Ethical, moral imperative of credible elections (3)
Continued from yesterday
IT is a truism that if we do not change our course, we would end up where we are headed. We must all take responsibility for what becomes of our country, and each one of us must undergo a conversion experience and do whatever we can to change the people’s perception of politics, governance and the processes and procedures for orderly change of government in the modern world. As a people we need a new definition of leadership as service and a fresh perception of politics as the noble art of negotiating the stewardship of a society along the ethical and moral parameters of truth, justice, equality, transparency and accountability.
As part of the desired ethical and moral revolution, we need to put in place new arrangements that would ensure that the paths to public service are not as smooth and attractive as they are now for rogues, thieves and brigands, and that the gains of office are not as rewarding as they are today for men and women of easy virtue who have no business in leadership, but who are simply gunning for the keys of the national, state or local government treasury. The desired change will come about only when the various stakeholders in the Nigerian society staunchly reject the ignominious status-quo that throws up for leadership positions men and women of base character and dubious wealth.
The desired change will definitely not happen without the critical contribution of functionaries of INEC who are the umpires, the judges and lawyers who are ministers in the temple of justice, and the security and law enforcement agents, whose principal responsibility it is to ensure compliance with the rules of engagement. If these critical sectors do not undergo a major ethical and moral transformation in the discharge of their duties, then as a people we are doomed. If in the course of the forthcoming elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states and such future exercises, custodians and agents of the law could be bribed, if they could be bought over, if they could be rented or arm-twisted by unscrupulous and desperate politicians, to violate the integrity of the electoral process as easily as has been the case in the past, then there is little chance of a better Nigeria emerging soon.
We need a shift in leadership focus in a new culture of patriotism and responsibility in governance, sustained by transparency and accountability, where politicians, public office holders, civil servants, security agents, civil society groups and members of the public will engage the political process with the highest ethical and moral standards and the most noble democratic principles. We need a major reform of the various security and law enforcement agencies and the retraining and reorientation of their officers and men, so that they may begin to be more accountable to the generality of the Nigerian people – in whom resides our national sovereignty – rather than continue to see themselves as only accountable to and protective of the interests of the ruling elite at any particular time.
Indeed, the generality of Nigerians have an enormous task ahead. Those of us who have had to put up with a succession punitive overlords in the corridors of power will not arrive at the Promised Land without some efforts on our part. We must wake up from our slumber and reaffirm our belief in the sovereign power of the people. The Nigerian citizenry must shake off its shackles, break out of its reactive disposition, become more proactive, engage the leadership more constructively, demand the highest standards of probity and accountability from public officers, and begin to mould a new culture and redefine a new character of governance for the Nigerian nation.
Our society is today plagued by pathological greed for money and mindless lust for power. Our national security is criminally undermined by high level corruption and crass indiscipline at all levels. If today the Nigerian people – including politicians, INEC officials, judges, lawyers and law enforcement agents, experience the much-needed conversion and toe the line of sanity and integrity – we may yet pull back from the brink of the disaster that stares us in the face. There appears to me to be only one way out of the mess of the moment: the way of ethical and moral revolution that would involve all stakeholders, for indeed where there is no vision, the people do perish!
•Rev. Fr. Ehusani, Executive Director, Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, delivered this as Keynote Address at the Symposium organised by the Voter Education Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association for stakeholders in preparation for the 2015 gubernatorial elections of Kogi and Bayelsa states, at Lokoja, on September 18, 2015.