THE Nigerian state has always faced and will continue to face the daunting challenge of making democracy deliver the much avowed dividends that should be the hallmark of democratic practice. Against what the political class would want us believe, which is basically a ploy to hide their inefficiency and greed – it is not that we are still learning the ropes of democratic practice, but the fact is that we have blatantly refused, so it seems – to use well our democratic opportunities.
After all, how long does it take to learn? It is as if it has become a decided case to give every leader, no matter the level: the course to fail or pitiably, sweat to survive and to deliver the little it could, in terms of democratic dividends, due to the ill-intentioned opposition the political class plays.
As a civilian president, the Otta farmer, Olusegun Obasanjo had to invest quantum amount of time and resources fighting opposition between 1999 and 2007. President Umaru Yar ‘Adua of blessed memory was not spared either, until his demise in 2010; even when the gentleman had the humility to declare that the election that brought him on board as the president was largely flawed. The man currently on the saddle, President Goodluck Jonathan is not going to be spared equally.
But in an ideal understanding, the concept of political opposition is not a distasteful issue entirely, as it should be a revered tool of persuasion and even cajolery on the political leadership, urging it to perform well. It should indeed involve what one can refer to as political intellectualism that must seek to bring critical reasoning to bear on leadership activities.
This is why President Jonathan needs our input in form of constructive criticisms to do well, as well as the state governors. The acceptable understanding is that while the opposition expects to take over government democratically, there should still be a healthy polity left for it to bring its own ingenuity to bear on and so should not bring the house down. Therefore, opposition should be critically channelled at the activities in the polity.
Through this way, the leadership could make the best use of the currents from opposition.
In the states, and using Abia as a reference point, since 1999, Abia State has been mired in a pool of ceaseless political opposition. From the 1999 elections, no politician has ever accepted defeat after the election. Every politician and party claim elections were rigged, even when everybody was in the same rigging game. As a result, people who were defeated would insist, through official and unofficial means, to unseat the man on the saddle.
The two terms of Orji Uzor Kalu was awash with incessant oppositional attacks, even from his own party, the PDP and later PPA. Those attacks left that administration tottering and subjected that leadership to always fight for survival, coupled with palpable inefficiency. At the end, that administration made very minimal progress.
As if it was a relay race, the successive administration of Governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji, was also greeted, on inception in 2007, with the same crass and ill-intentioned opposition, coupled with the bad tendencies of godfatherism. The first term of T.A. Orji was, one may rightly say, directed at fighting the opposition and godfatherism. Arising from this is that the leadership was not stable and as such could not direct its planned programmes meaningfully to impact on the lives of Abians. And of course, if someone engages you in a duel, good reasoning is that you have to do everything possible to save your life first. When this is the case, something has to bear the brunt of that reality.
But it is noteworthy here that Governor T.A. Orji had to finally fight the anti-developmental activities of the enemies of democracy; and in that first tenure still managed to deliver. However, Abia is finally liberated from the shackles of godfatherism and this is evident from the landslide victory recorded by the Governor during the April 26 election. In terms of development, what we have seen the administration achieve between July 2010 and April 2011, shows what could happen when peace and purposefulness engage a polity.
It is this nature of purposeful leadership and its attendant developmental appeals that are expected in the State from now till 2015 and even beyond. It is hoped that the current peace, understanding, cooperation and then strides in development would continue to be the lot of Abia and its people. It is imperative at this time to sensitize or rather appeal to the sensibilities of the people of the State that no matter the party affiliation, the focus this time around should be on using opposition to drive development and encourage leadership.
Nigerians should stop the habit of playing opposition just for the sake of it, as if to take one’s own pound of flesh. If we say we have elected a leadership, we should as a matter of fact support that leader to perform. But this is what the true realisation is: If he does not perform, even the opposition will equally suffer – in one way or the other – from the degradation that is most likely to emanate from that failed leadership, duly or unduly stampeded by incessant opposition. Of course, such leadership would have some good excuses to tender for poor performance; and we should not blame it.
It becomes necessary this time around to appeal to the conscience of the political class in Abia to behave with decorum this time around.
It is important also to commend the Governor for re-uniting the State once again. He should therefore be given room to project the outstanding programmes he has outlined for the meaningful development of the State. Along the course of duty he may not get everything right to the expectation of everybody because he is a mortal, but what is expected is that anybody or group who has issues should constructively engage the leadership and certainly, since he is a listening Governor, he would look into the issue.
Those who like going to court as if it is a religious ritual should stop wasting scarce resources and stop chasing the wind. Such money could be used to help their communities or at least saved to contest again: It is more honourable.
Mr. JENSON OKEREKE, a journalist, wrote from Abuja.