The central problem of the Nigeria society is lawlessness. Most of our other national problems stem from lawlessness. They are either aspects of it or its direct consequences. Entrenched corruption, electoral fraud, theft of public, sectarian violence, etc are simply different dimensions of lawlessness.
Power failure, decaying and collapsing public infrastructures, deteriorating academic standards in Nigerian schools, etc are direct consequences of lawlessness. Therefore any reformation or transformation of the Nigerian society must start, first, by orienting Nigerians towards respecting the law.
On coming to power, the late President Musa Yar’Adua pledged to reform the Nigerian society by cultivating a culture of reverence for the law amongst Nigerians. Nigerians believed him. He failed to make good on his pledge, not for want of will and resolve, but because he was reined in by his political sponsors. His political sponsors were vicious and ruthless political operators that benefit from the chaos and corruption of the Nigerian system. Their interests are in reinforcing the status quo. As such, they could not countenance his intended reforms.
In the on going presidential campaign, President Goodluck Jonathan is promising to transform the Nigerian society by upholding the rule of law, and then, curbing corruption, rehabilitating public infrastructure, boosting power supply, revamping the health and educational institutions, etc. These are all campaign rhetoric and it is most unlikely that he can keep these promises. It is de-ja vu. Did Yar’Adua not raise the hopes of Nigerians with similar promises, and then dashed them, as his promises went unfulfilled? Is Jonathan’s relationship with his political godfathers and gubernatorial financial backers not comparable to Yar’Adua’s?
In many ways, the Jonathan/Sambo ticket is reminiscent of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket. It was Olusegun Obasanjo, the quintessential baba that handpicked and chaperoned the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket. On the campaign trail, the feisty, pushy and sharp-tongued baba led the charge for his political protégés against detractors and political opponents. In addition to the baba and his band of warriors of “do or die” politics, the Yar’Adua presidential candidacy needed and garner the support of some notoriously corrupt People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governors. Finally, he rode to power on the coattail of a coalition of warriors of “do or die” politics, political thugs, electoral fraudsters, treasury looters and merciless, remorseless promoters of a degenerate and cruel modus operandi.
He came to power amid so much hope for a new dawn because he seemed an improbable face of that infamous oligarchy renowned for its contempt for the law and scorn for the legitimate aspiration s of the people. Secondly, he cut the image of a humble, patient and disciplined man willing to listen and learn. In addition, his antecedence revealed a record of unquestionable probity, decency and incorruptibility. Nigerians were impressed. Some Nigerians, including some very reputable men of God, called him “God sent”. No one doubted his sincerity, and determination to make good on his promise.
But even with his goodwill, impeccable credentials, powers and dispatch of the presidency and a genuine resolve to tackle the problems of Nigeria, he failed to restructure the Nigerian society. He failed because he was encircled and enchained by his political god fathers and the corrupt governors that sponsored him to power; inescapably, he pandered to them.
Goodluck Jonathan is now a matured politician. He has outgrown the public tutelage of an overbearing baba. However, baba remains a very powerful powerbroker within the PDP. He, in concert with the other proponents of “do or die” politics, continues to exert powerful influence on the Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign. Secondly, the Jonathan campaign like Yar’Adua’s needed and secured the support of PDP governors, most of whom cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered honorable or financially honest. .
Recently, a champion of “do or die” politics, Bode George, emerged from prison. He was jailed for corruption and theft of public funds. In normal political clime, Bode George would have stepped out of jail stealthily, dropped out of sight and buried his head in shame. He would have been contrite and apologetic for betraying the public trust reposed in him. But because there is nothing normal about the PDP and its mode of operation, Bode George emergence from prison was greeted with extravagant homecoming party.
The festivity was grand, colorful and studded with the powers that be within the PDP. It was a celebration befitting an emperor on his coronation or a war hero who heroically triumphed over an enemy army, and thus, saved his country and her people from an imminent devastation, depredation and massacre. That such mammoth reception was orchestrated for a mere criminal jailed for corruption and theft of public funds was morally inexcusable. It dramatized the moral and ethical problems of Nigeria. It attested to the total moral and ethical collapse in Nigerian public life.
Any one with a modicum of decency, and therefore, yet to loose his sense of outrage should have rebuffed Bode George and the disgusting revelry that greeted his return from prison. Interestingly, the baba was conspicuously present at the event, and dishearteningly, but instructively, the Jonathan presidency sent a delegation to the occasion.
That the Jonathan presidency failed to distance itself from Bode George, and was actually a party to that glorification of criminality impugns his credibility, ethical standards and moral judgment. Is he a man of honor and integrity? Is he genuinely committed to his professed policy of transforming Nigeria, especially, as it concerns law and order and corruption?
He is probably an honorable man. He may also be devoted to his policy of reform. But he is enclosed and en-roped by his political masters and benefactors. He remains unavoidably answerable to them because they brought him to power and he needs them for his reelection and continued stay in power. Lamentably, these are men and women opposed to any transformation of Nigeria because they benefit from the lawlessness, corruption, inequity and social injustice that rule country.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria