Editor's Note: Sylvester Asoya, a senior Nigerian journalist and analyst, takes a critical look at the way the country's politicians scramble for power with little or no consideration for the suffering masses.
Asoya x-rays the country's many challenges and how these politicians and godfathers overlook same as long as they win control of political territories. He also suggests possible solutions to the problems.
Nigeria never ceases to amaze. Sometimes I am tempted to link the never-ending incongruities in our country to our size and diversity, but multiplicity is a global phenomenon. Other African countries and even advanced democracies are dealing squarely with issues around politics, integration, race, religion, culture and ethnicity. Yet, on a daily basis, Nigerians at home receive great news about the exploits of extraordinary Nigerians abroad who are breaking through the glass ceiling and setting new records.
This piece speaks to the concerns about our politics. These days, ‘capture’ is one word that dominates discussions in political circles and politicians are daily devising means of dominating their environment. They want everything and would stop at nothing to take all opportunities.
For many years now, the scramble for office has defined our politics and life. This has resulted in fierce contest for power which in no way, addresses ineffectual leadership, the progressive decline in service delivery and quality of life for the greatest number.
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Today, Nigeria faces innumerable problems almost on every front. But the biggest worry is the conscious and systematic invasion and desecration of our sacred institutions by some unruly politicians. Sadly, the only way a typical Nigerian political godfather announces his arrival is by bending the rules and circumventing the processes. Then with his privileged position, he goes ahead to impose his relatives and friends as candidates in every election.
In the parliament for instance, the godfather ensures that principal offices and plum committees are reserved for his proxies. Adams Oshiomhole, the abrasive chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, promoted this creepy position when he told Nigerians shortly after the general elections, that his party would corner every leadership position in the National Assembly, including chairmen of all the important committees. Oshiomhole’s position is abnormal and clearly unacceptable in a representative government. The APC chairman spoke out of ignorance; regrettably this is a major problem with some people in very important positions in Nigeria.
Unfortunately, our country’s public service and other strategic public institutions, once upholders of excellence, are also not left out of this scramble by politicians.
The scariest part is the alleged politicization of appointment and promotion of members of the bench by powerful Nigerians. There is a strong belief that the judiciary, both at the federal and state levels, is now technically in the pockets of politicians. This should be a source of concern to every Nigerian irrespective of party affiliation.
Last week, the country was literally in a hellhole because of the election of principal officers in the National Assembly. Politicians hurled abuses at one another and made unwarranted comments against ethnic groups and geo-political zones because a few men wanted power by all means. We watched in horror, the recessive views of young politicians who could not even mask their narrow-minded positions and desperation.
In this scramble for Nigeria, no one remembers the incompetence in high places, our growing insecurity, the issue of failed promises and hypocrisy, the falling standard of education, our decrepit health infrastructure, the repression by men of power, the reward for bad behavior, hopelessness in the land and the silence of those who spoke loudest, yesterday.
We have traveled this road before but the experience today is frightening, completely different and unparalleled. This breed of politicians are too covetous and base, they want everything and would stop at nothing to get what they want.
Some days ago, I responded to a Facebook post by my good friend and brother, Azuh Arinze on Senator Theodore Orji’s new status as the reigning godfather of Abia politics and the making of his son as speaker of the state’s House of Assembly. Though I called for fair hearing for the senator who is only acting true to type, I also harped on the average Nigerian politician’s insatiable world, his narrow interest and huge appetite for territories and captives, and a good number of our politicians are culpable. I rounded off by drawing attention to the fact that if those before them had shown this level of avarice, bigotry and brigandage, there would probably not have been any opportunity for them and members of their families today.
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This is why we need to rethink our approach to politics as it is now clear that the prevailing chaos will lead to nowhere. Many people are of the opinion that today’s Nigeria is far lower than average because of bad politics. Public office or position, ordinarily, is the highest level of service and we cannot afford to leave it in the hands of adventurers. After all, the great future that we all seek can only become possible when those in authority show good example. Those who think that cornering every conceivable position amounts to strength and relevance can learn a few lessons from the life of John Dewey, the American philosopher and reformer whose works promote inclusiveness and helping individuals live good and meaningful life in a democratic society.
The Nigeria of our dream therefore, may not be possible without social harmony. The system must guarantee respect, love, value, trust and peace, regardless of tribe, age, gender or religion. And those in charge must get down to work. They must address all unresolved challenges facing our country and anything for that matter, that gives credence to the feeling that there is a scramble for Nigeria.
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