Though those that are paid to represent and act on behalf of the citizens of this great country have decided to celebrate its democracy day last month, it is this week, of June of 12, that many of us continue to believe democracy should be celebrated and reflected upon. And though most of us still privately provide for our own electricity, pay for our children’s education, employ our security staff and go the extra miles to personally reassure international partners to do business with us, we still cannot ignore those ruling the country.
We are forced to acknowledge that there is a government in place when we have to slow down or even stop and park our cars on our generally damaged and badly patched roads because a convoy of cars, lead by annoying sirens is taking one public officer or another to heavens knows where. We remember that there is a government in place when open our newspapers, turn on our TVs and we have to cringingly wade through the self-serving parochial insipid declarations of this or that Honourable or Excellency and their cohorts before getting to any form of useful or informative news item.
In the month they have chosen to celebrate and reflect upon democracy, those ruling this country have acted in such indecorous ways and made such ridiculous declarations that tempt one to ask on which planet, in which century are these people living in? And to wonder if there is effectively something wrong with Nigeria and if it can ever be truly well with the country. But then again, there is nothing wrong with Nigeria, the only problem is leadership; those ruling the country are simply proving Chinua Achebe right when he insightfully noted that “There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership”.
Take the ruling Governors for example, a group of 36 men (made up of all the major political parties in the country) called Excellency and on top of that lavishly paid for representing and managing the affairs of their states that contains about 160 million people and budgets worth billions and billons of naira, quite a role you would say. Well 35 of these men could not get together to calmly and clearly elect a chairman for their own forum. No, they had to shout foul, accuse each other of rigging, generate debates about the difference between endorsement and vote, dissect loyalty, promise battle, end up into factions and even creating another parallel governors’ forum with its own office and website. These rulers should not be surprised nor complain, if tomorrow some people from their states seriously consider these rulers as leaders and taking examples from their deeds, as followers should do, set up their own state and elect parallel Governors if for any reason their own candidate is not elected governor after elections.
What shall say we say of the ruling President of the federation and his team who, on their own democracy day, put us through a litany of achievements and reforms that most cannot follow because they have no electricity to watch the TV, that many cannot feel or see because it is not around them. Someone needs to tell these rulers that politics at its basic level might be perception, but governance is reality. Governance is neither emotional nor psychological; let there be light and you will not need to explain it, just fix the roads and you won’t need to say it. Lower interests rates for businesses, reduce their fiscal and bureaucratic encumbrance and watch them invest, expand and employ.
Not to be left out, the ruling party too has had to step into this on going national carnival of the absurd and pure embarrassment, the PDP and those ruling it came into the parade dancing to the tune of suspension. Suspend this, suspend that. Did it even occur to any of those ruling that party that they have never made headlines, let alone history for suspending or indeed taking any form of disciplinary action against their members for stealing, wasting or misusing public funds or even failing to implement the party’s manifesto. In that their newly found article 58 (a) to (z) of the PDP constitution so dear to the NWC, is there a part that says “Thou shall not steal or make sure you work hard”? The disagreements and confrontations of those ruling this country never seem to be on policy or ideology for the interest of their party, people or the country; they never seem to have serious debates about how to resolve one problem or another. They are just personal issues: who will be the next this or that? Who did not greet whom or did not respond to whose call or invitation?
As we step into this People’s Democracy week, it was worth taking a look at who is ruling at all levels and ask if these are kind of people we want there and if we believe they have what it takes to rule over 160 million people in this age and time.