Before The 2007 Election Melee…

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

The din must have ascended to the high heavens. Otherwise, a lot of us may have shouted ourselves hoarse while those who wanted a third term would have had their way and the rest of us our say. Thank heavens too that the issue of a continuation in the corridors of power, particularly for the people who have not performed and want another chance is a jinxed one. It is my guess that the incumbent was just lucky to be thrust on us the way he was after the imbroglio of June 12, where the man who won that election that was peerless in the annals of Nigeria’s electoral history was shortchanged and killed. If not, with the sort of antecedents he has, many a Nigerian would not have touched Obasanjo with a pole ten miles long. Of course the propaganda was very well deployed that he was the one who handed over to civilians; that he was responsible for holding fort for a country shaken and tottering from the brutal assassination of Murtala Mohammed, and sundry credits ascribable to him. But that was not the case really. The man merely served his predecessor’s agenda and moved on. This time that he found himself there was one good opportunity for a puppet to establish the wishes of those who worked hard and contributed their monies to install him almost like what he did in that first instance. It was while he was there that he did the Ngige somersault, a volt face that is peculiar to those involved in the conniving, slimy game of politricks, and side tracked his patrons. That he did that however was good for us I must say. I will always maintain it that he mostly wasted a lot of our time in his first tenure gallivanting from one country to another washing the dirty linen that the guys who want to come back dumped on us. But I must concede that the man don try in certain areas but that should not be reason why he would have wanted to keep trying on our behalf. Nigeria has more than enough people of leadership pedigree to steer our ship to the harbour of progress and peace and prosperity.

But all of this is not what this discussion is about. There is something much more important that I wish to express here, and it has to do with the coming melee, the coming scramble to occupy Aso Rock. The timetable for elections was announced last week, and even before this there had been this unnecessary heat generated from the quarrel between the Vice president and the proponents of third term for the president and governors. There is also this massive build up of disgruntled PDP members who were dislocated and checkmated from the mainstream of political action. A host of them have gathered together in what resembles a coterie of spent forces seeking relevance in the coming years ahead. What makes the group a little laughable is the fact that they are now in the business of running down a party that they were major building blocks and pillars of. They are threatening fire, gore and brimstone and looking around for whom to devour politically or otherwise. Apart from this, let us look at the host of past or retired military people like Buhari, Marwa, Babangida, et all, who now as civilians eye the precincts of power with the patient greed of a vulture. We ask the question again, the way we asked President Obasanjo when he sought power: what is it that these people are actually after? What is it that they forgot in Aso Rock that they seek to come pick up after having contributed all that they could ever productively contribute? Is it that they did not steal or amass enough? What do these people still want with us now? Personally, I do not see anything wrong with former military people participating in politics. This is because that is something democracy is all about: it is about people. People. No matter who they are and what their antecedents may have been. I am sure that this is the argument that Babangida, Buhari, Marwa and ilk hold on to, to re-load and thrust their guns right at us once more. But one other question that I know that we have never asked ourselves in simply telling ourselves that democracy is about people is that question that we will never ask as long as our people wallow in abject poverty and in crass ignorance. We have never really bothered to ask ourselves what kind of people it is that come ask us to entrust them with our money, our food and our homes. We just hang on to the fact that these people are either famous or notorious names or that they are rich or that they are products of our geo-political cocoons.

It is all of this: the unnecessary and unhealthy heat generated by the third term fracas, the arrogance of the disgruntled faction of the ‘biggest party in Africa’, the influence and interest of former military people, a virile but sometimes pliable civil opposition and the X factor in politics that will condemn the rest of us to one of the roughest fights our country has ever seen apart from the Nigerian civil war or the crisis and angst created by the interregnum of June 12.

Ordinarily, it is to be expected that there is tension generated in such a sensitive a matter as a general election. In that case, it is usually a tension generated by a salvo of an articulation of ideology or of a staccato of ideas and a lampoon of rival manifestoes from rival parties. But that is not always the case here. We are bereft of ideas and we are bereft of political ideology. We mostly allow the most mundane and the most primitive issues swallow and engage our sensibilities, I guess because we still are unsure what we want of ourselves and of those who claim they want to represent us. I will give an example. There is a young politician around us today who speaks and something in your head and heart stirs. He brings forth a fresh perspective to the issues at hand and insists, in his words, that there has to be a paradigm shift in the way this country is run. When you listen to him, you know at once in your heart of hearts that the chap really means well. If you juxtapose him with those who run the greatest countries of the world today, you would find he is in the same age bracket with them but stands taller than any of them in ideas and in integrity and focus. If he were to represent our country anywhere in the world, all you would do is listen to him talk and your heart will swell to bursting point with pride. But we will not even consider or vote him in. Even the most enlightened and educated of us deride his courageous stand and ask of him to go contest first either as a local government chairman or a counselor. If he is qualified like you or me to contest as president why be a hill when you could be a Mountain Everest?Some say he is too young but we ask: did the old age of elder Methuselah have anything to do with King Solomon’s so-called wisdom? All of the old and new brigade around, what is it that they have contributed that you or I cannot contribute? Well, I know the time is nigh for us to take certain steps and do certain things we have never in our lives done before. If you listen to yourself in that quiet or robust corner where you read this, you will hear your self speak to yourself. If you shut your ears against yourself, we will all bear the brunt when those who should not be there pass us through another harrowing political cum economic experience from 2007.

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