By Fatoumata Oumar
It is worrying that a lot of Africans do not consider good governance in their choice of political representation. But on the flipside, everyone yearns for good governance.
In Africa, I have observed that people are madly attached to politicians. It does not matter what the politician does with them, the only thing they know is that ‘this is our man for life’. I do not understand the cause. The best guess I can hazard is that Africans are madly attached their religious or spiritual affinity and ethno-cultural considerations. And this is dizzyingly worrying.
I have been following events in Zimbabwe closely. The theatre which eventually brought to end, the 37-year rule of a single man, Robert Mugabe, was miraculous as it was also scientific. Despite his huge failings on the economy and democratic tenets, Mugabe was everything in Zimbabwe. People who might not have benefited anything directly from him still chanted solidarity songs and you dare not say no to him. It took the military to stage a sort of a coup to force Mugabe to resign.
In Cameroon, you would be surprised to see Paul Biya’s crowd of supporters. He is 85 going to 86 and he has declared his intension to run for re-election. Biya has not been able to stem the Southern Cameroon secession crises which has turned almost into a civil war. But people have resigned to fate that as long as Paul Biya wishes to remain in power, they would have no choice than to support him.
Then in South Africa, no matter the sins that Jacob Zuma committed: heightened corruption and sexual scandals, until his forced deposition last February, Zuma had clout, controlling some huge crowd of supporters. A State Governor in South-East Nigeria, Rochas Okorocha, who undoubtedly admires Zuma even erected a statue worth more than 500 million Naira to honour Zuma.
It is like this across Africa. People like to support ‘our own person’ irrespective of the capacity of the person. For us to move forward, we must get weaned of this nepotist tendencies.
2019 is election year in Nigeria. Nigeria’s election is important to the world, particularly Africa because it will shape a lot of things in Africa either positively or negatively. But I have heard some Nigerians say that they do not have an option than to re-elect Muhammadu Buhari. It is not in question that Buhari has performed poorly as a President. Nigeria’s economy has dipped. Insecurity has heightened. The country has been divided further along ethnic and religious lines. The Naira fell from about 180 Naira to a one USD in 2014/2015 when Buhari became president to about 360 naira to one USD today. The government has tried to re-float the economy by injecting huge amounts of money into the economy but underlying poor economic policies have not allowed to economy to rebound.
It is not correct to say that there is no alternative to Buhari. Saying so would be undermining the enormous human capital in Nigeria. When you ask for competent people that can run the political affairs of Nigeria, one person that readily comes to mind is Yemi Osinbajo, the incumbent Vice President. Osinbajo has gradually and easily sneaked into the minds of many Nigerians. Osinbajo does not appeal to Nigerians from both North and South just because he is a Christian; not because he is Yoruba or that he is diminutive or a technocrat. He has been able to appeal to Nigerians because he is humble and focused. He has listening ears and he can take actions that cut deep.
Osinbajo’s decisions as Acting President during the leeway Buhari went on medical vacation have helped stabilised Nigeria. The newest is the order to rejig the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit of the Nigerian Police Force. If you are living in Nigeria, you’ll understand why a rejig of SARS was long over-due. People yearned for it because the SARS team slipped from their official roles and started inflicting some violations on people under the cover of the Police. Second, the immediate action to relief Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, of his job was also apt. Daura had become too controversial. No matter the love you have for him, in the interest of the national unity, Daura needed to step aside. That singular act has brought calm to the country which was at the verge of implosion following some actions or alleged actions of the former DSS boss.
Osinbajo represents a unifying factor for all Nigerians. When the Niger Delta militants incessantly sabotaged the Buhari administration at the early life of the regime, Osinbajo’s official trip to the Niger Delta region where he spent days, consulting with the Niger Delta stakeholders helped brought calm to the region. After the visit, it is on record that Nigeria’s oil out-put improved.
Osinbajo has been able to take far reaching decisions that represent good governance even as the Vice President on acting capacity. Then, one can imagine what Osinbajo would be able to do when he becomes the President and Commander in-Chief.
I do not understand the political undercurrents in Nigeria. But from an observer’s point of view, it is discernible that a lot of Nigerians are yearning for Osinbajo and he is not a bad market. It won’t be difficult to sell Osinbajo to Nigerians if he decides to run for the highest office in the land. But, like I have said, I do not know what Osinbajo is waiting for.
Oumar is a journalist and Editor at Discover Africa News