In a season of fast paced developments as are being witnessed across the country in the name of the build up to the 2023 polls, it simply remains expedient that Nigerians continuously interrogate the issues that are driving the political discourse. What are the issues that define the incoming political leaders at the federal and state tiers of governance, one may ask? The imperative to ask this question is supported by the quote from the great French President, General Charles De Gaulle who stated that “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to politicians”. Prompted by de Gaulle’s observation, is the consideration that for politicians to get it right, they need active oversight by the citizenry, who are the beneficiaries of good governance, as well as the victims when things turn the other way. In that context therefore lies the question of whether Nigerians are over-sighting with significant effect, the ongoing scramble for political power and positions by aspirants, especially whether the enterprise is driven by harmonised conversation on the burning issues of the day? Was it not Toyota Motor Company whose advertisement reads “good thinking good product”. In the same vein does good political conversation leads to good governance.
This consideration has featured severally in the past For as the elders say a chick that can bshsll be a cock ca be notices on this column as well as other platforms, and will continue to do so even if there is hardly any significant indication that it enjoys the same attention, in the scramble for power by the political class. However given its centrality in the political fortunes of the country, it is incumbent on the citizenry – especially the media to intensify efforts towards refocusing the country’s political conversation on the necessary areas. Otherwise, Nigerians will have to lapse deeper into the vortex of despair, as the 2023 polls may also fail like past exercises to provide any significant relief, after it runs its course. For as the elders say ‘a chick that will turn out to be a cock can be identified soon after hatchery’.
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So far, some of the trending strands of political conversation have crystalised disturbingly, around the following hubs. For instance, around one hub is the campaign for restructuring of the country before the polls exercise. Aspects of the advocacy cite the need for a referendum pursuant to returning the country to the gone-for-good regional configuration and other incontinences, which include the muzzling of minorities by their majorities neighbours. Convincing as it may seem academically, how such a fundamental exercise will be conducted in practice and guarantee the present liberty of diversity for minorities, seems to be a silent verse in its agenda. For instance does it not border on insanity to contemplate returning a minority state like Rivers to the old Eastern region?
In another hub, is the contention that certain political offices like the Presidency, etc., should be zoned on a turn by turn to respective zones of the country during elections like the forthcoming one. Incidentally, that agenda has enjoyed the benefit of practice for some time with the telling consequence of not always sourcing the best hands for the task at hand. If nothing else, the country’s experience with the current administration of President Muhamadu Buhari qualifies as testing ground for the merit or otherwise of that lobby. Whether Nigeria is better off now than when the administration came on stream in 2015, is a matter which has been settled in the public domain. In fact to accentuate public take on the administration, the lobby of continuing with its legacies, is already feeling public angst over such brainwave. There seems to be little else to demonstrate that the best for the country must not always come from political discourse and leadership choices that are driven by sheer ethnic jingoism.
Not the least among them is the recent observation by former President Goodluck Jonathan in respect of the weaknesses of the new 2022 Electoral Act, especially the situation where delegates election have become mere rackets and scams. Already there are trending stories of delegates selling their votes for aspirants for designated sums of money. In fact, more interesting are tales of unsuccessful aspirants recovering money paid to delegates through several means – both fair and otherwise.
Where all of these questionable strands of conversation are leading to cannot be anything helpful to the country, as long as they fail to emphasise the consolidation of good governance and the unity of the country. For it does not need any attribute of clairvoyance to appreciate that Nigeria with all its failings and warts, has crossed the rubicon of faring better outside existence as a united entity, as it is now a brand that has ossified and remains cast in stone. It needs to be recalled that after all, it is the same pattern of political conversation and culture that have led the country into the present socio economic cul–de-sac where mindless looting of public funds, murder for money, kidnapping for ransom harvesting of human body parts for money rituals and other forms of mindless criminality have become the order of the day.
The way out is for the citizenry to be more discretional with the quality and depth of the political conversation, especially now that the 2023 polls exercise will hopefully run with premium on voter discretion, by ensuring that every vote counts.