By Emeka Omeihe
An ominous cloud is obviously hovering around the Nigerian political atmosphere. Even with the touted patriotic claims by our leaders to peace, unity and indivisibility of the country, indications of an assailing self-fulfilling prophesy inundate the landscape.
Diverse challenges evolve in quick succession in so many fronts that even the most incurable optimist is bound to worry whether the Nigerian state can really withstand this interminable systemic trauma? There is little in the posturing and dispositions of our elected and appointed leaders to give hope of an honest committed to building institutions and processes that will usher in a stable and enduring political order.
What you find despite pretensions, is regular competition of cleavages of ethnic, sectional and religious hue with each constantly striving to outplay the other. Faced with this ferocious competition, the building of national ethos, values and consensus on irreducible decimals of our national existence is sadly pushed to the back seat. And we all claim commitment to the progress of the country?
Even in issues there exist universally accepted standards and consensus on their heuristics for system stabilization, you still find our leaders pandering to self-serving and clannish predilections. Ours is a system that does not accord premium to rules, order, system survival and maintenance.
It is a typical case of muddling tools. Such a system is primed for fatal consequences. That is the inevitable trajectory the ship of the Nigerian state is perilously sailing. Unless quick steps are taken to re-direct this ship from this tempestuous path, the prediction of some American scholars that Nigerian was primed for a failed state may become a reality even after the 2015 deadline had elapsed.
That is the sad reality of a country that regularly grandstands on nationalism from both sides of the mouth. And the signs are quite perceptible. They are evident from the posturing of President Buhari on many of the nagging national challenges. They are discernable from the plethora of crisis assaulting the country without our leaders showing genuine commitment to their resolution. They are evident from many of Buhari’s appointments that run at cross purposes with the federal character principle and balance. The virus has also crept into the National Assembly and about to tear its fabric. The insipient hands of enemies of progress masquerading as the conscience of Nigerian unity and indivisibility are at it again.
Their target this time is to assault democracy, the democratic tradition and institution. They are primed to expunge direct electronic transmission of elections results from the polling units to the collation centres. Their target is to foist, perpetrate and perpetuate the decadent order of writing election results in the comfort of their homes and hotel rooms. They want to continue the military tradition of appointing administrators to states through result-fixing and assailing the sovereignty of the electorate.
They claim theirs is a democratic organization and want to savor the appurtenances attached to it. Yet, they work assiduously to deprive it of the oxygen from which it derives life. How can such a system survive? That is the uncanny irony of devious attempts by some moles in the National Assembly to assail and rubbish the very principles that purportedly brought them into their current offices-free fair and credible elections.
If the saboteur legislators behind the attempt to expunge clauses guaranteeing free and fair elections from the Electoral Act amendment bill came to their current positions through transparent electoral processes, they will not be found in the current shameful act. It is a big dent on the National Assembly for the plot to assail democracy to emanate from within it.
Free, fair and transparent elections constitute the lynchpin on which the democratic wheel revolves. Representative democracy as opposed to other forms of governance framework, derives strength from its capacity to reflect the collective will of the electorate as expressed at the ballot box. What else is left of it if it cannot reflect the sovereignty of the electorate?
That is the contradiction in the embarrassing attempt by some unpatriotic, selfish and clannish legislators and their collaborators in the corridors of power to subvert the very principles on which the democratic paradigm rests. The clear statement of those rooting to expunge electronic transmission of election results is that they prefer rigging and manipulation of election results. That strikes as clear vote of no confidence in the democratic process since it is nigh impossible to conceive of democracy in the absence of free and fair elections.
By extrapolation, it is a preference for the dictatorship of the military-the other form of governance construct this country parted ways with since 1999. That is the next but degenerate level some of our legislators want to sink this country. Such prospects should send shivers into the spines of those who wish this country well.
Those behind this destructive move ought to be fished out and identified as dishonorable members; a disgrace to their constituencies. Is that not retrogression; a death sentence to democracy? Election outcomes have been one of the greatest challenges assailing the Nigerian state. Elections have virtually degenerated to a matter of life and death as all manner of buccaneers and rogue politicians battle for the coercive apparatus of the state.
With the disproportionate concentration of powers at the federal level, elections have assumed the biggest challenge to peace; progress and stability of the country. Sections, groups and individuals take advantage of poorly conducted and poorly organized elections to foist themselves on the people. The armada of litigations after each election is evidence of general dissatisfaction with their outcome. Agitations for improvement in the electoral process are primarily meant to stave off the suffocating crisis associated with flawed and rancorous elections.
With improvement in electronic accreditation of voters and voting, manipulation shifted to the collation centres. It cannot be forgotten in a hurry the controversy INEC was mired for pulling down its website for the transmission of results of the 2019 polls. It is unfortunate that the version of the Electoral Act amendment bill now before the National Assembly is circulating without that clause. And you wonder what the intention is if not to rig and manipulate elections ahead of time. The same attempt to imperil the electoral process is evident in the current move by the president to foist one of his aides, Lauretta Onochie as a national commissioner of INEC despite clear evidence of her partisan political leaning.
Are we now faced with the situation that compelled former governor of the old Imo State, Sam Mbakwe after the heavily rigged 1983 elections to call on the British colonial masters to come back? The scorching political temperature is also palpable from current altercations on the rotation of the presidency compelling southern governors to insist on power shift to southern Nigeria come 2023.
Reactions from the north since after the southern governors’ communiqué’ are about to re-open old wounds. But we have treaded this path before with deleterious repercussions. It cannot be forgotten in a hurry, threats unleashed from the north on the dire consequences of any attempt to retain power in the south during the 2015 election campaigns. The allegory of baboons and donkeys soaked in blood is still fresh in mind. Though the north was on point to demand power shift then and had their way, it would be a great tragedy if after Buhari’s two terms tenure, we are again embroiled in acrimony on the desirability of power rotation.
It does not depict a country desirous of progress; one that unites and makes sacrifice for collective good. Goalpost shifting; clear dispositions towards an unjust and inequitable system have all the trappings of a people not prepared for positive change. It is a case of perilous leaning towards learning the hard way. Where such hard lessons will take this country is anybody’s guess.