By John Moyibi Amoda
THE time honoured efficacy of public opinion as an instrument of political change has nearly expired in our country;
*â€œThe political class and their successive leaderships have graduated from insensitivity to criminal indifferenceâ€;
*â€œThe majority of our elected representatives are devotees of the Olusegun Obasanjo doctrine on the matter of public opinion: they neither read the newspapers nor care about what they containâ€;
*â€œThere is no forum for organised civil society to express concerted viewsâ€;
*â€œThe only physical national space designed and meant for organised protest at the National Assembly has been converted into sprawling car park for legislators and visitorsâ€;
*â€œIn frustration, people resign, go home to their disappointed wives and dejected children or gather in inconsequential small groups to complain to no one in particular about nearly everything.Â Such, unfortunately is the predominant mood of the times in our countryâ€;
*Among the contending parties that are not in power, a consensus on strategy is as far as outer spaceâ€.
These are the signs of a disenchanted people who have abandoned the political space, leaving the elected politicians unsupported or protected.Â These are signs of seats of governments exposed to their nemesis.Â This is not the first time the people have withdrawn from the polity into the privacy of their homes.
It happened before and the result was the 1966 coup.Â It happened again and the result was the 1983 coup.Â It is happening now – can this trend be reversed?Â Can the people be re-engaged?Â Where is the hope for such a re-engagement?Â Chidi Amuta sees two possibilities: The first coming from within the PDP itself?Â The second – a purposive strategic intercession by Ojo Maduekwe -“the uncommon politician”.
The first option considered by Amuta is a theoretical aside, not thought through – a whimsical display of the virtuousity of a fecund imagination.
â€œInterestingly, however, the possibility of change may in fact lie somewhere within the troubled womb of the ruling PDP without its leadership consciously willing it.Â The party is witnessing the beginnings of an inevitable internal schism which could, with time, translate into self-annihilating implosion.Â The party leadership believes, quite naively, that the biggest party in Africa (no statistics please!) will rule for the next 60 years.Â Hegemony feeds on grand illusion.Â Always.â€
This is a theoretical side kick.Â The NPC did not collapse from internal factionalisms.Â It was overthrown.Â The NPN did not implode.Â It was overthrown.Â The PDP through incumbency will amble on – this is the moment of warning – will amble on until desperation forces it to take hold of itself and look at fate in the face and insist: Never again!Â Not this time; or go the way of the two previous one party dominant regimes.
It is in this moment that Chidi Amuta considers the other option: â€œBut there is a tiny voice that now acknowledges that the partyâ€™s hegemony over our political space could engender a long session of inactivity and in national affairs that could convert boredom into a veritable tool of political change.
Here then is a seminal doctrine of democratic change that needs to be explored further if only to understand the constipation that may be going on in PDP.Â The author is none other than the irrespessible Ojo Maduekwe, former Secretary of the PDP and current Foreign Affairs Ministerâ€.
The theoretical summary of Ojoâ€™s views provided above is not adequate.Â Inactivity and boredom cannot be converted into a tool of political change – at best they create opportunities for the enemies of a complacement leadership that Neroâ€™s style, engage in fiddling while Rome burns.Â Ojoâ€™s use of the notion of boredom is three edged -boredom because the citizenâ€™s imagination is not politically engaged and educated by an uncaring leadership;-boredom because the sleeping giant is only noticed by his noisy snores;
-boredom that makes any programmeless proponent of change a relief from the debilitating hope-less political situation.
It is in these three senses that the Honourable Minister uses the notion of boredom; no doctrine is propounded – only a serious warning to the party.
â€œIn a rather revealing interview published in the Vanguard issue of June 1, 2009, Maduekwe grappled with the possibility of democratic change.Â â€œYou never know, the people of the country, maybe out of sheer boredom, it may not even be that the ruling party has failed; it might just be that the people want to try something else, so they can decide to change the ruling partyâ€¦â€
According to him, â€œit is not always that parties lose election because they have not done well.Â It is often because the people want changeâ€.
It is this fact, that one member of the Ruling Party can imagine the possibility of a electoral change of leadership that makes that member the available messenger.Â The present situation is one of structural blindness and deafness producing a mind-set that cannot contemplate change.Â This is why Amuta catalogues the signs of a failing political class.Â The issue is not why change occurs but what change will it be? –
-Â Â Â change engineered by an awakened PDP and their â€œmegaâ€ party opponents?;
-Â Â Â change effected through unconstitutional seizure of power?;
-Â Â Â change occurring from failure of government and the emergence of the regime ofÂ Somali-like War Lords?.
Chidi Amuta calls attention to the following situation â€œThe publicâ€™s today witness to what can happen when a political party produces a leadership that freezes a nation into a hibernation mode.Â The consequence is that in nearly all spheres of national life the mood among Nigerians is today one of nearly universal boredom.Â But can boredom in and of itself bring about democratic changeâ€?