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Nigeria Going Through the Slippery Road to Democracy

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin

Nigeria politics since independence has been characterised by ethno-regional cum religious bickering rather than ideologically growing the process. This was witnessed from the First Republic which eventually led to inter-parties fighting and serial military take-overs.  Generally Africans have refused to grow the politics differently from the Western democracies which took their orientation from the socialist or capitalist view points. What we have in Africa has been individualistic, egoism, group interests, regional or religious sentimental politicking. Even at that level a sound politics can still emerge to develop the various societies and ethnic group interests through proper competitions and corroboration within the various subgroups. Unfortunately politics has rather opened the avenue for more corruption from regime to regime at the expense of the essence of politics.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Left) nad President Goodluck Jonathan (R)

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo (Left) and President Goodluck Jonathan (R)

With such a weak background Nigerian politics has only been sliding from one regime to another and the engine of change has remained the same factor, which is, exposing weaknesses and deceitfulness of a serving regime and character. Meanwhile the object of running a democracy is the possibility that citizens would have fairly equal opportunity to participate in their own government. Participatory democracy would have created interactive relationships between elected and electorates and fine tuning the approach of the electors in the direction of public opinions. Not so in Nigeria where a governor would tell his advisers that their opinions are not sought or needed to run his government; that is the advisers are jut appointed to come to the dining table but not for any ideas they may have or not. If a governor should err he is on his own as the commissioner or adviser in that area may not have been consulted by the said governor. There is not the minimum political or ideological cohesion that should cement daily political dealings necessary to combat our common aspirations in moving our society to where it ought to. It is most often a one man show at Abuja or every other state headquarters.

This is indexed in our society where today one group would move from one political party to another and vice versa because their opinions are not heard or sought. The movements from one party to another are not determined by any visible ideological, regional or ethnic demands but mere disagreements or extreme quests for more corruption through power twisting. In this particular instance in Nigeria we are likely to have two fairly equally strong political parties called APC and the current ruling party PDP. This is a scenario many of us have been demanding in order to eliminate a system of one big party and several opposition parties many of which would never win a seat at any level. With the emergency of APC and the shedding of many members of PDP we may be inching near some equilibrium or stability in the system forcing electors to perform.

Unfortunately that may not be what we are likely to witness in Nigeria politics simply because members of the parties are still Nigerians in politics not for their love for building a healthy society. President Jonathan has recently asserted that most Nigerian politicians are job seekers rather than politicians who want to develop their community. We would agree with the President on that accretion and only argue with numbers. Where he said some 50% we may think of 99% of them are all job seekers. What the President failed to add is also the fact that the few others who might not need public jobs to make ends meet are each prone to want to Mugabelised and perpetuate self for life in the presidential villa one way or the other. So, head or tail, Nigeria communities, the very segments that are vanguards for democracy when the military boys would strike again, are the losers. This leads to the logical conclusion that there are only a few politicians in Nigeria and many of the people parading around are self interest seekers.

Therefore it is necessary to develop a model that can halt the slide of ethno-regional and religious politics to a community development based system. In particular while we sense that PDP is fading and may need some holidays from the central power APC must ensure the entire nation that it is out to develop Nigeria irrespective of religious differences. In fact APC would need to shop hard for its presidential and national candidates and discard a number of candidates already labelled in the public as religious politicians. In the same vein PDP needs revival through injection of new blood to its leadership and its decision making processes. PDP as a group must approach the problems of Nigeria beyond fashioning power sharing formula which is not guaranteed to solve any of our problems. Power sharing that has nothing to do with economic development of any part of the nation or the providing moral compass for the citizenry is only self serving. It is true that we want coverage, men and women, north and south and inclusiveness in the processes but not at the expense of excellence, sound moral and proper economic development. We must not give room to any further intimidation such that happened in 1957 when some parts were ready for independence and others were not. The British capitalized on our differences and the result is still one reason we have refused to be one people.

Long term solutions that would have good chances of dealing with our socio-economic inequalities, dealing with both structural and actual unemployment rates and reducing the gaps of inequalities in various sectors can only be developed by the people in power and assisted by captains of industries. To deal with structural unemployment involving unskilled youths and many adults would require creating farm settlements and small scale industrial settlements across the land and providing training on the job for low skilled individuals. Those who already have some skills that form the bulk of actual unemployment can best be addressed through injection of new funds into the industries together with the introduction of new innovations into the economy. The political parties hold the keys to moral and economic developments in the land through legislations and implementations. Insincerity of the politicians can only continue to push the society from crises to crises and creating ungovernable communities.

We are confident that the nation at large shall be delivered from the snare of the politicians in at least two directions. If in whatever sense we have been held captives or they may attempt to capture us from henceforth it shall never be possible. Every Nigerian must open up and take a queue even from the type of letters from President Obasanjo, President Jonathan or from Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello to the public. They show that there is little to classify as secret in Nigeria political history or that there is nothing to gain by keeping quiet and burn away silently. They are new developments that should not be ignored. Gen Buhari should write the public and write what he knows and where we need the change rather than joining the race, Gen Babangida may also write rather than working in silence as well as all concerned Nigerians. If we wash our dirt jointly and mutually publicly perhaps a solution would come. No one should be given the impression that he owns Nigeria more than others. After all if they had not been afraid to ride on Nigeria as a donkey they must not be embarrassed if the donkey dumps them on the hard rock. Our collective responsibility to save the sliding socio-political system, which has eroded deeply into our value system through corruption, ineptness, nepotism and the like, is the only hope.

Prof. R.A. Ipinyomi,

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng



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