BY OSEGHALE ERAHODU
To say the average Nigerian has lost all hope and confidence in the democratic dispensation is stating the obvious, especially for those who, two years ago, were making world-wide headlines in celebrating the momentous triumph of “people power” by voting out a sitting government and electing a highly popular opposition leader and party, General Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). By a queer twist of political fate, here we are today, in the depths of despondency and frustration as a result of the rapid evaporation of the euphoria of the triumph of democracy and virtual collapse of government with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Just as a military ruler once remarked, that the Nigerian economy had defied all known economic principles, we need no telling today that dashing of hopes and reversal of fortunes seemingly triggered by the emergence of a popular government and leader must also be regarded as a negation of dividends of democracy. Even more curious is the fact that the implosion of the APC and the demise of the PDP combined also practically left Nigerians without a ready alternative political platform to pursue a way out of the mishap.
In the current situation, there is more to gain in expediting the exploration of new and more viable political parties than in ruminating over the irredeemable fate of the expired platforms. It could even be said that the strange fate that has befallen the PDP after 16 years of much-touted “infallibility” and the APC barely two years into a populist triumphant tenure amounts to an extraordinary expulsion of the two dominant ruling class responsible for the “decadent paralysis” that has plagued Nigeria since independence.
In that context it would be ridiculous for Nigerians to remain fixated with the same political cabals whilst seeking a genuinely viable alternative political platform to move the country forward and onto a new frontier for exercising democratic rights more purposefully and effectively for the actualization of collective nationalist aspirations. There should by now be a strong conviction that the accident scene which claimed the PDP and APC must be fertile ground for the foundation of a new creed and generation for the political leadership of the country.
But not all hope should be lost despite the dismal prospects beclouding the horizon. In particular it is a positive development that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has found it necessary and expedient to facilitate the process of political rebirth and charting a new course for the redemption and reinvigoration of the democratic dispensation that remains the only dependable anchor for national progress and development. News that INEC has decided to register brand new parties could not have come at a better time and the significance of the opportunity should not be lost on all patriotic citizens.
It must however be emphasized that INEC can only go as far as it has gone in meeting the yearnings of our people. The more critical task of seizing the opportunity and converting it into a vehicle for exiting the political dead-end staring us in the face can only be achieved with the support and cooperation of the generality of Nigerians, particularly the youth whose stake in a better future for this country cannot be over-emphasized. The crux of the matter is that we must all be more circumspect about the purpose of meaningful participation in politics with a view to preventing a relapse to the “decadent paralysis” that has bogged the nation down since independence.
The era of adopting an arms-length disconnection with the politics of leadership and national development must now come to an end. It needs no campaign to realize that the outcome of our politics cannot supersede the quality of the politicians who drive the process. The widespread notion that politics is a “dirty game” hangs like a curse on the all-important process that determines the progress of nations.
This is the time to exorcise the demons whose malpractices and bad attitudes have polluted the civic focus of politics in a democratic setting. You cannot leave politics to those who live and feed fat on it and yet complain that it is not meeting national aspirations. More professionals and seasoned technocrats must therefore crowd out the so-called “professional politicians” to achieve the desired qualitative outcome.
No less important however is the quality of political parties which can no longer be the preserve of godfathers and cabals and their rented fellow travellers. The constitution and manifesto of the new parties should now be the critical factor in determining their viability and effectiveness for discharging the onerous responsibility of delivering tangible qualitative dividends of democracy, rather than the personalities parading its leadership.
In particular serious attention should go to the parties whose constitutions and manifestoes boldly address the notorious ills of our political system as well as enhance the capacity of the majority of members to determine the policies, programmes and performance of the parties by sheer strength of internal democracy and expanded financial stake-holding.
– Erahodu, a freelance journalist, wrote from Benin City