Opinion: What if the elections had held in February?

by Ralph Egbu

File photo…we have closed our senses to doing the small things that matter and that omission has led to huge dislo­cations that are manifesting in the rule of the jungle.

Last week in the piece, Je­ga’s troublesome dilemma, I expressed deep displeas­ure over the manner INEC han­dled the issue of printing and distribution of voters’ card and of course the critical question of card reader machines. It was my contention that Jega’s op­erational strategy is both clumsy and treasonable.

If the election had held on February 14 and 28, the uproar would have been such that national unity would have certainly come under a second major threat. I don’t like pretending on this matter, I have said it severally on this page that the average Nigerian including 90 per cent of those who found themselves in the inner recess­es of power are driven by ethnic considerations; they want their republics but don’t know exactly how to go about it. They have been looking for someone to bell the cat or reasons to hold on to.

From the way I see things, Je­ga’s INEC would have given such forces ammunition to do a few of us who believe in a big Nigeria in. So I am very happy providence found a way to give us opportu­nity to avert that and correct what I want to believe is a deliberate mistake.

I must say I am very surprised at the disposition of those who pass themselves as activists in the current political dispensation. To the disadvantage of our nation, they have continued to pursue matters in very selective manner, making moves and judging devel­opments in a manner suggestive of narrow interest. I will give few examples and we continue. I am one of those surprised to hear en­lightened segments of our nation say that certification is not impor­tant especially in executing com­plex administrative concerns.

I shrug at the simplification of very serious matters when I hear fellow citizens say all that matters are is­sues of development. My reaction has always been a simple one: I do ask how do we begin to solve security and corruption problems and handle complex economic is­sues with rapacious world finan­cial institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) if those saddled with the task are incapable of finest level of intellectual vigour? If we mean to stand to our billing as the lead­ing black nation, shouldn’t our de­sire be to have leaders in the mold of Nelson Mandela and President Barak Obama just to mention but a few?

I have also seen the same mis­judgement extended to issue of age and just for selfish reasons some Nigerians, including very well trained ones, can’t see any­thing wrong with very aged citi­zens running for sensitive public offices and they are happy point­ing Zimbabwe as good example. All these taking place in a nation that is churning out very young and well educated citizens yearly. I hold the view that leadership mi­nus the exertion to meet numerous deadlines is a simple task.

We have made it such a com­plex thing here because we have closed our senses to doing the small things that matter and that omission has led to huge dislo­cations that are manifesting in the rule of the jungle. This is the problem and remedying it would require well trained and exposed young men, who will be ready to mix high intelligence with cour­age and firmness.

I am happy to note that such young and dynamic men and women abound in this nation today. Somebody like Nduka Obaigbena with his Arise Television has amply demonstrat­ed what a good brain can do for the black world not just Nigeria using the information sector; such can be replicated in the other sec­tors particularly the crucial ones – politics and economy.

I am not happy over the argu­ment that a President has no right to sack a man he appointed. We first heard this with Sanusi at the Central Bank and now with Jega at INEC. If a leader can’t sack his appointee, what it means is that there are appointees who become higher than the president once ap­pointed.

If there is any law that says this then such law is anti-progress. We have tried to restrict our Presi­dents, not necessarily because we want to expand the frontiers of checks and balances but essen­tially because time and again, we, leaders inclusive, have proved in­capable of living above primordial considerations and interest of few cronies who would always cluster round a leader. If Jega had done any wrong Jonathan can’t get the Senate to support the removal because it would not suit ethnic and religious aspirations. This is why we see double standards in what should otherwise have been straight forward issues.

In the time of Iwu, the Guard­ian newspaper in April 2010, wrote an editorial in which it said Iwu should be removed because he constituted a threat to national stability.

Few months after, Iwu was forced to embark on 3-month pre-exit leave and a lot of Nige­rians responded by cheering. The same for Festus Odumegwu, for­mer chairman National Popula­tion Commission, who had to be forced out from a tenured office because he said our nation had never had proper census. I recall that Governor Kwakwanso of Kano abused the man and took a protest to Aso Rock demanding that the man must go.

Of course few weeks after the man was shoved aside unceremoniously. For some time now, I have been thinking of these issues and one of the questions I have been trying to find an answer for is between Iwu and Jega, who has done more to threaten the stability of the nation.

Truly, I have not been able to decode it. If we are a people who learn from history one other thing we would have picked would have been the instructive lesson that election periods provide nations opportunities to find new ways of solving deep-rooted problems. Election times are periods to ask questions and get specific answers especially from candidates.

In the media, I read even highly placed media managers lament lack of issues in the campaigns, but are we not embarrassed that no television or newspaper did a state of the nation kind of inter­view with those who want to be president.

As you read this, Nigerians don’t know what their positions are on petrol, subsidy, refinery, loans, political restructuring, and job creation among other issues. As it is, any of them on winning can start with price increases on petrol and power and all we would see, would be idle Nigeri­ans in search of cheap popularity pouring into the streets to protest.

If our nation were to learn from the American experience, the cur­rent heated contention over the presidency would have been re­solved to the overall best interest of the nation. Since zoning is the underlining factor and it is need­ful, national patriots would have used the occasion to permanently resolve the question of zoning and make it binding.

If this were done it is likely we would have had a situation where all candidates would come from the South-South to complete the remaining four years.

If Buhari wins and runs two tenures, would this conjure a new kind of fair­ness? The big sad news is that if Jonathan or Buhari wins, he would have to preside over a na­tion that is deeply polarised. This is what we get when humans fail to use their brains for whatever reasons.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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