ONE of the most wearisome things about Nigeria’s political history is how it keeps repeating itself and nothing ever seems to change. The present administration has not yet spent up to four years in office and already the language of politics is subjugated by the phrase: “the battle for 2019.” Nobody is talking about the next general election of 2019, but “the battle!” As is crystally conspicuous, the 2019 general elections are likely to end up as one big nationwide war, and this won’t be a war of thoughts, but a war of egos, of ambitions, and utter desperation for power. APC may not survive till 2019 due to its division into many factions, each faction led by an ambitious political figure, looking forward to 2019. There are indications that once the party implodes, this may leave the incumbent president without critical support centre’s, particularly the South-West, where a majo political leader, Chief Bola Tinubu, seems not to be getting the best deal out of the APC coalition that drove the Jonathan administration out of power.
It is again extremely naïve to make political calculations on the basis of an imaginary accident in the opponent’s camp. This is one of the mistakes the PDP made in 2015. Certain influential figures within the party failed to act early and plan effectively because they kept hoping that the APC will fail. But rather than fail, the party built on a strong foundation of conspiracy and a single-minded determination to get the PDP government out of power merely got stronger. The PDP, now in disarray, is working on the same assumption. Rather than get its house in order, the party is hoping that the APC will disintegrate and that will automatically make the PDP the people choice in 2019. That is too simplistic an expectation. Those in PDP and other parties who assume that they can surface in 2019, by sheer accident of circumstances such as economic recession and the growing criticisms of the administration should go back and learn how to build an effective opposition. The opposition in Nigeria today is too acquiescent. The people may have issues with the government of the day, but nobody is offering any challenge or alternative vision in the same kind of robust even if hypertensive manner the APC did throughout the Jonathan administration. Last minute moves in politics are often counter-productive. The swiftest challenger often wins the race.
What is not very clear to many in leadership positions is that there is a difference between politics and governance. They mix both, and mix them up deficiently, and when they do, they get disenchanted in the long run. Besides, politics in Nigeria is still about the sharing of spoils of victory. When the sharing formula fails, or causes disaffection, the political space is cluttered up. Nigerian politicians are also selfish: they do not know how to serve as a leader. They want to use the leader to serve their own ends, if the leader is weak, they undermine him, and if he is strong, and they weaken him. This is why in the end, all the battle cries about 2019 amount to nothing other than cries of selfish desperation. Where are the ideas? Civilized political discourse is driven by ideas, not the exchange of vitriol or abuse over positions and privileges.
Those who are crying like babies over 2019 would serve us better if they engage the general public with ideas. They should tell us why they think change will again be necessary in 2019. They should explain what change or divergence they are proposing. I assume that Nigerians are much wiser now: and they are not likely to hand over power to someone who wants it just on the basis of expectations induced by syrupy campaign promises. The “battle of 2019”, citizens should also show interest in the present. To move Nigeria forward, we must move beyond the melodrama of politicians to which there seems to be practically no end other than own interests. We need a new tribe of leaders: men and women with hot fire in their bellies that can burn all the tents of appalling covenants that have held Nigeria down since independence. As the political warriors begin to talk about “the battle of 2019,” we the people must insist not on battle or war, but such leadership recruitment that serves the nation, and leads to progress and development, and such politics that produces the best result, new or incumbent. But before 2019, the people must survive and remain assured that indeed the duty of government is to look out for their welfare and make them happy.
The bitter truth is that Nigeria does not need the help of any external force or nation to put things right. As a people, we must be prepared to have a workable National Plan, based on which decisive actions can be implemented with enforceable checks, regulations and set benchmarks for achieving the standard outcomes characteristic of a serious Nation with good governance. This will be measured in terms of our economic development, compliance with human rights convention, respect for rule of law, valuing human life and all other related values. It will remain a humiliation and grievous cause of concern if we are not be ready to have our future in our hands and take action to reposition our nation to her rightful place in the comity of prosperous nations of the World from 2019 and onwards. I make bold to affirm that political carpet crossers, or defectors cannot offer better future but merely desperate to adhere to powers for self-perpetuation, preservation of their loots and not after adding values to people’s lives. The issue is that Nigeria has no problem but we the citizenry are creating problems for the nation itself. Moreover, the reviewing of 1999 constitution needs to be done because this constitution is the most menace posturing tribulations to our nation.
- Ayoola is an intern with the Nigerian Tribune