Labour party in a bid to realize his gubernatorial ambition. 

Now, we have those who have criticized that our politicians and political parties lack ideology. The statement became a point of focus when most of our politicians move in and out of political parties at will. It would have been justifiable if such transportation is guided by a general desire by the governed; however, most of the decamping had always been due to internal political wrangling, such that the moment a politician’s desire to fill a chosen political capacity is not realized from his party, he or she decides to move into a political party that will guaranty a slot for such realization. 

It becomes so laughable when these desperate politicians declare that their decisions to “port” from one political party to another is basically for the purpose of delivering the dividends of democracy to the governed. The quest for political power is so much especially at the centre that the effects are pushing the nation’s political terrain in disarray. 

The environment is tensed up and every Nigerian will need to pay more attention to these sad developments. Our political gladiators do not need to be told that they need to be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Nigerian people heart and soul.

It has always been a point advocated by intellectuals and well meaning Nigerians that the basis of occupying seats of power is to serve the people whole heartedly.  Leaders are not expected to divorce themselves from the led; they are expected to proceed in all cases and at all times from the interests of the people and not from their own self-interest or from the interests of a small group – a cabal, and to identify their responsibilities to the people.

The party structures and government apparatus are not meant to be used as tools to witch hunt known and perceived political rivals or as a tool to compensate political ally. The recent appointment of disgraced chairman of the People’s Democratic Party comes to mind as an appointment painted with sentiment and illogical compensation. 

The appointment brings to remembrance a popular advert of MTN which is probably the biggest dramatic jingle of 2013. Many will remember Saka of Etisalat and his funny display in most of the adverts. He stunned many when MTN released the advert for its new number portability project to introduce Saka as porting. No one could possibly guess the network Saka left to port into MTN but from the jingle, we all believe he ported from Etisalat to MTN. Porting is not new in politics, we know that politicians decamp but President Jonathan chose to port Bamanga Tukur from chairman of PDP to Chairman of NRC – Nigeria Railway Corporation. Is this act a display of integrity by the president? The rest is history.

There are grave structural and moral problems. The leaders have no respect for the people and the document of authority they swore on oath to protect. These problems without any doubt are associated with certain attitudinal problems. The problems of Nigeria is massive and there is no need pretending that a certain group of people, political class, ideology group, religious group or ethnic nationality have a solution. The organs and instruments of the state must practice democratic collectivity, they must rely on the masses and office holders must serve the people and not themselves.

Those promoting the tensions as we witness must realize and understand that we are, each and every one of us, relevant and important to the project called Nigeria. Nigeria does not belong to the North or South. It is a project that needs collective responsibilities, therefore, instead of subtly declaring a do or die politics, we must realize and remember countries that had passed through and are still passing through the terrain of war. 

Do the leaders need to be told that their duties are to hold themselves responsible to the people? If there is a need for them to be told, they need to know that in every word, act and policy, they must conform to the people’s interests. If mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means. 

Before we plunge ourselves into an unnecessary war, I believe that our privileged political leaders must accept that purging the mind of “self” is a good place to begin. The moment that is done, I believe the road map towards effective mobilization of everyone into the nucleus of politics as equal players. We cannot overcome our numerous challenges if the idea to stick to personal ambition remains strong in hearts.  

Self interest should be put on trial and if found guilty, a fair judgment should be passed. I do not expect our politicians to be judges in their own case but the judge here is the mind. Listen to your minds sincerely and put yourselves on trial. 

The nation does not need to wait till the government lost control and the people are in revolt before realizing that governance is about the people. Going by the present state of our political environment, the rot is deeper and more pervasive than it appears.

The bulk lies on the desk of the President. It is up to him to organize the nation; it’s not about declarations i n places of worship or quoting references from the scriptures. Politics and Democracy are practical fields of play.  

According to a Chinese proverb “where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish off itself”.

I invite you to follow me on twitter @Actionkay

Odusote Oluwakayode writes in from Abuja, Nigeria.

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