If a doomsday prophet defines politics as a mean-spirited enterprise motivated by greed, opposition to new democratic principles, hypocrisy, misuse of freedom of speech, and intermittent outbursts propelled by a desire to stage a come-back to power, it can be accepted and used to describe a new political paradigm as seen through the eyes of opposition parties in Nigeria.
Like a boxer who wants to hang his gloves, I have been trying very hard not to write again, only to resurface when our effort at strengthening democratic structures appears threatened. I break my silence for the good of the homeland – a land of peace and security.
“Damn Fool, you still find the time to write?”- that was what a Nigerian journalist living abroad jokingly wrote to me, as a response to my last piece- “constitutional breaches: the government guilt!”, In all, I received 210 response e-mails to that article – a mix bag of insults, congratulations, intelligent analysis- which the authors said would serve as a resource base for future writings, government bashing, and personal attacks. I selected responses from each category, and thanked the writers for taking the time to read.
The absence of opposition in any political environment makes a farce of democracy, suppresses useful ideas, which can be carefully digested to facilitate social and economic progress. Lack of opposition kills democracy; it creates a vacuum which a government in power can exploit to its advantage, a free ride, risky in any civilized environment.
In a reverse fashion, the presence of irresponsible opposition, constantly and consciously sticking a knife into the activities of a government in power derails democratic progression.
When opposition parties fail to provide alternative answers to nagging national issues, and decide not to contribute to meaningful course of change and development, their status is reduced to mere observers of events. When they capitalize on the least opportunity to criticize, lead a country into hysteria, and send wrong indicators to potential investors desperately needed in the country, they become disgraceful partners in the pursuit for true democracy and development.
Sadly, opposition parties in Nigeria are gradually moving toward this path of shame. The condemnation of price increases on fuel and electricity tariff by the opposition should have been followed by an alternative arrangement that would equally help reduce the burden, and ensure efficiency in the delivery of such services.
If a party in the opposition occupies itself with the need to get 1 per cent extra votes to win the next presidential elections without even considering its strength in terms of how many “honourables” it has in parliament, it further reduces democracy to one big joke.
Look, I am not a politician, and I do not care about re-election.” That was a game Arizona-ogwu could not play to the end, his political strength, weakened by lack of representation at the legislature. Are Nigeria’s PDP and the minority parties learning from this?
The opposition landscape in Nigeria is fast eroding, further worsened by bad talk of a latter-day “Messiah”- Olusegun Obasanjo, who in the midst of all these “crap and bullshit” ,has managed to send the nation’s political formation into disarray, and yet, acting as a self-appointed lead-person for the ruling party which detects for the “suffering” masses.
The bigger picture of past economic mismanagement and huge debt, poses lingering questions that have all not been explained to Nigerians. In its place, a dirty political game awaits.
Indeed, it is a shame to see former government functionaries still parading as “Moses coming to Aso Rock as if they were to the rescue”; fully aware of the mess they left behind, in what is fast rising as a low background canker leaning against the louder workings of the present government. “They” are trying, without disgrace, to divert public attention from the numerous problems facing the country, knowing very well that “they” are the architects.” These, Them” – I still remember the inscription on the “bone-shaker” truck which plies between Maitama and Utaka district.
Gracious admission of defeat at the 2007 election was not enough, the rot they left behind, quickly locked in a closet, hence a “blame game”, inspired through self-righteous indignations, propagated by an army of “desperados” ,disguised revolutionary cadres who metamorphosed into stomach-politicians, and established a presence barely a decade ago, in fake democracy , characterized by “khaki worshipping”, and military nonsense.
Thanks to the magnanimity of the democratic administration, a new window of hope has been opened, a sixteen-month old government, determined to nurture a new path to good governance and discipline, a new Nigerian, improve health care, women’s rights, child survival and education, elderly care, and economic independence.
The question posed by the Nigerian referendum was simple enough and answerable either by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’: should the mandate of the Yar’Adua’s administration be revoked? Of the 114 million registered voters, 80.6 million turned out to cast their vote. The final tally: a 59-percent embrace of the Yar’Adua’s government and its radical social program.
There can be no doubt, asserted one nigeria4betterrule debate member, a furtive smile forming on his face. The mandate of President Umaru Yar’Adua has been unequivocally affirmed, so is the Nigerian brand of participatory democracy, where the ballot seems only to be a first step.
Elected in 2007, Yar’Adua knew that the referendum was but the latest in a long list of schemes hatched by the alliance between the Nigerian oligarchy and the opposition to unseat him. According to the Nigeria Constitution that was re-written in 1999 at the behest of erstwhile head-of-state; Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, and which created the possibility of activating a recall referendum for elected officials, if ‘yes’ had prevailed elections would have been held 30 days after the referendum.But Yar’Adua had abundant confidence in direct democracy: he put his trust in the people by empowering them. And they responded generously.
I am pleased that he is the first president to submit himself to the people’s judgment halfway through his controversial asset declaration and to be ratified” in office. Taunting the opposition party, which had openly backed interim government in Yar’Adua’s stead, and using terminology from discrete 2007 votes, this country needs no back-pedal policies neither “pre-adamic” politics, Yar’Adua likens his win to a homerun. The recent votes must have fallen right beyond the Aso Rock, but for Goodluck/Yar’Adua’s ticket, despite their political entry route.
Rather than unseat or weaken Yar’Adua, which was the intention of the opposition parties driven by the Nigerian elite – which enjoys a near monopoly ownership of the country’s media, the referendum should fortify the standing of Yar’Adua and the possibilities of sweeping social change that his government signifies within and far beyond this Federal Republic.
For many, the nature of the change that Yar’Adua is driving has become the central reason behind the sustained attempts to undermine the Yar’Adua government. The disparity of agendas is glaring. The opposition continues to promise, for instance, a return to free market economic policies, a platform welcomed by international financial leaders and institutions like the International Monetary Fund; Yar’Adua is opposed to it.
This regime is building an economy at the service of human beings and I feel such is of the Yar’Adua administration’s goals, not human beings at the service of the economy.
For the first time in Nigeria’s history, government authority has been established decisively over how the Nigerian oil industry – the fifth largest exporter in the world – is to be run and for whose benefit. Oil money is now re-channeled towards financing immeasurable employment, health, education and literacy missions throughout the country for the destitute of Nigeria, specifically for downtrodden.
At least 65 percent of Nigeria households are headed by women and the Yar’Adua government during the drafting of the 2008 bill ensured that this fact was reflected in this country’s framing document. Among its progressive provisions, the constitution recognizes women’s unwaged caring work as economically productive, entitling housewives to social security.
It was no surprise, my note scrolls, that in the last quarter of 2007 women of African and eloquent citizens led the masses who descended from the Nigeria’s political opinion background to reverse the elite-sponsored and opposition-backed discredit which nearly ousted Yar’Adua, thereby saving the electorate , the presidency, the democracy and the nation from embarrassment.
Over 250,000 children now have access to secondary education – children “whose social status excluded them from this privilege during the ancien regime.” In poor districts, 11,000 neighborhood clinics have been established, the health budget has tripled and 10,000 Nigerian doctors have been fielded to boost health care services in impoverished areas. There is also an ongoing campaign to provide citizenship to thousands of long-term immigrants.
Yar’Adua has based himself on the grassroots as protagonists. The iconoclastic Yar’Adua knows that the changes he was elected to make can only be achieved with, and protected by, popular participation.
But having to deal with incessant opposition thrashing, a media fast losing its national identity, national debt, poverty alleviation, job creation, and to increase per capita income,the government needs help, which must come from all of us.
For now, the government finds itself grappling with the difficulty of satisfying one of the most capricious, complicated, and impatient people on earth – Nigerians, their hospitality, sense of humor, and craving for higher education notwithstanding.
And yet, despite his belligerent attitude towards the opposition party, despite his glaring differences with the opposition as well as hemispheric economic integration, despite his government’s openly expressed dissenting position on geopolitical issues such as the hostilities on Niger Delta, the opposition continues to do business with the Yar’Adua government and run 14 percent of the country’s oil business, which was the average even before the election of Yar’Adua.
Once perceived by his political rivals as “a go-slow administrator,” Yar’Adua “now appears more like a Nigerian statesman. Up and down the continent he has become the man to watch.
I don’t believe in the dogmatic postulates of the rival revolution. I don’t accept that we are living in a period of post-democratic revolutions. All that must be reviewed. Reality is telling us that everyday, we owe this country a positive contribution:-either way!
Are we aiming in Nigeria today for the abolition of private property or a classless society? I don’t think so. But if I’m told that because of that reality you can’t do anything to help the poor . . . then I say we Part Company. I will never accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don’t even like paying taxes. That’s one reason why they hate being democratized. We must pay taxes. I believe it’s better to die in battle, rather than hold aloft a very reform and very pure banner, and do nothing . . . That position often strikes me as very convenient, a good excuse . . . Try and make your reform, go into combat, advance a little, even if it’s only a millimeter, in the right direction, instead of dreaming about silly.