Look beyond the Presidency

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

The futility of focusing on an Imperial Presidency

Nigeria has three major problems troubling her at the moment: Police, PHCN and PDP. Is it a coincidence that these entities start with the letter “P”? I doubt it. The “P” in their names must definitely equate to problems and poverty. Little wonder that since 1999 when PDP took over the reins of power in Nigeria, problems and poverty seem to be the lot of the nation.

Indeed, one will have to be blind not to see that the singular entity standing between Nigeria and solving the other two problems (power and policing) is the PDP. The party represents a cankerworm, sometimes acting like a gang of robbers ever determined to plunder, destroy and retard the progress of Nigeria.

Hence it pains my heart greatly, when year after year, election cycle after election cycle; when Nigerians have the opportunity to break loose from the chains of PDP we keep blowing it. We keep doing the same thing, while expecting a different result. That is the very definition of insanity!

The same very terms that carried the day in 1999, 2003 and 2007 within the opposition camp is carrying the day. The myopic concepts of alliance candidates, rainbow coalition or whatever it is called is sweeping the opposition while PDP smiles to the bank knowing full well how this will play out. The underlying concept of opposition parties of very different ideological basis coming together to present a single presidential candidate is in itself laughable and puts opposition parties in bad light given the desperation of the tactic.

Aside from the apparent poor tactic of this so called “alliance arrangement”, and the history of its failure, the idea that the fortune of a country or of one party rises or falls on winning the Presidency is false and smacks of poor political strategy.

Think about it, which government is closest to the people? Which officer- the governor or the president, is more likely to affect the sanitation of your market, the state of your street roads and lights, the standards of the primary and secondary schools your kids attend, the state of healthcare in your community clinics and if and when the vast majority of civil servants in your state will be paid? Well, the answer is blowing in the wind. Now, if the opposition parties are claiming to be in this for the people, why then is there such a focus on the Presidency? Fact is, states with progressive governors in this era have done incredibly well…in spite of the morass at the center.

Clearly, there are way too many factors that bedevils Nigeria’s imperial presidency. There are internal factors like political and geo-political considerations. We have economic factors, like the cost of winning and the need to have the support of various mafia groups and moneybags: you know, the Dangotes, Otedolas, and Jimoh Ibrahims; men who clearly will look out for themselves first and rightly so. There are of course external factors like what the imperial international powers want. Go ask MKO Abiola, and how that cup of tea ruined five years of struggle.

It makes no sense to start rebuilding Nigeria from the hardest center. Rebuilding Nigeria will start from local and state levels; from the very level of government that matter the most. That is why the current opposition strategy, not to talk of the obsession of the Nigerian intelligentsia and people, with the federal government is beyond ridiculous in 2011.

The right strategy is a focus on politics on the state level. A focus on putting the right men and women in our state houses; electing intelligent and well spoken legislators in the House of Assemble to check and balance the executive which in turn will oversee state coffers and local governments (per our wuru-wuru constitution). In short, if government at the state level is fixed, then the local governments will be kosher. More the reason why that should be the focus of any progressive opposition party worth its onion.

Now taking that reasoning further, one part of the federal government which an essential focus on state politics will lead to consequential impact will be the Senate. Every state elects three Senators. This means, governorship elections are good predictors of the Senate races across the land. If the Nigerian electorates, and progressive forces in the land, focus like laser on Senate races alongside the gubernatorial elections, Nigeria will never be the same in four years. We would have elected truly honorable men, who will hold the feet of any president to fire, and ensure he does right by the Nigerian people. Not the current paddy-paddy presidency we all seem to be so obsessed with to no avail.

Strategically, progressive mistakes have piled on since the 2007 sham elections. By the very action of being so involved with the Yar’Adua succession debate, progressive forces allowed themselves to be sucked in on one of either side of the dark evil forces that control the central government. In fact, at some point by our over-involvement with that issue we granted legitimacy to a government that clearly lacked one either by popular ballot box mandate or street credibility.

Of course, that mistake was not the first one: it was only the consequence of the first. The now rushed election time-table, which has all but guaranteed a less than fair election in 2011, is happening because progressives failed essentially to press electoral reform in the first six months of Yar’Adua presidency,: allowing themselves instead to be sucked into an inane debate on the health of Baba-go-slow instead of the main mission which was electoral reforms.

Today, we are at the cusp of another election with no real electoral law. What we have basically is 2007 remix. We are of course told to be hopeful, that one university radical will turn things around. When are we going to stop being played by the powers that be? Why do we trust the devil?

The time has come to wake up from this perennial rot. The time to focus on the government that matters is now. Every winner must come with a new strategy; having no strategy or repeating the same old strategy that have failed is a sure way to lose. Now is the time to ask our folks to think outside the box. Look beyond the presidency. Let us go back to basics!

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Tams January 16, 2011 - 3:18 pm

very nice. politicians running should read this…

lol.. the 3 Ps

Yusuf Tayo January 15, 2011 - 10:58 am

This is an excellent analysis of our socio- political problems. God bless you.


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