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Much Ado About Something!

By Tony Uranta

“I like the sound of the quid, but what’s the pro quo?”… Ellen Wolf
Fellow Nigerians, The last week’s unhealthy rumour-mongering regarding President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health status, further showcased the flaws in our national governance style, and unearthed the filthy realities of our imperfect socio-political systems. Some people said it was much ado about nothing…but was it?

All of these issues revolved around an attempt by many to better define our national social, economic and political contracts. In short, people were asking “what’s in it for me?” or, like Ellen Wolf asked in the third season of Dexter “what’s the pro quo?” “Quid pro quo?” being a term often used to mean: “What’s in it for me?”

One thing became indisputably clear [as the din increased as to whether Mr. President was alive or not; whether he had formally handed over to his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan or not; and whether the VP was under pressures to resign or not]; and that is that the political elite in Nigeria must hold the common Nigerian in great contempt, and so they deem us, at best, worthy of no more than to be treated as mindless buffoons who must swallow whatever the leaders vomit.

Or how else can one describe the insulting condescension, in total opposition to the 1999 Constitution, with which the “ruling” party, the PDP, told the nation that the Peoples Democratic Party has the right to determine which section of the country produces a President and for how long; and that the people of this country do not have the democratic right, plus freedom of expression, to speculate on the President’s health status.

Some political leaders obviously have lived too long as military men, or become so steeped in stultifying military dictatorships, that their natural tendencies are totalitarian and autocratic. We need to give them a wake-up call. Hello! 2009-Nigeria, is a free democracy. We fought and paid a lot of sacrifice for the freedom and democracy.

Do we truly aspire to become one of the world’s top fifty economies [let alone top twenty!] by the year 2020, when we are led, in the main, by dinosaurs whose minds and political styles are still steeped in the days of military dictatorships?

One cannot hold them to blame alone, however, when we operate a politico-economic system that is twisted against reflecting the realities of the economy…isn’t it telling that, despite all the rumours and speculations as to President Yar’Adua’s health, the putative “schlock-system” we call the Nigerian Stock Exchange did not lose a beat, unlike what would have happened in the free world’s markets, where even the ill-health of one influential bank CEO could trigger a run on both the nation’s capital and money markets!

Everything here is lopsided: so, we have a Federal Government that is not in the least federated; being driven by a PDP that is far from being populist, democratic or even a party [in the strictest universal definition of such political platforms]; touting a putative Seven-point Agenda that has neither been thought-through or executed sincerely. So we get platitudes in place of viable planning and performance; we are constantly demanded upon to be citizens, without getting any “dividends of citizenship”; or, in short, a la the proverbial “monkey work…baboon chop” syndrome, we are expected to give our “quid” in exchange for no “pro quo”!

QUID PRO QUO, once again, is Latin for ‘what for what’ or ‘something for something.’ That is to say, “quid pro quo” means the concept of getting something of value in return for giving something of value. For a any contract [let alone a national socio-political contract between leaders and the led] to be binding, it usually must involve the exchange of something of value.

What the people of Nigeria [the commoners of the Niger Delta and the other bastardised zones/regions of this nationspace “contract”!] want of political leadership is simple: GIVE US GOOD GOVERNANCE IN RETURN FOR OUR AGREEING TO BE LED BY YOU!  Why this simple concept is still so difficult to fathom, by Nigerian leaders, will never stop to amaze, amuse and frustrate me [all at the same time].

And what, in a nutshell, is good governance? It is simply letting the desire for the common good [welfare] of the citizenry be foremost at all times. It is being truly democratic in election to public office, being publicly transparent in serving the people whilst in said office, and abiding by the rule of law at all times…no matter whose ox is gored. It is being open to constructive criticism at all times; and not trying to intimidate the perceived opposition with spurious accusations of treason or libel based solely on self-serving specious logic.

The most indisputable reality that we’ve all had to live with, especially during the last seven days] has been that there is a veritable absence of good governance based on solid institutions founded as strictly as possible on unequivocal adherence to the rule of law [as laid out in the extant constitution and our legal statutes]. So, was it all much ado about nothing? Methinks, it was, definitely, much ado about something!

The last week was about how the President’s absence negatively impacted the machinery of government; about why there arose a need, in the first place, to debate the issue of succession to Aso Villa; and why the Niger Delta must, for once, rise above petty squabbles over the temporal crumbs that fall off the nation’s feast-tables [which are kept oiled by their sorrow, tears and blood!] and focus on the more lasting issues.

The focus of all free-born Niger Deltans must be ensuring that true free and fair elections hold henceforth; to ultimately seek total resource control and self-determination as was existed under the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions; whilst striving for immediate increase of the derivation principle of the revenue allocation formula to 25%, gradating up to 50% by 2015 latest; and ascertaining that the Amnesty Proclamation of President Yar’Adua is passed into law by the National Assembly.

This should be the Niger Delta’s minimum irreducible “pro quo” in exchange for their “quid” of agreeing to be citizens living in Nigeria that has sustainable peace, premised on justice, equity and development. Egberi fa. Shalom.

“The people who are trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off ….how can I?  Light up the darkness!”— Bob Marley
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