I HAD almost rounded off this entry last Wednesday when the Senate went on ‘constitutional rampage,’ which is how I tagged their approval spree of clauses for amendment. The following day, this piece received double fillip as the other half of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, followed suit. The thinking is that, from the next general election, all things being equal (they hardly are in this country, though), the electorate would have the additional alternative of independent candidates to choose from just as age would no longer be much of a barrier for aspirants. A 35-year-old would be qualified to run for President; 30, governor; and 25, lawmaker. One cannot but salute Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and their colleagues for bowing to global pressure mounted indirectly by the emergence of 39-year-old Monsieur Emmanuel Macron as President of France and directly by the local online community of electoral activists behind the Not-Too-Young-To-Run campaign.
Already, youngsters are ecstatic, especially on the social media. But, it’s not yet uhuru because these legislative propositions have many rivers to cross to become law. Also, the hyper-mischievous Nigerian Factor could crash into the party anytime; which would recalibrate the country right back into default mode. Yet, there’s no harm in playing along, after all, lawyers (learned enough to know the danger of anticipatory celebration) argue that, in law, what would be could be said to already exist. So, these fundamental surgeries proposed by the National Assembly accentuate not only my optimism for 2019, but also its much-awaited electioneering!
At this juncture, it is pertinent to address the twin perennial Nigerian mannerisms that resurfaced during and after voting by the bicameral legislature. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who has lately hidden no punches, drew the first blood when he issued a statement in Abuja slamming the lawmakers for not going all the way to restructuring by allowing devolution of powers. Of course, others have since jumped on board the bandwagon, calling senators and representatives names. Saraki, Dogara and Co. must see this national ingratitude for what it is, the price of leadership.
Truth to tell, this National Assembly has done well. By taking the paramount first step of providing what I call the algorithm for restructuring, and beginning the building of our own Rome, the national lawmakers reassure us that as we progress all other things would be added onto us. However, there’s the other vice that paraded the hallowed chambers that fateful midweek. It’s called hypocrisy. I chuckled endlessly watching former governors gloatingly seeking local government autonomy, the exact-same legislation they opposed vehemently during their days in Government House. That’s one unsenatorial tendency Nigeria doesn’t need, going forward!
Now, let’s build a bridge to the future using the infrastructure of the foregoing and the architecture of extant cultural, political, social and attitudinal evolutions. That should start by commending one man whose leadership or pedigree thereof has engendered massive possibilities for 2019. Although the horrible lateness in activating his mandate, deploying square pegs in round holes or even failing to fill many sensitive positions, coupled with ill health, have dealt his administration a dizzying blow, President Muhammadu Buhari deserves praise for, consciously or unconsciously, liberalising our political environment. We would not have recorded these 2019 build-up all-round gains under a meddlesome President.
Looking around or listening to ongoing conversations, one cannot but agree that, although the more things seem to change the more they remain the same, so much transformation has taken place within our political space. And, with much more likely to happen in the nearly two years left, one can posit that 2019 would be a different ballgame. For instance, from 2015 political awareness has continued to grow in geometric proportions. The memory of outsider Buhari upstaging sitting Jonathan reinforces citizens’ belief that their votes are powerful. One doesn’t need to be in the spirit to understand that 2019 will be a shocker across board. If winning Aso Rock against the run of play was easy in 2015, an encore two years hence would be a walkover.
Furthermore, and this is critical, the age when political parties were lords of the electoral manor is over and gone forever. In 2019 and beyond, Nigerians would vote for individuals, not parties. PDP shall win in hitherto APC strongholds and vice versa because that internecine partisanship no longer appeals to voters. Progressives or democrats would offer landslide victories to candidates of other than own parties. But, this preference for individual over party would far transcend antecedents or ethnicity let alone capacity to hurl insults and threats. In fact, any of these would be an anathema. The masses would only line behind a man or woman who showcases an understanding of prevailing challenges plus a barely intelligible road map. Standard-bearers who break away from our habitual incendiary politicking and its Neanderthal rhetoric would have an added advantage. Nigerians are tired of politicians angling to be leaders but speaking, acting or cursing like thugs. Plus, such uncouthness has a new global headquarters, at least for now, faraway in Trump’s US.
In conclusion, a few take-home points should suffice: Anyone looking to use President Buhari’s health troubles as a manifesto had better forget wasting time and money. APC may have bungled opportunity 2015 but elections 2019 shall be about the future, not the past. Even money politics, our other recurring bane or nemesis, waned when koboless Candidate Buhari thrashed incumbent Jonathan who had good luck, power and money in humongous supplies. Believe it or not, 2019 elections would mark a departure from age-long insanity and arrival into elite politicking.
Just anyone would win even the highest office.
God bless Nigeria!