By Adisa Adeleye
It seems as if the minds of many Nigerians are finally fixed for the crucial election of February 14, 2015 even if some people have serious doubts about the ability of the electoral umpire to be fully ready for the show.
The apparent fear of violence before, during and after the Presidential election has been dampened by the signed “peace-pact” by the principal political gladiators. Though there were signs of stoning and bombings of opponents` vehicles and offices, the general impression is that the election will be fair and free of violence. The pity is for the party thugs who would feel the pains of violence and the sympathy for the innocent Nigerians who bear the consequences of electoral violence.
Under the present politically charged atmosphere, the confidence of the two main contestants should be recognized and praised. Inspite of the raging insurgency in a section of the country causing heavy loss of lives, despite the loss of revenue from the crash in oil prices and inspite of the devaluation of the country‘s currency (naira), President Jonathan is insisting on his second-term – a curious phenomenon in the democratic world.
The main challenger, inspite of three failures in three attempts, despite his image as a Muslim fundamentalist and religious extremist (which he has totally rejected), he has continued undisturbed (even by certificate saga) in his quest to be the next President of Nigeria.
Here is the saga of the mixture of politics and economics in the developing (poor) nations of the world where personal interests override national consideration. It took recently the courage of a patriotic Nigerian to exclaim that the shedding of blood of innocent Nigerians is of more important consideration than the election of leaders who, understandably, did not fulfill all promises made at that moment of desperation. This view might not sink into the skulls of party thugs, sycophants and ambitious power seekers who would be prepared to quote the relevant parts of the 1999 Constitution. Those who crave for paying little attention to the election at all cost in an atmosphere of insecurity, political and economic instability would certainly be in the minority. President Jonathan and his ruling party PDP want to stay in power and justifiably so. General Buhari (rtd) and his party APC, and probably so, would prefer a change in Aso Rock. All the justifiable and probable reasons are based on enlightened self interests, and perhaps not on national interest.
In modern democratic world, the benchmark for political governance is full employment (unemployment of 3 percent or less), macro-economic stability (low inflation rate and stability of prices) and strong currency. Even in a situation where the economy is strong and where the debt burden is light and the currency is strong, the electorate would insist that the destiny of the country is not tied to the apron of a single party.
In Britain, after a long rule of the Labour Party, the last election gave no absolute majority to any single party which led to the formation of Tory – Liberal Government. Modern Germany has always voted in a way to encourage deformation of a unity government. Recently, the voting pattern in the US showed the control of the Senate and Congress by the Republicans to check the freedom of Democrats‘ President Obama. Many democratic countries are now protecting their political stability and economic prosperity against the dictatorship of a single party by strategic voting pattern and not by violence. This modern trend should be understood by all political leaders and their followers.
It is a pity that the current political campaigns are woven around the personalities of the leading gladiators – Jonathan and Buhari, and not on current issues of the day. The topic should be specifically on Security and Economic Prosperity which have become elusive. Unfortunately, both leading parties, consciously and ignorantly have been deceiving Nigerians by “nice things of life”, the cost of which is hidden from the electorate. They have failed to educate the public how they are going to fund their promised project.
The country‘s economic situation has worsened since the fall in oil prices and the consequent devaluation of the naira. All rosy promises being made during election campaigns are meant for vote catching and nothing less.
It should also be clearly stated by the political leaders and clearly understood by gullible masses that the current security challenges – insurgency and war, armed bank robbery, kidnapping and ritual killing – are far beyond the capability of any existing political party or a single leader. President Jonathan and his party could not do it over a period of 16 years. It would be too much for Buhari and his party to overcome the current formidable forces even if they are endowed with magical or supernatural powers.
The post election economic scenario is – less revenue, stunted growth, less infrastructural developments, more unemployment and increase in poverty. The continuous deep gulf between the rich and the poor could be the signpost for rural and urban uprisings. It is not too late to reverse the political campaigns of deceit by the political parties and stick to reality of life in 2015. There is ample time for enlightened minds to save Nigeria and rescue the Naira. It is the time to be thinking about subsequent depression and ways to uplift the economy, not by tight monetary policy from the Central Bank. It is a wrong economic policy.
I have so far abstained from discussing the topic of corruption because I don’t understand the meaning in ‘the Nigerian context‘ (with apology to Gen Buhari – APC crusader). Also, I don’t recognize a corrupt Nigerian when I see one.
A few months ago, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode faced a series of charges on corruption (though he had maintained his innocence), now he occupies the exalted position in a political party. You see what I am about to say.
Also many politicians facing corrupt charges are now candidates in the coming elections. That is Nigeria for you.