Between Statesmanship and Brinksmanship
For those who still care in this age of indifference, Daily Trust on Sunday reported impending crisis tomorrow Tuesday when the two chambers reconvene “as Buhari, Saraki loyalists threaten showdown”. It would certainly not be surprising that most readers were unmoved by Daily Trust timely alarm bell-news.
Nigeria in recent times had become a huge “Fuji House of Commotion” as chieftains of the two leading parties ( APC and PDP) engage in endlessly no bar diatribes over who controls power in the legislative chambers, (not necessarily about who governs for good governance). But lest we forget, the late veteran Nigerian Nollywood film-maker, Amaka Igwe, who produced the hilarious Fuji House of Commotion series helped in relieving our tensions arising from numerous crises of living in Nigeria.
Increasingly thin line divides statesmanship and brinkmanship in Nigeria. What with the General T Y Danjuma’s self- help outbursts? What with EFCC/ Daura’s SSS alleged near shoot out over the attempted arrest of the former head of the NIA, Ayo Oke, and the SSS, Ita Ekpeyong, in their homes at Asokoro district of Abuja in November? If we go back on memory lane and look at the dark days of military dictatorships, examples of brinkmanship in Nigeria’s statehood could make volumes of book.
There are many heroes and heroines of brinkmanship in Nigeria than statesmen and women. But this is democracy. I agree with Winston Churchill, (twice Former British Prime Minister) that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the other forms of government” that are even far more despicable such as the past military regimes in Nigeria. Both members of Federal Executive and the Federal legislature must embrace statesmanship in place of brinkmanship as a precondition for sustainable democratic process in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s 20-year long uninterrupted democracy needs statesmen and women and quality people who would stand for fundamental state principles of good governance as contained in 1999 constitution in place of politicians desperate for immediate pursuit of power and money. The survival of the smartest politicians must give way to the survival of democratic process in Nigeria.
Democratic forces who fought for democracy must not sit bye allow the democratic process undermined by selfishness, grandstanding, smear campaign and endless cheap carpet crossing. It was time Nigeria implemented the resolutions of 2014 conference with reference to code of conduct for political parties, political party office holders on carpet crossing. Section 68 (8) of Constitution (as amended), be further amended to “indicate that any elected official, executive or legislative, who carpet-cross, regardless of the reasons for such, shall automatically forfeit their seat. Such officials are however, free to contest for the position or indeed any other position on the basis of their new political party”.
Democracy is our Democratic heritage strengths. Nigerian national heritage. is one of our independence in 1960 was fought for and won by clear headed civilian democrats not military adventurers who later years ruined the nation through coups and counter coups. They deployed legitimate democratic methods; peaceful pressures, strikes, protests, persuasion, negotiations, referendums and elections. The issues were also about national liberation and nation-building, nor personal accumulation of wealth and power.
Nigeria’s founding fathers and mothers were respected civilian democrats not military men. They included Herbert Macaulay (1864-1946), Professor Eyo Ita (1904-1980s), Alvan Ikoku (1900-1971), Michael Imoudu (1900-2005), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996), Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987), Sir Ahmadu Bello (1910-1966), Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912-1966), Sir Egbert Udo Udoma (19171998), Mallam Aminu Kano (1920-1983), Joseph Tarka (1932-1980) and Dennis Osadebay (1911-1994) among others.
The troika of Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Ahmadu Bello remained the true faces of Nigerian democracy. It was also the political parties together with mass organizations like trade unions that fought for the independence. The five major political parties that fought for independence were the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC; from 1960 known as the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens), led by Azikiwe, the Action Group, led by Obafemi Awolowo and the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), led by Ahmadu Bello. Others were Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC). Thus we can say that notwithstanding long period of military intervention, Nigeria has a rich democratic heritage in party formations.
Sadly it is regrettable that the long period of military rule had done so much damage to our democratic culture. Unlike in the past, elections that should be like any sport have become unnecessary wars of attritions among brothers and sisters. Indeed the challenge is how to do what I call quality control of our democratic process. We have achieved much in quantitative terms. It is now time to have quality democratic process. The democratic contest is a form of institutionalized conflict. But this healthy conflict should be about ideas not personalities.
Let’s have a healthy debate about fixing electricity, reviving the railways and repositioning our foreign polices instead of throwing missiles at each other. In order for democracy to function, the participants must accept that only ideas can win this conflict. We must also have a framework based upon a broad consensus to regulate this conflict of ideas. No matter what the police and State Security Service do, a lot depend on the activities of the political actors. Our politicians must return to politics 101 and do the first thing first; put the people and the nation first.
Citizens must rise up to demand for accountability not after the elections but even now before the elections. We must vote for issues of developments not just persons of means and money who assault our sensibilities everyday rather than govern for welfare and security.