2nd January, 2014
On 2 December, 2013, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan to express his perceived dismay at the way the country was being run. That missive yielded doses of raspberries, brickbats and name-calling almost on equal proportion from supporters of both men. This took the already rising political temperatures in the nation to very dangerous height, as various interpretations were given to that letter.
Of course, this letter was not the first blow on Nigeria’s brittle political peace this year. Political observers would recall that Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has been embroiled in a political battle with President Jonathan. Fingers have been pointed at Mrs. Patience Jonathan as the unseen hand stoking the fire in the fight. The battle is still raging with no end in sight, both parties are not relenting; their supporters are not abating in the verbal assaults, It is even more worrisome, that in the Rivers versus Aso Rock battle, the police are being accused of meddling in the crisis. This portends danger.
The clash between the opposition and the ruling party has also been a source of concern to many observers. The birth of the All Progressives Congress elevated the suspicion between the opposition and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to new levels. First, there was the fear that APC, a new political alliance of opposition parties, would not be registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission at the behest of the ruling PDP. That alone was a subject of acrimonious exchange of expletives between the PDP and the APC. Things got to a head when five governors elected on the platform of the PDP defected to the rival party. Since then, the political space has been inundated with exchange of brickbats that have continued to threaten our newfound democracy.
In the first republic, it was such and vaunting quest for power that led to the crash of that regime. We all recall the events that occurred during 1964 Western regional elections, the delay in the formation of a government at the centre by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Also the battle for the soul of the nation by the Northern Peoples Congress devoid of clean political procedures, have all been cited as part of the reasons the 1966 coup happened.
Similarly, in 1983, although corruption topped the charts of the reason General Muhammadu Buhari advanced for toppling President Shehu Shagari’s government, political bickering also played a role. The unguarded statements by stalwarts of the then ruling party, the NPN, the brazen disregard for electoral rules among other misdemeanours accounted for Shagari’s ouster.
We believe politicians should begin to play the game by the rules. Elsewhere, it is political manifestoes that sell political parties, not how wide they traduce each other. Tempers may rise in the course of public debate but public decorum, for the sake of our national peace, is ultimate and must take pre-eminence.
Politicians and their minders must learn to protect the sinews that bind this nation together. Their actions and speeches must reflect the fact that a united Nigeria free from any fear of internal or external aggression is the surest route to development and socio-economic progress.
Nigerian politicians should learn to woo the electorate using their outlined programmes. The masses are becoming more and more sophisticated and are interested only in implementable promises that politicians make. Politicians who depend on spitting fire and threatening fire and brimstone to win votes without a definite plan of what they will do with power if they grab it, will soon wake to the stark reality that the Nigerian voters have moved on.