Nigerians appear to be an incoherent lot. We do not appear to have abiding standards. We just flow with the tide with little or no worry about the direction in which it is headed. Were it not so, we would have reminded ourselves of those principles and aspirations which propelled and guided us while we campaigned for various elective positions. With the conclusion of the elections, you would expect that Nigerians will remind themselves of the demands they made of the power-seekers. But we seem to have forgotten so soon. What matters now are the spoils of office. Attention has shifted to who gets what.
At the state level, the governors-elect, we are told, have been besieged by job seekers. Fortune hunters are falling over themselves to get attention. Nobody is asking questions. Nobody is considering or even trying to remember what those who have been elected said they would do if given the opportunity to serve. We have conveniently forgotten that. We are rather focusing attention on what we will get as individuals, not what the state will benefit as a collective. With that wilful forgetfulness or selectiveness, we have, without knowing it, given the newly elected office holders a blank cheque. They can throw their promises overboard because no one is ready to interrogate them on the matter.
At the national level, strategic realignments are taking place. It is expected that the president will go to work with a new cabinet. Consequently, emergency experts are on the prowl. They are hawking their credentials and advertising their expertise all in the bid to have their own chunk of the national cake.
The National Assembly is a different ball game. The race for the leadership of the legislature has begun in earnest. The offices of the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives are the most coveted. The majority party is working hard to reward its deserving loyalists with these plum positions. But there is a more delicate issue of geopolitical consideration. There have been suggestions that tended to give the impression that some elements in this country are not being mindful of regional or geopolitical equity. That is why names like Femi Gbajabiamila intrude into the scene when we are talking about who becomes the Speaker of the House of Representatives. We do not need to waste our time or dissipate energy on this. With Prof Yemi Osinbajo as Vice President, a south westerner cannot occupy the office of the president of the senate or speaker of the House of Representatives. You cannot overload one geopolitical zone with coveted positions when there are zones that are yet to be accommodated in the scheme of things.
Under the present All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Muhammadu Buhari, the north west and south west are already settled. Legislators from these two zones therefore have no business aspiring to take up leadership positions in the National Assembly. Those touting Gbajabiamila or any other south westerner as a possible speaker of the House are overreaching themselves. The quest is simply pig-headed.
If the APC wants to run an inclusive government as President Buhari has pledged, then it must appreciate the imperative of giving the south east a voice in the administration. One of the surest ways of doing this is to give the zone the opportunity to head either chamber of the National Assembly. If the south east does not get the office of the senate president for any reason, then the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives must not elude it. Anything short of that will be mere window-dressing.
In all of this, one thing appears to have gone to seed. We are no longer talking about issues. We are no longer concerned about the agenda or programmes on which the elections were fought. Before the elections, the hottest issue before us was restructuring. Progressive-minded groups and individuals were almost unanimous in the demand for a restructured Nigeria. The south and middle belt of the country chorused it like a mantra. The Atiku presidential aspiration got a huge boost on account of this. Needless to say that Ohaneze, Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum as well as the Middle Belt Forum were not attracted to Buhari’s second term bid because of his distaste for restructuring.
However, regardless of our preferences, Buhari was declared winner in the elections. And in about two months from now, he will begin a fresh tenure. Are Nigerians, by their actions and inactions, saying that it is all over? Since we must assume that majority of Nigerians voted for Buhari, including the proponents of restructuring, is it not within their right to ask Mr. President to adjust his preferences to be in tune with the wishes and aspirations of the people?
The questions we should really be asking ourselves are: what has become of the clamour for restructuring? Is it gone with the winds? Has the ovation petered out? Is the idea dead with the return of Buhari? If we are serious as a people, we will hold the president accountable in this matter. We will not let the issue die because we know the president is not properly disposed to it. To capitulate on the matter because of the outcome of the presidential election is not in the best interest of our tomorrow as a people and as a country. A restructured Nigeria is not just imperative, it is urgent.
Now that Buhari has got his second and last tenure, the time has come for him to put Nigeria first. He must put national interest above clan, region or religion. That new orientation should begin now. He must help to put in place a National Assembly leadership that will think Nigeria first by being properly disposed to a restructured Nigeria. As a matter of fact, that should be the president’s preoccupation this time around.
Congratulations, Gov. Ugwuanyi
The governor of Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, is basking in double celebration. Penultimate week, he earned his well deserved second term as governor. And only last Wednesday, he was celebrated by friends and associates on his birthday.
Ugwuanyi’s victory in the March 9 governorship election in Enugu state is epochal. He was reelected unopposed. And this happened in a country where elections to the coveted office of governor is fiercely fought. Whereas gladiators lined up in other states of the federation with a strong determination to outdo one another, all the governorship candidates of all but one political party withdrew for Ugwuanyi. They asked him to return to the seat without opposition. That spoke volume. It is a measure of the goodwill that the governor enjoys among the people of Enugu state and beyond.
It was therefore to be expected that the governor’s birthday, coming at a time the people have expressed absolute confidence and support for him, calls for more than ordinary celebration. The governor deserves all the accolades he is getting. I join all men and women of goodwill to wish him a happy birthday and a more glorious ride on Fortune’s Wheel.