The Sun News

Protest: Nigeria and the reformation

MY discourse last week titled, “Sudanization of Nigeria” was a very important matter, an issue that was at that time and still is central to what we want to make of our nation. The sanctity of life and the ownership of property are key issues in every society. When a society allows a few demented ones to go on a killing spree, the continuous existence of that society automatically comes into question. I think those who drafted our Constitution knew about this and that is why in our constitution they expressly stated that government in our nation would be essentially about the welfare of the citizens and the security of lives and property. Our efforts should be to stop felons within from contemplating at all going for the lives and property of citizens irrespective of what the issues are at any given time.

The article received many responses and as I meant to write for this Sunday, two issues competed for my attention: one of them concerns the reactions from last Sunday’s piece, many of which I must confess are very instructive and the other would have been the many political “mis-steps”of Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha. In the end none of the two subjects made it and the reason being that the protest witnessed in the polity last Monday was an indication of serious on-going political struggle. In fact, I had intended titling today’s piece ‘The battle for legitimacy,’ and if I had done so, I would be very correct. As it is now, the government is struggling to retain the overwhelming goodwill that got it into power. A section of the population is saying the government has not done enough to retain their support. Such a development is part of any true democracy, yet both the led and the leadership must begin to feel some discomfort when disenchantment matures into public protest.

Beyond partisanship, I am a supporter of any leader in power and that is because I believe that once election is over, all hands irrespective of political divide should be on deck to help the leaders to achieve effective and progressive governance in the interest of the people and development of the society. It was on this basis that when the central government celebrated one year in office, I offered some advice drawn from my long association with national politics, first as a political correspondent with some reputable national newspapers and magazines and as a high political player who served in high political offices in both the military and civilian eras. I recall in one of my write-ups to mark the one year in office that I had told officials of this government that the circumstances they had at that time would be dramatically altered shortly before or exactly after they give their second year stewardship account. I made that prediction based on what I know of our national politics and the characters that play in it. I know our citizens (like others elsewhere) are impatient and they want results irrespective of what the odds are; I must clear one  thing though: such attitude is the same everywhere and that is why those who govern must as a first step know their people and their environment very well.

As it is, things are unraveling and if you ask me, at a very fast pace, politicians are looking for new camps and friends and the biggest so far was the public protest staged by Nigerians to either reduce or sustain the legitimacy quotient of the present administration. From any angle you look at it, it is not a plus for either the administration or for the Nigerian nation, it is a dent on what we have been trying to do, the only saving grace and for which we must give the Buhari administration kudos is the fact that after everything, the government allowed the protest to hold. This is obviously a positive addition to our political culture. Nevertheless, there are observations from the encounter which I want to highlight for the good of this administration which we all must work to ensure they succeed. I watched and took note of the reactions of some of the officials and I noticed the old posture of let them talk or do whatever they like. This disposition is not in tandem with a change philosophy. If change agents are to synchronize with the electorate who ordinarily should be their backbone, they should have the mind and the humility of Christ, who even though was God never felt embarrassed to listen and mingle with ordinary mortals; the Acting President Yemi Osibajo gladdened my heart with his answer when he said,“we hear, loud and clear.” By now it should be clear to change agents that humility and acknowledgement is one potent weapon they need to overwhelm fellow competitors for power and to retain the majority support of the citizens.

Identity and perception is one of the major challenges of the present administration. I am one of those who expected the new group in power to operate as social democrats. This way some of their features would have included simplicity, geniality, and then government run on clear vision backed by intense intellectualism and engaging type of developmental communication. But this appears not to be the case. Rather, and to their hurt, the administration’s officials have so far operated as poor imitations of the discredited PDP order and what has happened is in the eyes of the average Nigerians, is that members of the new order appear like a worse version of the defeated PDP group. We must admit and give the administration credit; they mean well, in truth they want to do things differently. For me this is the most disciplined group to ascend to power in this nation since independence. Yet, good intention is just a small percentage of the ingredients required to defeat opposition, win the people’s support, sustain and carry to a successful end reformation or a revolution; in addition to patriotism would be tact, clear vision (the people must know and buy in), speed, equity, engaging and assertive communication and to crown it the welfare of the people must be jealously guarded. In some reformative efforts, the leaders had to collect goods from the rich, break banks to collect money and distribute to the poor. I don’t advocate this approach but it must be noted that when the lowly are suffocated, the reform or change runs the risk of been aborted. The President definitely lost a lot on equity scale by the manner he constituted the kitchen cabinet and security council, this is not forgetting the 95 per cent and 5 per cent controversy that came at a time every effort should be towards getting everybody to “piss out”, the rise of the herdsmen and their murderous activities at this time and the frosty relations between the Executive and National Assembly, all combined to give the administration a perception far from what it would have wished.

Like I said earlier, the administration means well and I insist it is the most disciplined we have had so far. If I have my way they would finish this tenure and go ahead to do a second. Even at this, they must help themselves by being tactful and speedy about what they intend to do. If between now and the next one year, prices of foodstuff go drastically down, we begin to refine petrol and sell at a much lower price than the PDP did, a stop is put to barbarism by herdsmen and a few infrastructural turn around seen, Buhari and this administration will end up heroes. I know they can do this!

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