By Okwe Ogah
Here we are sequestered, cocooned, holed up and captured in the captivity of our pre-election positions of 2015 with readily combative punchy punches ready to shoot down, puncture and deflate any contrary comment, suggestion, observation that do not suit the principal of our political divide. We continue (under the cover of religion, ethnicity, regionalism, political association, etc.) to defend/support or reject in absolutely anything, just anything that emanates from the camp we support or against respectively without any effort of looking at the merit/demerit of the deed/action. We are never ever ready to give the other side, the benefit of doubt. And this we do with relish combativeness and robustness.
One of the annoying things about this state of our being is the highly subjective objectivity that we try to portray in the presentation of these positions. Technology has helped to further the subjective objectivity as Photoshop, Adobe, PDF, and such similar inventions of technology are used to produce photos and pictures to support arguments that are usually presented. Some of the “photos evidences” are so compelling that you begins to wonder why the compulsion to go into all that trouble when the long held notion of “picture does not tell lies” can now be disputed with photo op-ed.
We continue to rant, dissipate energy and secrete/dispense unneeded adrenaline fighting and insulting ourselves in defence of our captors and oppressors, a class that ought to attract nothing more than our scorn and disdain. Unfortunately for us, these our captors who congregate together at the middle of the night to commune and cling glasses of champagne knows us so well that they continue to perpetuate themselves on the strength of this our supposedly irreconcilable differences. Thus from succeeding government, a greater heist is continually unleashed on us, the captors.
So instead of speaking, focusing or devoting our energy in a collective effort to fight and liberate themselves from their oppressive and undeserved captivity, we find physiological succour in the sentiments that keeps us apart; thinking, behaving and acting like “since he/she is of the same blood, religion or political association that is eating, my hunger, lack and poverty is being satisfied and catered for”. And so, a whole region can for instance, come out to support the criminal actions of some few members of their region who have been greatly enriched at their expense to destroy national assets and subvert the economy thus worsening and compounding their already deplorable state without qualms.
The extremity of the support for the action or inaction of the” Oga – at – the top” by the members of the two groups thus continue to befuddles and bemuses, howbeit sadly, the impartial observer. It is really a sad commentary that those who are the most advisedly affected members of the society are the most vocal in supporting the heist committed by their oppressors and captors; it is not only absurd, it sadly and pathetically unfortunate.
The electioneering are long over, the walls of partition dividing us should be long gone, collapsed and discarded. It is time for an articulated course of action that must be collectively pursued. If anything, majority of us believe that there is need for change, where there is differing of option is that, those promising the change do not have the pedigree to effect the desired change. This substantially convergence of options on the need for change offers a window of opportunity that should compel us to come together to pursue and demand for change that will take us out of our present socio – political and economic quagmire.
In this regard, I will advocate that rather than fighting and insulting ourselves, an enterprise which keeps us perpetually in-coordinate, disjointed and disunited, a situation that allows the roguish class to perpetuate and entrench themselves continually at our expense, we should urgently harness the on-going vociferous voices and combative energy being expended daily in demanding an enduring change in the following areas
WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION: Why it is true that the war against corruption must start from somewhere, and so the current efforts of the government of the day should be applauded and encouraged instead of casting aspersions and trying to discredit, a ploy which embolden the heist of the past, the prosecutors of the fight should ensure that all strata of the perpetuators are included in the search light.
I have mentioned somewhere before now that, why the EFCC under Obasanjo did not largely succeeded in the war against corruption was because, besides it being a slogan, it was perceived to be targeted at the political opponents. I remembered one of the stories told then to disprove the rating or placing GEJ at par with Kim Yu of North Korea; Kim Yu’s deputy who was accused of corruption and who went to him to seek protection but was pointedly told that he need not worry or fear if he has not committed the crime he was being accused of, but that if he knows he is guilty, the law will take its full course. The end of the story was that the deputy on leaving his leader’s office went and committed suicide. That is what it should be with war on corruption here as well.
I like the way Pius Adesanmi put it “I encourage the President to stay focused on the anti-corruption lane. I also encourage him to understand the fact that there is an imperative to continuously broaden the ethical bases. That is the only way to cut off oxygen supply to the enemies of the war”.
However, more than anything at else, while focusing on the past corruption practitioners/infractors, more attention should be given to building and putting structures that will discourage those who will engage in it in future. One of the ways that this can be done is strengthening of the laws, agencies and organs of the government responsible for investigating, prosecuting and convicting corruption practitioners or indulgers. Organs such as EFCC, ICPC, CCT, LAW COURTS, etc., should be made to be truly independent of all influence from any of the arms of the government. Stringent measures must be put in place to ensure that it is only men of integrity and character that gets appointed to these agencies. This must also apply to the recruitment of men/women into the police, armed forces, judicial commission and any sector that has anything to do with the administration of justice as well
This government that is premised on change should really be seen to do things in a different way. The office of the Attorney General who should be the chief prosecutor of the state should be independent of the presidency and so should be separated from the office of the minister of justice. Perception and reality should tally amongst all the observers of the war being prosecuted.
ELECTORAL RE- ENGINEERING – No doubt, the permanent voter’s Card (PVC) electronically generated and operated with the planned purpose of fully integrated into electronic voting significantly contributed to the modest success of the 2015 general elections that usher in the current parties in governance at the various levels. The issue of over inflation of figures and ballot boxes snatching as well as brazen acts of violence were significant reduced because of it particularly, the presidential and NASS elections.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling negating the place of PVC in the genuineness or authenticity of the candidates in the election concerned the novel success recorded in 2015, by INEC to the dust bin. And like all other aspects of lives, old habits, (especially those that borders on illegality) never ever dies, so we have witnessed unimaginable violence, thuggery, ballot snatching, etc. since then.
Let the truth be told, unless, there is a drastic electioneering review and re-engineering, the successful conduct of 2019 election may never be possible, if what has transpired from the Kogi, Rivers, Bayesia and other by-elections is anything to by. Urgent and fast review of the electoral law that will not only make electronic voting mandatory but the only option should be a matter that ought to agitate our minds and occupies our prime attention.
For as long as we have people imposing themselves on us through forceful means in the name of elections, we are always going to have poor, un visionary and uninspiring politicians as our representative.
If somebody who operates a bank account in Lagos can access his money in Jimeta in Taraba state, or somebody with an account in Obiaro in Delta state can access his funds in a place like Maiduguri despite the terribly security challenges through the use of ATM card, then, there is no reason why somebody who is issued with a PVC in owerri cannot use it to vote in Kafanchan or anywhere else in Nigeria that he finds himself at the time of election.
Until we evolve a law that allows the maximum and absolute us of technology where someone can even from the comfort of his home, office or even while walking along the road, can cast his vote using his tablet or laptop, we are most likely going to witness the violence and theatre of wars that voting has become in our nation. The deploring of technology will not only help to make our elections more credible, but will eliminate loss of time, save lives and prevent economic shut down.
We have to collectively demand both the Executive and the legislative arms of. Government to revive, salvage and make electronic voting the only way to go in the years ahead.
NATIONAL RE-ENGINEERING: More than ever, the clamour for National restructuring continues to rise and increase unabatedly. It seems, from all indications, this national edifice called Nigeria is nothing more than a geographical expression; it is not anything near nationhood from the real sense of the word.
The near bankrupt nature of more than 2/3 of the states of the federation, the ethnic and religious crisis across the nation, the progressive disunity and distrust amongst the various section of the country are all proves that this nation needs an urgent and drastic surgical operation if not a complete new start.
Truly, why should states go cap in hand to the centre for hands out in the name of federal allocation. Why should I for instance need the approval of the village headman before I can inherit my inheritance or cultivate a land that my fathers passed over to me? Yet that is what is happening when states are required to obtain licenses before they can even tap mineral deposits in their sphere of influence.
Why must you be held down because I am not measuring up to you in terms of speed and velocity? Why should different measuring and assessing matrix be used in grading the intelligence and IQs of the children of the same nation? Yet, this is what we do with Quota system and Federal Character inclusion in our stature books.
The content of the Exclusive list of legislation in our constitution should be drastically whittled down. We don’t expect this Government that climb the seat of power on the wind of change to do things the same old way. We don’t expect the structural defects and deficiencies glaring in our law books to remain after they must have gone. We have tried so much to panel beat, patch and pad the structure without success. It is time to pull it down and start something new. Truth is, the foundation is defective and for as long as the foundation is not straight from the very beginning, there is no magic that make the structure to be straight.
To say that this edifice as presently constituted can be made to work as it is, is to live in self-deceit and self-deceit is the greatest harm one can do to himself. We can continue to live in falsehood that we are truly one without making genuine progress for as long time as it is possible, but as it is with lie and falsehood; it just takes a moment and a fraction of time for the lie to be extinguished when truth catches up with the lie. The only concern here is that, when this happens, one hopes, it might not be too late.
That fraudulent document in the name of constitution packaged by military government of Late Sani Abacha foisted on us by the Government of Abdulsalem Abubakar; was designed to aid Abacha’s planned self – succession dream; and so it did not seek to promote integrity, honesty, ethics and good governance/genuine democratic ethos. Therefore using even an ounce of our strength, not to talk of our blood in us to defend it is realy, really unnecessary. It is time for us to build common a front irrespective of political, tribal or religious sentiments to agitate, demand and request for a New Nigeria in all ramifications of our national existence.
Maintaining such stand as the nation being indivisible, non – negotiable and, non -dissolvable while leaving the structure as it is currently constructed is more or less to live and believe in an illusion. This is because, for as long as I can remember, we have been hearing such stance from the leaders in the past.
Ironically, the more this posture is adopted by the leaders, the more strident the call for negotiation of the basis of this nation by the different ethnic nationalities, the more the distrust, strife, disunity and disjointed we are as a nation particularly between the 3 major ethnic groups. It has become glaringly clear that if we want to still remain as one, the basis of our nationhood has to be discussed and reviewed. We just have to move away from the velleity of the leaders concerning a new Nigeria. If we want a fundamental change that will be enduring and bequeath a greater future for our children, something just has to be done on this edifice.
*Ogah, public affairs analyst, wrote in from Lagos; email@example.com