By Chuks Osuji
Having travelled quite a lot particularly having lived in the two highly acclaimed democracies, United States of America and England, it baffles me how some political issues are handled and discussed in this country. Of course, it comes to one fact, “Nigeria is still experimenting democracy.” I recalled what the late Sam Mbakwe said in 1982 due to so many political crises all over the country, as the country was gradually inching towards the 1983 general elections, in apparent anger, he exploded, “ I wish that the British should come back to recolonize Nigeria because we don’t understand what democracy is all about.”
Many people lashed at him, calling him all sorts of names. As it happens in almost every public discourse, many supported his idea. But he was not apologetic of his outburst. Unfortunately, after he has been re-elected in the second term as the Executive Governor of Imo State, the entire Nigerian Government at all levels were over-thrown on an auspicious day, December 3, 1983, through a military coup d’état carried out by today’s General Buhari with other military officers. In a way, Chief Sam Mbakwe was vindicated. Because, many people including those who have died since 1983, if that coup did not take place, after we had virtually undergone real political turmoil including a 30- month civil war, and had returned to democratic experiment, this country, I strongly believe would have gone far in the practice of democracy. Point blank.
Very unfortunately, Buhari did not have the full opportunity to implement his agenda when he was overthrown by Babangida along with his own top military brass. One of the major accusations of Babangida against Buhari was his very draconian decrees which hauled many politicians into prison detentions without trial, a situation which instilled general apprehension and fear in the ordinary citizens. Many believed that if Buhari’s regime had been allowed to continue with its “War against Indiscipline” which at that time had brought a lot of discipline in the society, this country would have been on its march to a well organized and disciplined society. But, many query “how many people would have survived.”
Incidentally, Babangida’s regime after nine years instilled some political and democratic reforms which if it had been allowed to mature would have brought a lot of democratic progress and sanity instead of riotous political system we are seeing today. If nothing else, the two party systems which Babangida introduced with the secretariat for each of the two political parties would have saved us of numerous “political particles” called political parties.
Curiously, today, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has registered sixty-eight, such multiplicity of political groupings called political parties. And according to INEC about, 30 more are on the pipeline to be registered. Yet, it is the same INEC that recently complained that numerous numbers of Political Parties would cause some major Logistic Election Problems. INEC does not need to tell us that because one creature that has the highest number of legs is the millipede, yet, it is the slowest because it’s numerous legs does not allow it to run. A lesson…
Thus, one consistent element in our today’s political system is we tend to quarrel over every little issue that could have just been overlooked or accepted without splitting our heads, because the understanding of politics by the government is to use Propaganda to hoodwink the people and the opposition not to see anything in government. I challenge every Nigerian to point out to our time since 1999 when an opposition party has commended a ruling party over one good policy or action till date. Absolutely, none because we mix politics and governance together.
Imagine the current vexed issue of the re-ordering of the sequence of the forth-coming general elections by the National Assembly. It raised a lot of fireworks. Many Political radiators and unseasoned Political Buckneers have given the re-ordering all manner of interpretations. Some said so glibly that the re-ordering was done to hurt Buhari’s chances of winning next presidential election. Oh No! Heaven save our souls.
Those who oppose the re-ordering must answer the following questions:
Has president Buhari told the nation that indeed he will seek re-election?
How are they sure that given the mounting pressure that he would not jettison the idea?
Does the National Assembly have the constitutional power to do the re-ordering?
Is the parliament not the First Estate of the Realm according to Lexicon of political processes in other democracies?
Sequence of election is it the same thing as fixing the timetable of elections?
Finally, is it only Buhari who would contest the presidential election, what of other candidates from other political parties?
In my conclusion, those who are opposing the re-ordering come within this analytical description. They are part of those seven governors who while Benue was reeling in blood inflicted by herdsmen went to Aso Rock to tell Buhari to re-run instead of advising him to visit Benue. Painfully enough, four weeks on he visited Nasawara to commission some projects. On the other hand, other members of the public who are criticizing the Legislature for re-ordering are among those bunch of Politicians or ignorant Citizenry who follow or admire other parties or politicians for reasons which they themselves cannot explain. They are those whom Maurice Duverger, a political scientist of French extraction describes as “Political Shrubs Growing Beneath Forest.”
For wider and indept education, they should read the Nigerian constitution particularly, First schedule which talks of legislative powers and functions in purely political process. Parliament is the First Realm, the Executive is the Second Estate, the judiciary is the Third Estate Of The Realm while the Press is the Forth Estate Of The Realm who watches the other three Estates.
This, I hope, is an eye opener and enough education for those in our country who see every political issue from the parochial view of Partisan Politics, Geopolitics, Ethnicism, Tribalism or Sectionalism. This sequence of holding Election goes over and above any of these myopic considerations. I submit.
Dr. Chuks Osuji is an Owerri-based Opinion Moulder.