Given that it is just about a year to the commencement of general elections in Nigeria, it is certainly not out of place that some form of politicking and campaigns, even if underground, should be on-going in the country presently. But the concern is at what cost should such manoeuvrings to capture, consolidate, claim or reclaim political territories and seats of power, be to the real essence of politics and governance, which is essentially about the security and welfare of the governed, as well as fast-tracking national development?
Shortly after resuming from the Christmas and New Year break, the Senate President, David Mark, had observed that the nation’s political office holders had abandoned governance for serious politicking ahead of 2015. He also accused his colleagues of overheating the polity and undermining governance.
Said Mark: “Across the nation, governance appears to have been sacrificed on the altar of desperate political maneuvers and feverish permutations aimed at outflanking one another ahead of the 2015 elections. Blinded by naked ambition, the political class has so painfully forgotten the lessons of our national history, and has once again allowed the collision of vaulting personal ambitions to overheat the polity and undermine governance. Coming at a time when our nation is still transiting amid tremendous strains and enormous social and economic challenges, the emphasis on primordial politics at the expense of governance is irresponsible; and even dangerous. I have said this several times and even at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me once again caution against provocative utterances.”
This seems a well delivered political homily. However, as good as the message would appear, the content and essence count little because virtually all the present generation of politicians have sinned and fallen short of what is expected of them as credible leaders. From Rivers State to Lagos, Ekiti, Sokoto, Borno, Oyo and Adamawa to Bayelsa, etc., the concern of politicians is how the 2015 elections will be won or how one party will displace its rival. Indeed, the shuttles of many leaders under the guise of commissioning one project or the other, marking public celebrations, celebrating interparty defections, forgotten traditional festivals or queer visits to traditional rulers, all highlight nothing but the desperate clamour for one form of endorsement or the other ahead of the crucial 2015 date.
Unfortunately, too, these events, some of which have thuggery and violence dogging them, are setting the tone of what the nation may witness in the run-up to the general elections. We are apprehensive of the accompanying insecurity of lives, diversion of public funds through frivolous contracts, projects, mobilization, celebrations and campaigns which usefulness are of no relevance to public interest or needs. It is also worrisome that civil servants, who ideally should be shielded from crude politics, flagrant display and demonstration of party affiliation, etc., are being dragged into the murky waters of politics. Of public knowledge is the fact that the corridors of power, including federal and state secretariats, are currently witnessing a heavy traffic of partisan praise-singers who are more interested in the ‘next launching’ or campaign trips with scant thoughts on the predicament of Nigerians in terms of security, welfare, infrastructure provisioning, unemployment and mass discontent since the dawn of civil rule in 1999. Presently, there appears no separation between government business and party or political activism. Remarkably, too, the reckless tea-party is not restricted to the executive arm of government. It is also on display at federal and state legislative chambers, where almost every bill tabled in public interest are bogged down by unnecessary political brinkmanship. Not only are many of the lawmakers absent from their chambers when they ought to be at work, a good number of them have no quality legislative contributions to their credit so far.
Ours has been a country where elective office-seeking politicians insist on eating their cakes and having them back. In their desperation to get into office, they inundate the electorate with outlandish promises that are scarcely kept. Their political careers are better remembered for dashed hopes, insensitivity, extreme selfishness and the mockery of democracy dividends. However, the political gladiators of today should realise that the dehumanizing living condition the leadership has plunged Nigerians into notwithstanding, there is no better alternative path to remaining in power than rendering the required service to the people. The Nigerian electorate will not remain naïve and gullible forever.