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Elections in 2011: Political development and economic growth

By Adisa Adelye
THE last two weeks witnessed the flexing of political muscles by the proponents of the ruling party‘s controversial ‘zoning‘ system and the new apostles of unconditional and free choice of leadership of the party and the country.

The problem has been and is still the dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Nigerian political panorama that any stubborn cough within that seemingly great party is heralded by the party and some sections of the media as the country‘s ailment.

What is often forgotten is that (in the grip of impending election fever in 2011 and the 50 years of Independence anniversary profligacy), that the Nigerian populace had been promised affluence, quality education, full employment and good healthcare since Independence.  And almost fifty years after, the hapless Nigerian citizens (of North and South) are still in a dreamland, hoping and waiting, not for the callous and irresponsible politicians, but for that divine intervention from above.

Many patriotic Nigerians who are yet to be fully influenced by politics of ethnicity or tainted with the sins of corruption associated with political offices, are of the opinion that it would be preferable now to start looking at the country‘s complex problems, discussing them fully and finding realistic solutions before the dreadful deluge of 2011.

The present political instability is borne out of the fact that democracy is yet to take a firm root in the country with a large and strong ruling party and scattered weak and poor opposition.  The ruling party detests the opposition and wants to extend its administration indefinitely.  Under the operation of ‘winners take all‘; the opposition has little or no chance in a ‘do or die‘ electoral contests.  With immense wealth associated with winners of elections, the hope of peaceful change in 2011 is becoming a mirage, if not absolutely impossible.

From past events since 1960, the problems of Nigeria show signs of constitutional and structural deficiencies.  The civil war of 1967_70 and the creation of States (pastime hobbies of military rulers) provided temporary solution but could not strictly address the real reasons why brothers embarked on killing one another.  Before the elections of 2003, a group of eminent styled, the ‘Patriots‘ (without Northern representatives) suggested a single term of 5 (five) years for the post of President and that of the State Governor.

Some analysts thought that a single term of 5 years would be insufficient for a hardworking President or State Governor to finish his ‘good job‘.  Others believed with justification that a period of five years would be sufficient for a rogue to pauperise a nation by looting or mismanagement of resources.  Another suggestion is the adoption of a fixed rotational Presidency like the present system in Nigeria.  The observed problem with our system is its lack of flexibility in the face of what many Nigerians call ‘Divine Intervention‘.

Also, it has been noted that a system of fixed rotational presidency did not save a country once called Yugoslavia from bloody disintegration into smaller independent entities like Serbia, Bosnia,  Slovenes, Montenegro, etc (some of them are now in the World Cup Competition).  Also rotational leadership did not save Czechoslovakia from breaking into Czech and Slovakia nations.

Some advocates of Constitutional Reforms were not happy with the tinkering with some aspects of the 1999 Constitution by the Legislature – a party political approach which looks selfish.  On Constitution, an expert on French Constitution, Dorothy Pickles wrote that, ‘it is not that constitutions cannot guarantee to safeguard the future.  There are some ills for which constitutions have no cure and among them are deep and bitter political divisions‘  It is quite evident that in this country, one may sorrowfully acclaim, there are clear signs of very deep and perplexing bitter ethnic rivalries and sharp religious differences causing serious political divisions.

The real problem with us as a serious nation is a total reliance on partial solution to achieve a temporary relief, and which by itself, portends future danger.  We as a nation should not tempt God to solve our problems, while praying fervently with hands steeped in corruption and wasteful spending.

I have written several times that the advocates of a National Conference or National Discourse are really pointing at the clear wisdom of re_examining the entire structure of the National Question.

This will embrace the power of the Federal Government in a federation; the actual cost of running all levels of government; cost of elections; equitable sharing of resources with respects to the ‘national cake‘; resource control (which has engulfed the nation in fratricidal mini words;  unproductive economy; deepening poverty and other factors which tend to tear us apart inspite of the binding cord of the black gold (crude oil and gas).

If it is generally agreed that all is not quite well with the country inspite of our assumed blessings of natural and human resource,  what could stop us from pausing a bit and re_examine our position as a decaying Nation.  In sports, by our unseriousness, we have compromised our lending position as a black nation by celebrating defeats upon defeats.

Happily in world athletics, our sliding backwards has been covered by the various blacks of the United States and the West Indies.

In Nigeria, this is the time to rethink and reflect on our present political development and economic growth.  There are different economic models to follow, and from our past experience, several forms of democracy to examine.  The choice is ours after a serious Dialogue.  It is better for political stability that President Jonathan has not announced his candidacy for 2011 election.  A visionary leader would not put his mind on party victory at all costs during elections but on building a strong nation out of so many nations.
At present,  Nigeria needs agreed policy on economic models; restructuring of states into viable zones or other types; decentralized police and security agencies; presidential/parliamentary system of government; credible system of voting and just and equitable distribution of nation‘s resources.  Whatever time it takes to achieve these objectives would be beneficial.

Let the nation forget elections in 2011 and work for future prosperity.


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