Much has been said about Nigeria’s forthcoming elections. Views and opinions have been traded on both local and international news while the social media has become a political marketplace.
For actors on the Nigerian political scene, this is time to impress the electorate either by rhetoric or substance. In this aspect, the two main political parties have lived up to the anticipated drama.
On the one hand we see the main opposition, APC, adopting the ‘change’ mantra. The long and short of its rhetoric is built upon eradication or substantial reduction of massive corruption in the Nigerian government system. The APC followership has grown like wild fire to a point of causing palpable fear in the ruling party, PDP.
The reason for the surge in popularity and followership of the APC is one that President Jonathan is well aware of. Speaking in a recent exclusive interview titled ‘How I felt when OBJ tore his PDP membership card’, he said “‘corruption’ is a word Nigerians attach a lot of emotion to. So if you say you’ll eradicate corruption people are happy…”
One might wonder, then, why under the President’s watch corruption galloped, almost unstoppable, to the extent of threatening his political ambition while squandering the goodwill PDP once enjoyed from Nigerians in its wake.
APC’s ‘change’ rhetoric is therefore founded on solid psychological reasoning. And its important to mention, beyond ethnic and religious bias, the only stumbling stone to what would be an otherwise guaranteed victory at the polls for APC is the character of its main proponents i.e Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi etc.
I’ll get back to that shortly.
For the ruling PDP on the other hand, rhetoric alone cannot do. The power of incumbency it currently enjoys and indeed has always enjoyed, adds the responsibility of substantiating whatever rhetoric it peddles with current socio-economic realities.
The years of democratic leadership preceding 2015, more specifically, the beginning of the President Jonathan led administration, its achievements or under-achievements, is what the PDP must draw upon to substantiate its re-election campaign rhetoric.
Recent attempts aimed at degrading and controlling the ideologically bankrupt Boko haram sect via a multinational approach is noteworthy and commendable. It makes this writer wonder, if President Jonathan had pulled such trick from his iconic hat many months ago, perhaps, majority of the electorate may be more disposed to weigh side by side the corruption and progress of his democratic administration vs. the hard choice of electing a past dictator in the frame of Buhari with the many sins of that administration.
However, visible evidence needed to substantiate an effective re-election bid goes beyond winning the war against insurgency. Though the opposition believes and would like the electorate to believe this is about obscene corruption, the fact remains that Nigerians and by extension Africans, have overtime developed a passive ‘live and let live’ tolerance towards corrupt government.
To keep hope alive, however, the only demand of the African citizenry from its leadership is that they see signposts of progress. Employment for youths, improved power supply, better roads, economic buffers, reliable healthcare, reduced cost of starting/sustaining business operations, access to finance at affordable bank loan tariffs etc these are factors that impact lives of millions of people who are hundreds and thousands of miles away, far from the corridor of political power.
In the absence of such signs, fertile grounds is made for strong political opposition to rise with genuine or false intentions and become the hope/voice of deprived electorates. The President Jonathan led administration has lost much grounds with its back almost against the wall. Defending the indefensible especially when the facts are not in one’s favor is always a difficult task. This is the challenge now currently faced by the president and his handlers/supporters. I wish the President Good-luck at the polls.
Getting back to address the issue of character, permit me to make a quick reference to the Nigerian system. In the artisan sector of the society, the level of incompetence, mediocrity, dishonesty and fraud is just as pervasive as witnessed in our political setting.
The cord of corruption in the Nigerian society stretches without limit from the poor to the middle-class and to the rich. But what is sacrosanct? People must do business. People must live. People must be governed. There is a long-time principle in economics that states, when the preferable is not available, the available becomes preferable.
To illustrate that principle, I drive a Honda and personally, to avoid road-side headaches I prefer to use Honda-Place for my car service. But till I can afford it, that option is unavailable to me. Nevertheless, whenever I discover that a long time artisan mechanic has been using my car for meal-ticket without any corresponding return in service value, I can either change him or remain indifferent. The choice is mine.
But the urgency of this moment demand action. I cannot choose indifference when my resources is at stake. On March 28 2015, make no mistakes: our politicians, just like roadside mechanics, are typical artisans in nature. There is none without corruption. Not the ‘change’ singers and definitely not the ones seeking re-election.
In conclusion, in the absence of Honda-place or more close to the point, in the absence of a Obama, we must make do with the available: GEJ or GMB. The electorate must make a choice to either vote President Jonathan even in the face of revealed mismanagement or vote for change in General Muhammadu Buhari, even if only for changes sake.