By Sunny Ikhioya
THE Ekiti State governorship election has come and gone. The result has caused serious shock waves amongst some of us, but to others like me, it did not come as a surprise. When I canvassed for a concerted approach by everyone, irrespective of political affiliation, to join hands and fight the common enemy of insurgency, some ascribed names like ‘Jonathanians’ and ‘PDP appologist’ to us. Now the picture is becoming clearer and the blind will soon begin to see clearly.
There can only be a free and fair election when the atmosphere is calm and peaceful, and when politicians refrain from taking it as a do-or- die affair. When you threaten to soak ‘the baboon and dog in blood’, you can only win this kind of battle if you have the advantage of superior force. As at today, the President of Nigeria is, arguably, the most powerful president in the whole world in terms of the forces at his disposal, whether economically or militarily. We saw the full weight of it, when Obasanjo was in power. Governors were forcefully removed from office undemocratically to the consternation of the whole nation . The ruling PDP was changing party chairmen as the rich change their fleet of cars; some changes were even effected at the dead of nights. Government funds were allocated to girl friends without qualms; even people close to the President openly displayed such tendencies like a youth corps member who was placed on N1 million remuneration under El Rufai’s Bureau of Public Enterprises when her colleagues were earning peanuts as allowances. Such was the power of the Presidency then under Obasanjo and such is the presidential powers today under Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
We preached for a proper institutionalisation of all facets of governance but the military culture was carried over to the present. Obasanjo is regretting the fact that he brought in Jonathan because Jonathan now understood the use of presidential powers and thus cannot be controlled.
Opportunity has been described in various forms, but generally, it is agreed that an opportunity missed can never be recovered. The country missed the opportunity to be placed on a proper track under Obasanjo, everything we are experiencing now, are fall outs of that missed opportunity.
Business experts always harp on the need to take advantage of opportunities; have we taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the change of personality type between Obasanjo and Jonathan? I do not think so.
Jonathan’s mode of democracy made it possible for anybody to come out and heap insults on the president of the nation. Have we learnt to use it properly? If we do not do it right, this time around, the nation will be plunged fully into worse crises.
Gradually, because of the taunting of the opposition, their unwarranted insults and denigration, the despoliation of the office of the president through reckless utterances, we are beginning to see him bare his fang. He is beginning, gradually, to use the power the way Obasanjo taught him and the results are becoming manifest.
Whether you like it or not, politics is a game, a game of contesting to win the hearts and the support of the people; if you play the game well and are able to carry the people along with you, you come out tops. It is not whether your programme is the best or not, it is about your ability to make the people follow you. The beauty of it all is that in civilised societies, it is not often that you can deceive the people and go scotfree. That is why it is tenured; when your tenure ends, you must come back and seek for the people’s support. So, when you have made a mistake in bringing someone into office and he/she has not performed to the expected standard, it is not incumbent on you to humiliate him out of office by negative propaganda or otherwise; what is to be done is to sensibly redirect your strategy towards enlightening the people to be more cautious the next time. There are different ways you can carry the people along without prompting them to violence. The threat of violence is what has led to the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency.
What is to be done? Let everybody preach peace. Let us all try to run democracy the ideal way. Let it be issue-based and not destructive. Let it not be done under a threatening atmosphere. It is only under a peaceful atmosphere that the people can reason correctly.
Let all political parties come to a round table and discuss how changes can occur in the polity without recourse to extremism. Where the president is doing well, let us commend him and where he is falling short, let us criticise him in the correct manner; no inflammatory comments.
Let us not use the security situation in the country now to play politics. Because , clearly, it is being contrived to frustrate the smooth running of Jonathan’s administration. If all concerned had come out with one voice to tackle the dreaded Boko Haram, especially the politicians of the Northern stock, the notorious sect would have been contained.
Everybody watched passively, trying to gain political advantage from the situation. But now, even the Emirs are not safe. This is what happens when you sit passively and allow evil deeds to be perpetrated. What is bad is bad, you cannot paint it otherwise.
From the Ekiti election, it is clear that if the situation of insecurity in the country persists, the ruling PDP government will win with a landslide. Reason? There will be reasons to bring the military into the picture; whoever controls the military, controls the direction of the votes. Check out what has become of Egypt.
If you do not have the ability to forcefully change a government, you should not encourage violence; even when you lose, you will only be sending your innocent supporters to their early graves.
Let the opposition redirect their strategies to one of peaceful campaign and not war drumming and unnecessary threats. Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, resorted to that and he is now running helter skelter.
We can only check the power available to the Nigerian president by using the opportunity of the conference to demand devolution of power from the centre. Surprisingly, I learnt the Northern candidates have shot down this proposal. Too bad. Alternatively, let us find a very peaceful means of making our people follow us in such a way that they can unitedly fight for their rights if infringed upon, without recourse to violence.
That is the lesson of the Ekiti election.