The nation-state is a permanent entity, while governments, which are the representatives of the state, come and go. A given government can be a bad representative of the state. This happens when the government is unable to protect the public interest, which the state exists for.
Governments can be notoriously self-serving and, in the process, endanger the stability of the state and the public interest they are supposed to represent and protect.
In 2015, the Nigerian state inherited what has turned out to be its worst representative so far as government. The Muhammadu Buhari/All Progressives Congress (APC) government has misrepresented the Nigerian state in at least the following ways: One, the state exists to protect the life and property of its citizens, but the Buhari/APC government has proved unable to protect life and property of Nigerian citizens. Nigerians have suffered the worst insecurity since the 1966 civil war. Nigeria has, in fact, become a killing field!
Two: whereas, normally, all citizens of the state are treated equally, the Buhari/APC government introduced varying forms of discrimination among different groups in the nation/country. This discrimination singled out Igbo for special marginalisation. The consequence of this discrimination disposition is to undermine the unity of the Nigerian nation-state, which has been consolidated since 1970. The worst thing that can happen to a multi-nation state like Nigeria is to subject it to a government-provoked discrimination among its component nationalities.
Three: the Buhari/APC government has also politicised the major national or state institutions. State institutions are established to serve the public interest, which is the general interest of all the citizens. But by politicising these institutions, the government of Buhari/APC contaminated them to serve specific and partisan government interests rather than the interest of all. This is why our national security institutions are hardly able to defend the interest of all.
Four: the Buhari/APC government is the weakest government in the history of this country. The strength of a government has nothing to do with it s wielding arms. No, its strength resides in its moral authority, its competence, and its unity of purpose.
This government is weak because it lacks these three indices. The danger the Nigerian state faces is that continuing with a government that poorly represents the state can lead to the breakdown of the state, which the government claims to represent. Therefore, in order to protect the stability of the Nigerian state from the destructive consequence of this government that poorly represents it, we the people must change to a government that will truly serve the general public interest.
There are two sides to the weakness of the incumbent government. Firstly, its human leadership is incompetent and narrow-minded and, therefore, both incapable and unwilling to think outside the box. Secondly, the political party that installed the government is too internally fragmented and weak to supervise the performance of government. Thus, government is on its own doing its own thing while its sponsoring party follows as best as it can.
Since it is a political party that sponsors the government, Nigerians now need a responsible political party that is well-put-together to bring up another government. This will be a government that is amenable to supervision by its parent or sponsoring party.
The only political party that has successfully shouldered such responsibility in the past is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It is a party that is solidly put together in its foundation and has enough national spread to recruit quality human leadership personnel to run its government.
The PDP has sustained democratic governance for 16 unbroken years.
This is a record by any standard! No party in the First and Second or Third republics has achieved this feat. Even the Buhari/APC government, in less than four years, is beginning to struggle to keep afloat: Therefore, there must be something PDP is doing right that enabled it to sustain a quality democratic government for 16 unbroken years. It is this miraclous touch that Nigeria needs now, and PDP is the only choice or candidate for this job. And, in spite of this singular achievement, PDP has had the modesty and humanity to apologise to the nation for some of its mistakes that caused it loss of power in 2015.
It is important to mention here some of PDP’s spectacular achievements that mark it out from any comparable party in today’s Nigeria. One, PDP did not stop at installing a government but followed it up to supervise the performance of that government. Two, because the PDP drew its support from across the length and breadth of this nation, its government could not afford to practice any discriminatory policy. No people or religion complained of marginalisation under a PDP-controlled government. It was a government of justice and fairness to all.
Three, PDP is so sure-footed in democratic governance that when it took power from the military, it went on to consolidate our democracy. The party did not only resist the human temptation of its Leader-President to truncate the nation’s Constitution by term-elongation but was also the only incumbent party that has ceded power to the opposition through a peaceful democratic election.
Four, the PDP government took its primary responsibility of protection of life and property of its citizens seriously. Yes! For the 16 years of PDP rule, Nigerians enjoyed good security, peace and stability.
Five, the PDP government recruited competent leaders who endowed it with capacity for major policy initiatives and economic welfare. Six, under the PDP’s supervision, major institutions of the state were made to work for the state and the public interest and not for individuals and partisan interests. The PDP makes the job of supervising government easy by recruiting competent personnel into leadership positions in government. The two top-ranking members of its proposed government are shining examples of that quality personnel: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the party’s presidential candidate, has been a successful Vice President of many years and experience. He is a business guru, which makes him an economic asset for any government. He is also a tested democrat as demonstrated in his sustained fight against term-elongation and violation of the nation’s Constitution.
His public lecture on internal party democracy in Nigerian political parties is another testimony of his commitment to genuine democracy. Moreover, Atiku Abubakar is a progressive Nigerian whose breadth of vision and contacts makes him at peace with all corners of the nation.
Atiku is so much in touch with Nigerian realities that he insists that the road to more progress and stability must go through restructuring to beef up autonomy of the sub-units and unleash their developmental potential, while rescuing Nigerian development and stability from the suffocation of an over-centralised federalism.
Atiku’s second-in-command is Mr. Peter Obi, who was also a successful governor. He is also a business guru, which makes him a member of a formidable economic team for the nation. Peter Obi is also a progressive who is at peace with all groups and parts of the nation. He has achieved huge business success and yet he remains at bottom a very modest gentleman. One of his greatest achievements is that he has developed the habit of not allowing himself to be provoked or excited by public funds or any kind of funds for that matter. He is noted for his frugality, and he is the one Igbo man who cannot be woken from sleep by the rumpling of currency notes in his ears. Mr. Peter Obi is a Servant-Leader, that is, a leader who can serve selflessly!
Assuredly, Nigeria needs the PDP, the quality of the government it can put together and the competence of the human leadership of its proposed government!!
• Prof. Onyeoziri wrote from Abuja.