23rd September, 2013
By Solomon Markson
“It is wrong for any section of this country to show desperation for the presidency just for the sake of having it”
Nigeria is a country of diverse peoples and cultures. It has the largest collection of ethnic nationalities and cultures in Africa, which also constitute the country’s population of about 150 million. This number ranks it as the most populous country in Africa, and of course, the world’s most populous Black Country.
By geographical location, Nigeria is a beautiful country; consider her landmass, diverse, rich vegetation stretching from the Savannah in the North to the rain and mangrove swamp forests in the South, magnificent relief and drainage systems. It is on these beautiful natural settings that its peoples have been planted.
There are very many reasons Nigerians should appreciate their God for so enriching them; theirs is the giant in the tropical sun of Africa. Appreciating the beautiful standing of their country would only mean that Nigerians work jealously for national unity or integration, in all their dealings.
Democracy is a system of government which allows opposing voices to be heard in order to create an atmosphere of alternatives, all towards national development. That makes it the best system of government needed in Nigeria. Political parties are supposed to be formed by patriotic Nigerians who appreciate and love their country.
Therefore, every party’s ideology must be truly unifying in its orientation or simply put, rooted in national unity. A political party is a thinking house as to how national problems can be solved. It employs creativity and this is the reason every party’s ideology must tend towards raising true statesmen for the country.
Political parties in Nigeria are meant to be Pan-Nigerian institutions or vehicles for national unity.
Opposition parties in a democracy are like gladiators who engage each other in contests of ideas based on issues of national development. This, they do with respect and love for one another, Since they know they are pursuing a common purpose for their country, it is all about patriotism amongst compatriots. Debates on vital issues of national emancipation is supposed to be a routine taking place within and across strong opposition parties so that the best can always emerge to serve at party levels, state and national levels, after elections. Debates between the opposition ought to be conducted and made open to the public so that the people can watch and listen to what they say in order that they would be able to take informed decisions when they are told to vote at elections. Therefore, the country needs strong opposition parties to provide the alternatives required for decisive and smooth transition at the call of time, What then qualifies a candidate for election in internal party democracy is his proven integrity and knowledge about issues of national development or concerns. It is not his faith, tribe nor the section of the country he hails from. Nigerians are no more interested in where he comes from than in who can perform. This goes to say that, any political party which has internal wrangling as to which section of the country the President should come from is a party which does not mean well for a country like Nigeria. By that, the party would have clearly shown that it lacks ideas or the right philosophy as to how a country like ours should be run. How well a party means for the country is reflected by its ideology. We are seriously in need of national unity so that we can make meaningful progress as a nation; so much time has already been wasted.
The turn by turn (i.e. rotation of) presidency as promoted by some political parties in Nigeria is bad for the country. It does not promote or encourage national unity; it is simply a loud statement of division, saying emphatically that Nigeria is not one and cannot possibly be one. This is an open show of lack of trust amongst fellow Nigerians.
Again, it is wrong for any section of this country to show desperation for the presidency just for the sake of having it; that is selfish also and shows that the country is not united and is refusing to unite. If this evil sentiments are widely accepted by Nigerians, as a trend, then we should also know that the country will not make any headway as nothing good can come out it; it will always amount to a wasting of time and wasting away of the people.
Nor, has the Federal Government been doing any well, over time to help the issues. Over the years, it is the Federal Government through some of its policies that has promoted ethnic biases amongst Nigerians: For instance, in the academia, you are not qualified to be the Vice Chancellor of a university you’re working in, even if you merit it, if you are not an indigene of, or from the state or section the university is located. This is a large departure from the original purpose (as unity centres), among others, for which the federal institutions were meant to be in Nigeria. The trend is wrong whatever may have been the argument for the policy. In retrospect, this means the late Prof. Kenneth Dike, the first Nigerian Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan in Western Nigeria, would never have occupied that chair, if the current system in Nigeria were in place then, since he came from Eastern Nigeria.
It is sad! And this is happening at a time, Nigerians in far away United States of America, are being appointed Vice Chancellors of top colleges and universities. It shows the Federal Government does not even know the place of university in the process of nation building. Even if the university is state owned, what is wrong with an Igbo man heading it in Lagos, if he works there and merits it and so on? And so it can be clearly seen that in Nigeria, even the Federal Government with its might of influence, has been using it to promote tribalism in the country. What an irony!
Look at where we are today. We could’ve done better if we were properly united in all spheres. It is time Nigeria threw out living in suspicion, fear and distrust among its peoples because internal wrangling will only tend towards breaking up the country. Some of the security challenges the country is facing today are not unconnected with the ugly and reckless political path Nigerians have chosen to follow. It should be noted that if it is wrong politically, then it won’t be right economically. Essentially, there has to be political stability so that patriots who form government can have the appropriate atmosphere and comportment to draw up good economic plans meant to better the lives of Nigerians, now and for the future.
Nigeria needs unity and political stability for meaningful and enduring progress. During the just concluded AFCON Football Competition in South Africa, I watched Nigerians irrespective of faith and tribe, unite and show so much enthusiasm towards the success of their national team, the Super Eagles and wished this were also the case when it comes to political issues such as voting for leaders who can perform irrespective of their faith or tribe.
Nigeria would become the finest exemplar in Africa if democracy is allowed to thrive naturally because of the nature of the country. The Federal Government of Nigeria must re-strategize in its methods towards achieving meaningful national integration. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is not left out. The electoral umpire must be ready to fully participate in the process of reshaping Nigeria’s political landscape for the good of all Nigerians. I expect INEC to review the criteria for registration of political parties in the country. Any political party that does not have ideology which truly promotes national unity should not be registered; for those already registered, it does not matter what they call themselves, they must have their registration reconsidered to see if they are not falling short.
Our democracy should promote national development, not the kind which tends towards the disruption of the Nigerian federation.
•Markson wrote from Lagos.