Be­tween States­man­ship and Brinks­man­ship

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

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.

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