Monday, 9 March 2015

Douglas Anele: The APC cannot deliver meaningful change to Nigerians, I’ll explain

Now, because the  full positive  impacts  of  the modest achievements  by  President Jonathan are yet to  be felt  nationwide, it appears that the message of  “change”  from  APC is resonating with the masses. 
Politics, according to cynics, is a dirty game. Many Nigerians tend to accept that negative characterisation of politics and politicking without question. However, in my view, Aristotle’s depiction of politics as the endeavour for the noblest of human beings is nearer the truth  than the cynical standpoint. Briefly defined, politics is the authoritative allocation of power to make decisions and implement them within a geopolitical space.
In both democratic and aristocratic or authoritarian systems, a tiny minority or group exercises political power by determining  the nature and structure of governance for the vast majority of the population. Therefore, since political institutions evolved mainly to promote the well-being of members of the society over whom  political authority is exercised,  it is extremely important to create transparent processes for selecting the noblest of minds for political office.
Unfortunately, human beings  have not invented foolproof  reliable  method  which would guarantee that the best  individuals  would always emerge  as leaders. Indeed, perfect implementation  of the recommendations  by Plato and other political philosophers cannot occlude the possibility  that political power  might be in the hands of men and women of inferior intellectual, emotional, and moral quality.
The impossibility of creating perfect socio-political  institutions that can guarantee that only the most suitable would occupy political offices entails  that individuals should channel their creative energies towards constructing democratic institutions  in their respective countries  capable of minimising  the repercussions  of bad leadership. According to the Austrian-born British philosopher, Karl Popper, this is achievable only  through periodic elections.
Democracy is not an ideal political system,  but it is preferable to other arrangements  because it allows members of the society to play some role in selecting those that would lead them for a specified  period.  Like other non-authoritarian countries, Nigeria is  still trying to create a viable democratic process  appropriate  for her  historical experiences and  developmental needs.
Of course, the 2015 elections are crucial  in this respect  because, if conducted successfully, that would go a long way to consolidate  the modest progress made since 1999. On the other hand, if politicians derail the  process because of inordinate desperation for power, it would be another disappointing case of “hope deferred.”
The  presidential contest  between the two frontrunners,  Dr. Goodluck  Ebele Jonathan and  Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has brought to the fore once again the perennial problem of selecting  political leaders in a fledgling  democracy. The All Progressives Congress (APC) on whose platform  Gen. Buhari is contesting has  mounted  vuvuzela-sounding  campaigns  with the sole purpose of dislodging the ruling  Peoples  Democratic Party (PDP) from power.
In fact, the heat and tension  from APC  was  so palpable that many Nigerians became too pessimistic and apprehensive about  what would happen next. Despite the unnecessary threats by  Gen. Buhari  and his cohorts, the presidential and gubernatorial elections have been postponed; tension has gone down  somewhat, although there is still a sense of foreboding because of  ferocious  propaganda by the  major two parties.
A  disturbing product  of the vociferous APC campaign machine is Buharimania, that is, worshipful support bothering on religious and cultic excitement for Buhari  by a section of the Nigerian population especially in the North, coupled with  fanatic belief that APC can deliver positive change in  the country  if  Buhari wins the election. It would take a lengthy treatise drawing on the resources of psychology, sociology and contemporary Nigerian political history to explain in details the provenance of Buharimania.
It  must be pointed out,  however, that  Buharimania is a phenomenon rooted in  devotion to  and  uncritical preference for  a retired military dictator with a reputation for rigidity, integrity and honesty over  a well-educated, humble and methodical democrat with an easy going disposition  towards governance. The danger here is that wily APC kingpins can exploit it to foment trouble if the  party loses the elections. Understandably, the propaganda machine of APC  deliberately suppresses President Jonathan’s achievements by  continuously  denigrating his administration.
It projects  Gen. Buhari  as the  only presidential candidate with the  capacity to eliminate corruption, mount a decisive fight against insecurity, and promote economic development.  In addition, the  party has been working hard to minimise the collateral political damage that Gen.  Buhari’s  image as an inflexible, not so well educated, ageing military dictator  with  outdated  understanding of  economic management  might cause it in the general  elections.
Now, because the  full positive  impacts  of  the modest achievements  by  President Jonathan are yet to  be felt  nationwide, it appears that the message of  “change”  from  APC is resonating with the masses.  But a closer look at the antecedents of APC leaders reveals that the gospel of change is fundamentally unrealisable and illusory, a desperate attempt to exploit the hopes, aspirations and anxieties of Nigerians to wrest the highest political office from  the ruling party.
Unscrupulous conservative politicians who benefited immeasurably from the corrupt system they helped to create and impose on Nigerians dominate the top echelons of the party. In order to substantiate my claim, I will  embark on  a systematic  deconstruction of Buharimania  and  APC’s desperate quest for power. My main argument is that the  party,  as presently constituted and managed,  cannot deliver sustainable meaningful change  to  Nigerians.
For starters, consider the major figures in APC. The arrowhead of the party  is Gen.  Buhari, who pledged in 2011 never to contest for any political office after the election held that year. Now the question  is:  why did the retired general renege on  that  promise, especially considering his hyperbolic reputation as a  man who keeps his word? Was  the change of mind  motivated by strong desire to get even with President Jonathan who defeated him in the 2011 presidential election or  was it necessitated  by messianic delusion about being the only one capable of addressing the hydra-headed problems facing the country presently? Why did he succumb to the opportunistic persuaders desperate for political survival and relevance at all cost?
In my opinion, Gen. Buhari’s  decision to contest again and failure to mentor a younger  and better-educated  politician to  political prominence as his successor after losing  the  presidential election  thrice are indicative of a man obsessively preoccupied with power. Bola  Tinubu’s  argument that Gen.  Buhari  had to  be drafted into  the presidential election because countries at crossroads in the past  were rescued from perdition by  their army  generals is, to put it mildly, ludicrous and historically inaccurate. Moreover,  in Africa particularly, military intervention in politics has had a detrimental effect on the economic and socio-political development of several countries, to the extent that coup d’états are detested everywhere.
Therefore, it is plainly unrealistic to believe that  seventy-three years old Gen.  Buhari  who three decades ago presided over the most draconian military regime in Nigerian history has suddenly  completely  mutated  into an  apostle of democratic change.   APC chieftains know that old habits die hard, and that  it is harder still for a conservative Muslim and former soldier like Gen.  Buhari  to change so dramatically. Keep in mind that one of the reasons Gen. Ibrahim  Babangida  gave for overthrowing Gen.  Buhari  was that the latter was too rigid and opinionated to preside over a multiply plural country like Nigeria.  Thus,  I am not sure that  APC’s  presidential candidate has developed the degree of emotional intelligence required to navigate successfully the treacherous landscape of Nigerian politics.
Several kingpins of APC have held, and are still holding  various  public offices. Yet there is  very little to show that the era of “business as usual” has ended. For instance, in APC controlled states, the problems of bloated cabinet, overconcentration of development in the urban centres to the detriment of the rural areas, emasculation of local governments, cronyism, and financial rascality are still rampant.
Meanwhile, a  sizeable number of prominent APC members were formerly in PDP.  It  would be surprising if Nigerians have not recognised yet  the  hypocrisy  in  chieftains of  APC  welcoming  enthusiastically  renegades from the very party they have been disparaging and criticising for years. Perhaps,  Tinubu  and others  are too desperate for power and would do anything to get it, and  their  criticisms of PDP  might stem from  jealousy towards a party that has dominated the political space since 1999. Whatever might be  the case,  frankly  there is  very little  to show that APC can be trusted as the vehicle of positive change in the country  if its candidates win the electionbuhari kiss

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