In another six months or so, Nigeria will be on the march again, in the quest for a president who will administer the affairs of the nation from mid-2019 to mid-2023. The politics of deciding who that president will be is already burning hotly on the national front burner. It is largely responsible for the ongoing season of defections, impeachments and realignments among politicians in different parts of the country.
READ ALSO: New political realignments
The different interpretations that have been given to these developments are interesting. While, to some, the defectors are patriots who are unhappy with the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) for its alleged ‘poor performance’, there are those who feel that the defectors are the ‘scoundrels’ within the ruling party who are leaving to improve their chances of retaining their seats in the 2019 polls, since the juicy positions of some of them have been zoned to other senatorial districts in their states. Yet, there are those who say that the defections are designed to force the APC into a negotiation which will see the defectors retaining their party tickets in 2019.
Whether these defectors heroes of democracy who are so pissed off with the APC that they decided to leave the party, or they are blackmailers seeking to arm-twist the party into helping them to retain their seats in the National Assembly, will become manifest by and by.
One thing that is, however, clear is that the march towards the next general elections is on, and anything at all can happen as politicians take the steps that they believe can help them to achieve their personal political objectives. Beyond the impeachments and attempted impeachments in Imo, Benue and Kano States, there has been an assassination in Imo State, where the chairman of the ruling APC in Ideato North local government area of the state was killed.
The most painful part of all these developments is that the country is apparently just going round in circles – all motion, no progress. At about this time in 2014, the year prior to the 2015 elections, there were mass defections from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC, which greatly boosted the APC’s chances and contributed to its victory in the 2015 elections. The defections from the PDP were the opening glee of a concert that culminated in President Goodluck Jonathan’s great tumble from power. Today, the cap is on the other head, and it is the mass defections from the APC that may, if not properly handled, lead to its defeat in the 2019 polls.
However, beyond the new alignments, realignments and misalignments of our politicians, what I find most appalling is the fact that the nation appears to have become stuck in time. It is the same old issues and developments that we grappled with in 2014/2015, and the ones Nigerians grappled with for many decades before that time, that we are still battling with now. You name it: controversial elections; vote buying, ballot snatching, poor electricity supply; troubled education section; poor health services; insecurity etc. It is, indeed, troubling that it is these same issues that have bedeviled the nation for years that we are still grappling with now, and will, perhaps, continue to grapple with ad infinitum, until the end of time.
Why is it that the more things seem to change in the country, the more they remain the same? The nation appears to be engaged in a perennial dance of stagnation to which there appears to be no end in sight.
At a time that the country is expected to be counting the gains of the APC’s four-year leadership, the gains have been masked by the unending crisis both within the party and at the national level. But interestingly, the party leadership does not appear ready to go on a fence mending mission. Instead, it has been grandstanding on how it would suspend some of its leading members.
The problem of the defections had been preceded by an alliance of a coalition of 38 political parties with the opposition PDP. That alliance is unlikely to be of any effect, as there are people who will not want a return of the PDP to power under any guise, considering its antecedents and the extent to which corruption was widely revealed to have flourished in the country, under its watch.
So, what is the way out for the country? The choice before Nigerians now is like that between six and a little over half a dozen. It is one between a rock and a very hard place. If we want to be pessimistic, we will say it is a choice between the devil and deep blue sea. As we forge ahead to the 2019 polls, there is so little to cheer, and so little to look forward to. The nation is at risk of apathy in the polls. It is like, heads or tail, the Nigerian people lose.
The battle in the country, if we must face the facts, is not really between the APC and PDP. It is between the politicians who want to permanently have their hands in the nation’s apple cart, and the people who just want the basic things of life – jobs, good schools, functional hospitals, good roads and the like, but are complacent about how to get them. Meanwhile, most of the politicians are cocksure about what they want – goodies from the national till – and are ready to do anything, including killing their opponents, to get them. Sadly, the people are merely willing tools in the hands of politicians who use them to achieve their own objectives.
Instead of sitting up and making their demands of the political class, and cutting the tails of those that need cutting, as provided for in our constitution, our people prefer to help the politicians in their battles against their competitors, and their own innocent fellow compatriots. And the country continues going round in endless circles.
President Buhari will either win or lose the 2019 presidential poll, but I doubt that ordinary Nigerians will fare better, either way. The country is unlikely to make any headway with the current style of politicking in the country that does not place the people and their interests at the centre of activities. The welfare of the people and the progress of the country should be the primary interest of the political class, but this is not so. Instead, these noble objectives have been subsumed under the personal selfish interests of politicians of all hues.
As we march towards the 2019 polls, the APC will have to put its acts together and do things with which it can convince Nigerians of its re-electability. It needs to eschew shenanigans and remain focused on service delivery. The PDP too, if it is to make any impact in its quest to kick APC out of power, will need to rid itself of its old reputation and kick those who built it out of reckoning. It will need a new presidential candidate that Nigerians can respect and support, and an identity that cannot be associated with its current name. By doing these, Nigerians will have one to choose out of the two parties which are fast becoming the ‘two leprous legs of a diseased body.”