Thinking aloud on the road to 2015

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Not all journeys afford the traveller the luxury of engaging in side comments either because of the bumpy nature of the road or the hassles being encountered in the process. Those who travel most of the Nigerian roads sigh, struggle and often let out curse words against governments.  And Nigeria’s political terrain is as bumpy as the roads!

The country is bound for 2015. It is a decisive year. Already, predictions are all over the place that there would remain no nation called Nigeria after 2015. But that is a wishful thinking!

Those who came up with this break up theory arrived at their thought destination after a careful study of the fragile co-existence of all the ethnic nationalities since the amalgamation in 1914.

Nigeria has seen the worst since 1960. Shortly after its independence, it became obvious that the federating units had been barely tolerating one another. A civil war was inevitable and it lasted for years with serious consequences.

Rather than the war achieving the purpose of cementing the relationship among the ethnic nationalities, it unfortunately, exaggerated it. For since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war, the country has sunk deeper into the mire of hatred, nepotism, tribalism and everything else other than things that make for progress.

The Nigerian nation has continued to remain a Babel where its citizens are sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines. And no one actually thinks about the good of the entity called Nigeria beyond the ejaculatory and feeble claim of patriotism.

 Too much noise

Ahead of the general election slated for 2015, too much noise is being made and heard across the country by politicians and their foot soldiers. For the election, the umbrella body of the Nigerian governors (Nigerian Governors’ Forum) has since been disintegrated. The group now has two factions- one under the control of Jonah Jang, governor, Plateau State, and the other under the firm grip of Rotimi Amaechi, governor, Rivers State.

Moreover, the political crisis in Rivers is not abating as Amaechi and leaderships of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), both at the state and federal levels, are locked in supremacy war. Currently, the Rivers State governor is still serving a suspension clamped on him by his party.

The noise being generated by the disagreement between the authentic PDP led by Bamanga Tukur and the new PDP (nPDP) under the leadership of Kawu Barage is becoming deafening by the day. The expression of anger by state governors, especially those on the platform of the newly registered Alliance for Progressive Change (APC), over the shortfall in the monthly allocation from Abuja, is also heating up the polity. There are too many campaigners who have already jumped the gun by publicly mouthing their support for certain individuals who they believe should run for elective posts in 2015.

 Abandoned governance

The masses are at the receiving end as politicians have abandoned governance for blind accumulation of wealth to fund their campaigns. Despite critics’ observations that the trend was dangerous to the economy and a disservice to the electorate, the tempo is still high. Many people have expressed concern that two years to the expiration of the mandate given to them, many elected public office holders are no longer committed to the job for which they were voted into power.

A few days ago, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, warned that 2015 politicking is gradually sidetracking the process of governance in the country, urging that the volume should be turned down.

Ekweremadu said it was high time the media reduced the fever a bit so as not to encourage interference of politicking with governance.

The other day, Gabriel Suswan, governor, Benue State, warned some elements in his state who had started to campaign for another mandate when they were yet to deliver on their mandates.

 Suswan said: “Such campaigns are causing a lot of distractions to our administration and I must add that government would not take it kindly if it is discovered that government officials are also involved in this.”

“If any government official wants to campaign for governorship he should resign his appointment,” he advised.

Although these warnings coming from political actors (who themselves are in the fray) can at best be taken with a pinch of salt, they however, underscore how serious the situation has become.

 Gong of division

From various parts of the country, there appears to be agitation for power (power shift or power retention). While some northern elements insist power must return to them, majority of those in the south are vehement in their insistence that unless the incumbent President, who hails from the zone, completes another tenure beginning from 2015, there would be no power shift. Over the years, some Northern politicians had imbibed the belief that political power in the country was their birthright, and to this end, they have always seen any shift of power pendulum as an aberration. This accounts for the bad blood generated against the Jonathan-administration in some quarters up North, which has also refused to ebb.

Recently, Abu King Shuluwa, a former member of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) representing Benue State, amplified the resentment when he claimed that Nigeria would disintegrate if President Goodluck Jonathan contested in 2015.

Shuluwa said: “Any attempt by Jonathan to run for the election would plunge this country into total anarchy or revolution because the people feel betrayed by a president who told them that he would run for one term and thereafter return power to the North.

“The people urging him to contest are the cabal and political jobbers surrounding Jonathan because of their selfish interest, which is against the wishes of the majority of Nigerians. They forget that they are very few in number compared to the rest of Nigerians.

“I saw a vision of the country disintegrating by 2015, but the only person that can save Nigeria from the impending disintegration is President Jonathan and he can do that by not contesting the 2015 presidential election.”

 Jonathan as the fall guy

Probably, the processes that threw up Jonathan in 2007 as the vice president and eventually the president in 2010 following the death of Umaru Yar’Adua may have ruffled some feathers. The South-South geo-political zone where Jonathan comes from had for many years agitated for the number one seat in the country. The plank of their argument was that their land produces the crude oil which is the economic livewire of Nigeria.  When he was elected President in 2011, some political elements in the North reacted sharply and made inciting comments that allegedly resulted in the conflagration that claimed several lives. The political “fire” stoked at that time has continued to rage, making the country ungovernable for Jonathan.

Ever since he mounted the power stool, every one of his decisions has always been misread and misinterpreted. Making allusion to this ugly state of affairs, Anya O. Anya, a chieftain of Ndigbo Lagos, at a book launch recently, flayed a situation where people want to be mischievous for the sake of playing politics even when their arguments are hollow.

“We can illustrate this with two recent decisions President Jonathan has made. He told the country that Boko Haram sect is a group of faceless people and that his administration would not dialogue with ghosts. As soon as he said so, those who had been playing politics with Boko Haram said the President was insensitive. When Jonathan said Ok, I agreed, let’s dialogue with them, the same people turned around to say all manner of things against him for that decision.

“Again, some of those who said they were apostles of National Conference mounted pressure on government to set in motion machinery for a national dialogue, and now Jonathan has initiated it, those people have turned around to say he is harbouring ulterior motives.”

 Elections must hold, anyway

Despite the seemingly bad blood and the adrenaline rise in the polity, one thing is sure. The elections in 2015 will hold. Pundits say that the alleged ill comments and disposition of certain politicians against the President are not potent enough to derail the re-election project of Jonathan. Those who hold this view say that the fact that the North is no longer monolithic makes it difficult for them to speak with one voice, which was the case many years back. It is believed that those with Jonathan in the North are more than those against him. So, the balkanisation of the North will work in President Jonathan’s favour when the chips are down.

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