Nigeria cannot remain stuck where it is; either it moves forward and at speed, or slides back, losing in time and energy that propels a people on the move. Which way Nigeria has to go will depend essentially on the choice Nigerians make of the political situation, their policies and their leaders.
The country is being faced with a tricky situation. Over the years, the quality of democracy has abysmally gone down with the National Assembly striving to prove its sheen and effectiveness in guarding the people’s interests, the executive; a vacuum, on hostage and severed to power-bandits; their problems remain that the cabal will not give power to the Acting President Jonathan and the judiciary not able to rise to stampede justice against the will of every Nigerians, that the nation may move forward.
The challenges before the country are all the more formidable because Nigeria is now a negotiable state, has one of the largest armies in the world, and has substainable programs. The country has the potential to emerge as a major economic power in the next couple of decades, but, like the rest of the world, is trying to cope with the current situation.
Already, almost one-third of the people are groaning under the weight of poverty and its attendant effects. And now the rising number of the jobless is going to add to the social discontent that is spreading fast in one form or another. And discontent is often accompanied by violence that negates the culture of democracy that calls for resolution of issues by public discourse and not by the burning of public property and killings as happened in Jos.
While the enormity of the problems before Nigeria is forbidding, the country is faced with stark prospects of political instability before the emergence of the Acting President. Nigeria, which in a decade of political stability, saw Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and earlier Chief Olusegun Obasanjo give a big push to the economy. They were able to do so because they could ensure political stability despite the vagaries of coalition politics they had contended with.
Dr. Azikwe went in for exercising the power-bargain option; Chief Obasanjo signed the political deal to ensure that Nigeria is reckoned among the governable states. At the same time, both tried to step up economic growth, throwing up new possibilities for the country.
The newly-gained strength of the country can get dissipated if it slips into a spell of political instability and all that it entails — gloom loss of momentum and decline in people’s faith in the democratic system.
It is clear even to the uninitiated that neither the National Assembly, nor the ruling party; PDP — can form a government on its own after the current cabinet reshuffle. This is mainly because both entities have over the years lost space and constituencies to an assortment of ragtag agents of instability addressed as Cabals.
By their very nature and the social bases, the cabals have no national perspective. The government they sort to head appears handicapped by acute dependence on few selfish individuals not having the people of Nigeria at heart. Both have, however, neither had they, capacity to take others along nor resilience to carry on with their coalition governments for full terms.
Despite the fact that they enjoyed considerable respect of coalition partners, the two sacked Ministers heading Petroleum and Justice cannot get reinstated since they were not for the national interest but for nefarious activities. They had roll back policy decisions under walk-out threats held out by one coalition partner or another. Both Ministers could not choose their prerogative. The Minister should seem to frown at parliamentary form of government hence dictators. These ministers were nominated by the regional satraps and often undesirable elements found berths in the Cabinet, much to the discomfort of both Dr Goodluck Jonathan and Mr President.
If the confirmation of the ministers can go according to plan, Nigeria will begin to take a positive course. And if the cabals are allowed to flourish, this could throw up the spectre of a third front government, which in Nigerian political lexicon has come to be known as power-gamblers. This kind of a coalitional arrangement, whatever the nature of the common minimum program, will essentially lack a national vision and ability to evolve coherent policies a Nigerian will need for the 21st century.
Much will depend on how awake the Law-makers are about the nature of the risks ahead and about who they should strife for, to enable the country meet the challenges lying ahead.
The ball now is in the people’s court. They ought to make their choice after giving some thought about the risks of selecting wrong people to control the fate of all Nigerians.