By CHIZOBA EKWULONU
THE relevance for a paradigm shift in Nigerian polity cannot be over emphasised. Like three-time Presidential candidate, Rev. Chris Okotie stated in his article in The Guardian of January 7, 2014, political alliances have never augured well for the country. That is why he has been canvassing for a paradigm shift since he joined the political process in 2002.
A dramatic change in leadership style is germane at this time in our democracy, because the crop of politicians we have had since the advent of democracy in Nigeria has been professional politicians who obviously do not have the good of the citizenry at heart. This has led to a systematic increase in poverty, unemployment and corruption in high places.
Unemployed youths have resorted to criminality since government has failed in its duties to the people as enunciated in the section dealing with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principle of State policy in the constitution.
Our youths are now into various vices such as armed robbery, oil theft, political thuggery, kidnapping, etc. The interest of our current politicians is to hold on to power in order to continue to steal the wealth of the nation to the detriment of the majority of the Nigerian people. Is it not disheartening to see teenagers in the South Eastern part of Nigeria involved in “baby factory” business? What will make a young girl who has her life ahead of her to go through a difficult and harrowing experience of pregnancy under an inhuman condition; go through labour, and exchange her baby for peanuts?
While she survives, she is “settled” with a paltry and her baby taken away to be sold; and leadership both in the national and state level look the other way pretending as if these vices do not exist. That is one of the dire consequences of abject poverty: that is what bad leaders have given to the people they are supposed to protect and care for.
A paradigm shift in the Nigerian polity will make way for people who genuinely have the good of the masses at heart. We have such people in this country – not every Nigerian wants to get into power just to get to his or her own share of the national cake. Not all Nigerians are corrupt; we still have people of honour and dignity whose integrity cannot be compromised.
Why these people are not banding together with these politicians is because they don’t want their hands soiled with the filth that these politicians are known for. They will prefer to keep their distance until these thieving politicians knock themselves out, which is what we are seeing today in the internal upheaval in the ruling PDP. This crisis is in fact good if there must be a paradigm shift in the leadership of this country. We need people who will project a true image of Nigeria in the comity of nations.
Nigeria has been ridiculed, and is often ranked among the most corrupt nations in the world; this is not what Nigeria represents. We have Nigerians who are intelligent and brilliant, we are not a people bereft of ideas; we are not a mediocre people. That Nigerians excel outside of our shores is not dispute.
But past leaderships have created a bizarre image for the country. The persistence of the same problems we have been going through, like the lack of electricity supply, has made it look as is if we can never get anything right in this country, justifying the belief that nothing works in Nigeria, but I dare say that the reason for this is because we have been having recycled politicians in power.
The recycling of leadership that has left Nigeria prostrate, is a product of coalition; gang up or alignment of the same crop of politicians that Rev. Okotie talked about in his article. The politicians that are now banding together in the name of coalition have been in the corridors of power for decades; their long control of power could not take Nigeria near the Promised Land. Realignments of political parties in this context, is nothing but the recycling of professional politicians; those who want to remain in the corridors of power either as godfathers or “kingmakers” for their benefits; not because they love the people, or desire to serve them.
The truth is that recycled politicians actually laid the foundation for what we are going through today as a country. As the saying goes, “a chameleon is still a chameleon even if it changes its colour”. So, a corrupt politician will still remain corrupt no matter the alignment or coalition they are involved with. And this is why such alignments have not profited the Nigerian people.
Let me say that from what we know of the past and present leaderships that we have had in this country, if we think that a politician’s humble background will make him a good leader who will protect the interest of the masses; the present leadership has proven that wrong. In fact, such people may even want to amass more wealth, so as not to go back to poverty again.
In the same vein, someone from a rich background may not necessarily make a good leader, as our experience with leaderships has shown; as such people have failed to provide good governance to the Nigerian people. Moreover, wealthy politicians tend to amass more wealth to maintain their subsisting standard of living, and keep fat foreign bank accounts.
What could make a difference in the leadership of Nigeria is when someone, whether from a rich or poor background, who is a lover of the people, and one who has the fear God takes over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria. When this happens things will turn around for good in Nigeria, because it is the fear of God that makes people departs from evil.