By Kassim Afegbua
Nigeria is surely not showing good examples as the self-acclaimed giant of Africa. From one ridiculous drama to another, Nigeria’s leadership orientation has been one that leaves many mouths gaping about our self-inflicted predicament. We preach what we do not practice.
What exactly is this mantra called transformation agenda when the processes that are throwing up political leadership appear fixated on the old tunes with cracked rhythms, with obvious symbols of clear-cut abuse of due process.
Where exactly will Alhaji Bamanga Tukur derive his morality to ask questions from those who surreptitiously supported his candidature and went ahead to impose him on the Party? Will he be bold enough to look straight into the President’s face and call him to order when there are abuses? What manner of exemplary leadership is Bamanga Tukur ready to give when the process that installed him as the National Chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party is questionable by every standard?
Those who know Alhaji Bamanga Tukur too well are quick to argue that he is his own man. That he puts his mouth where his heart is and that rather than kowtow to the promptings of the powers-that-be, he could end up being a good fighter especially when integrity is at play.
I am yet to still reconcile this description of this 78 years old man against the backdrop of the deliberate manipulation that produced him in the face of other contestants. I have often argued that there is no morality in politics, but those who possess deeper knowledge than what my mediocre brain could carry, told me that morality is of the mind and not the action of men.
What is in the mind of a Tukur, in this age of ideas when age is likely to wear out the energy of a man? What could be the motivation for his ascendance as the National Chairman? If it is a response to the need for reforms in the Party, should the process that threw up the leadership be another product for reform? Does it make sense for anyone to use problem to solve problem? Whether we like it or not, people are aggrieved that the process that produced Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was anything but fair.
And that also puts a question mark on whatever integrity he is touted to possess. A political party as unwieldy as the PDP surely needs serious reforms reason why High Chief Raymond Dokpesi initially assembled soul mates to pursue this ideal. While the process was still on-going and gathering momentum, another leadership emerged from the blues and the end product of that leadership is left in the annals of history.
But essentially, all the major attractions for the reforms initiated by the founding members and other stakeholders of the Party paled into insignificance when one contradiction was overarching another contradiction, leaving the initiators of the reforms to withdraw from the battle for another day. The Bamanga Tukur challenge would have been another platform and opportunity to heal old wounds and inject new thinking into a party that is producing phlegmatic political leadership for the country.
From gra-gra leader of the Obasanjo consummation, to the sluggish presidential style of late Yar’Ardua to the “Baba Go slow” that we now have on our hands. There is no symbolic lesson to learn from the processes that threw up these leaders. While the PDP prides itself as the largest political party in Africa, quite arguable, it also regales in the self-defeatist slogan of ensuring the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria. I have not been able to rationalize the tenor for that assertion.
But beyond mere political polemics being bandied about by this monstrous Party called the PDP, there is nothing to suggest that the Party parades attributes that are in themselves corrective of the very reason why it has been battling for its soul at every turn of events. The language of consensus has been grossly abused as a function of collegiate agreement within a political party. I am told from very reliable sources that the President had to wield the big stick against the Governors when he queried in very hoax tone; “why do you governors like undermining my position.
Do I appoint political executives for you at the State, why then would you not allow me to make my choice when it comes to national election?” There was reportedly graveyard silence in the meeting hall. That said, Bamanga Tukur could go to sleep. The rest as they say was Eagle Square; step down, step down galore.
LESSONS FROM SENEGAL
That opposition won elections in Senegal has become news for Guinness Book of Records. This is simply because, Africa is considered as a continent of bizarre political undertakings with very frivolous outcomes. So when there are exceptions to such bad rules, it becomes a theme that calls for celebration. Macky Sall has since become the elected presidential candidate that would replace outgoing 86 years old Abdoulaye Wade.
The outgoing president has also accepted the verdict of the voters by congratulating the authentic choice of the people. These are lessons for members of the PDP to learn from and perhaps any other Party that is desirous of making things assume a different dimension than what they are presently. Curiously, the PDP-led Federal Government congratulated the opposition Candidate, seeing his victory as triumph of democracy. I laugh very plenty indeed.
Can PDP accept outcome of elections in such manner if the opposition truly wins election in Nigeria? Will PDP ever allow the people’s votes to count without deploying the federal apparati to undo the process? Since the first elective convention of the Party when Chief Barnabas Gemade was spuriously imposed on the Party in what was christened transparent rigging at the Eagle Square, against the popular wish of the Party in the person of Late Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi, the PDP lost its compass for proper leadership recruitment. A man may be good, but when the process that throws him up is seen to be eternally questionable, then it removes so much from the complete composition of such a leader. That is the dilemma of the PDP as we speak.
There is no point in congratulating Senegal for their political feat. What did the AU [of which the PDP-led Federal Government is a major player] do in the face of flagrant abuse of Constitutional process that gave clearance to Abdoulaye Wade to run for the elections? What position did Nigeria take in the wake of such constitutional crisis that snowballed into political uncertainty for the Senegalese people?
Having maintained such criminal silence, and left Senegalese to swallow the bitter pills of a President unwilling to quit power, what morality does the Federal Government have to turn around and praise the outcome of that process as triumph of democracy? Until Nigeria’s ruling Party is able to do things the right way for all to emulate, we will continue to have Presidents that do not look like President in the true sense of the word.
The lesson to take home from Senegal especially for the ordinary Nigerians is that with combined effort of the people’s power, they can truly break the yoke of democratic domination and dictatorship. The Senegalese people have done it. They have proved to other African countries that when voters are united, they can unseat those democratic dictators masquerading as leaders in Africa.
COUPISTS RESURRECT IN MALI.
Coups are no longer fashionable anymore, so goes the democratic rhyme, but what is the answer to democratic dictatorship? I am not a supporter of coups and counter-coups, but in the wake of the Tuaregs invasion of Mali without a clear-cut leadership response to the crisis, the army had a moral duty to respond.
That also does not suggest that they should take over the reins of government and displace democratically elected leadership, but the way some of these our African leaders behave when in power, often times give credence to coups. I am not a Malian, so I might not know exactly where the shoe pinches in the legs of an average Malian, but several literatures are coming out suggesting that the coup was actually foretold. Mali must remain one and the coupists must return the country to democracy as soon as possible.
Mali was already becoming another story of democratic success if it was able to execute a smooth transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another. But barely few weeks to that historical moment, the marshal music has stolen that opportunity.
It is a wake-up call to other African leaders especially those who are fond of abusing the democratic process to undermine the people’s voice and choice. Yesterday, it was Niger Republic, today it is Mali, who knows where next? We must all collectively resolve that never again to coups in Nigeria, but our leaders must show visible signs of doing things right and in proper way, so that the underpinning attraction of democracy could be properly sustained. Coupists, please leave us alone.