Oke: Candidates for the presidential election

THE remarkable nature of Nigerians that is admirable is the fact that the further their credulity is taxed, as credulous people, their faith grows stronger. This faith will be tested as they choose between the two candidates presented by the parties for the 2015 presidential elections. One is the dominant party that pioneered the commencement of the fourth republic democratic journey. As democrats, they played significant roles in sustaining the democratic system of government in Nigeria, through all the toilsome challenges.

    The other is an amalgam of diverse interest groups that merged into a party ascribing to themselves the acronym of progressives. The sole reason for the commingling seemed to be the common motive of coaxing Goodluck Ebele Jonathan from contesting the 2015 presidential elections; and if that fails, mount sufficient opposition to defeat him.

   Two men have been selected, though with seemingly different methods, but similar pattern. While the dominant party deployed internal mechanism in the selection, the other party used the pretended primaries. Either way the prearranged candidates emerged.

   The All Progressives Congress is presenting General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). He had ruled in military garb, but repeatedly failed as a civilian. Somehow, he made many believe in him, howsoever base or noble his motives.  Being aware that the less his ulterior motives are known, the more they may be asserted as honourable; he willingly submitted himself to be pressed upon by the company of men overwhelmed by inordinate anti-Goodluck fever, to contest. Men who took their minds from the tasks of deepening our democracy, so long as the common ground for the consummation of the plan is to remove Goodluck Jonathan as President.

    Nevertheless, anyone possessing the right ability may form a political party and make followers. The success depends, not on the truth or falsehood of his claims, nor their absurdities or patriotic refinements, but on the power and skills with which propositions are made.

The Goodluck days, are on the other hand filled with travails. Some of his people were petulant, others captious. But the leadership class scoffed continually and subjected him to unfair and unkind usage, thereby setting up unnecessary impediments in his ways. Helplessly, the people watched the resultant schisms, as men of influence bring reproach on the cause of democracy.

    Whereas, continually attacked, he faced the onerous duties and responsibilities with decorum and steadfastness, with countenance ever mild, affable, and beaming with benevolence, with the look of inviting interest and smile of cheerfulness.

  Thus, Nigerians will, in the coming elections, have to choose from the two available candidates. One is an incumbent, very familiar with the current challenges of governance vis-a-vis the need to apply the resource of democratic ideals in accommodating different and often confrontational interests and opinions, but not distracted in his duties.

  The other is someone in pursuit of the humbug that has overtaken him, i.e. the belief that he alone can salvage Nigeria. Without extricating himself from that delusion, he will always be subject to becoming boisterous and impatient when faced with the impertinence of the simple who do not understand his mission, and the curiosity of skeptics who readily question the honesty and sincerity of that mission. During the event where Goodluck Ebele Jonathan declared his intention to contest for a second term as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I watched him closely.  He began his speech, commenced calmly and continued dispassionately to state why he seeks the support of Nigerians to jointly face the difficult tasks ahead.

    In silence, I waited for the foul aspersions reminiscent of the leaderships of the opposition; their proud and arrogant holier-than-thou claims; the show of evident disposition for revenge against those who have offended; to hear that rancorous denunciation of all but their supporters, or the audacity of threatening should the election results in defeat.

   In vain, I listened, hardly persuading myself, but that he had been apprised of the attention of those not deceived by the rough language and bad manners in our politics, and so ordered his speech on their account, that they might not detect any fault.

  In place of the jargon of disconnected sentences replete with half-truth and spurious claims, and the imprecations heaped on the heads of those who fiercely opposed; the dreadful twisting of words and false representation of democratic principles to suit peculiar views, and the attempts to weave the web of dark sophistry around happenstances in the nation to create disillusion, panic and fear among the citizenry, similar to the speeches of the leaders of the All Progressives  Congress, and which was anticipated, he glided through a very interesting and elaborate discourse, with all the care and faculty of one who was well aware of his important station and his duty to his countrymen.

   The significant points in that remarkable speech were: (a) the honest request that the bond created between himself and his people when he was elected in 2011, be further cemented with their support; that together, it will be more convenient to face the challenges confronting the nation, working also in that relationship to achieve desired goals. There was no tinge of delusive self-righteousness and the brazen deceit that he alone can create and sustain the changes we desire.

   Evidently, it is such honesty and sincerity that can lead us from the follies that attended our ways, to the general realization that no leader is perfect and all knowing. Though he may possess qualities, he desperately needs the help, support, understanding and above all the willing acceptance of his people. It is this humbling of self that enables citizens converge their strength in the unity of purpose to further the ideals longed for and overcome individual and collective imperfections.

  The renewed guarantee that we will not suffer the indignities of having our liberties curtailed, with the firm commitment to preserve it throughout his term as President. This is what is threatened by ambitious men, who are still full of self-importance, fond of intrigues, and are insatiably revengeful and hypocritical.

Even for this class of leaders, his message has always been that as law-abiding citizens, they should in all their activities look to the law and his personal guarantee for their protection in the exercise of their fundamental human rights, but should also have the courage, discipline and dignity to be careful to observe its provisions.

   But in the tempest of the rage and overwhelming desire to rule, leaders, especially of the opposition party, repeatedly discarded this duty, and are always prepared to engage in pre and post-election misconduct. A good leader depends on the goodwill and voluntary contributory efforts of his people to succeed, and in turn recognizes their rights to participate in the way they are governed.  

   There is ample evidence that since Goodluck Jonathan became President, some portion of the leadership class took no pains to hide their contempt about his government. They developed the scent that amid all its achievements, they fix upon few defects and single them out for blame. So they draw up a balance sheet of defects, which only does credit to their malice.

   Those who waxed the hottest against Goodluck Jonathan are not necessarily among the purest of Nigerians, and they care no more for the people, or wish well for the country. The primary cause of their frustrations, which degenerated into hatred is that he guaranteed the liberties of all, and until the old ways of abuse of power are restored, will never relent, nor allow Nigerians quiet and amity.

  It is not possible that the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, with stern military background and unrepentant resolve to stamp discipline on Nigerians by any means can, in our present circumstance, make any difference. Particularly since the enforcement of discipline will obtrude on the fundamental human rights of the citizens, for the following reasons:

•  It will be impossible for him to rule over a people who have tasted and enjoyed the breath of fresh air, or fit into the scheme because he lacks the patience and understanding needed to accommodate the oppositions.

•  He will be unable to strike a balance between the strict enforcement of the draconian laws to effect the change, and the rights of citizens who do not desire such change. The blatant enforcement of change on an unwilling people defeats the very essence of democratic freedom.

•  Even if he can strike such a balance, his conscience has been mortgaged by his alliance with other members of the All Progressives Congress, whose proclivities for uncivilized conducts are very high, and so reserve no moral right to command obeisance to his policy of change.

  Thus, the molestations will continue, not because Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is a bad leader, for his morals are as good as theirs, if not better, but because he has been able to demystify and simplify governance, and it caused him to be feared and hated by the leadership class.

  And their fears are compounded because should he continue in 2015, ordinarily our democracy will improve in quality, content and in bounds; governance will become less authoritarian and the attitude of exercising power will assume milder form.

  The emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as a presidential candidate pandered as a potent tool of prevailing upon the populace to despise that, which should ultimately favour them. In this circumstance Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will only rely on the credulity of Nigerians that the General had taxed for many decades.

• Oke wrote from Abuja.



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