Is Obasanjo To Blame For State Of The Nation?

Who’s Right And Who’s Wrong?

Do people seek democracy simply because it provides them with greater freedom or because it is mostly associated with economic prosperity? Perhaps both? The fear that Nigerians might long for the good old military regime days is not unfounded. Poverty leads people to examine all available options, even ones considered backwards. Nations that live on the line between relative financial stability and extreme poverty lack the leisure of dealing with somewhat abstract subjects, i.e. direct democracy or representative democracy. In Nigeria, where most lack electricity and many places lack running water, a good government is one that is able to provide the basics. Nigeria is no exception; it is human nature that favors survival over anything else. Maybe the three above readings of the situation in Nigeria are all correct. The one that will be remembered most however, is the one that will become the most accepted explanation for the Nigerian people in the long run, despite facts, figures and statistics.

Nigeria is struggling to live with democracy, but Unresolved national issues continue to drain the strength of our limited resources. Past mismanagement hurt and hunt Nigeria image. Dishonesty, fraud (PTDF) and corruption are pushing us to question the merit of the “Anthem” slogan. On the positive side, one group cited the political war between the Vice President of Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission as a good example of Nigeria trying to preserve the “Nigeria” image. They praised the INEC for taking the hardest risk to move Nigeria forward by disqualifying the Vice President from contesting the office of the presidency. They maintained that elected officials, including the presidency (who loved his chicken) abused their offices under a well-protected guideline (the 1999 constitution).

On the negative side, a group argued that since “nationhood” stands for services to the people and its essence is trust, Nigerians are completely shot-off from those benefits. They blamed the idea for the increased level of fraud (the presidency is a share subscriber of a public entity but not a shareholder) and corruption. Furthermore, they cited how officials inject physical and psychological pain to citizens with no regard to the rule of law. Another group in Europe echoes unity allowed very few Nigerians to a higher privilege. They caution politicians to serve because Nigerians must defend their rights and protect their freedoms as individuals and as community anywhere any place. “Nigerians expect good governance. We face the challenge of harnessing poor management that have ruined many lives. Too many citizens are upsetting with the way obasanjo is defined Nigeria, yet today, most of Nigeria‘s 129 million people live in squalor and desperate poverty. When Obasanjo, a former army general, came to office in 1999, he promised to end nearly 16 years of brutal military rule and to fight corruption with a civilian run democracy.

Ethnic minorities in the Niger River Delta have demanded a share of the country’s oil riches. Over the past three years, impoverished locals have hacked into pipelines causing devastating explosions that have killed several hundred people. And last month, tribal battles caused a partial shutdown of the region’s oil production.

A good Professor cited how citizens raised in some part of the country is forbidden for it quality of life in The Niger Delta. The so-called “Outcasts” of Ibo tribe and Women are not entitled to equal opportunity in Nigeria. One can wonder how Nigeria can defend the merit of the good leadership motto with all the violation of human rights under her hood. Nigeria politicians are paranoid and out of touch with reality. Hum. Are they remnants of African Zombies?

It all comes down to protecting the beloved fatherland. Moreover, a warning that one will stop at nothing to promote fatherland image; as many Nigerians who love democracy could not imagine why so many bad happenings around the country. This is a critical time for Nigerians. Those in the distributions and services of public goods have the responsibility to protect.. The concern has been elevated due to several factors; including but not limited to political violence (killing), favoritism This is not the first time elections would be holding in Nigeria or other sub-African countries. What perhaps is happening for the very first time is the unanimous call on all aggrieved parties (even the ruling PDP in some instances) to go to the Election Tribunal and seek redress, instead of inciting their supporters and sympathizers to pour out on the streets to protest results of the Nigerian elections. The latest attempt by civil society groups to stand on the shoulders of the masses to send a ‘strong’ message to INEC and the international community concerning the just concluded general elections have rather ended up making more Nigerians realize the important position they occupy in the Nigerian project. The opposition, on its own part could not achieve much in this direction due to high-level apathy displayed by the electorates.

More than ever before, Nigerians have come to believe that democracy can only thrive on the political goodwill and social generosity of the citizenry. The forerunner to this new-found awareness could be traced to a big jump in the national literacy average, cheaper access to information, and the high number of political parties among others. Nigeria currently has over fifty political parties. This has brought about greater political awareness especially in the rural areas. While some of the parties were targeting new entrants to the political arena, others were busy diverting the political current of aggrieved and decamping politicians to their respective parties; making the political atmosphere charged and competitive than ever before. These developments greatly helped to remove the ‘veil’ in the eyes of the masses hitherto ‘blind’ enough not to see beyond their noses. The omen is good for the growth and development of the political culture in sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, more Nigerians were getting fed up with the bitter understanding of the poor character of most politicians that build ‘walls’ around themselves, or treat their followers with contempt immediately after winning elections. In the same vein, youths that politicians ‘use’ during elections are quickly labeled ‘thugs’ as soon as they are sworn in to office.

Experiences have shown that politicians spend so much money to protect members of their families during election season, while putting the children of poor people in harms way. Some go as far as checking their wives and children in to choice hotels, while the ‘over sensitive’ ones would even fly their loved ones out of the country. Investigations have shown that; but for the high-level unemployment, many youths are willing to ignore politicians who abuse their sensibilities. It is now common to see cases of youths that collect monies from politicians to carry out various illegal activities during elections only to vanish in to thin air only minutes later. Reason? They do not like being treated as expendables. For these and other reasons, supporters, sympathizers, and friends of politicians are fast developing a ‘sit-down-and-look’ attitude towards politicians. The politicians on the other hand now feel ‘abandoned’ to carry their crosses alone. The tide of lukewarm attitude towards calls by the opposition on the masses to join in a nation wide protest against results of the last general elections has reached the high water mark.

The political class has fooled the masses too long. This attitude displayed by Nigerian masses of recent should pose a positive challenge and compel the political class to dredge the ‘gully’ created by our almost becoming tradition of greed, corruption, ethnicity, nepotism, and a host of several other societal ills that have drawn our nation one hundred years backwards. The strong message sent by the masses should create in our political consciousness a smooth dual carriageway for our politicians to address quickly, the importance of developing a culture of greater social responsibilities: Create more jobs, build good roads, ensure constant power supply, provide safe drinking water, develop effective health care programmes, make our neighborhoods safe, provide quality education, introduce affordable housing schemes, organize efficient mass transport system, and legislate easier access for small and medium scale entrepreneurs to secure bank facilities to open new businesses among others. From the international front, the story is very much the same. Both world leaders and election monitors have recognized the feelings of both INEC and the opposition but have at the same time, been quick to call for decency and caution. The message is that, no individual, organization, or political party has the right to declare an election null and void as it is being done in some quarters; when the judiciary is there, clean and strong enough to interpret the laws of the land to the letter. Nigerians seem not to have learnt any lessons from our just immediate past when the Presidency unilaterally declared the office of the former Vice President vacant. Within the same period, INEC, by stroke of its understanding of the constitution, disqualified Alhaji Atiku Abubakar from contesting the presidential elections based on an indictment by an administrative panel.

Calling on Nigerians to participate in civil protests across the country against results of the last general elections can be likened to the same ‘error’ ex-President Obasanjo and INEC did. More than that, similar protests in the past had led to the death of so many innocent persons. Properties and businesses built with bank loans were either looted or destroyed. At the end, leaders and organizers of the protests would be invited for negotiation and every thing- sweat, blood, energy, time, money, and property would just be forgotten in the dustbins of history. Now that the masses are getting wiser, I doubt if they would be ready to be used and dumped again. To make matters worse, there is this strong suspicion that some persons have found it as a lucrative business to oppose government through the frequent organizing of protests in order to create avenues to line their pockets behind while the ignorant masses are left in the cold. From whatever angle you look at it, the political class, labour and civil society groups have not done enough to win the needed support of the masses to either contribute their support or risk their lives and businesses to defend justice. As long as the situation remains so, apathy would rule our national psychic and keep our political landscape vulnerable to abuse.

The time has come for all to be responsive to our individual and collective duties to society. This will bring about social discipline, ethnic tolerance, human/material resource development, and physical transformation. Cases of unemployment, hunger, crime, diseases, and failed utilities would be drastically minimized. The masses would be happy and ready to respond to any call aimed at protecting their job, future and nation. Imagine what would happen if forty-seven million Nigerians (about a third of its population) go out on the streets to make a demand bothering on the 2007 general elections. Nigeria will come down on her knees. For the opposition to achieve such a feat, the confidence of the masses must be won through the promotion of good governance wherever they have political presence- whether at the state or local government level.

The opposition have not been able to prove that they have done better than the PDP in states and local government areas they control and Nigerians should therefore ignore them’. In as much as I agree with this reader’s argument, its import is as grave as I have earlier stated. A nation without a vibrant opposition can be likened to a train without brakes. We need not just an effective opposition. We need an opposition that will stand on the strength of discipline, fact, alternate ideas, and decency.

To achieve this, Nigerians must through any legitimate means ensure the independence of the judiciary. Apart from strengthening our democracy, the independence of the judiciary will also enable any ruling party that win elections fair and square have the benefit of enjoying popular support. This is because, so many politicians that lose elections are fond of accusing either the electoral body or ruling party of committing electoral fraud even when such was not the case. An independent judiciary will not in any way translate to mean a victory for either the opposition or the ruling party. It would be a victory for democracy because all parties would be protected. Nigerians want to start living again!

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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