There have been a series of discussions towards the 2023 presidential election. But, the most resounding is that of the obvious division across ethnic and religious lines, which is most clear in the country today.
Meanwhile, amid all these, I hold the firm opinion that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the doctrine of federal character in its Nigerian incarnation promote mediocrity. It excuses incompetence or shoddy performance by playing turn-by-turn politics in ethnic or regional terms.
Hence, an aspirant for the post of the president could come out to claim that it is the turn of his region to produce the president and that would be his only basis for campaigning. At no point has he spoken of his fitness to deliver.
Is it not revealing that the advocates of a particular presidential candidate are sidestepping governmental efficiency to zero on the need to ‘reward’ him and the South West with the Presidency? Notwithstanding the failure of his party to deliver the electoral promises they made to the Nigerian people during the electioneering campaign.
President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to meet the yearnings, hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people since his assumption of office and he is unapologetic about it.
In concrete political appreciation and heading the country off the turbulent waters, especially as it relates to the matters of the geo-ethnic feelings, his perpetuation drivers do not seem to understand that even the immediate success of a government cannot remove the desire for a sense of belonging, not to talk of an administration that failed in that aspect.
And, Buhari, as he is, has increased the ethnic tension the country has faced even before his assumption of office. But, as it is, Nigerians must look beyond ethnicity and talk about competence. More than where people come from, we should interrogate their capacity to uplift ordinary people from poverty and have a huge effect on the economy of the country.
It is understandable that they want to force a candidate who is off reality down the throat of Nigerian people through ethnic blackmail under the guise of a federal character. Though, federal character is a sensible distributive policy in a turbulent federation such as ours, but it has been perverted into, not just federal discrimination, but into federal mediocrity.
On the other end of the divide is someone whose bloated sense of impending victory was short-lived by a presidential aspirant who worked without relying on existing structure to get his party’s ticket. And, this element has been trivialising political discourse since the crash of his aspiration.
The Nigerian youths must not be lost in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election. If the 2020 EndSARS movement could achieve something, it is a reflection that the status of Nigerian youth in the nation’s politics has somehow been elevated to its pedestal. I bring this to the fore because I believe social forces shape events.
However, the youths must also not allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the promoters of mediocrity over excellence. From all the persons that have brought themselves forth, the Nigerian people should question their capacity not because they feel it is the turn of an Igbo, Itsekiri, Ijaw, Yoruba, Hausa, Efik, Urhobo to produce the leadership.
We must not be quick to forget that, across all the regions, people have come out before and they have failed, which showcases that it is no more a tribal or ethnic question. And, if we should narrow the discussion to competence, we may have a nation that is functional. Trivial federal character principles have made competent people not to have access while the incompetent ones are taking over the government and that’s the reason for the failure we have today.
If the Nigerian people must be prepared to overcome these deplorable failures brought about by all these sentiments, we must look inward for competence. And I believe this argument could be taken to national debate rather than arguing about “Emi Lokan’ because this trivial politics is the reason Nigeria is divided. Nigerians must embrace the unification agenda.
Israel, a social commentator, writes from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital