By Adisa Adeleye
Nigeria, through the divine intervention, and the singular act of a statesman, is witnessing today the happy end of an era and the hopeful beginning of another phase. This would be a sad disappointment to the prophets of doom with their forecast of possible disintegration of the country in 2015. Perhaps the prognosis of apocalypse has turned to be a blessing in disguise.
There is no doubt that the outgoing president Goodluck Jonathan has, indeed, been a very lucky individual, answering fondly to his name, “Goodluck”. At the age below sixty years, he has reached the pinnacle of his political career, with invective broad laughter but with less stress. Within the last sixteen years of his political life, he had been a Deputy Governor, a Governor; the Vice President, acting President and elected in 2011 as President of the Republic of Nigeria and the Commander-in-Chief of the country`s Armed Forces – a romantic accolade. Not many people are that lucky. The brilliant duo of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo could not win any presidential election, even at their advanced age. And that is why the statesmanship in Goodluck Jonathan prompted his admission of defeat and his message of congratulations to Buhari, his conqueror at the March 28, 2015 presidential election. That was a glorious act of true statesmanship that should remain a lasting hope for democracy in Nigeria.
In power, President Goodluck Jonathan has been a member, and then, a leader of his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party whose iron grip on Nigeria‘s political system in the last sixteen years will inevitably come to an end today. There is little doubt that many loyal members of the party and a good number of Nigerians would have wished for a peaceful end to a tumultuous reign full of pitfalls and the culture of impunity associated with public office. It is a pity that President Jonathan saw his party’s‘ ills and comedy of errors with a dark goggle of a partisan politician. At times, he appeared effete when strong action of a strong leader was necessary against political rascality. It may be too early to discover the extent of mismanagement of the country’s resources during his administration inspite of the widespread allegations by the Opposition.
Though the PDP as a party is not well known for its internal democracy, it has contributed immensely to the growth of democratic practice in the country. Many see this as a result of its laxity on the cardinal principles rather than a conscious effort to promote the fine concept of democracy.
A more serious indictment of the PDP in government has been the penchant for internal convulsion and lack of respect of its elders or members who for one reason or the other, have reasons to have opposing views to the widely entrenched views of the party. Some of their state and national officers appear to be experts in the principle of calumny and vilification.
According to some observers during the last elections, the PDP with strong support throughout the country became jittery and defensive, avoiding as much as possible, real issues of the debate. Some of their campaign leaders portrayed neither sophistication nor clarity but infantile inclination on serious political matters. In defeat, which the great party seemed unprepared for, some leaders have resorted to the usual bickering and internal self destruction.
A crucial question that needs a quick answer in the following days is: Will the PDP be a credible Opposition? It may be asked whether the PDP legislators and the members would follow the statesmanship of their outgoing leader, Goodluck Jonathan. It is necessary to find an answer in view of the fact that the year 2015 is yet to end and the events unfolding – strikes, fuel scarcity and total darkness – are fearful and could upset any nation. To many observers, the PDP as a party is not yet dead, but “sleepeth” , perhaps, waiting for the golden mourn for resurrection.
The new administration of Muhammadu Buhari will certainly face the greatest problems any country could face in the modern world. Many Nigerians, in utter desperation, have chosen priorities for the new administration – power supply, fuel scarcity and resurgent Boko Haram attacks. The new administration, will no doubt, give its best if given the opportunity to get its acts together.
The advantage of the new administration is that Muhammadu Buhari is not new to power – he understands its responsibility and accountability. However, the sufferings of Nigerians in the past weeks would have dried the moisture of sympathy for politicians and their unfulfilled promises. It may be that the sins of the PDP could be visited on the APC so soon. There is no doubt that many Nigerians will trust the new administration if it starts today with a statement of intent on crucial problems of the moment – power, fuel and security.
There is no doubt that the new administration is having a politically divided polity and a devastated economy. However, the quality of the new cabinet and the seriousness of the administration would determine its eventual success. There is no doubt that the APC possesses the right people to face the challenges successfully. It is right for Nigerians to give new administration the trust, support and time to perform the magic of clearing the mess.
Apart from the enumerated pressing issues, the new administration has the failing economy to battle with. The growing unemployment and looming poverty could be traced to the observable dormant economy. It is known that general unemployment for any length of time could be sad and soul destroying; prolonged unemployment (especially among graduates) could be an invitation to chaos and instability in the country. There is little choice for the federal government other than expand more than its income to induce a net increase in demand for resources. If total spending is high, the level of output will be high (thus lowering inflation) and the level of employment is bound to be high.
However, it has been observed by Professor J. Pen, “a national economy that has lost its balance socially and politically cannot have that balance restored by a purely economic Neo-Keynesian policy”. More radical measures are needed.
This includes equitable distribution of income which can make a positive contribution to wage stabilization, as unfair distribution of goods of these world forms a constant threat to the stability of the economy with all its attendant consequences. In the formulation of a sound economic policy, developmental Economists like Professor Pat Utomi and Mr. Bismak Rewani (if available) could be a part of a formidable team in the new administration.