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Credible lessons in progressive politicking

By Billy Onoja

THE philosophy of life that makes for winner takes all is not only antithetical to development; it is also not in favour of human progress.

An intellectual inquiry into the stages of social and economic development in the Marxian interpretations and chronicles of social epochs shows that winner takes all conforms to the values operated in the primitive, slave and feudal social epochs which legacies were the oppressions, suppressions and economic deprivations of the human race.

As exploitative as capitalism has been considered to be, in an effort to clamour for a more equitable social and economic order, it must not be denied of the fact that it opened up the society, economy and polity for the participation of all those who were fit and had the means of production. It is a social regime that is propelled by the theory of “survival of the fittest” that did not limit anyone who could compete.

The contradictions in the capitalists’ competition and in the pursuit of independence have led the society to appreciate the place of interdependence in a world that has been modernised by a lot of factors and forces, like the end of slave trade, the end of colonialism and the economic ascendancy of Asian tigers. The rise of international trade as a source of the wealth of nations and the technological revolution have compressed the world and made it a global village.

In this world of interdependence, winner takes-all is no longer effective.  In  the realm of politics, a practical example of the effectiveness of  the win-win strategy is the politics of President Barack Obama of the United States and the former First lady and now Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Both political figures were bitter rivals, so to speak, in the Democratic Party primaries. After the primaries, the two closed ranks and strengthened the cohesion and electoral capacity of the Democratic Party. This way they were able to challenge the Republican Party which was an incumbent party at the presidential election. Today, the government of the United States of America is under President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This wouldn’t have been the case if both of them had out of selfish interest failed to see strength in their unity. This is contrary to what obtains in Nigeria where  self-centeredness has ruined many leaders. But that is not the case with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State who have impressed me with their new style of politics and reconciliation. The re-union between the two politicians who had for some years now operated in different camps and had used unprintable words for each other points to the fact that they have learnt great lessons from recent elections and the politics of the United Kingdom as exemplified by the conducts of the new Prime Minister, David Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg from the Liberal Democratic Party.

Politics of bitterness driven by the philosophical greed of the winner takes all and the loser kisses the dust is what has destroyed Nigeria. At no time has this dangerous socio-political culture played itself out in our national life like in the eight years of former President Obasanjo and the Peoples Democratic Party government in Nigeria. The period enthroned the culture of impunity and survival of the fittest by any means. This politics promoted the worst of us and demoted and humiliated the best of us.

Although Governor Lamido and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar were prominent players in this inglorious era, I have hope that they have equally learnt their lessons: That the enthronement of rule of law, due process and free and fair election is the key to our democratic success and national development. Atiku Abubakar has been a major victor and victim of political impunity and might is right politics. Having experienced both, he appreciates very well the one that will serve the country right and better

I am happy with his return to the PDP and the aspiration to the 2011. I am also happy with the comparative achievements of Governor  Lamido.That he has been able to execute some people-oriented programmes and projects in Jigawa State, better and above the lack-lustre performance of his predecessor who is idling away his time now at the National Assembly. This little success for the past three years speaks volume of the hope and good future that await Jigawa people if democracy thrives. The immortalisation of the great Aminu Kano in a territory where he had a great political and social influence is quite commendable.

As a very much younger person, I had admired the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) of Mallam Aminu Kano in the Second Republic ; just by the mere inclusion of the word –REDEMPTION- in his party’s name. His political song sounded like the Redemption Song of the great Jamaican King of Reggae music -Robert Nester Marley.

Atiku Abubakar tried to play the progressive politics in the third republic with the defunct Social Democratic Party against the reactionary forces of the National Republican Convention (NRC).The convergence of strange bed fellows in 1998, under the aegis of the PDP to fight the military out of politics and government changed the face of Nigerian politics for the worse. The imposition of General Obasanjo on the infant civil rule was the worst thing that happened to this great nation’s democratic development.Obasanjo came with heart and soul full of hatred and bitterness.

He destroyed all opposing opinions, politicians and political parties. Creating in its wake a monstrous Peoples Democratic Party that cared very little for the people.

President Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP ,the civil society and opposition political parties in Nigeria have  enormous challenges of ensuring that we return to the regime of multiparty democracy in its true sense by ensuring that the people will have a say in who governs them at all level of government in Nigeria come 2011.

Mr. Onoja writes from the Dept. of Political Science, UNIJOS.


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