Perhaps it’s apt that “Democracy Day” came one week after the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Celebrations of the public holiday will as usual be “low keyed” because truthfully there is little to celebrate about the state of Nigerian democracy. Under the watch of the APC, insecurity is rife, poverty on the increase, the economy in shambles, national infrastructure has collapsed, police indiscipline still rampant, human rights are trampled upon, and inequitable distribution of resources and lopsided appointments are the norm.
There is no gainsaying that the actions, inactions, and socio-economic realities of the APC administration have not brought about change for the better let alone the expected dividends of democracy. Despite their change mantra, the APC has offered nothing or nobody new because all principal officers including their chairman were at one time members of the previous failed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
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Most commentators have focused on the personal lessons which aspirants should have learned, starting from the biggest loser Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. He has learnt that neither servitude nor popularity on the social media translates to votes! Loyal to a fault, he never spoke out against the increasingly frequent unpalatable occurrences under APC’s watch, but instead of being rewarded for loyalty he was cast aside.
Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who is far more politically experienced and conversant with the underhanded ways of Nigerian politicians, almost did an “Orubebe” when he tried to publicly disrupt the opaque and suspicious proceedings. To his credit, he at least “held his side” and came runner-up. The woeful performance of those aspirants who didn’t step down should have taught them that they had no business being in the race in the first place. Those who stepped down should be ashamed of themselves for wasting everybody’s time.
Under normal circumstances aspirants step down in deference to a better aspirant who joined the race after them, but in this case Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was the first to declare interest in the nomination. It’s hard to fathom why anybody would invest N100 million to contest only to wait until the convention before publicly stepping down and forfeiting their money which is supposedly non-refundable, unless of course there is something the public doesn’t know!
The lessons for aspirants were personal but there were also important lessons for the nation as a whole. The event was organised by those responsible for running the nation efficiently, yet the planning and execution was shambolic considering the quite unnecessary 12-hour duration. It was a classless unbefitting spectacle of squandermania and time wasting in which speakers inappropriately read speeches from hand-held pieces of paper without a lectern in sight. With the top echelons of the ruling party including the president, vice-president and Senate president scheduled to attend the event took off more than two hours late! “African Time” is a derogatory term the colonialists used to refer to our inability to be prompt. They noted that Nigerians were fond of wearing expensive wrist watches as decorative jewellery but not for actually keeping to time and being punctual! It was shameful for such an occasion televised live all over the world to run so late.
Charles Darwin famously said “A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of life”. With all the problems ravaging the nation one would have thought that the ruling party would do things expeditiously. Alas whenever government dignitaries are the chief guests the only certainty is that they will arrive late. The degree of lateness is proportional to the self-importance of the dignitary. It’s no surprise that government officials of developed nations where everything works properly don’t play with their time, while public office holders in Nigeria where nothing works properly are fond of slothful time-wasting.
Another disappointing observation about the occasion is the lowering standards of protocol. Dancing on stage with a disc jockey left many observers wondering whether the gathering was a musical show, social function or serious political business. It was also difficult to understand how a fenced venue seating only 2,500 people could not be secured effectively despite a plethora of uniformed personnel. The world witnessed live the debacle in which tables and chairs were thrown and the announcer had to plead from the stage for security agencies to restore order.
Also incomprehensible was the sight of “illiterate delegates” being allowed to cast ballots. Observers were aghast at the sight of illiterates lining up to drop papers in a box after an aspirant’s name had been written for them. None of them bothered to look at the paper before dropping it in the box, it wasn’t necessary because they wouldn’t recognise the name which was written on the ballot paper anyway! Even if such voting practices are acceptable to the APC they are certainly not acceptable to the general public. It’s no surprise that there was public ridicule and not all aspirants were happy with the proceedings. The Director of Media and Publicity for the Yahaya Bello Campaign Organisation said the process was significantly compromised and crooked.
If there is one major lesson to be learnt from the APC primaries it’s that the nation is on a downward spiral because it is governed by recycled aged political actors with little ability to organize anything properly and very low standards for determining success.
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