Since Nigeria attained independence 58 years ago, the nation has been running from pillar to post, in varied attempts to take the country out of the woods, and push it to an appreciable level of development befitting a country with its plethora of human and material resources.
From a parliamentary system to unitary (military) government and then to the presidential system of government, none has holistically addressed the economic and political problems that ail the country. Hence, there is a consensus that Nigeria is not where it should be and hopes are fading about the probability of its ever moving past a certain level of development. At the individual level, a 58-year old person is already inching toward old age and cannot be excused for the lack of wisdom.
Sadly, for Nigeria at 58, the indices do not look good. Take education as an example. Our political elite are all products of the public school system, which brought them to limelight. Today, they do not send their children to such schools because they are worthless. Not even the average middle class person takes his/her child to the public school. Certainly, if the schools were this bad, many of these parents/leaders from humble backgrounds would not have acquired education nor ultimately seen the four walls of a university. The rot is not exclusive to the education sector alone; it is prevalent in all other facets of our national life, including the health and social services sectors, and in public infrastructure, although there is no gainsaying the fact that some progress has been made. However, in comparison with the revenues that have accrued to the country since oil became our main export in the late 1950s, no commensurate development has occured across the country.
How did we become the poverty capital of the world? Why is it that when we had no oil revenue, there was less poverty in the land and we could feed ourselves? Suddenly, hope is vanishing; our youth are moving in droves to the U.S., Canada, the Middle East, and Britain, not just to find greener pastures, but because they can’t find their purpose here. There are no opportunities for them because their parents are not powerful. They are leaving because the lives they envisioned for themselves have come crashing down before their very eyes.
The tragedy of this reality is that the political class does not inspire the hope of an utopia in the nearest future. This is even more so as this year’s anniversary celebration coincided with the most politically intense period of the nation’s history. With the unfolding events in the march towards 2019, whereby electorates are not at liberty to freely exercise their franchise, and the process has become highly monetised, the signs have become really ominous. The godfathers are deciding what should be and choosing the pliant ones who can easily be compromised, dispensed with or cowed.
The roforofo fights over who becomes governor, senator, representative and even the president have never been this messy. Everything is in such a state of flux that no soothsayer can tell where the pendulum will swing. The two leading political parties — the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) — have so fouled the air with their intrigues and coat-throat struggles for power that one would wonder if wars are ongoing! Indeed, it is war for them – the war of survival and war to determine who corners/controls our resources in the next dispensation.
The ongoing primaries of the two leading political parties — the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) do no give much hope on the maturity of our democratic process. If anything, it is akin to a charade, a mimicry and testament to the fact that our own form of democracy is the government of a few/clique appropriating power and determining who gets what. What is happening in Lagos State is the microcosmic reflection of a deep national malaise. One single powerbroker, in the person of Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in cahoots with the Lagos elite, is now in the eye of the storm. Tinubu has been the single deciding factor in elections in the State since 1999. After serving his eight years, the godfather chose Babatunde Fashola to succeed him and Akinwunmi Ambode to succeed Fashola. However, the two have since fallen out with him.
Whereas other APC state governors are practically being affirmed and cleared for their second terms in office, Ambode is in the struggle of his life to get his party’s ticket because Tinubu has decreed otherwise. Tinubu might have been slighted by the governor for reasons that might not be connected to good governance, but the personal caprices of the godfather and his co-travelers. The word out there is that for the first time, Tinubu’s company was not in the picture over some billions of naira worth of contracts awarded by the Ambode administration. No governor seeking another elective term has been as humiliated as Ambode, who is now like a fish out of water, just because one man, out of over almost 20 million Lagosians, withdrew his support. How is democracy the government of the people when one man can decide who becomes the governor of Nigeria’s most populous and popular state and the country’s commercial nerve centre?
Closely related to the humiliation of Ambode is the travails of the governor of Adamawa State, Jubrilla Bindow. His problem began a few weeks back when the first lady, Aisha Buhari’s brother, Dr. Mahmood Halilu Ahmed Modi, obtained the APC nomination form to challenge the sitting governor. Bindow, a man whose loyalty to President Buhari and the APC has never been in doubt, is suddenly found wanting. According to the latest narrative, the governor is not qualified to run for office because of a purportedly forged West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate he has been using till date. A faceless group named, Global Integrity Crusade Network, has asked the court to compel WAEC to produce Bindow’s certificate, as the group claims that the governor did not complete his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Mangu. This is what happens when you play politics with ethics, morality and nepotism. The same Bindow went through the APC screening and emerged as governor in 2015; now he can be dispensed with to make way for the first family’s relation.
The opposition PDP is not left out of the charade. I have never seen an opposition party so disorganised! It is as if the party has no leadership that can call members to order. The PDP watched Osun slip out of its hands and its primaries could not even keep it immune from another possible implosion. In a State like Borno, which the party has never won since 1999, there were two parallel congresses. What a united PDP could not do in 19 years, certainly cannot be achieved by a factionalised group in 2019. Kwara State PDP is a huge embarrassment for the party hierarchy and the strongman of the state. Embattled Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is at loggerheads with the Presidency and some of his colleagues at the National Assembly proved once again that a leopard can never change its spots. Just like Tinubu, Saraki has appropriated Kwara to himself, to determine, choose and pick who should govern the State and represent its people.
The crude competition for power at all levels in the next dispensation without consideration for performance, good governance, competence and capacity from top to bottom is an ill-wind that can at best blow us to pieces. Poverty eradication, fighting corruption, insecurity and engendering development are no longer sellable campaign issues. An aspirant or candidate is damned if he fails to meet the biddings of his masters, but the nation remains doomed if we continue to play politics of self- aggrandisement and personal interest.