The elections since the return to civil rule in 1999 have produced four presidents, three from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one, the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, from the All Progressives Congress (APC). These leaders represent the two dominant alternative policy options and ideologies that govern our polity. Yet, none of these options bodes well for Nigeria. In this light, we should look at Rev. Chris Okotie’s article published July 16, on the back page of The Sun.
Among other things the pastor-politician called for an interim government to undertake the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction. How can this be actualised? Okotie postulates: “It would be predicated on a new concept of Aboriginal democracy. Our current democracy has been hijacked by elitism, mysticism and Satanism. Aboriginal democracy will focus on cultural historicity, evolutional modernity and global relativity as the necessary ingredients of our evolutional political indigenisation. Under this system, the current legislature would merge with the judiciary to create a unique judicature that administers justice and shares the enactment of legislative responsibilities with the Presidency. This would save us the huge cost of running the National Assembly and obviate all the paralysing debates that often stalled the passage of bills.”
Yet, the yearings of the people for a workable formula for a stable, vibrant and effective political system that delivers dividends of democracy remain a mirage. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the governing elite and the masses, which continues to fuel youth restiveness and general feelings of despondency in the land. Can an interim government solve this problem? Okotie thinks so.
The ruling party, APC, is still struggling with severe intra-party divisions at a time when unity of purpose is required to stablitise our democratic machinery. With the political class so fragmented, it is impossible to create the right dynamics that could mobilise the people for the herculean task of revamping the economy and rebuilding the nation. Therefore, I agree with Okotie that we need a paradigm shift headed by a fresh thinker who can provide a quick, radical departure from the existing social order to engender peaceful revolutions that can fast track development in all spheres of human endeavor in our country post-2019.
We truly need an interim government. If I may suggest an agenda for this government it will be: (1) To reconcile all warring entities that threaten the cohesion of the nation, be they ethnic, religious or youth groups; (2) To enlist the efforts of all Nigerians in a nationwide drive for holistic reconstruction of the country, such that the impact of development would be felt in every part of the country in a balanced manner; (3) To create a level playing field for all Nigerians in appointments and elections into public offices, and give every citizen equal opportunity to develop to their full potential so that nobody would feel marginalised, wherever they choose to live and work.
All of the above, coupled with the earnest pursuit of equity and social justice in the management and distribution of our national patrimony, in the belief that all the crises flash-points that smear our social, economic and political landscape would evaporate.
Presently, most of our frontline politicians are not thinking along these lines; instead, they are known to be behind the perpetual war between the centrifugal and centripetal forces that hamper the national cohesion needed for the building of a strong Nigeria. A change of personnel at the presidency from among the existing pool of leaders in the political class will not guarantee the far-reaching reforms the country desperately desires. Hence, the need for a fresh start by a new type of leadership that none of the present political actors can provide.
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What is playing out in Nigeria today is a deep-seated national exasperation, which calls for a dramatic shift in the governance paradigm. Many well-meaning citizens have continued to ventilate their frustration with the apparent developmental challenges by calling for the creation of more states, devolution of power or restructuring of the federation. We have followed these paths before and they got us nowhere. That’s because the fundamentals that inform these postulations are alien to our culture. That is why they are mired in explosive public discourse with no hint of a positive outcome let alone national consensus, in spite of all the previous national conferences on the subject. Moreover, the process of restructuring is complex and time-consuming, and cannot be realised in an election season. So an interim government can do the job; that’s the way to go.