In the struggle to make the Nigeria nation see reality during the trauma the nation went through due to the bad management of sickness of the late President Musa Umaru Yar Adua, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) was very active online and as foot soldiers in the political terrain of our beloved nation, Nigeria.
There is need to commend the main convener of the group, the outspoken and controversial Pastor Tunde Bakare. One can not but make mention of such notable and frontline activists such as the erudite Prof Wole Soyinka, the Nobel laureate, Barrister Femi Falana, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), Dr Joe Odumakin and many others who joined in open protest marches in Nigeria cities and abroad to make the National Assembly toe the path of honour as well as the Federal executive council. Eventually, on the 5th of May 2010, the President Yar Adua passed to the great beyond and it seemed that right from that moment the passion and zeal of the main leaders of SNG has diminished or so it seems regarding the political situation of our dear nation Nigeria.
What are the main objectives of SNG?
It is pertinent at a time like this for the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) to make known its objectives to the whole nation without any ambiguity. Even though it can be argued that since the SNG is online with detailed information on its website, there is therefore no need for anyone demanding to know the group’s objectives. However, there are pertinent issues warranting such clarification. Perusing one of the national dailies about a month ago, I discovered that the main convener of SNG, Pastor Tunde Bakare declared that of all the contending aspirants for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the April 2011, General Mohammed Buhari (rtd) was adjudged to be the best. Much as the respected Pastor Tunde Bakare affirmed that this was as a result of opinion poll, as a researcher, I will want to know the methodology of such a research in arriving at such finding. Moreover, as the main convener, even though this declaration according to him was his own declaration and not that of the group, it behoves much responsibility on the followership as many members of the SNG hold our referred pastor in high regard as far as national affairs are concerned. As we all know, it could be fatal separating the head from the body, this declaration of the main convener connotes a lot in leadership studies when one contemplates the influence that a leader wields. In essence, a lot of followers within the SNG automatically will flow with and follow this same step of our dear man of God in deciding who to choose for the 2011 election. Can one deduce then that SNG or the main convener is impartial in the political ball game?
The SNG and the $50,000 Bribe saga
It was widely reported some days ago in virtually all the major newspapers that some representatives of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) went to visit President Jonathan Goodluck and that the aftermath was a handing over of a ‘gift’ in form of a cheque in the sum of $50,000. The SNG alleged that this was a bribe prompting the group to reject and return the cheque. Much as I am not holding brief for any party in this issue whether this amount is a Greek gift or bribe so that in future the SNG can do some positive mobilization for our dear president in the quest towards the clinching of the party’s ticket as well as his eventually being returned to office in the April 2011 election, there is the need to ruminate over this bribery saga and ask some pertinent questions. One needs to know, what is the objective of meeting the president? What are the issues on the agenda regarding this visit? Were the members of SNG (not only leaders) carried along in this decision? The latter is very vital as in Nigeria parlance leaders and/or elders believe they know all, and there is no need to adequately involve the followers in decision making. Can we say this is a fall out of the military interregnum in the Nigeria’s body politics which always conveys on the leaders the right of decision making and others have to ‘follow-follow’. Things are changing in polities and organizations all over as Professor Barbara Kellerman, a researcher in followership studies at Harvard University made us to know in her book: “How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders”. Followers in polities and organizations are now initiating and activating changes. This is a knowledge that a group like SNG with large followership can leverage on to initiate the positive and transformational changes that our dear nation yearns for at a time like this not to jaw-jaw on mundane issues!
Current issues that SNG needs to pursue
1. Former governors and current ones making ways to the NASS
There is a current danger that many in the polity do not see right know as we are approaching the 2011 elections. Firstly, many former and incumbent governors who have inflicted pain instead of bequeathing gains of democracy on the people are now making their ways to the upper chamber of the National Assembly with their ill gotten wealth. One may argue that it is their inalienable rights to contest for any political office in tandem with the constitution. However, what are their main motives? To make laws for the populace or milk the cow again as the current senators are carting home monthly wads of Naira notes purportedly more than what Barrack Obama is earning as the President of the USA. What kind of bills will these people pass to law? If they get there (and it is likely many of them will make it), they will end of as the principal officers and committee chairmen. The scenario can just be imagined! We need functional followers to alert the nation on the need to sensitise the populace on this danger so that the people can vote for the right candidates.
2. Followers need to vote and staying to protect their votes
How about the populace protecting their votes? The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) needs more work to do in this direction. I am a member SNG online group but I can not see in reality anything concrete initiative in this regard and the time is running fast. I was happy that in rounding off the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Convention August 2010, the referred General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, said that the people should troop out to vote and stay to protect their votes. The expectant crowd of worshippers went wild with jubilation concurring that they had long waited for christian leaders to come out with such utterances as a means of divinely releasing them from their apathy and alienated ‘sit-down’ look posture. The SNG could build on this by appointing people to go to mosques and churches spreading the same messages. We need this today as Nigeria is made up largely of almost 95% of people of both religions.
3. Amendment to the electoral act and apathy of the followers
The ongoing amendment to the electoral law is encountering rough weather and the students’ bodies, organized private sector and human rights groups are sitting pretty still. What apathy in the Nigeria polity? The law makers against all reasoning from well meaning and knowledgeable Nigerians are bent to have their way. They are the almighty and all-knowing that can not be faulted and are almost about passing the whole amendment to Mr President for assent and no group has the effrontery to march to the National Assembly to demand explanation and present their own position. This is to show the level of docility of the followership in the Nigeria polity. It is also a manifestation of a prevailing situation in Nigeria: that of not asking for genuine feedback from the electorate or populace. If our political office holders have taken it upon themselves to demand for genuine feedback from their followers or constituents, many of them will have been shocked to their chagrin to see how their constituencies will score them abysmally low. It is like by this amendment the National Assembly members are not only going to be members of the National Executive of their parties just because they are in the National Assembly but there is the likelihood to be another provision to systematically elongate their tenures in the hallowed chamber with impunity. In essence, many aspirants nursing ambition to be in that hallow chamber may forget it as it is likely now to be like a chieftaincy title-Nigerian way of doing things!
4. Debate for contestants
As at now, there is the need for functional followers to come up and demand what these candidates who want their votes have up their sleeves. Hence, even as the time table towards the 2011 elections have been released, there is the need for a group like SNG to be in the frontline of such groups requiring genuine and visionary candidates to come to the debate table where they will be grilled to see whether they are actually prepared for the offices they intend contending for in the first instance and whether they can actually perform when they are voted. The followers in Nigeria need debates especially for the national assembly, gubernatorial and presidential candidates so as to discern the contents and competencies of these candidates vying for these offices.
5. High fees collected for application forms by parties
It is common knowledge that if you do not have sufficient money in the kitty you can not contest for some elective posts in some of the parties. This is clearly evident in the ruling party. How on earth can one be purchasing an application form for 10 million Naira just because one is aspiring to be a senator? Why will there not be pervasiveness of corruption after the politicians win such elections? What if a man or woman is visionary and competent but not having even 1 million Naira? He is already disenfranchised by that arrangement! What are the followers doing about this injustice? We are folding our arms until some few ones among us call the shorts dictating the yardstick we need to adopt. In essence, the money bags are hijacking the political process. We need someone to blow the whistle! I read how a man from one of the northern states in the months preceding the 2007 elections would have been disenfranchised because he could not afford to pay for the application form for the gubernatorial candidacy of his party. He was miraculously delivered by people who came to his rescue by giving him the money to buy the form knowing he possessed values and virtues they desire in their preferred leader for that exalted office. He is the present governor of Kano State now. What if no one has come to help him? The vision will have died there. It is high time functional followers arose to demand a change not just following the status quo.
Who are the functional followers?
These are followers in the polity who are not alienated or “yes” men or women.
They are cultured, committed, conscientious, constructive, competent, courageous and cooperative in initiating a passionate, progressive and peaceful transformational change(s) in organizations and polities. We need followers possessing these qualities to come together and synergize in a form of community organizing to make this phenomenon contagious and thereby spread virally to nooks and crannies of our beloved and blessed nation, Nigeria. I believe, many of us out there reading this can. The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) is at a vantage point to make this a reality before the body fades into oblivion like many such bodies that were formed in the past. In ending this write-up, I am concluding with a saying of an 18th century English statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, who once declared: “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
Feedback will be valued and appreciated. You can reach me: [email protected]
John Moyo Ekundayo