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Dr. Oby Ezekwesili
By Dan Metu
Within the path chosen for the political governance of Nigeria to date by sets of successive members of the political class, the nation’s political system as it is today is in for a long process of political and socio-economic transformation given its evident defects.
Many believe that the country’s institutional arrangement for arriving at political, legislative and administrative decisions are so dysfunctional and require a reform if frightening anarchy must be avoided to save the nation from drifting towards the brink.
Although Nigerian leaders claim to possess the knowledge of democratic politics, citizens do not seem to appreciate the outcome of political activity taking place in the land so far as it is tilted to the utmost benefit of those in control rather than for the general welfare.
The conversation among citizens is that the content of politics has been concerned more with the acquisitive power of office than a socially desired discharge of duties and responsibilities to the general public.
It is no longer contestable that there has been very little concern on the part of rulers for the welfare and advancement of the individual and social justice.
At a political dialogue webinar on #FixPolitics, on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, former presidential candidate in the 2019 general elections and former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, did not mince words in her assertion that unless Nigeria’s politics is restructured in such a way that the political power, which citizens hand to those they elect disposes them to produce outcomes favorable to the collective welfare of society, democracy would remain dysfunctional and elusive.
According to her, power must produce public goods and services in a genuine democracy to improve the well-being of those that gave authority to the custodians.
She identified the absence of good governance as Nigeria’s greatest obstacle to economic and political development, disclosing that that research conducted to ascertain why Nigeria is getting its politics an by extension governance wrong over the years showed that the Triangular Pillars of Democracy (TPOD) have been skewed to favour the politicians and regulators to the detriment of the poor citizens.
Argued she: We need to raise the influence of the electorate, then establish an unconventional school of politics, policy, and governance to flood the political space with a new class of valued-base politicians, and then mobilise Nigerian public to collectively demand a new constitution, political, the electoral and economic restructuring of Nigeria because only the Nigerian citizens working together can compel the three arms of government to respond urgently and avert the imminent collapse of Nigeria into a failed state.
” In any new dispensation the citizens’ voices must be brought into the discourse, the issue of constitutional reform, electoral reforms, among others should be properly addressed”.
Ezekwesili was not alone in her view. Other participants in the webinar, Prof. Remi Sonaiya, former minister of information, Frank Nweke, Alero Otobo, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Aisha Yesufu, and Seun Onigbinde, among others, agreed that there is the need for new political leaders with disruptive thinking to reposition the country for growth and development.
For Frank Nweke, there is no business more important than politics and governance because they are the anchor to every development.
Posited he: “We need to emerge an empowered electorate. Many Nigerians are not aware of what development is, so #FixPolitics (The new educative political platform) is out to educate the citizenry on development and their rights. We seek to make Nigerians more discerning politically and find their voices on issues like voting, integrity, and demanding accountability.
“It is not going to be easy but we must all work hard to achieve it. Our country is already on the way down, and we all must salvage it” Nweke asserted”.
On her part, Sonaiya stressed the need to restructure the country and mobilise for political and electoral reforms, contending that Nigerians must be carried along in political dialogues to achieve desired results.
Noted she: “The voices of Nigerians must be added to political discussions. We have a country that excludes the citizens and we largely take decisions without carrying others along and this ought not to be.
“The constitution and electoral law are major constraints in moving the country forward and there must be reforms in these areas. The people have suggested electronic voting and transmission of election results. Also, Nigerians in the Diaspora should be given the opportunity to vote in the reforms being sought”.
Speaking on the Nigerian condition, a teacher of political economy, Dr. Israel Okwara said it was a sad commentary that Nigeria at 60 had curiously become a killing field in the last couple of years, with an insensitive political leadership.
Okwara said there is an urgent need for a new political order that will guarantee justice and equity for the citizens, rather than the present “system that is unjust, discriminatory, and with a flawed constitution.
Stressed Okwara: “We have lamented over and over again about the problems of the country which are turning out to be intractable and unsolvable because leadership seems not to be sincere on the right actions to take. It is the reason we are where we are today. And you can see the reaction from what is happening in the country today, failure of leadership. Unless leadership puts the citizens first before self, we will continue to walk in circles, and very soon, if we are not careful, it will be to your tents oh Israel. We need serious reforms but will the leadership be willing to abide by it?
“We have become a pitiable country. Nigeria has so much potential, which has always been the central point of reference instead of its actualisation. Our leadership now constitutes an obstacle to freedom of development rather than being a vehicle of development. Instead of building common citizenship, they promote religion and ethnic identity; instead of building a nation from the tapestry of diversity that the country is, they promote all forms of prebendal politics”.
An educationist, Dr Felicia Obusa told Sunday Sun that there must be a re-awakening of the masses to be united even in their poverty, rather than allow themselves to be disunited.
Held she: “There is the need for the masses to unite. This is because the mistake in our democracy is to assume that the different groups that make up Nigeria have the same political tendency to democratic issues, we do not yet.
“Nigeria before we Balkanized it t 36 states used to be an identifiable region, each competing with others for the power and resources of the overall geographical entity.
“Each region was also dominated by a political party which interfered with the individual’s perception and use of his rights in order to control the region’s resources.
“Although there was economic inter-dependence between the regions, each one was relatively autonomous and had its own taxation system, identifiable separate interests and laws. There was a marked absence of a coherent nation-state as they developed according to their capacity”.
Also, Russian-trained political historian, Ireke Kalu Onuma, said the rage across the nation against the machinery of violence and by extension, bad governance is not surprising to him. He said unless there is good governance, equity, and justice restored in the political system the nation will continue to walk in circles.
Said Onuma: “With so much wealth, we live poor. The highly educated youths have neither jobs nor prospects. Their future mortgaged by a cabal intent of leaving no country behind for these young people.
“Nigeria has become a nation of humiliated people with no rights and roles. This system has humiliated us for the past 60 years. The system that has thrown up these bizarre set of callous and incompetent rulers, men and women who have out of our commonwealth has formed a clique of cruel overseers of our demise”.