By May 29, next year, when President Goodluck Jonathan, hopefully, would be handing over to himself or to another ‘king’, the nation would have coursed through another four years of politics without governance. It’s déjà vu. We saw it during the last four years of Obasanjo’s regime from 2003 to 2007. It was all motion and little movement. It was all activities without result. It was a good four years spent by President Obasanjo chasing the shadow of Atiku and impeaching recalcitrant governors with his imperial horse whip, the EFCC.
During those years of muckraking and raking the muck, governance was kept in abeyance. Those who plucked up the courage to speak truth to power like Audu Ogbeh, Anyim Pius Anyim, Ghali Na’abba among others were harassed and harangued. At the end, it was the people that lost. Governance suffered, politics triumphed.
Now, we are on the march again. We are just about to waist another four years playing politics rather than offering governance. Here is how. Remember the late President Umaru Yar’Adua was inaugurated on May 29, 2007. Right from that moment, he was hijacked by political contractors and all they offered Nigerians was long talk and discourses on how to return him to power in 2011. Not a thought was spared for governance. Once the Supreme Court ratified his election, the second-term for Yar’Adua project assumed carnival coloration.
Yar’Adua may have come with the best of intentions. His seven-point agenda, his Vision 20-2020, electoral reforms among others advertised him as a leader who meant well. Yes, even the road to hell is paved with dainties and fancies. Yet, governance goes beyond good intentions. It involves doing and acting. It goes beyond the fine lines of rhetoric, avowals and platitudes. Governance is about walking the talk, about putting your life, integrity and essence on the line. It is about sacrifice and selflessness. It is about denial of self and service to the people.
On this front, Yar’Adua failed. He merely talked the talk. And for the two years and ten months he was in the saddle, he played politics with the nation. First, it was the politics of whether he should run with Jonathan in 2011 or drop the austere Ijaw man for somebody he could ‘trust’. Later, it was the politics of his health. Was it just kidney failure or something the rest of us did not know? It got worse that silent night when he was flown to a specialist hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
From then on the texture of the politics changed. It was no longer whether he would run in 2011 or not; it centred on his wellbeing. Naysayers pontificated that he might not survive the dual ailment of kidney and heart impairment. In fact, at a time, it was rumoured that he was dead. They even quoted the time he gave up the ghost. They fabricated lies to authenticate their fatal theory. But his fans would not give up on him. The pro-Yar’Adua mob assured us for months on end that he was ‘hale and hearty’ and ‘fit as fiddle’. They even told a sufficiently bemused nation that their president ‘jogged for 10 minutes yesterday’; that ‘he was at his study last night’ and that ‘he had a workout in the squash court’ the previous day.
The politics of Yar’Adua’s health continued long after he was ferried back to the country in the darkling hours of night. Did he return dead or alive? Was it really Yar’Adua that was smuggled into the country as claimed? Many theories fuelled the rumour mill until the night they told the nation he was dead. At that time, a good two years and 10 months had elapsed out of a four-year tenure without a sign of governance or token of leadership. During that period, nobody bothered about the people; about education, security, healthcare and the general welfare of the people.
Even in death, the politics did not ebb. Instead, more punters were recruited into the game. Now, Jonathan has inherited the punters and their politics. Soon after his inauguration as president, having morphed from vice president to acting president (thanks to an ingenious Doctrine of Necessity), he too began his own brand of politics at the expense of governance. It is now ‘Jonathan for 2011’; ‘South Okays Jonathan for 2011’; ‘North Set to Scuttle Jonathan’s Ambition’; the headlines keep buzzing as the plot keeps widening.
Since Jonathan was installed the president on May 6, this year, he has offered little governance but he has suffused the nation with the politics of whether he would run next year or not. It is a familiar ballad and the people are once again sucked into a bind. They have no choice but to chorus to a hymnal even when the lines hurt them. And hell, it hurts. It hurts in the bad roads, in the badly run public schools, in the poorly stocked dispensaries which we call hospitals; it hurts in the poor wages prevalent in both the public and private sectors; it hurts in a belly-up economy hallmarked by downsizing, unemployment, under-employment and mindless casualisation of staff as though they were pigs in a sty. Oh yes, it hurts when all we could get in another four years (2007 to 2010) is politics of zoning, North and South, incumbency and opposition, IBB and Atiku, Tinubu versus Fashola. The list keeps growing. And you wonder, when are we going to have governance? If we make the mistake of adding Obasanjo’s four years of political treachery then it would be eight solid years of non-stop politics. That’s madness and it can only happen here.