Five months to the elections, the big question is what are the issues? Ideas drive democracy; it gives it focus and helps to measure inputs.
The topic for this discourse on the surface looks simple but in terms of developmental issues, it is big, traversing and complex. It is the heart and blood of democracy. It is a catalyst for progressive and sustainable development anywhere. Politicians, like we already know, are strategic in societal development, which is supposed to be about the infusion of the human element into the development process. But, like everything we do here, the word “politician” itself has long become a subject of maximum abuse. When someone says, ‘I am a politician,’ what he is invariably saying is that he is into a profession and naturally expects to reap the benefits from whatever contributions he makes. This wrong understanding has come with a huge cost for the people and the country.
You talk of huge emoluments and the general high cost of governance and you get the picture clearer. We all know how these and more have retarded developments, in fact constituting a big cog in the wheel of progress and yet none of us has seen the imperative to rise and do the needful. We are yet to vehemently show our disavowal of the trend and our resolve to put a stop to it. The civil society organisations are surprisingly quiet on this matter and somehow their conspiratorial passivity has gone ahead to rub off on the mental state and general attitude of the citizens. The media has highlighted the aberration but we must tell them that they have failed to keep their hands on the matter crucial and germane as it is to sensible national development.
Being a politician is not a profession; it is purely a voluntary service to people and community, state, country and humanity. It is a non-profit venture; you come into it with clear vision, competence and measurable resolve to give all to accomplish the desired objective. In this enterprise, it is the vision that provokes passion, which in turn inspires zeal and in this atmosphere nothing is too much to give. Those who effected positive changes elsewhere, talking of Chairman Mao of China, Charles de Gaulle of France, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, had a correct understanding of who a politician is and what service to the people means; no wonder they applied themselves correctly. Election times are very auspicious moments to correct fundamental political wrongs and aberrations like the ones observed earlier.
Methods for doing so are available and clear to some of us. The electorate is sovereign in a democracy. In ordinary language, the electorate owns the power and the entity. This entity could be a family, a community, state or country as the case may be. In the early society, the people controlled their affairs until it was observed that too many points of power and authority gave vent to frequent conflicts rather than peace and that necessitated the introduction of the social contract theory under which the people lease out their property and power of administration to a few per time, but it is not without the inherent right to ask questions and to be satisfied over the answers. In other words, you never get the power until the people have asked questions and are satisfied that the trustee of their property would work to improve their collective wellbeing. This is where democracy derives its potency and unfortunately it seems to be the crux of what is missing in our democratic experiments. The people are not asking questions and nobody is making any effort to wake them from sleep.
It has been a long time this variable kept missing from our land and the tragic thing about this, is that we are aware of the harm it has caused us and continues to cause and yet we seem to behave as if we don’t know what should be done. We are in the era of change and one of the things the people ought to be encouraged to do is to critically assess the ‘politician’, especially those who want to run for public offices, to ascertain their foundation, their heart and past activities with the objective to confirm if such a person would be a politician or a public servant. Their deductions should be on their lips.
Five months to the elections in which our people would elect the president, legislators and follow with fresh political appointments into various offices, the big question is what are the issues? Ideas drive democracy; it gives it focus and helps to measure inputs. Our country has been running without ideas and we see the result in no development, every year we make budgets running in trillions of naira but we hardly see commensurate development and the question is where does all the money go? Every time we are buffeted with challenges, our natural reaction is to raise our hands up in surrender and to lift our voices to tell whoever cares to listen that the trouble is intractable, even when the solution is right there under our nose. Politics of clear idea would solve the problem of squandermania and tragic misdirection especially in the area of white elephant projects.
Some citizens are prancing about and indicating they want public office. Unfortunately, they are not seeking office based on ideas. As you read this, except for Prof Kingsley Moghalu, who wants to be president on the platform of Young Peoples Party, it is difficult to find another one who has a blueprint containing his solutions to every issue disturbing us. Our 75-year-old President Muhammadu Buhari, wants us to reelect him but as you read this no citizen can say he has answers as to why the president increased the pump price of petrol and whether the gains have solved the problem of petroleum importation and internal refining capacity. He has not told us why we produce and export rice and yet the cost of the locally produced rice is as high as the foreign ones. Boko Haram, killer herdsmen, cattle colony, foreign exchange rates, these are issues. Would he for instance increase fuel price again? These are the questions that demand answers; both the people and the press must insist that he answers not only him but all those who want to rule from that level. I am not sure the print or electronic media have had a star interview session with the president since he came into power three years ago; in the same token by now the print media ought to have opened “interview of the week” dedicated specially to grilling aspirants for public offices. Not all aspirants who run may eventually get the opportunity to become candidates and participate in the main elections and win, but their venturing out does two thing: it throws up new ideas and points us to new leadership materials.
Political development in states do not give anybody hope. There is nothing about ideas. It is about personality, zoning and money. In Abia it is about personality, zoning and money. The people are expecting a blueprint, not 3, 4, or 9-point agenda. In Lagos it is not about ideas, it is about a dangerous dance in which a godfather has out danced his political godson, who is in power and is about to put him into a state of political stupor. In Rivers it is the Federal Government and Amaechi vs. Nyesom Wike; there is also this new angle of branding citizens foreigners, Tonye Cole in my mind. In North Central it is herdsmen and in Kaduna, el-Rufai said he didn’t want re-election until his people insisted the good work must continue. In Borno, more than 30 persons want to be governor on APC platform yet the state is ravaged by insurgency. Hmmm! Let those who say they want to serve tell us in specific detail what they really want to do, not 3, 4 or 10-points agenda.