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Et tu, NLC?

The Congress’ elections were disrupted by some aggrieved delegates who upturned ballot boxes and broadcast ballot papers about the floor because of allegations that plans…

The Congress’ elections were disrupted by some aggrieved delegates who upturned ballot boxes and broadcast ballot papers about the floor because of allegations that plans were afoot to rig the elections in favour, of course, of some favoured candidates. Since that shameful Thursday, each time I watch TV replays of what happened, I feel like the coach of the Brazilian national football team during that unforgettable semi-final match of the last World Cup who was futilely looking for a place to hide when the German Machines started raining goals against the once almighty Brazilians. I wish our TV stations will stop replaying that awful scene because the shame is too much for my tender patriotic heart to bear for Mother
Nigeria who keeps being repeatedly ganged raped by all manners of greedy desperadoes for power in our country. It looks to me as if my dear country was undressed in the market place for the entire world to see her nakedness.
In a sense, the theme of the 11th Delegates Conference which was “The Working Class and Challenges of National Security, Unity and Democratic Development’’ was prophetic. It was as if the planners knew that they would have largely contrived challenges with the voting exercise scheduled for the last day of the conference. But if it was prophetic, it was a cruelly self-fulfilling one.  It appears the Abdulwaheed Omar-led NLC knew they were ready to do some wuru-wuru and mago-mago to decide those who will succeed them and knew that that would bring about some challenges and therefore settled for a theme that is in a way self-absorbing.
But from some of the inside stories that some of us know, the truth about the NLC election fiasco lies squarely in our seeming  refusal as a people to adhere strictly to laid down rules and regulations meant to guide the conduct of our affairs. From what I heard, some contestants who had not passed the scrutiny of the Accreditation Committee had their paths cleared to make them eligible to stand election, a development that, expectedly, did not go down well with many delegates. When I heard that it was the one and only Dr Nasir Fagge, the uncompromising President of ASUU, who was chairman of that Accreditation Committee and was not in favour of the shenanigan to qualify those who were not qualified, I believe that the process was programmed for rigging to have a pre-determined outcome.
It is unfortunate that some of our influential countrymen and women do think it is not a big deal to try to bend rules a little even if in the end they break them. In our country today some do not place a large premium on honour, observance of due process, adherence to principles and age-old traditions. They see that as a waste of time and a hindrance to their having their way. Is it any wonder that Nigeria is not making much progress? Why will there not be ‘’challenges with democratic development’’ when a supposedly enlightened group like the NKC leadership is ready to subvert the rules laid down by itself?
I know that the question that is on the lips of all well-meaning Nigerians is: ‘’ Et tu NLC, even you, the NLC?’’ If gold can rust, what will happen to ordinary iron? If an organisation, like the NLC, cannot hold a free, fair and credible election, who else can be relied upon to show Nigerians the way? With the NLC fiasco what is the prospect that any election can ever be held in this country without us ever hearing that word RIGGING being bandied about? Rigging has unfortunately become the bugbear in Nigeria’s political life which hunts for peoples and groups to devour. The shameful event of Thursday February 12 can be compared to a prophet being caught red handed in the very act he has all along been preaching to others not to do. It is lamentable that the NLC which has specialized in riling against others who perpetuate wrongs should itself be caught in the web of wrong doing.
The larger national question we must all ask ourselves and try to find answers to is: When will we be able to ever do the right thing in this country according to laws and regulations set down by either ourselves or the Constitution we have decided to live by? When will we choose to enthrone the virtues of fairness, equity, justice and good conscience in all our dealings? When would we be able to say ‘away with impunity and iniquity, o land?’
The greater tragedy for us in the NLC fall is that now that the body has lost its moral authority, who will help champion the cause of credible election? If the nation’s rescheduled March and April general elections fail for whatever reasons, what moral capital will the NLC possess to pontificate about it when it was unable to successfully hold its own elections that are smaller in scope and therefore much more manageable?  Are we telling the world that we Nigerians are not yet mature for democracy? Democracy, we should note, is not necessarily about age or about how long or short you have practiced it. It is essentially about disposition: an attitude that a people are ready to live by a set of generally agreed rules even if the outcomes of voting or leadership recruitment will not favour us or our favourite candidates. Unless we reach that understanding, we will continue to disgrace ourselves and our country as the NLC did last week.
Is there something in the Nigerian or African psyche that predisposes us to want to subvert rules at the slightest temptation in order to have our way without the slightest consideration for the harm it does to the larger polity? Our sociologists should begin to interrogate this type of self-evident hypothesis. From what I gathered, the process to elect new officers for the NLC was aborted because of attempts by some in the top echelon of the NLC leadership who have ordained themselves godfathers who sought to install in office persons they have promised to favour. Playing God usually brings rebellion and chaos as we saw last Thursday. Organisations such as the NLC must try to live above board.
Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar must confess to himself that his last minute gambit has made a mess of what ordinarily would have been a successful tenure. His misadventure once again brings to the fore the perennial question of leadership failure in our country. A successful leader is one who, among others, brings into being a credible successor or successors. Let the comrade president see the harm that his disregard, or disrespect, for laid down rules and regulations has done to the image of the NLC. An otherwise respectable organisation has now fallen miserably into disrepute. He has failed himself and failed the nation in the process. He must turn his mess into a message by becoming an unrepentant apostle of free and fair elections.

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