2015: No distractions, please

SIR: It hurts that thoughtful and principled Nigerians have largely been shut out of contest for political power in Nigeria over the years. Reading some incisive columns and opinions in media and academic publications, how much I wish the likes of these thoughtful writers occupied political offices so that they can make consequential decisions for the country! 

  But if Nigerians are stuck with Jonathan and Buhari, then what? My response: do not be distracted; do not be fooled!

  I have just read Laolu Akande’s Buhari, Osinbajo and the Duty Call, published in The Guardian on January 7, 2015, in which the author cautions Nigerians not to expect “perfect candidates”, but those that are able and competent to operate a reforming government. His call for “an installment plan by progressive political class (to be executed) on an ongoing basis until major remedies in the body politic and socio-economic fabric of the country are in place” is thoughtful and brilliant. I would add that a commitment to the enforcement of laws – criminal, civil, administrative, national, local; i.e., all legislative enactments and executive regulations – must be an integral part of the installment plan that Akande suggested.

  Nigerian ills can be conceptualised as a “dinosaur” that must be dissected and treated by a crew of seasoned hands, guided by enlightened minds and by hearts that are as pure as humanly possible. The pool of Nigerians from which this crew can be drawn is huge, bursting at the seams. To succeed, the crew must develop and secure a comprehensive plan of action, to be progressively implemented, as suggested by Akande. The 2015 presidential election must be about assembling this crew, and a new Nigerian culture of fidelity to law must grow from the plan.

  Reflecting the frustration of most Nigerians at home and abroad, Buhari recently said: “anyone who steals Nigerian money will end up in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.” Punch, January 7, 2015. Jonathan’s response was an implication that Buhari wanted to be “a medieval King (who) can throw (people) in jail” while he, Jonathan, “will follow the rule of law.” Punch, January 10, 2015.

  Obviously, the president, as the head of the executive branch in a democratic system of government cannot unilaterally “throw” anyone in jail. What he or she is permitted and required to do is enforce laws. Charging and prosecuting an accused in a court of law, followed by “guilty” finding and imposition of sanction/sentence must precede incarceration. If Jonathan did not intend to distract voters from the issue, his response should plainly present his credibility to enforce laws. 

  Better still, since he has, for six long years, held the office of the President to which he now seeks reelection, he must let his record speak for him by citing the laws he has enforced.

• Segun Obebe,



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