By Bisi Lawrence
So here we are in the year 2014, a much expected year like others but much more because of the brand of expectations it has engendered. It is the year of big preparations for tremendous happenings with the trail of events they will have in their wake. It is the year, you see, that will follow the year we have been waiting for —the year that must decide many issues for us as a nation, more than several epoch-making years have ever done.
Of course, it will bear its own burden of distractions, some pleasant, others a little trite. There is supposed to be a centenary “celebration” of an occasion that depicted a situation which did not in any way enhance our status as a people, but rather characterised us more firmly and described us more truly as a “colonial territory”, an enforced dependency from the shackles of which we obtained “independence”, and which we celebrate on the first day of the month of October, every year.
And why not, when even that Independence Day in October which is supposed to have given existence to the birth of democracy now has to contend with a “Democracy Day” created for the date that saw a cessation of our freedom’s seizure by the brutish force of military might. So we already have the Independence Day, Democracy Day, and now Amalgamation Centenary, which may very well open the way for its own day. And it is ALL lying in wait in the year 2014.
There will also be yet chunkier distractions by way of openly futile litigation from political sources, of course. The abuse and misuse of that nature, of court processes has continued to provide rye diversions at times to unwavering judicial disapprovals that seem to little deter them, while notable learned men maintain their mincing gait smiling all the way to the bank .
Perhaps the weightiest distraction will be the National Conference which is almost upon us, albeit in its amorphous state. The definition of the representation is still to me rather without a definite form, and the structure of its organization is still vague from this distance. But what appears definite is that it is going to be held.
There is no way of guaranteeing the ultimate agreement even among those who fervently aver their support for it. It appears that there is even a dissonance in the way its sympathizers project their vision about the resolution of the outcome. Will it have to receive the blessing of the legislature, or is it destined for ratification by plebiscite?
Perhaps those who openly speak in frank disapproval of the entire project are merely being honest with the people of this country in their desire to make us face the tedious task ahead. And that is the organization for the national elections of next year.
Having watched with dismay how the two state elections were recently botched, as openly admitted by the organizers themselves, we would definitely need to overhaul our electoral system thoroughly before embarking on an enterprise of that intensity. We should re-consider the legal deterrents against electoral malpractices; for one thing.
We ought to streamline our processes of litigation to prevent the untidy prolongation of election cases in court beyond reasonable limits. We must tighten the electoral methods that love loop-holes for the disenfranchisement of citizens. There should, in fact, be an open enquiry into the entire electoral organization with the aim of achieving a re-orientation of the system and its operators.
I know about the widespread belief in the integrity of INEC’s Jega, and that is not at question here. But the organization cannot feed all the time on the personal reputation of just one man. It is in his own interest, anyway, to ensure that his tools are unimpeachable, to start with, so that the faults may be properly lodged where they belong, should they occur.
And then we have the drama, both human and thematic, of the action itself. The emergence of the All Progressives Party, as a serious political force, is now a reality. It may affect activities on the political terrain in a turbulent period before various sections have really settled in their ranks.
This relates to the hydra-headed leadership that will have t0 be resolved at no distant date, if it is not to cause the much desired dissension expected by the Peoples Democratic Party whose ranks are being decimated daily by defections to the APC. So substantial has been the influx of the PDP members into an opposition party that the opposition is being virtually installed in a predominant position, at least in the House of Representatives.
It is also significant that the drift has been mainly from the Northern membership of the PDP who may feel strong enough to balk at the status quo in the leadership of the APC which is markedly Southern. It would be typical of them to recoil from such a situation. And then the fat would be in the fire .
It is a scenario worth contemplating and full of intransigent sharp points. It is however not beyond resolution, especially if its dangers are seen from afar and preparations are made to forestall them. If it materializes, that would call for maturity, patience, statesmanship, and an abnegation of personal ambition and self- worth.
But the stakes are high though the main consideration would be hinged on whether the defectors can go it alone, for they have a destination — they have a goal as core Northern politicians—a priori installation of a Northerner as the next President of Nigeria.
That has to be resolved in 2014. It embodies other nuances that may affect even that leadership of the Northern APC itself which may be drawn from PDP members that are yet to defect. It may even lead to the formation of a new party comprising the defectors, and leading to a legal wrangle of another colour.
But the APC has declared no interest in the Presidential stakes for next year, anyway, so the stress should be limited to personal issues. But then, maybe we have overshot ourselves in our estimation. Maybe the PDP will overcome its internal problems. Maybe pigs will fly – in 2014.
The removal of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja has left a few structural debris littered all over the place. While reasonable efforts have been made to rehabilitate some of them, others are abandoned in a state of desuetude and constitute an eyesore to the terrain. A good example is the former Secretariat which also served at one time as the Army Headquarters. Another is the former Community Centre at Onikan. Even the once gorgeous King Gorge V Swimming Pool in Onikan, when it was a park, is now reduced to a fire service station. At least, that is serving some purpose.
The point here is that the departure of the Federal Government should not server to diminish the beauty of the structures in the city, but should rather be made to enhance it.
Eko 0 oi baje o.