Nigeria Matters

The Goodluck Presidency; Nigeria’s Goodfaith!

Most people are born leaders; some assume leadership and on some leadership is thrust. Many philosophers have also taken upon themselves to point out that this aspect is determined by circumstances. Aristotle, Ptolemy the First and Confucius shared this view. Others have claimed that leadership is the conclusion that eventually arrives – after the completion of a process.

But for us in Nigerians have leadership. In fact, we have too many leaders at every step. What we lack is a leader who is willing to transform society. Most of our leaders have the quality to convince a vast majority of the people to believe in what they are saying. The charm of their speeches convince all that what they are doing is good. Nigeria in the past has produced, at the political level, a good number of leaders genuinely fighting for the people’s cause. Why this is society has not produced an adequate number of leaders, social and political, dedicated to the public cause for quite some time now? The country lacks the resources that make a democratic nation thrive. When 60 per cent of the people live below poverty line, the ruling party’s main job is to keep them happy with or without satisfying their need. In such a situation, it is difficult to propagate democracy as the great divide between the rich and the poor will become so obvious.

Acquiring leadership through heredity still continues in some countries guided by the principles of monarchy, but such leadership is mostly notional and the powers of true governance rest in the hands of the elected leader. However, there is also the twist in the tail where political leadership sometimes flows down to the next tier through existing family lines. Classical examples of this are evident in India – the Nehru clan; in Pakistan – the Bhutto clan and in the USA – the Kennedy’s and the Bush’s. In Nigeria this factor has been reflected within the two largest political parties – the ruling party; PDP and their opposition counterparts.

As a nation; Nigerians were fulfilled with the struggle made so far to bring the late president Umaru Yar’Adua back to life… to preside over the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The death of Nigerian President, Umaru Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, was taken by most civil liberty campaigners as the demise of Nigeria’s crusader of the Rule of Law. Umaru Yar’Adua was internationally recognized for his bold stance against law court legitimacy. It flashes into my article tagged RESIGNATION PRESSURE ON VP JONATHAN: To Squat or Squash Nigeria’s Democracy; I stressed that the push for Dr. Jonathan to resign was a civic coup that stands in the way of the citizens when accused of a crime by the state and when trying to seek bail from the court — a proposition absolutely inconsistent with the concept of the ‘rule of law’ that presupposes an accused ‘innocent until proven guilty.One-size-fits-all” government sick leave mandate must come in place because it forces democracy to make the state run with social value. If the plan of those pressuring the Dr. Jonathan is to create a situation where he would resign for the Senate President David Mark to take over, who then is more capable and judicious than this administration? Can three months elections spare Nigerian democracy? In the event that the President is unable to complete his term, what did the constitution say?

If not for tribalism, Jonathan can not run a wasteful government rather can push for fair and responsible lawmaking. He believes in Limited government, Principles of our founding fathers, Constitutional adherence, Traditional value, air and honest government and Personal responsibility .Running a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, I see this Doctor leave himself free to regulate the national pursuits for industry and improvement, who may not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned.

Even from Nigeria history southern head-of-state/president has ever encouraged any aggression on Nigeria’s part towards every Nigerian citizen. Invariably, Nnamdi Azikiwe, a president from the south has worked for peace, especially within and after the civil war. The Arewa’s might have often felt disappointed by south’s refusal to be more categorical on issues such as the National Islamic-adoption to suppress Christianity, but we have freedom of worship which this democracy entails. The standard line pursued by all southern presidents including Obsanjo and Azikiwe has been to urge every Nigerian to work for peace.

Every functioning democracy is rooted in the rule of law. Where rule of law is promoted and sustained, democracy endures; where it is undermined, or worse, where it is absent, democracy flounders. In our country, it is the failure to establish rule of law that has been the single biggest obstacle to building and sustaining a functioning democratic system. Never in our country’s short history has the law applied equally to every man, woman and child; instead, the law has always been on the side of the powerful and the strong, even when they have disempowered and dispossessed the weak. If the new PDP-led REFORMISTS is serious about bringing qualitative changes to politics and governance as part of a larger democracy quest, which it has promised to do pre- and post-election, it must begin by establishing, and sustaining, the rule of law.

Establishing the rule of law, however, extends far beyond rhetorical flourishes and gimmicks. It extends beyond the simple, yet lofty, promises of ‘change’ that we hear every time a new government comes to power, only to see those promises broken for political expediency. Each and every one of our governments since independence — elected or not, legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional — have shown disdain and contempt for the rule of law; the strong have been able to abuse power with impunity, while the weak have been perpetually persecuted. In our country, the powerful have been the law; we have had the rule of the powerful, never the rule of law.

Can this government fundamentally change that? Does it even wish to? The ruling party; PDP has been in power before, twice, and it didn’t show much commitment to the rule of law during those times. Its ministers and lawmakers, leaders and activists, backers and financiers, abused their power and influence with as much impunity as anyone else during any other regime. Past governments used state agencies to persecute political opponents as much as any other government; and harassed journalists for doing their job. Was Yar’Adua government essentially different from those governments of the past? Does it have an inherent commitment to the rule of law, and if so, will it show that commitment with hard action and not soft words?

The stance of Jonathan Goodluck as Nigerian president to replace Umaru Yar’Adua has been embroiled in controversy. While his opponents attack him over his approach towards riding corruption off Nigeria, his opponent argue he has done better in combating the scourge. Nigerians need a leader who has the patience and courage to work to remove poverty. So many people do not have jobs, health care or even proper food. The dream of our fathers remains unfulfilled even after 50 years of political liberation.

Locally, Umaru Yar’Adua’s stance against corruption was highly hailed. Already, the new government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan has had opportunities to prove that this time it means what it says, and yet, those opportunities have not been taken advantage of. The new government should have put an immediate end to post-polls violence as soon as it came to power by using the law enforcement agencies to come down hard on ruling party activists, who are principally responsible for that violence. Had it done so, it would also have set the tone for its tenure by making it clear that the old politics of retribution was over. It did not set tha

t tone. Ensuring that its own activists do not just do as they please, and if they did, that they would be brought before the law, would also have shown a commitment on the part of the ruling party; PDP towards the rule of law. Sitting idly by as the problem festered for days was the first opportunity missed.

Now, with each passing day, it is wasting another opportunity. The Yar’Adua government could have shown a wonderfully refreshing side to it had it been able to ensure that none of its leaders and activists, from cabinet ministers to lower level organizers, exerted undue influence on the electoral process during the recent elections in Anambra State. But that was never likely. In all fairness, even if the PDP leadership had tried its hardest, ensuring such a high level of discipline within a party that has just won such a thumping general elections victory would indeed be very difficult. Some leaders and activists would invariably go overboard and break the law. Hence, the failure to ensure total discipline is not the wasted opportunity; such a level of discipline was not expected anyway. The failure to properly react to the breach of electoral laws by its leaders and activists, however, is.

If the government in Nigeria wanted to break from its past, it should have been ahead of the curve when it came to reacting to the news that several of its leaders and activists in different parts of the country had engaged in electoral fraud, from manipulating voters to assaulting election officials. When allegations were leveled, by the INEC and the mass media, against members of the cabinet and members of the national Assembly, the party ought to have immediately initiated transparent and objective investigations into those allegations. Instead, the ruling party ;PDP has made very little noise about all of this, hoping perhaps that the problem will go away if the party just keeps quiet about it. But the problem has not gone away.

Barely a fortnight now, the Independent Corrupt Practices & Related Offences Commission (ICPC) filed a case against the party chairman; Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, in addition to several others leaders of the PDP, for violating the due process of conduct and fraudulent expenditure from the Nigerian government coffer , while serving as special duties minister during Obasanjo’s era. There are also credible allegations of mismanagement of funds, and the likelihood of many more leaders of the PDP being sued by the commission remain high. And yet, the party still appears unperturbed by this. No visible action has been taken against the party’s NWC chairman in question; as far as the public is concerned, the party is not even carrying out an internal investigation into the allegation leveled against him.

However, while the party-chief is carrying on discharging his duties, the election officials in Anambra, who suspended the polls in that Wadata Plaza for supplanting Dr. Charles Soludo , because of the alleged uproar carried out by the party-chief and his henchmen, have reportedly fled the Wadata Plaza, in fear of reprisals. According to a report, at least 6 officials, including the National secretary, have stayed outside the Wadata Plaza, since the day after the elections. If election officials have to flee in fear of reprisal for doing their job, it not only discredits our electoral process but is an affront to the rule of law. If the PDP allows this to carry on, it will undermine its own promise of ‘change’, and dash the optimism and hope that that country felt when we transitioned from a military-controlled regime to a government overwhelmingly elected by the people at the start of the year.

The ruling party might have more years to govern, but it has very little time to set its agenda and show its intent. The naming of a fresh-faced cabinet by then Acting president; now president Goodluck Jonathan was a definite show of positive intent. But since then, this government has not shown the strength to bring its own people in line; whether they are marauding citizens or errant ministers like the El-Rufai’s. That is the bigger political challenge before the government right now. The rule of law will be established when the strong are equally liable under the law as the weak, and the weak are able to avail of their rights just as easily as the strong. That is when we shall see a qualitative change in politics and governance. That day has not yet come. As of today, powerful offenders are still riding around with police protection, while the weak enforcers of the law are in hiding.

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