By Chiedu Uche Okoye
Nigeria, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, is two years shy of marking her diamond jubilee independence anniversary. If she is a human being, she is no longer a kid. However, today, her steps are faltering and tottering like those of a two -year old baby. So, is she not a man-child? How a country that is immensely blessed with human and material resources, equable weather conditions, large arable land mass, and waters has remained trapped in the mud of underdevelopment baffles me.
But Nigeria’s seemingly intractable problems of insecurity of life and property, economic stagnation and technological backwardness is traceable to the military incursions into our politics and the profligate, rudderless, visionless, and corrupt political leadership that existed in Nigeria in the past.
The military rulers stopped the evolutionary trends of our democracy and mindlessly plundered our economic resources while muzzling the press and silencing those critical of their despotic military regimes. While Rtd. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida entrenched corruption in Nigeria and took us to a political transition programme that ended in a political cul de sac, Sanni Abachi’s military regime was an exemplification of military terror and stupendous financial thievery. Sanni Abacha sponsored the state’s murder of the members of the opposition group and stole Nigeria blind.
Since 1960, when Nigeria became a sovereign nation-state, and until 1999, our country had alternated between repressive military governments and inept political administrations. And the PDP’s sixteen years’ unbroken leadership of Nigeria did not transform our country to an oasis of economic prosperity and technological feats. Its sole and chief achievement in its sixteen years’ of leadership of Nigeria is that it conducted a presidential election which ensured a seamless and hitch-free transfer of political power from the then ruling PDP to APC.
It is an incontrovertible fact that Nigeria has limitless possibilities and potentialities to become the true giant of Africa. And its people(s) have immense capacities to harness and utilize the country’s resources to make Nigeria great, economically and technologically. For example, the Regina Pacis students’ victory in technovation in Silicon Valley, USA, shows the immense talents that abound in our country.
However, Nigeria seems to be doomed to having political leaders who do not posses political sagacity, leadership qualities, probity, common touch, and pragmatic economic cum political ideologies, which they can utilize to make Nigeria great. Now, no nation –states in modern times can rise above the visions and dreams of their national leaders. It takes a great national leader to re-make a battered country, grow its economy, and make it a technological wonder.
That’s why millions of Nigerians cast their votes for Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 Presidential election and hailed his emergence as our President in their mistaken belief that he would turn out to be a great leader. His campaign mantra of change resonated with us. And we were swayed to his side because he was portrayed to be squeaky clean, incorruptible, abstemious, and morally upright.
But Buhari, who is touted as the political messiah, who would salvage us from the morass of underdevelopment has unraveled before our eyes. It is sad and unfortunate that his occupation of the highest political office in Nigeria has led to his demystification and political downfall.
A man who vowed to eradicate corruption from our body politic has not deemed it fit to address the issue of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun’s NYSC exemption certificate saga. And his administration’s fight against corruption is tainted with the allegation that it is a political witch -hunt and covert fight to weaken the opposition party, PDP. Has the trial of PDP members, who defected to APC not lost steam?
Again, Muslims of northern extraction have occupied our security architecture and apparatchik at the expense of other people, who are better qualified. That is against the federal character principle; and, it is contemptuous of Nigeria’s ethnic configuration and diversities. Consequently, security outfits in Nigeria cannot rein in the murderous reign of Boko Haram and that of the Fulani Herdsmen. So, our land is crawling and flowing with the blood of slain innocents and unfortunates, who became victims of the Boko Haram insurgency and the Fulani Herdsmen’s marauding attacks.
More so, President Buhari has not grown our economy as fast as we expected. Our naira is still weak against the dollar. Millions of unemployed university graduates are without jobs owing to the parlous economic situation in Nigeria. And there is infrastructural rot in the country.
Now, it is obvious to us that the APC -led government is underperforming. Worst still, the party which is an agglomeration of selfish and thieving politicians, who do not possess positive morality and ideologies is in disarray and unraveling. A horde of politicians defected from APC to PDP. Those new entrants into PDP may constitute a spoke in PDP’s wheel. PDP may unravel, too. In fact the borderless border between PDP and APC is filled with political migrants searching for places to berth in order that they can realize their political goals.
However, politicians who can transform Nigeria, change the complexion of our politics, and evolve a good political culture are not of PDP and APC hues. Nigeria, as a troubled country, needs a national leader who can subsume his selfish and materialistic proclivities under the over arching national interests. Today, Nigeria is in dire need of a detribalized political leader, who can unite the people(s) of the country, and entrench national unity here, which is a prerequisite for national development.
But can our current democratic experiment, political culture, and political party system throw up such a politician? The answer is a categorical no. Here, only politicians with big financial war chest, moral vacuity, astuteness, and corrupt tendencies can survive in our egregious and monstrous variant of politics.
Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State