Who wants to be a President? - By: . | Dailytrust

Who wants to be a President?

Blanka Lipinska, author of a bestselling novel, 365 dni told a story of a Sales Director, a pretty silvery lady who took a trip to Sicily and unfortunately captured by a powerful and highly dominant mafia boss. The erstwhile Director was sent to jail with a tall order that she has 365 days to fall in love with the mafia King, regardless of whatever. This typifies brute force to advance personal inclinations.

The pretty Director represents Nigeria with its vast resources enough to make it attractive to viable and unviable suitors. The military once seized it with hope that with time Nigerians will come to love dictators. Time proved otherwise. For that the military bequeathed popular democracy to the country. A major component of popular democracy is election.

In a presidential system, the election is two pronged. First, is the primary election in which party members compete against one on the basis of party manifesto, capacity, moral values and character as well as popularity. The purpose is to elect the most viable candidate that the party can put to contest against other parties’ candidates. The second is the popular elections in which parties compete to win votes and occupy political offices.

Due to its vast resources, those seeking to make Nigeria their ever beautiful bride through primary election came in droves.  Nigeria just came out of primary elections that simply have revealed the failure points and show our democracy to be likened to a street theatre of comedians. It was full of activities, some deftly laughable and has come to signify nothing to ordinary citizens. The political strategists worked assiduously for their respective candidates and yet shielded them from saying anything about party manifesto or national development or situation. In none of the major parties did the contestants engage one another in any policy debates. 

This is tragic, if these are the types of party flag bearers that will contest to take over Nigeria in the next general elections. It may take the citizens beyond 365 days to fall in love with ignorance and less than that to show defiant hatred. The only exception in the pack of sealed lips is Muhammad Hayatu-deen who may have taken a space to sweat it out in front of a television interviewer. Hayatu-deen finally took his exit; Nigeria was not ready for his type of politics and projected leadership.

Talk of party flag bearers, ask who wants to be a president? Anyone who thinks he or she is made fine enough by a beautician and felt qualified enough to occupy the supreme office, must be stinking rich without owning a factory or a business address, or must have benefited from monumental patronage of state agencies and excessive use of public infrastructure to gain business profits. However, one may as well be a government employee, and have “successfully made it”. Failing any of these, one may have a large number of followers that one worships with every day.  Worshiping with a large crowd is an added advantage as one can easily see a vision to be serial number 16 among a series of Presidents of Nigeria.

In addition to all these, and for all those contesting political offices, presidential not being the least, there must be words from the oracle preferably through the masquerades; they must have prayers and blessings and be anointed from mosques and churches. The capacity to combine these forces of the three religions, the greater the power to contest and win party nomination and popular elections. The craftsmen of American presidential democracy that Nigeria has adopted are likely to label these as fraud and profane.

These voodoo tendencies to democracy downgrade our political practices and undermine our capacities to identify and challenge political misbehaviour and malpractices. Any wonder that misrule and misapplication of democratic principles in Nigeria is pervasive? Undemocratic practices bloom with the knowledge and conspiracy of a few club members in political offices. The members, often, are abysmal performers.  Forget the allegation that prominent leaders of political parties have outstanding conversations to conclude in the offices of anti-graft agencies. The political parties are neck savers.

The outcomes of the just concluded party primary elections remain intriguing and perplexing. Now, the two major political parties have offered options of individuals in whom human frailties of old age and propensities to permanently mortgage Nigeria and its citizens are major concerns and constraints. The voters have a heavy burden to depose.  Put your ears to the ground, you will hear sounds of dissatisfaction even among the poor and low voters. Though Peter Obi of Labour Party and Kola Abiola of PRP provide options, I am afraid of the extent of their political muscles. How long can we exclude quality for mediocrity? Can the voters turn their backs on problematic candidates regardless? The longer we stay on our current lane, the more we prevent capable persons from expressing interest and completing application forms. The electorate has become increasingly frustrated and disenchanted. I expect a high degree of apathy in the next general elections. Mahmood Yakubu may have some tricks up the sleeves. Surely, time will tell.

The political parties cum political acrobats have not helped us to produce credible and competent leaders. The presidential system has not been allowed to work to our common understanding of leadership selection and establishment. Yet, the leaders have shown large appetite for personal use of our common wealth. A lot have resorted to formally establishing family political dynasties mainly for primitive accumulation. In this circumstance, can we afford to continue like this?  Interestingly,  on resumption from the last recess, the National Assembly is more in the mood to amend the electoral law and provide proper guidance for political parties on the conduct of primary elections. The amendment offers an opportunity for comprehensive evaluation of what we want. How useful are a combination   of elements of democratic ideals and age long community practices? Certainly, we should go on a search of what suites our situation. It can be a hybrid. Our indigenous political scientists, and of course social scientists, interested in our governance and development owe us this by reflecting on possibilities.

We cannot continue to promote and enthrone mediocrity, corruption and incompetence. If we continue to do so, the consequences that have been disastrous, will become disastrously calamitous. We shall be doomed and live as perpetual slaves in our father land under families that have had unrestricted access to our share treasury.

Yunusa is the Executive Director, Socioeconomic and Environment Advocacy Centre, Zaria


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