The way Dame Patience Jonathan was unleashed during the Presidential campaign suggested women were a clear target. I am convinced her stuttering grammar during the election was also a ploy to align with an influential segment of pidgin speaking Nigerians.
“The murderers are among us. Let no one be in any doubt. They sit among us, right within this somber gathering that honours the passage of a hero.” With those words, Wole Soyinka began an emotional oration at the funeral of his dear friend, Bola Ige. It is a rare occurrence for your favourite writer to write about your favourite politician, which is why one of my most treasured documents is a copy of that tribute, Ige: An Ecumenical Spirit. I read it every year on the anniversary of Bola Ige’s death, because it reminds of the crudity that permeates our political environment and how far away we are from the type of image America exhibited less than 48 hours ago.
While Mitt Romney’s gracious acceptance of defeat and Barack Obama’s generous victory speech don’t signify a flawless political system, it is a reminder that a society is only as strong as its foundation, not the age of its democracy. The differences in the American and Nigerian political structures can best be understood by reading Max Siollun’s Oil, Politics and Violence and Richard Morris’s Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries. Anyone willing to read both books will not only see how our political system has remained stagnant, but how Uncle Sam’s early structure bests our current system. The biggest lesson is not a review of our spectacular failure as a nation, but how the current political class can slowly undo decades of damage to a nation that remains on the precipice.
Once he was comprehensively beaten in the first Presidential debate, Barack Obama’s reelection never looked assured. His performance in office was lukewarm, and his 2008 message of hope and change seemed light years away. Critically, his message on social cover resonated better with an electorate still feeling the effects of a depression, and his focus on damaging his opponent in the absence of a stellar report card, got him reelected. The result was that while 53% of voters that earned over $50,000 voted for Mitt Romney, 60% of voters that earned less than $6,000 voted for President Obama. This, and the Republican Party’s poor understanding of women, minority voters, and changing demographics, cost Mitt Romney a term at the White House.
One hopes the Nigerian opposition is watching and learning. The first lesson is simple; it takes a lot to unseat an incumbent government. While President Jonathan continues to underwhelm, he is not as unpopular as the opposition suggests. With less than 18 months to the next general election, there is no clear sign of a united opposition to the behemoth called the PDP. And in a dress rehearsal for bigger battles, the self-acclaimed leading opposition party, showed a shocking lack of ideas when trying to unseat Ondo State’s Olusegun Mimiko from the Government House in Akure.
The Nigerian electorate is getting smarter, and the PDP seems to be the only party aware of it. The way Dame Patience Jonathan was unleashed during the Presidential campaign suggested women were a clear target. I am convinced her stuttering grammar during the election was also a ploy to align with an influential segment of pidgin speaking Nigerians. On the other hand, the ACN and CPC continue to do little to change how they are perceived by the electorate. Both parties are seen as autocratic and sectional, with minimal ability to influence national politics. It also does not help that Nigeria’s leading opposition parties are built around two people.
This year will make it a decade since Bola Ige was cruelly killed in Ibadan, and it seems his vision to forge a credible opposition to the PDP across various ethnicities died with him. As Wole Soyinka wrote, I do not eulogize a saint, I know of none. If any opposition leader can show an allegiance to the non-dogmatic ideology which Soyinka describes in that tribute as one that transcends lines of division, striving for a goal whose end is to uplift society, then we have an election on our hands. Otherwise, there is no point betting against another landslide victory for you know who.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.