As the 2015 elections draw closer, I am tempted to conclude that it is not the roadmap to the Uhuru most Nigerians seek. In fact, all indices suggest that the end product might either lead to a continuation of the unsatisfactory status quo or worse: a cataclysm which will give the naysayers about the Nigerian project cause for celebration. I pray I am proven wrong.
To all intents, PDP and APC seem to be the only parties supposedly fighting for the soul of Nigeria. That is the first major minus for Nigeria’s search for political salvation. For a mess of porridge or misguided ethnic and other considerations those parties that might have dented the egocentrism of the PDP and APC joined their bandwagons and quite a few Nigerians danced in the wrong belief that their welfare was being championed by these narrow-sighted politicians. For example, how does the adoption of Jonathan as APGA’s presidential candidate translate into a better deal for the average Igbo, not the band of mercenary merchants? Or do the likes of Governor Okorocha think that hoisting the APC’s flag will grant the Igbo people an equitable stake in the fiery furnace of Nigeria’s politics? What is the future of a Labour Party that dines and wines with robber-baron capitalists, typified by the PDP, whose essence negate what they ought to stand for?
The PDP and APC have put forward presidential candidates who do not inspire confidence. For a second let us put aside the antecedents, history, personalities and performances in leadership of Jonathan and Buhari and focus on these three cardinal posers for them:
Is there any specific utterance or action of either candidate that indicates that they are willing and capable of rising above the divides associated with their current political adventure? How has each man shown that he is not beholden to those cabals preaching and practicing division for power’s sake? Today Jonathan is perceived as a candidate of the South, especially the riverine South, who is backed by the formidable ex-militants. Buhari is seen as the darling of Northern religious fundamentalists who must wrench their ‘birthright’ from the South. Whether these perceptions are true is not the point. The issue is: either man will become Nigeria’s president. Have they risen above the fray? Honestly I do not think so, despite their choices of vice-presidential candidates.
Anyone who desires to tackle Nigeria’s problems as a president must not be beholden to either the PDP or APC. This is because both parties are spewing ideas and practices that worsen our plight. They comprise people who, for the most part, are consumed by visions of power, money and primordial sentiments. True, there are exceptions. But while the PDP remains a hotbed of diametrically opposed individuals and interests united by lucre, the APC is characterized by pseudo progressivism; ambition disguised as patriotism; and despite claims to the contrary, an ethnicized agenda which excludes certain sections of the people they intend to rule.
Logically, imperfect institutions can only throw up imperfect symbols and leaders. But history records exceptions. But such exceptions take courageous positions that at times pierce the heart of the systems that threw them up. From 2010 till date I have not seen evidence of Jonathan largely taking such decisions on vital national concerns such as corruption and security. For example, when his late security adviser declared that the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency was in the PDP, Jonathan sacked him. True, other parties won elections in hitherto PDP states. BUT THESE WERE PURELY STRATEGIC OUTCOMES; Jonathan had no choice but to concede victory because he could not afford an inferno. Any guarantee things will change in a second dispensation for GEJ?
As for Buhari, a lot has been said about his courageous decisions as military head of state. But this is a new ballgame. A complex system of interests is projecting the General as Nigeria’s hope in 2015. Let us be frank: Buhari is there today because of the complex marriage of Northern power hegemonists, the first-class Bola Tinubu political machine, and significant Western Nigerian interests who feel they have lost out from the power and economic plays of the Jonathan government. Can Buhari ride roughshod over these powerbrokers if they dominate the National Assembly in his dispensation? I fear that if the current APC overlords gain control, Buhari may end up the fall guy. This is a democracy so he cannot enact backdated decrees or get them shot.
So far none of these men has spelt out in concrete terms how they will solve Nigeria’s problems. We need nuts and bolts answers to our challenges as well as lofty ideals all Nigerians can key into. Sadly, all we are getting are recriminations, power-mongering, abuse and counter-abuse.
Either they go back to the drawing-board or Nigerians throw up a third force. Nigeria does not belong to these candidates and their parties. The alternative may be young ‘madmen and women’ who may do the needful. Let us not give them the room to arise for as our history in the 1960s indicates, they may start something they cannot finish.
Onyema is a Lagos-based writer and historian. [email protected]