by Eric Osagie
If we survive 2015, we are likely to survive as a nation. Never in the history of this nation have we had this kind of tension, stretching from even four years before the presidential poll. Never have we had this kind of sharp division along regional lines as we are witnessing now.
The political atmosphere is charged. Tension runs high. The heat is on. Everywhere, the news is about 2015; the talk is about the likely gladiators for political offices, particularly the presidency. The way politicians, especially of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, hue and its major challenger, the All Progressives Congress, APC, are going about it, the thunder and brimstone pronouncements, the hoopla and all what-not, you would be forgiven for thinking or believing that elections are going to be held the next couple of hours, rather than the two years away it is.
No splitting of hairs. That is the way of politicians. Especially in a country where politics, or more appropriately, elective offices, are a do-or-die. It is no surprise that politicians are already reaching for their armoury of dirty words, mudslinging and other arsenal of warfare in the bid to browbeat and pummel their opponents to submission, even before the electoral war begins. Here, the ability to talk tough (even for a feather weight politician) is part of the game. Like in a wrestling or boxing tourney, grandstanding is part and parcel of the political slugfest. So, what you hear every now and then, as the democratic train sets to berth in 2015 terminus, are the drum beats of war; sabre-rattling, threats of violence and Armageddon, if wishes don’t turn reality for political office seekers and their cronies.
So, what do we hear? PDP estranged governors set for war; APC set to dislodge ruling party; No, they can’t; APC just making noise; Tukur must go, says Baraje’s new PDP; Rascals and rebels, that’s who the new PDP are, counters Tukur. Then, you also hear: Jonathan shouldn’t run in 2015; Yes, he will, says presidency.
When I hear or read some of these news items, I shudder. I worry for motherland, Nigeria. I wonder where the people’s interests could be located in the postulations. Power or rather, the grabbing of political power, is all that seems to matter to the Nigerian politician. Except for a negligible few, service is far from the hearts of many of those fighting tooth and nail for offices. They seek to get power for self, not the collective; for enrichment, not empowerment. When service begins to count, we would not have people fighting the battles of their lives for offices. When elective offices stop to be the easiest route to instant wealth, you would find decorum and sobriety characterising the chase for positions.
Because, come to think of it, why would anyone maim and kill just because he desires to offer service? Why would anyone subvert the democratic process, rigging the poll, stuffing and snatching ballot boxes, if all he desires is to truly offer service? Of course, we all know that pecuniary interests and influence peddling more than anything else fires the ambition for political offices here. From the National Assembly to State Houses of Assembly; from the presidential villa to Government Houses in the states, it’s largely about self and cronies, not necessarily about the people.
So, you can understand the tension 2015 is generating, even two years away. You can understand the reason politicians have literally set the nation on fire, even before the D-day, with the fear of a possible national political conflagration.
From the prism of the bigger the office, the bigger the juice, you will also begin to understand the reason there is intense battle for the office of president/commander-in-chief of Nigeria. Who wouldn’t want to be president of Africa’s most populous nation, with all the perks of office, power of life and death, power to make and unmake?
But the drum beats of war over 2015 presidency, like I have oft-repeated, is good for our nation, provided they don’t plunge the country into sectarian or any other kind of strife. If we survive 2015, we are likely to survive as a nation. Never in the history of this nation have we had this kind of tension, stretching from even four years before the presidential poll. Never have we had this kind of sharp division along regional lines as we are witnessing now. May be 2011 poll comes closer to what we are witnessing now. But at the end of it all, if we survive, if we get a president we truly deserve, the whole political process would have been substantially purified. If we don’t get dismembered on or before 2015, we would emerge from the political furnace, a more formidable nation.
It is in the same light I view the schisms within the ruling PDP. Whatever happens at the end of the day; whether the old and new PDP (what really is the difference between six and half a dozen?) reconcile or not; whether the implosion stays permanent or is mended, things can never really remain the same for the party and its members, which at the end is ultimately good for our democracy.