Fighting election on the platform of a ruling party whose popular perception on indices of its governance record is low could be very excruciating. When…
Fighting election on the platform of a ruling party whose popular perception on indices of its governance record is low could be very excruciating. When you add to the fact, the vicious intrigue within the party, especially led by its powerful clique to exclude the candidature of the now president-elect, the existential obstacle and the mountainous challenge posed to the candidate can be seen more clearly…… CONTINUE READING
The crucial dilemma in choosing a running mate in an atmosphere already poisoned by the fissures of religious and ethnic divide, delivers its own nightmare. Even as the candidature of the party has been secured and all previous acrimony prelude to it, seemingly closed, the irredentist faction of the party egged on, by an influential clique still laid out bobby traps, including the notorious and politically vindictive measures of the currency design.
Therefore, winning election in such a politically charged atmosphere, deliberately heated up and designed exclusively to stop the now, president-elect tells more to the emerging framework of the country’s democratic resilience. The fortitude and abiding fate of the candidate in the face of the relentless multiple strategems of the influential and power-drunk cliques to foul the process and deflate his focus, was only reinforced by the iron will of the rank and file members of the party to have their way in a democratic nomination.
In the next phase of seeking popular votes, the hurdles were even more daunting and forbidding. As it is usually said, the rest is history now. But history is not about the past but a process that illuminates whole trajectories from the present to the future.
To fight election and win, despite all the hurdles might actually be easier part. President Buhari’s electoral Odyssey spanned years and several electoral seasons heightening popular expectations but his eight-year rule has been notoriously underwhelming, a legacy that made it, even more difficult to campaign on the same political platform, as his.
Therefore, in order to obtain a different result especially in the sphere of governance, the president-elect must be mindful that legacies do not consist of electoral odysseys alone, but in changes that impact the lives of the people.
To accomplish this, would require policy trajectories that is significantly different from the received wisdom and the comfort zone of neo-liberalism that Nigeria has operated since the return to civil rule and even before. To generate policy choices necessary to radically impact and improve the living condition of Nigerians, and especially enable the prospects of tapping into dynamism and energy of the youths, would need new policy approach driven by knowledge-based research and empirical interrogation of reality.
The humongous energy, and knowledge-driven exertions to be invested in unearthing new policy approach cannot commonly be found in traditional institutions dominated by the routine political officeholders and the public service establishment. As critical stakeholders in the Nigerian political economy, the traditional actors would be their but their prospective latent energy which has long sank into inertia would be radically recharged, rechanneled and refocused to inclusive national rebirth and growth.
To properly harness knowledge-based research and empirical interrogations of our existential social reality, the president-elect must as a priority set up a Presidential Think Tank (PTT) radically different from the existing ones originally designed as Think Tanks but currently function as lethargic bureaucracies. The Presidential Think Tank of the type, we offer must not have formal bureaucratic structure but a loose and shadow collection of the country’s best minds drawn from different and varying scholarly backgrounds.
Nigeria is largely challenged by governance and while democracy offers an ambience for a rule by popular consent, it does not automatically translate to efficiency in governance and therefore to make democratic rule translate to competency and efficiency in governance is not freely given on the mere platter of having been democratically elected.
Nigeria’s civil rule in nearly quarter of a century has been seriously challenged by governance efficiency. There are broad swaths of public opinion, that civilian rule has spawned pockets of fat cats, fed on vested interests to the exclusion of the majority of Nigeria, especially the working people, youths and women.
The rationale and attraction to electoral democracy is not just to elect leaders and representatives but through governance efficiency, produce tangible and measurable outcomes, visible in the improved quality of lives of the people. The policy choices to produce these results are the turf of efficient governance. To arrive at this, electioneering need to be separated from governance.
Election campaigns; usually festivals of political grandstanding; chest-thumping, and other related punditries and paraphernalia are essentially the prelude to the more serious and sober activities of governance. There is always the temptation to carry over the fanfare of electoral politics into governance. The perennial dilemma of liberal democracy and electoral politics is to draw the line between the hustle of political campaign and the toils and suffering in governance. The fact is simple; most persons exacting themselves buoyantly in campaigns will be very unsuitable to the toils, privations and suffering in governance. In governance, alluring slogans, colourful verbal sorties at opponents, grisly served sound bites, courageous haul of banalities and other essential posturing will have no place, let alone matter.
It will not be lonely soliloquy, dialogue with oneself, contending and contesting with ideas, building scenarios and dismantling it with persistent interrogations in the tortuous pathway in seeking a viable policy framework most suitable to responding to the challenges routinely confronting the people. People, relieved from the debilitating constraints of extreme material wants, mental inertia are not only the lubricating grease for the democracy cycle to stabilize and flourish but are reliable builders of the key infrastructure of a prosperous society. The scenario of security agencies chasing those who want to buy votes and those who want to sell is shameful. The fact that people are well disposed to sell their votes while unscrupulous persons are ready to buy, means democracy have neither improved the material conditions nor elevated the spiritual civilization of the people to act voluntarily in matters of principle.
The choice open to the president-elect in settling in, on governance is uniquely similar to what faced the post-independent African elites, immediately after the end of colonial rule. Amilcar Cabral, leader of the revolutionary Party of independence for Guinea and Cape Verde and one Africa’s most rigorous thinkers said then and which is more valid now that the leaders can choose the easy way of going through the motions of received wisdom or seek the hard way that requires thinking differently and which offer no easy path to victory.
Despite the obvious challenges, Nigeria is still a promise to her diverse people. And the president-elect has the unique and vintage privilege to unscrew the knob and unleash Nigeria’s famed potential…… CONTINUE READING
Onunaiju, research director of an Abuja-based think tank