Britain seems set for another female prime minister, outgoing Home Secretary, Thereza May, the favourite to succeed prime minister David Cameron, who resigned following the outcome of the referendum, which ended Britain’s membership of the European Union. The sensational development surprised observers of British politics amidst erstwhile speculations that flamboyant Boris Johnson, who spearheaded the anti-Europe campaign would get the job. Modern day political scheming aimed at “stopping Boris Johnson by any means possible’’ effectively ended his aspiration, at least, for now and many years to come.
The choice of a preferred candidate was aimed at punishing Boris Johnson for dislocating his party’s government during the referendum. The real shock was that Boris Johnson’s closest collaborator in the campaigns for the referendum, Michael Gove , applied the knife when, as his friend’s campaign manager, he defected at the last minute and announced his intention to contest. Mr. Gove further explained that he was aspiring for the prime minster’s post because Boris Johnson lacks the quality for the prime minister’s job.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, could also similarly claim to have been stabbed by his colleagues, demanding his stepping aside. Forty of his shadow cabinet members have resigned while over one hundred and seventy of his parliamentary colleagues have passed a vote of no confidence in him. The criticism against the Labour leader is that he is incapable of winning general elections. But that is not peculiar to him. His predecessor, Ed Milliband, never won last year’s general elections. Another past Labour party leader, former prime minister Gordon Brown, merely inherited administration from Tony Blair and never personally won a general election. A third Labour party ex-leader, Neil Kinnock, lost two successive general elections to Maggie Thatcher and John Major. To his credit, current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, won about three by-elections to retain the seats for his party, against all forecasts. Last May, the Labour Party also gained control of more councils and won more seats, all against poll forecasts. Mr. Corbyn won the Labour Party leadership race against stiff opposition from two former Labour prime ministers, who preferred some of the present rebels who passed the vote of no confidence.
The outcome of the recent anti-Europe referendum may force Scotland to repeat pro-independence referendum to break away from United Kingdom. Scotland refuses to be bound by Britain’s withdrawal from European Union. Yet, Scotland had its offer to remain member of European Union in whatever form rejected.Spain in particular, with its Basque separatists back home stiffly opposes the bid of the Scots. Out of frustration, Scotland’s First Minister, Nocola Sturgeon, said independence from United Kingdom is on the table to enable sovereign Scotland join the European Union.That is self-determination.
Last line: A Nigerian pastor in London has been jailed for nine years for stealing over four million pounds from his employers. In Nigeria, members of his church would have been following him to church during the trial, protesting his innocence. The judge on his part, would have unnecessarily been dragging the trial.
Jonathan narrowly missed the prize
It was going to be Nigeria’s day of glory on which former President Goodluck Jonathan would have been announced, as the new winner of the richest prize in African politics – Mo Ibrahim award for distinction in enhancement of democracy on the continent, specifically, peaceful and voluntary transfer of power. But Jonathan missed the prize, perhaps, for reasons of unfortunate events which marked and marred the 2015 elections. Otherwise, what could have cost Jonathan the award?
Had Jonathan won the award, it would have served the purpose of an independent verdict from a totally disinterested body. No matter the disagreement on Jonathan’s tenure, the fact of that part of Nigerian political history was that he eventually conceded defeat. About two years in advance, Jonathan hinted that Nigerians would hail him in the end. It was, therefore, to be expected that preparations and conduct of the 2015 elections would meet the standard in democratic societies. This is the first lesson for any Nigerian leader, aiming to win the Mo Ibrahim award. In Jonathan’s case, he and his party seemed to be working in different directions. While the man aimed at being hailed as a democrat, his (PDP) party mandarins manipulated the nomination process to edge out potential challengers through farcical primary. Instead, the party could have made it a policy in its constitution that an incumbent president has the right of sole first refusal in the next election, provided he was not impeached in office.
Even though Jonathan was not party to the rigging of his nomination, that anti-democratic aspect, criticised by, albeit unserious PDP presidential aspirants, couldn’t have gone unnoticed by Mo Ibrahim Foundation.
By the way, the value of Mo Ibrahim Foundation is not necessarily monetary but in prestige and honour. Also, the organisation jealously guards itself for world-wide credibility, hence the award is only when merited rather than necessarily annualy. Stupid utterances by Jonathan’s aides that he would rather hand over to the army, even if rival candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, won further damaged Jonathan’s chances of earning Mo Ibrahim’s award. Postponement of the presidential elections for, at least, six weeks on the grounds of incomplete arrangement was another disturbing single act, which almost derailed the fragile democracy. Contrary to the official reason for the postponement, a Yoruba APC leader proudly owned up, at a public rally in Ondo town that he advised Jonathan to postpone the elections because, if held as originally scheduled, there was no way Buhari would not win. That claim in the public, whether true or not, could only have subtracted from Jonathan’s eligibility points for winning the award.
Of particularly low ebb were the unchecked foul language and scrurilous remarks by Jonathan’s political troops against the person of his opponent, Buhari. In television documentaries were the callous gloating made of Buhari’s personal grief, the death of his first wife. Completely distasteful was the unlady-like intrusion of Jonathan’s wife into the campaigns in which she specially consistenly made uncouth remarks about northerners, as a group breeding “almajiris”, the very important group with the largest voting bloc inevitable in any electoral victory. Free, fair and democratic elections should always never feature state violence But unprecedented violence of murder, mostly by decapitation of known political opponents in three major states – Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River – alarmed the country. The purported culprits were known to the state governors as cultists. All these were documented by local and international observers. All these could only diminish Nigeria’s (that is Jonathan’s) chances of winning any award.
Even then, the elections held and a feat could still have been recorded for peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another in Nigeria, to win Jonathan the Mo Ibrahim prize. But that was not to be. It was like a curse, as ex-minister Godsday Orubebe attracted national and international notoriety when he created scene with bare-faced attempt to scuttle the entire elections, as the results were being announced as beamed on live television to the world. The only saving grace was the calmness and maturity of the chief electoral commissioner, Attahiru Jega. In such circumstances, wild rumours always abound. There was no evidence to confirm the speculation that thugs and militants were on stand by to invade the place and get the entire elections cancelled. All these went a long way to create the impression to Nigerians and the outside world of the determination to end democracy in Nigeria by one of Jonathan’s ex-ministers if not confidant.
The fatal damage was thereby done to Jonathan and Nigeria against winning the Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance. It is always not tolerable for British and American governments to interfere in Nigeria’s political affairs. But at that critical stage, the two countries virtually saved the day for Nigeria. British and American governments (through their respective foreign secretaries) issued a very strong joint warning that scuttling the elections under whatever reason(s) would be unacceptable. Only at that stage did President Jonathan call Buhari to concede defeat. That was not how to be honoured with Mo Ibrahim’s prestigious award, which, by the way, for purposes of emphasis, reflects honour not just for the winner but also for the country concerned.
And whatever consideration, which might even have earned Jonathan and Nigeria the award even grudgingly, was totally destroyed by the ugly revelations of controversial financial transactions under Jonathan’s adninistration. Jonathan’s narrow miss of Mo Ibrahim’s rich prize should be a lesson on how not to lose a prestigious award.