It is a good sign for the strengthening of Nigeria’s democracy that a ruling party which had hitherto boasted that it would retain its hold on power for 60 years can be ousted by an opposition party. It amounts to nothing now whether anybody likes the face, the dictatorial profiling or temperament of the president-elect. What any Nigerian who is truly committed to the growth and development of our beloved country should be concerned about now is what happens after the euphoria of electoral victory.
The expectation of Nigerians is that the new government in power, the All Progressives Congress (APC) come May 29, 2015, should hit the ground running to set in motion the process of achieving the much touted change, positive change, which earned it their mandate. We have been treated to a cocktail of ills and shortcomings of the out-going Jonathan administration, nay the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) government which had held the reins of power for 16 years. Nigerians and indeed the international community perceived in some quarters to be part of the grand conspiracy to see the back of President Jonathan and his party, cannot wait too long to begin to see a more responsive and proactive government manifestly committed to the fulfillment of their hopes and aspirations in terms of delivery of democracy dividends.
It is a big relief that violence was avoided especially by the altruistic gesture of President Jonathan to make that golden phone call conceding defeat. I wonder if the president-elect would have done the same were the reverse to be the case. Going by his antecedents, I very much doubt, peace accord or not. This is by the way side. Jonathan’s act of statesmanship is one that has been widely commended and encouraged by Nigerians and other world leaders. It is a signal that Nigeria, indeed Africa and Africans are fast internalizing the ethics and ethos of democratic culture.
Nigerians must understand that this is not about an APC victory or a PDP loss but a demonstration that indeed power to choose their leaders belongs to the people and that their will must be obeyed when they decide to exercise it. What we have just experienced is the triumph of people power and not a victory for political godfathers and party loyalists and so Nigerians must strive to manage and engineer the political power dynamics such that the ultimate winners will remain the masses who should be ready and bold to hold their leaders accountable to their electioneering promises.
To many Nigerians, we have entered a new era. However, it may be too early to make such assumptions because word is cheap while action speaks louder. The optimism and expectations of Nigerians must also be balanced on the scale of realism and civil participation respectively. When he eventually takes over the mantle of leadership by May 29, Buhari must tread softly and watch out for the proverbial banana peels if his administration must succeed in bringing about the type of change the people voted for. First, there is no gainsaying the fact that those who sowed into this project are already salivating for a generous bite of the national cake as they lurk in the corners to recoup their investments by hook or crook. The previous media hype in the fight against corruption while “forensic corruption” goes on unabated, and selective justice especially by the Obasanjo regime, must be avoided. The fight against corruption must be total and there must be no sacred cows. Secondly, the same corrupt characters that are part of the supposed old order are still major players in the APC. There is no gainsaying the fact that APC is not made up of some extraterrestrial beings but the same political characters we are used to – greedy, selfish, corrupt and desperate to achieve or hang onto power. Majority of the gladiators now parading themselves as progressives by association are indeed old wine in a new wine skin. We cannot delude ourselves that we have nothing to fear; the only consolation now is that we would “easily” vote them out for non-performance at the appropriate time.
I congratulate General Buhari on his victory. It is my prayer and hope that as President, Buhari will be able to balance the greed of his sponsors and the great expectations of Nigerians such that they will not be disappointed and lament the “change” they did not bargain for . It is too late in the day for the president-elect to tell us not to expect miracles. A lot of promises have been made and as an army General, his word should be his bond. I don’t want to believe that all those promises were just for vote-catching. The change that Nigeria needs is not just one that satisfies the immediate demands of her citizens but one that addresses the foundations of our democracy and the fair terms of our shared nationality. That is why there is the call in some quarters for implementation of the report of the national conference. The new government must go beyond that to address the nagging issues of fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and credible census devoid of politics and mischief that were not captured in that report. Any change that does not address these issues is nothing but cosmetic, a fraud, deceptive and intended to hood-wink Nigerians into voting for the APC.
Nigerians must not be carried away by the APC’s promise to take us to the moon and beyond. Attempting to democratize an unrepentant dictator is like trying to teach an old dog new trick. I don’t know how much influence Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as vice-president can wield in that government to stem the dictatorial tendencies of his principal. But Nigerians must be on the look-out for such tendencies as exhibited in the recent AIT saga which generated so much uproar and the General had to beat a retreat after his party had come out to over-rule him. I dare say we must be on our guard to prevent any such occurrence and that is why well-meaning Nigerians, particularly civil society organizations, organised labour, religious bodies, etc, must adopt a posture of civil vigilance to extract gains from the in-coming administration. Now that we are going to have reversal of roles from May 29, 2015, it is my hope that both the APC and PDP would play their roles well to further strengthen our democracy. After all, it is all about Nigeria and not individual interest or ambition.
God bless Nigeria!!!
Toks Ero blogs at www.toksero.org