By: Jerome-Mario Utomi
In the past three years, Nigerians lived with a veiled notion that the nation has attained political maturity where the people’s will prevails. Such a feeling, no doubt stemmed from wisdom born through the experience of 2015 general elections.
But contrary to this belief, the recent gubernatorial contest in Ekiti state has revealed that the above table of ideology may not be completely true – as it was astonishingly glaring that we are not matching forward but groping and stumbling, politically divided and confused while our moral confidence sinks.
When you boil down precisely on what went wrong with the election, you discover without labour that the people were reacting to the government (state and FG)’s past demonstration of contempt for people-purposed leadership and their pursuit of policies that have benefitted only their friends and supporters.
Though a ‘winner’ has since emerged, available reaction explains that baggage of doubt and creditability burden pervades the state.
And at a more significant level, the obvious irony associated with the exercise is that instead of eliciting celebration, it caused the nation embracement at the global stage and blew harsh wind into our political arena- posturing Ekiti state, the playing field as the serious loser, and the indigenes as democracy- conscious people without democratic attitude.
Looking at commentaries, one unhappy lesson that comes to the fore is that the exercise barefacedly showcased the country’s unbelief in the saying that the ‘means must be pure as the end we seek’.
Deplorably, while Nigerians wrestle with this pressing reality, the exercise has again opened a new vista of apprehension and further underlined the challenge of money politics/vote buying with many doubting the possibility of the President Mohammadu Buhari’s led administration winning the war against corruption.
And, such fears cannot be described as unfounded as what took place in the state was antithetical with, and runs contrary to the global tenets for building an honest government which demands that ‘a precondition for an honest government is that the candidate must not need large sums to get elected, or it must trigger off the circle of corruption. Having spent a lot of money to get elected, winners must recover their costs and possibly accumulate funds for the next election as the system is self-perpetuating’.
Further supporting the above is the remark credited to Malte Liewerscheidt, vice president of the London-based risk advisory group, Teneo Intelligence as reported by Bloomberg Media group;
‘Both parties engaged in bribery. The APC used “large-scale vote buying and the use of security forces” to protect buying agents. The recipe used by the APC to win in Ekiti might well serve as a blueprint for the upcoming nationwide ballot, with potentially severe implications for public finances,” What is more? No hope for the future.
Without minding what others may say, the Ekiti saga has eloquently proved that the Executive Order 6 as proposed by Mr. President may not provide the needed solution to the corruption fight in the country as it can only attempt curing the effects while leaving the root-cause to flourish.
The primary concern of executive order as proposed is to track/monitor corrupt transactions and ensure temporary/permanent forfeiture of such proceeds; but, it will be more gratifying in my views if the FG first rework the propeller/enabler- our faulty electoral process that is hugely perceived as capital intensive. Such a step, with no doubt, will be a little beginning that will translate into a huge result.
In the same token, the electoral outing has further painted our politics as responsibility-free where the ‘consent of the governed’ is considered a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder. Consequentially, the promises of our political leaders can never be fulfilled since they have paid for votes and do not have the responsibility to deliver on their pledges.
Unlike other nations, Nigeria has again demonstrated its lacks of culture for accommodation and tolerance which makes a minority genuinely accept majority’s right to have its way until next election, and wait patiently and peacefully for its turn to become the government by persuading more voters to support its views.
Curiously, it’s conspicuous that the list of actions not taken by the government remains lengthy and worrisome. For instance, the people could not fathom the rationale for casting their votes for leaders whose vision is not serving the interest of the general constituencies.
Whatever the true position maybe, Mr. President’s inability to organize a free and fair election has further lent credence to the belief in some quarters that though he started off with high moral standards, strong convictions and determination to beat down corruption. However, it has recently become obvious that he cannot live up to those good intentions as he lacks the strong determination to deal with all transgressors, and without exception.
To, therefore, make the system work, and the fight against corruption bear the targeted result, the President must ensure that our democratic institutions perform their indispensible role in shaping policies and determining the direction of our nation while the people ultimately determine its course and not executive officials operating without constraints.
He should as a matter of urgency come up with a plan that will ensure that every kobo earned in revenue must be properly accounted for and reach the beneficiaries at the grass root as one kobo, without being siphoned off along the way. And give special attention to the areas where discretionary powers had been exploited for personal gains and sharpened the instruments that could prevent, detect or deter such practices.
But, in making this call, I am mindful of the fact that there is nothing more ‘difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under old other’. But any leader that do, come out powerful, secured, respected and happy.
On the part of the people, the only way to change this situation is not by hoping that the president develops some spine. But by the masses taking actionable steps that will build the nation of our dreams as everything else is just words, and words without power change nothing.
Finally, just the way Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, recently advised Zimbabweans as they plan their first election without Mugabe to create a real opportunity for a fresh start for Zimbabwe and a chance to cause effective change, so it shall in my views be the collective responsibility of all Nigerians not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture it to become a ‘zone of peace and stability’.
Jerome-Mario, a Journalist Writes Via; Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com