Thursday, 5 February 2015

We the People!?

We the People!?
In April 2011, just before the general elections that year, I and three other Nigerians – Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) of the Civil Soceity Legislative Advocacy Centre (CiSLAC), Dr Abubakar Momoh of the Political Science Department, Univrsity of Lagos, and Alh Farouk Dalhatu, a media proprietor – had the opportunity of observing elections of the state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. That year, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost to the Green Party.
Until then, the CDU had been in power that state since the 1960s and was the ruling party at the federal level, as it still is presently. The state of Baden-Württemberg at that time was among the four states with the best economies globally, which is a testament to the fact that the CDU had done an exceedingly good job in the fifty odd years they held sway. In that state, there are companies like Daimler – makers of Mercedes Benz, Bosche and hundreds of others, many of which are small and medium scale. But, still, they lost and it was on account of one reason. Yes, a single reason; and one which was in far flung East-Asia which neither they nor the Asians themselves could have done anything about. It was nature’s “misbehavior”, what the lawyers call Force Majeure. It was the Fukushima earthquake of April 11, 2011, in Japan.
Before the quake, the debate had largely been about the educational direction of the state. The different parties were proposing their preferred policy options that they believed would serve the state’s future economic and sundry goal. There was also a debate at the national level about departing from nuclear to renewable energy but it was largely at the national level. The Green Party was all for it but so also the CDU. The only point of departure was on the timeline: the CDU was proposing a longer transition period. But the Fukushima event changed everything and focused the debate one what parties were offering on renewable energy. The people of the state decided to speak so as to send signals to the ruling CDU at the federal level on the path they wanted. They voted out the CDU and brought in the Greens. The people spoke.
Only one reason! And not because of non-performance!!
If your daughter or relative were one of those over two-hundred Chibok girls whisked away by Boko-Haram and the government never said a word until after about three weeks how will you vote on February 14? Think of that child of yours while you make up your mind. This question is not about insecurity or the inability of government to rescue the girls; for insurgency can confront any nation and even the most powerful nation may not be able to rescue such captives as the girls. It is a question of the sensitivity of the Nigerian government to its people. Three weeks before a word? No!
In a democracy, power belongs to the people. They donate this power to a few people at elections to help steer their affairs. But when such a group, in the form of a political party by whatever name, tells the nation that it will be in power for sixty years without demonstrating any regard for them by doing a good job, there is a big problem. The people must, as a matter of necessity and urgency, rise up and be heard.
What the 2015 elections portend for Nigerians is an opportunity to really decide what direction they want for this country. The most developed nations of this world have been able to get to where they are today because of good competition in their political space. Since 1999, we have realistically lived in a one-party state and that party in question has lost the nerve and incentive to be sensitive to the Nigerian people. There is nothing Nigerians will see if the party remains that we have not seen in the past sixteen years, except of course the worse. But the opportunity before us now is to send the party packing, because it will help them go and sit down and do some self examination, even if for only four years. They will think in terms of real issues and look for better persons to present. They will hopefully be remorseful. They will be a formidable opposition to the new party thereby putting the latter on their toes. If the latter do not perform well, we bring them back in; by which time the new party would have taken root as a formidable competitor.
Before now, the ruling party had never been this threatened. The problem is that if Nigerians let this opportunity to slip, this opposition will fritter and the arrogance and impunity of the ruling party will stink to the high heavens and then what we see now, bad as it is, will be child’s play.
I deliberately avoided naming parties and person here because in this situation, it could have been any person and any party. It is about a repugnant and reprehensible bind we find ourselves in. Presently, there are a thousand and one reasons and full culpability why we must demand something different and better.
We must reclaim our power. We, the people, must speak up and be heard.

BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur Feb. 5, 2015

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