Testing pre-election peace paradigm

Elections2015NIGERIANS must be eternally grateful to some highly discerning statesmen who nipped the bud of political meltdown before the 2015 general elections, with their swift engagement of the public and political class on the simmering likelihood of political brigandage which the nation was experiencing in the weeks leading to the February 14 and March 28 Presidential election dates.

In what can be aptly described as a reversal of fortunes, the hunter has become the hunted.

The opposition party, APC, has taken the lead role, while the erstwhile leading party, PDP, has been relegated to the status of opposition.

This possibility was a great cause for concern in the polity, but it was swiftly averted by separate, but seemingly coordinated events.

But for the timely intervention of men like Ambassador Emeka Anyaoku, Koffi Annan, Sen. John Kerry, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Catholic Bishop Matthew Kukah, and others, who engineered two peace accords, and also Rev.Chris Okotie who wrote several articles in the mainstream and social media, suing for a peaceful conduct and atmosphere, our 2015 story might have been different today.

Yet, the challenges of election results and claims of questionable and improper conducts on the part of candidates, their supporters and even electoral officers during the elections are still making the rounds.

So, now that the APC government has come on board on May 29, 2015, you expect Nigeria to quake, and Rev. Okotie’s peace paradigm would face a different kind of test. This time, it will not be about peaceful elections, but it will be about the hue and cry over alleged persecution, as former President Goodluck Jonathan called it, or more appropriately, about prosecution of those who brought economic adversity to an otherwise prosperous nation.

It will be recalled that during the tenure of ex-President Obasanjo, when Mallam Nuhu Ribadu headed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the agency was heavily lambasted for what was labelled as selective prosecution of the then President’s political adversaries, who were supposedly being targeted in a comical witch-hunt.

Now, with the reports of paucity of funds and of our accounts being in the red, your guess is as good as mine: How the Buhari-led government and the newly elected State Governors will navigate this economic minefield, is left to be seen.

They have their work cut out for them, and the first 100, 1000 days and six months in office will prove to be very interesting indeed. GMB’s battle against the monster of corruption is a key component in his integrity persona, which also had no mean input in his election value: Now, it will be put to the utmost test. Let’s hope he succeeds in the coming tough days ahead. Nigerians can’t wait for May 29.

This crux of Nigeria’s extremist politicking is that personal interest; party loyalty and affiliations are more important than the state patriotism or service delivery. But beyond the sphere of partisan politics is the economic angle to the failing peace conundrum, another malignant challenge that keeps rearing its head despite every turn of government and their billion naira budgets and expenditures on projects that will affect a handful of beneficiaries, and cannot make a dent on the nation’s unemployment crisis.

Our yesterday: from the 60s, Nigerians have had two ears full of promises, pledges, programmes, manifestos and general rhetoric by past leaders, yet the quality of life for the larger majority grows increasingly dismal, to say the least.

And when the results are put alongside the staggering amounts of money that have been expended by various regimes and tiers of government, it is colossal waste.

The promises of a better tomorrow, when the citizenry would reap the fruits and gains of these programmes have become a mirage.

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow, and tomorrow never ends. So, Nigerians cannot be wholly blamed for their pessimism and distrust, or loss of faith in the leadership and their penchant for questioning projects that fail to produce positive impact.

They are fighting battles on too many fronts, not least of all is the duopoly of incessant power failure and fuel scarcity: the two major challenges that the out going government has thrust upon the nation and incoming government.

These are deep-rooted problems that GMB must address squarely to ensure that the lingering restiveness in the polity does not fester into another crisis in our democracy going forward.

Teething problems are a normal part of development which every developed nation has undergone at some point in their evolution. But when such problems protract unduly, as in the case of Nigeria, then it becomes a serious cause for concern. We cannot continue to repeat our mistakes and continue to fail in surmounting challenges other nations have overcome.

If the new opposition decides that its primary responsibility is to challenge every action of the ruling government to make its functions a tedious and arduous undertaking, then 2015–2019 may well be another period of long drawn political battle.

But a note of caution: a new Nigeria will emerge, a nation which has begun to show that it can take its future in its own hands.

Politicians must take to heart the fact that it cannot be business as usual, and that the new paradigm of peace that Rev. Okotie preaches, is clearly shown, in that the people have taken their power back.

The much-touted docility which Nigerians were charged with has run its full course. It’s a new day, and to ensure that the change that began on May 29 blossoms, GMB needs to make it reflect in the economy, politics and across the board in every part of Nigeria.

• Ochei Akhigbe, former Gubernatorial aspirant under FRESH Party, Edo State, wrote from Benin via ochei_akhigbe@yahoo.com

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