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I have little faith in electoral reforms, Rev. Okotie

By Sam Eyoboka
REVEREND Chris Okotie has contested for the highest office in Nigeria twice on the platform of the Fresh Democratic Party, FDP, first in 2003 and then 2007 and is currently oiling his political machine to hit the road again for the 2011 election. In this interview, he x-rayed the happenings in the political terrain, the debate over President Jonathan’s ambition, corruption, the return of Nuhu Ribadu and his verdict is that Nigerians can only vote in PDP in subsequent elections at their own peril. Excerpts:

The nation celebrated 11 years of uninterrupted democracy. Will you say that Nigerians can now shout Uhuru?


No! No!! The process has been slowed down. There is a phenomenon that is called a rallen-tando which is actually a dance that has a seven piece that becomes sluggish. So, a political rallen-tando would be a slowing down process which is what our political process has been fraught with. I think that the main actors so far have not been able to properly intellectualize the concept of democracy within the Nigerian context and that is why there has been a slowing down process. But the important is that there is dynamism. But it is not yet Uhuru.

Where did we miss it and how do we connect the missing link?

There is a tripartite mechanism that has slowed down the process. Three dimensions I want to mention: they are mysticism, Satanism and elitism. Every political process, most of the time, has to deal with, what I call, the coalition of political evil because they all militate against that process. When the democratic process is still nascent, in its inchoate stages, you have to deal with the three evils. Let me explain them.

In a geographical context like in a nation when you begin a process that has to do with people which is what a democratic process is; there are certain individuals who have a mystique about them, and they create a certain mysticism around them and until they are demystified the process will not take a natural evolutionary course.

So, what happens is that these individuals become like juggernauts, behemoths and gargantuan in the picture they give to the electorate; because they are gods or demigods. They determine what goes on even if it is anti-democratic—they determine who is going to be where and when. They are the ones with whom you negotiate the instrumentality of government. And until these people are demystified, the democratic process walks with shackles.

Two, is the concept of Satanism and within this concept we are talking of violence in politics because they are adversaries and once you ignore their prescriptions they become violent. And once violence is added to a democratic process it takes on a chaotic facade which now intimidates a lot of people who now subject their mandate to those who are the operators and who perpetrate this violence.

Then, you have elitism which is a clique of people who arrogate to themselves a certain representation for the people. They believe they speak on behalf of the people but they have never been elected and therefore they do not have the mandate of the people but they have positioned themselves in such a way, either culturally, financially, socially and sometimes even within the state of metaphysics; that they are the ones who represent the people. So, they become the self-acclaimed, styled elite who now decides what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen. And until you dismantle that group you cannot have a democratic process that truly represent the people. That is what we have seen in Nigeria, in a very heightened form.

The three evils appear to me so intertwined and powerful. How can the people demystify them?

It’s a coalition of evil. Because they are so intertwined and interwoven, the only antidote is a generational shift. That is why you find in the examples we have seen in scriptures—when God is faced with a situation that has these indicators, He shifts from one generation to another. That is why Israelites were intimidated when they faced Goliath because Saul and Goliath were of the same generation.

And so the parochialism that characterizes a generation and leads it to destruction envelops that entire generation and you have to get someone who is not a part of that generation to see more clearly and David was invited into the scene and he saw thing that Saul couldn’t see; because what Saul saw the formidable armour of Goliath—his height, breast place, the inevitable concomitant of a veteran of war in the boasts and the declarations that he made. But David saw differently. What guides every generation is the vision of that generation and the vision David had was antithetical to that Saul had.

And as long as Saul had that vision, all that were behind him in terms of the soldiers were powerless to do anything; but when another man came with a totally different vision that was predicated on the power of the Almighty God, His fidelity to His covenant and His ability to deliver, he won the day.

So, the problem we have in the nation today, is that we have several tiers of the same generation and what they have done is like passing the baton to the same team, with the same coach and with the same philosophy. And as long as you do that you will be going round and round in circles. What Nigeria must do, is to embrace a new generation with a new philosophy, new vision and attitude that is more globalized and is not limited to the political precincts and divisions that we have today.

Doesn’t Dr. Goodluck Jonathan fit that picture you are painting?

He belongs to the present generation because it is not the biological duration of existence that determines a generation. It’s not age. It is the psychology of that generation and the psychology of any generation is based on its mind set and its mind set produces its vision and its vision guides it and leads it to its destination. Because, he is so intertwined in the PDP philosophy of governance that is checkered and is defective ab initio, he cannot rise above it.

Not because he might desire to; but because there are natural stumbling blocks within the system which are the impediments of that generation which makes it impossible for that generation to ascend to lofty heights that will enable him to see more clearly. He will find that whatever he tries to do is sabotaged from the very beginning. That is why you find internal wrangling within the PDP because how can one political party be so antithetical to itself; to its vision; to its manifesto?

It is because you have a group of men and women who have no ideological connectivity. It is an arrangement that is programmed to fail. That is the same that happened to President Olusegun Obasanjo—as visionary as he was—his problem was not the opposition but his own political party. President Goodluck Jonathan is going to face the same problem, in fact, I believe he is already facing the problem.


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