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Imperatives of Generational Shift in Nigeria’s Political Leadership

By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

 Published August  29th, 2010

It may well be that Nigerians have a tendency to equate development only with huge, gas guzzling factories belching out carbon pollutants into the atmosphere from their smoke stacks. But I’m to state here and now that development goes beyond physical factories to intellectual factories in progressive trajectory. Any nation that’s denuded of intellectual factories is headed for the abyss—no question about it. Intellectual factories are re-generators of nations and nations that heavily invest in them stay and remain at the cutting edge of technological, artistic and scientific advancements, while nations that neglect or pay scant attention to them remain perpetual consumers of the intellectual products of other nations.—Franklin Otorofani, Esq.

Thus the deliberate cultivation of a critical mass of leadership to get on board the train of development is critical to the attainment of any national development goal. In other words, the gospel of development must be preached vigorously, widely and ceaselessly to every nook and cranny of the nation in order to win new converts to the religion of development at all levels of political leadership so as to form the critical mass of progressive leadership required as new captains to steer our national ship in the desired direction.—Franklin Otorofani, Esq


Sometime ago in the not too distant past, a remarkable statement was credited to one of Nigeria’s foremost intellectuals and political activists, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. In a fit of self-deprecation, he was widely reported to have dismissed his as a “wasted generation.”

That’s as strong a view as it gets probably bordering on the extreme. Yet it’s a statement that many of his disaffected compatriots would readily identify with and many more might dissociate themselves from as a little overreaching, particularly members of his generation who had given off their best in the service of their fatherland and might, therefore, bristle at the suggestion that their toils could be written off so cavalierly in one sweep of a verbal salvo from one of their own.

Now, Wole Soyinka is a progressive Nigerian and patriot of the highest order who wants the best for his country and has worked hard to see the nation turn the corner in her developmental efforts, both politically and economically. His stint at the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC, which he in fact founded exemplifies how our national institutions should be run. Many Nigerians would testify to the fact that the FRSC under him and his successor, Dr. Agunloye, was a model federal institution in effective interstate highway policing that made the Nigerian police look awfully bad. 

However, like his compatriots with similar spirits, he has witnessed the progressive degeneration of our values and fortunes; the deification of corruption and incompetence, and the plundering of the commonwealth by nitwits in power. He has seen Nigeria’s steady rise in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) inversely proportional to the fall in her GDP and political fortunes.

And he knows too well that but for the relatively steady price in crude exports his beloved nation would have collapsed and gone under a long time ago, and balkanized by imperial predators looking to acquire territories abroad of which Nigeria’s pricey real estate would have excited their territorial appetites as was indeed the case in Berlin, Germany, where they had gathered to carve out African colonial territories for themselves more than a century and half ago the effects of which are still with us till date.  

Soyinka has watched helplessly and perhaps hopelessly too as Nigeria is effortlessly and consistently overtaken by all of her peers and every newly independent country that just got off the starting block in the development race. To a patriot of his stature and caliber these are infinitely depressing and even provocative developments that could knock off one’s electrical fuse. There’s no question, therefore, that such complete generational write-off must have been informed by an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and exasperation at the dismal performance of his generation.

However, the word “wasted” must be put in context. The verbiage of the literary icon must not be interpreted literarily but metaphorically. “Wasted” must be understood to refer to wasted opportunities of his generation not wasted individuals in his generation. Understood as such, I would venture to state that very few Nigerians, if any, would disagree with the damning verdict of the literary icon on his generation. And that verdict stands even if it could be argued that his generation produced most of Nigeria’s political, economic and intellectual titans with unmatched accomplishments comparable to the best anywhere in the world of which he’s himself one of the greatest advertisements.

But even so, individual accomplishments, important as they may be, do not necessarily translate into collective or national accomplishments beyond the glory they bring to the nation. It is, therefore, the burden duty of every generation to harvest, harness and channel its individual talents, energies, as well as its intellectual resources into a broad stream of collective national endeavors rather than remaining as individual accomplishments.

When individual accomplishments in a generation fail to translate into collective national achievements, the nation concerned is left to grope its way around as it were in a dark firmament illuminated by individual stars that make little or no difference overall to the climate of darkness eclipsing the nation.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Let’s take Soyinka’s prodigious literary accomplishments for example. One would have thought that Soyinka and, I might add, Chinua Achebe’s literary achievements and recognition would have beamed an intense searchlight on Nigerian literature in all its varieties and genres and given a huge boost. But the reverse is the case. The literary achievements of these icons have not positively impacted on Nigeria’s reading culture which is one of the poorest in the world to the extent that the “Book Industry” which is a money spinner elsewhere across the Atlantic is almost non-existent in Nigeria. The literary accomplishments of Nigerian writers ought to be reflected in Nigerian streets with Nigerians clutching books in street corners, on buses, trains, airplanes and, of course, on college campuses across the nation. That in turn would have catalyzed the production of a wave of literary artistes and a solid book industry that would have been next to oil without the mess, environmental degradation and the huge investment outlays, not to speak of the crisis and political instability it has helped to foster.

But all these talents and infinite potentials have remained untapped by his and succeeding generations for the overall development of the nation. What does that tell you? It shows that the literary talents of Nigeria’s most accomplished writers have not been translated into a vehicle for our economic transportation to the Promised Land. And what’s true of Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe and the rest of the literati, is equally true of our engineering and medical geniuses.

It may well be that Nigerians have a tendency to equate development only with huge, gas guzzling factories belching out carbon pollutants into the atmosphere from their smoke stacks. But I’m to state here and now that development goes beyond physical factories to intellectual factories in progressive trajectory. Any nation that’s denuded of intellectual factories is headed for the abyss—no question about it. Intellectual factories are re-generators of nations and nations that heavily invest in them stay and remain at the cutting edge of technological, artistic and scientific advancements, while nations that neglect or pay scant attention to them remain perpetual consumers of the intellectual products of other nations. A nation denied intellectual nourishment is like a baby deprived of its mother’s milk. 

Such has been the case with Nigeria where the accomplishments of its distinguished citizens who have excelled in different fields of human endeavors and duly recognized and celebrated at home and abroad, have yet to find a channel for collective national expressions. And many of whom have studiously shied away from partisan politics thus leaving the field open for the worst elements of the nation’s citizenry to plunder. And those who ventured into politics have wound up getting sucked into the vortex of corruption and rapacious exploitation of the system to their benefits just like the rest of the bunch that have lost every sense of public service.

And this is without prejudice to the very few who have set out to make a difference in the lives of their people by offering productive and purposeful leadership to their constituents across the nation. Such individuals who are laboring quietly and uncelebrated have not gone unnoticed by the nation because their good works speak for them even as they shun the limelight.

I’m as mad as hell just like Soyinka and other compatriots about the anemic performance, at best, of the Nigerian leadership at all levels heretofore.But I’m not as mad as to dismiss the entire generation of the present leadership as totally wasted. That would be a stretch, uncharitable and fundamental disservice to those who are making a difference in their states at significant levels.

While it’s undoubtedly the case that the last crop of governors was a disgrace to democracy, the present crop appears, in my estimation and in the estimation of other objective, apolitical observers to have demonstrated some level of seriousness and commitment to development in their respective states. It’s perhaps fair to say that for every ten underperforming governors there are at least two super performing ones. Lagos state, Akwa-Ibom, Cross Rivers and Rivers states, just to name but a few, appear to stand out as beacons of the emerging new order of progressive leadership.

And at the federal level which is the critical barometer to measure our national performance, we have seen a type of newfound dynamism and razor shape focus that had all been too absent in the defunct Yar’Adua years both in domestic and foreign policy formulations and execution. On the domestic front, the noticeable and commendable improvements in power supply and the launch of the comprehensive power sector reform in Lagos by the president, which had been lacking all along under Yar’Adua, and the highest ratings accorded Nigeria in air transportation security by the US government on the global front, bear eloquent testimonies to the emerging committed and progressive leadership of the present era of which the presidency must be the main driver by acting as the role model for the states.

No doubt in the poisoned climate of partisan politics individuals may have different takes on these salutary developments in the polity. But anyone who sees some rays of light at the end of a dark tunnel and dismisses them as unremarkable is either a partisan hack or willfully blind. And there are many partisans who are willfully blind to progress not only in Nigeria but in other nations.

For instance, Republican racists in the United States see a US economy emerging from recession with an average GDP growth rate of 2.9% in the last four quarters as no progress at all and they are characterizing that growth as harbinger of double digit recession with which they’re predicting doomsday for the US economy under President Obama, which is wholly at odds with what economic experts (not Republican Tea Party voodoo economists), are predicting.

Now, anyone who sees some growth in four consecutive quarters in negative terms no matter how tepid it might be in an economy emerging from deep recession caused under their watch and in the face of other nations in Europe other than Germany still struggling to dig themselves out of the pit of recession, has got to be willfully blind, a partisan hack or plain dumb ass. And there are tons of dumbasses out there in the Republican Party conclave.

Are there folks like that in Nigeria who look around their immediate and extended environments wearing partisan blinkers and see no progress at all but only doom and gloom? Are there individual partisans running around seemingly with fire on their hairs preaching the gospel of a failed state in Nigeria rather than of development? You bet there are!  It would appear that the deliberate promotion and propagation of cynicism and pessimism and even fear sometimes, is an embedded and therefore inherent characteristic of politics of opposition in all climes and Nigeria is certainly no exception. Opposition has been reduced to fear mongering and doomsday proselytizing. 


Critical Mass

At the same time, it’s equally the case that the nation is yet to gross up the critical mass of leadership required to turn things around for the better, not in retail miniscule, but in wholesale quantum of deliveries, which appear to be exceptions rather than the norm. And that’s another reason why the labors of Nigeria’s finest have yet to register on the radar screen of national development—absence of a critical mass. However much those individuals may have accomplished, it falls short of the critical mass required to make a difference.

For example, a nation cannot make a difference in technology with the efforts of a single engineer however talented he might be but with the efforts of thousands of committed engineers. It would not register on the radar screen of scientific discoveries and inventions on the efforts of a single scientist but on the efforts of thousands of committed scientists. It would not turn the corner on the exertions of just a single political leader but on the exertions of thousands of committed political leaders. Critical mass is required to turn the nation around like a huge ocean liner marooned with a broken compass in order to pull her in a different direction.

The absence of that critical mass has ensured that the good intentions and programs of progressive political, economic and academic leaderships have failed to fly in the face of non-commitment by a critical mass, resistance and outright sabotage on the part of many. And this is the case whether we’re dealing with quality of leadership, anti-corruption, commitment to public welfare, infrastructural development, and every other thing in between.

Thus the deliberate cultivation of a critical mass of leadership to get on board the train of development is critical to the attainment of any national development goal. In other words, the gospel of development must be preached vigorously, widely and ceaselessly to every nook and cranny of the nation in order to win new converts to the religion of development at all levels of political leadership so as to form the critical mass of progressive leadership required as new captains to steer our national ship in the desired direction. 

For instance, if only the president and a few of the political leaders truly believe in the anti-graft war with the rest being non-committal, resistant or outright saboteurs, the anti-graft war will not fly no matter the efforts of the government. The nation could spend all her resources chasing after treasury robbers all over the place who would be playing “catch me if you can” game with EFCC and ICPC with little or nothing left for real development. It’s doubtful if what has been recovered from the national rouges so far is anything close to what has been expended in pursuing and prosecuting them. The anti-graft war simply cannot be won by fire power alone (i.e., arrests and prosecutions), but by soft power—winning the hearts and minds of men who would otherwise not sign on.

Again, if there is no critical mass in the nation’s leadership cadre that truly believe in public welfare no enduring public infrastructures with be built both in terms of quality and quantity. At best only a token effort will be made in that direction no matter the level of budgetary allocations.

The entire nation must be carried along in her development agenda not just a few, and the people made to buy in and indeed own the agenda as their own. When a handful of leaders and citizens are involved the rest will see it as an external imposition belonging to and coming from someone else without their involvement and inputs and will in consequence be resistant to it. Thus when a generation is deficit in critical mass of leadership committed to public good in various fields of human endeavors, it invariably winds up being, well, a “wasted generation” at worst or at best a lumbering nation.

It’s a matter for regret, however, that while Americans would describe Wole Soyinka’’s contemporaries in the United States as the “greatest generation” Nigerians see theirs as wasted generation. Although such characterization would seem unfair because others before and after his have not fared any better than his generation, it has been left to carry the can of worms because it has set the unenviable records that the younger generations have copied from to perpetuate and propagate corruption, ethnicity, mediocrity and incompetence in the land. It’s the same generation that has planted the odious practice of “zoning” in the nation’s political lexicology in order to frustrate the emergence of true democracy and the best candidates in our political leadership recruitment drives through the ballot.

But why would Americans describe theirs as the greatest generation while Nigerians see theirs as wasted generation? The answers are not at all farfetched and would seem obvious to the discerning mind. Wole Soyinka’s contemporaries in America took the United States from being just the backwaters of Europe to the pre-eminent status of a super-power, militarily and economically that has ruled the free world unchallenged and before whom all national knees bowed. Now, that’s a generation that has earned and, therefore, deserves the appellation of the “greatest generation.”

But how did its Nigerian contemporaries stack up in comparison? Soyinka summoned it all up in that damning description: a wasted generation! While, as noted above, there are outstanding individual achievers, the collective inputs of his generation to the Nigerian project is shamefully and scandalously low and therefore unremarkable in comparison to its contemporaries elsewhere. And that explains the huge development gap between the United States and Nigeria even when we take into account the age difference between the two nations.

While per capita income in the US is $4600, it is less than $300 in Nigeria, paradoxically making it one of the poorest nations on earth notwithstanding its abundant oil and other natural resources.  And that explains also the huge gap between Nigeria and her contemporaries like China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, et al. While these countries are fast bridging the gaps between them and the developed nations, Nigeria is widening the gap between her and both developing and developed nations. And a generation with such a shameful record cannot but be dubbed wasted in relative terms.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here comparing Nigeria with her peers in Africa which might or might not be in worse shapes than Nigeria herself. Any comparison of Nigeria with an African nation is like comparing one examination failure with another failure and wind up with only degrees of failure. No, I’m not about to compare Nigeria with African nations. I would rather compare her with Asian nations of her peers who have gotten up to speed while Nigeria limps along like a paraplegic on a wheel chair. Only a failed generation could have produced a failed nation and Nigeria has been forced to play the game of catch up.

Playing Catch-Up

Now, if we’re going to play this game of catch up, are we going to draw our players from the pool of the same failed generation or we are going to draw our players from the pool of a new generation? Analogically, I’m asking if a wise coach would continue to field the same players who had failed him in previous tournaments or refresh his team with new players.

I’m not a coach but commonsense dictates that the question should be answered in the negative. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty certain that a wise coach would at least think twice before fielding a failed player the second time around, because fielding a failed player is an investment in failure, not in success. Politics apart, Nigeria cannot afford to play catch up by drawing from the same pool of failed leaders of a wasted generation.

Although politics is murky and people might not see things in clear perspectives as neatly presented here due to several considerations, including ethnicity and self interests, it is the duty of the political analyst to strip politics of such inherent obfuscations and cut to the bone.

Yes, we all come from somewhere and we have our ethnic interests to protect and defend. But this is not about the interests of AREWA, Ohaneze, Afenifere or SSPA but the interest of Nigeria as a whole. Save for the SSPA every one of the above political entities masquerading as “cultural organizations” is an ethnic organization that is preoccupied with its ethnic interests. But while everyone is standing up for his/her ethnic organization, somebody has got to stand up for Nigeria and say it like it is. Nigeria cannot expect a different results if she continues to field the same old players that have failed us in the past and that means she’s doomed to repeating the failures in perpetuity in the catch up game.

As then candidate Obama puts it during the campaigns, in paraphrase, it would be foolhardy to rehire an incompetent driver who drove the bus into a ditch the last time and expect a different result the next time around. And Americans got the message which is simple commonsense not rocket science. 

It, therefore, goes without saying that a generational change is urgently needed to give the nation a fresh start. Chieftains of the old order will come out to talk about “experience” the same way Senator John McCain did in the United States against candidate Obama. Already, I’ve heard one of them, Ibrahim Babangida, talking about his “experience” in handling the nation at this “critical” time.

Like Americans Nigerians owe it to themselves and their children to ask IBB and his failed generation what experience are we talking about, sir? Is it experience of annulling the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria or the experience of disappearing $12.4bn dollars oil Gulf War Oil Windfall under your watch? Is it experience of endless political dribbling that earned you the sobriquet of a “Maradona” or the experience of plane load of military officers disappearing in mid-air?

We should have the guts to ask such an aspirant whether he wants to relive his experience of critical newspaper editors getting smoked out in letter bombs as was Dele Giwa in his time or of sit-tight dictatorship. What experience? Is it the one of placing blanket ban on politicians 60 years and above or which one are we talking about? Somebody in the press should be able to pose a simple question to IBB that if he considered it fair and proper to disqualify the so-called old breed politicians 60 years and above, on what basis does he Babangida, who is about to celebrate his 70th year anniversary qualified to contest as new breed politician? Aren’t we entitled to some answers? I think we are and someone out there in the press owes it to himself and his profession to demand answers. The man should be held to the same standards he set for others—no more no less. He cannot ban politicians 60 years and above from elective office while he was in his 50s and come out at 70 and ask us to to elect him into office. No one is allowed to eat his cake and have it back at the same time. IBB should wait for another lifetime to present himself for election into office as president, not this lifetime. He has had his time and he blew it. Let another have his turn and learn his lessons from the disastrous failures of the IBB’s failed generation.

And by the way, did I hear Abubakar Atiku pontificating that the “Nigerian constitution is superior” to the PDP constitution that requires a defector who is readmitted to the party to wait for two years before he/she is allowed to contest for any party or elective post under the party’s platform? Did I hear that Atiku wants to challenge the PDP in court on the ground of the superiority of the nation’s constitution over the PDP constitution? When did that occur to him and his hirelings? Wonders shall never end in Nigeria!

All those who were in support of Atiku and IBB over the PDP zoning should bury their heads in the sand like the Ostrich. They were supporting the wrong men and the wrong principle. True to type the man has made 180% turn.  Overnight, Atiku has trashed his zoning argument that sought to place party rule over the nation’s constitution! He’s suddenly become a believer in the supremacy of the constitution. But guess what, only when it suits his interests! Politicians like Atiku have no enduring conviction or personal principles of any kind whatsoever. Whatever arguments they mouth at any given time is deliberately designed to promote their selfish interests rather than their personal conviction or principle. It’s a shame!

The same is so true also of IBB who decreed new breed politics in 1993 when he banned old breed politicians from running for office in order to give the new breed a fresh start. All I am saying here is, yes, that’s a good idea, military president. It’s a nice piece of political engineering! It makes sense to give the new breed a chance to lead given our bitter experience with the old breed who have not and will not change their way short of banning them. But I’m a constitutionalist who believes in the right of every Nigerian to vie for any elective position in the land in accordance with extant laws of the land. 

Although IBB denied others their constitutional rights to vie for elective offices back in 1993 and true to type, (leopards do not change their dark spots), he almost succeeded in doing the same thing again to President Goodluck Jonathan 17years later in 2010 using the PDP, he is free to contest the presidential election either through the PDP or another party of his choice.

But the Nigerian electorate is also free to hold him accountable for his past misdeeds and reject him outright. While candidates have the right to present themselves for elections, the electorates have their rights to either accept or reject them at the ballot. It’s payback time for those who had inflicted pain and anguish on them in the past or otherwise disappointed them in the past.

IBB, Buhari and Atiku cannot escape this day of judgment. In fact, presenting themselves to the electorate is tantamount to putting themselves in the accused box to be judged by their countrymen and women about their past stewardships and their verdict is all but predictable.

 When it was reported that the Northern Senators Forum rejected the duo of IBB and Atiku at its meeting with them, it is a signal to both men of what awaits them at the election. When the AREWA Youths members openly rejected the trio of IBB, Buhari and Atiku in numerous statements, it is clear signal that these geriatric aspirants are persona non grata not wanted again to mess up their lives even in the ordinarily conservative North. When presidential aspirants are receiving an avalanche of negative reactions to their candidacies as IBB and Atiku have suffered, including. but not limited to IBB’s botched presidential launch in Ibadan, it is clear signal that they’re flesh for the vultures and bones for the dogs.

Generational Shift

But what is the value proposition in the advocacy for generational shift in political leadership? Put another way, what difference in value would a generational shift bring to bear on our leadership and national aspirations? To answer the above question, it must be stated from the get go that it’s not enough to merely shuffle the age of our leaders and call it a generational shift. Age alone is not the issue because age is as much a function of the mind as it is of the body. And there are incompetent, unproductive, corrupt, conservative, visionless and unprogressive individuals in all generations.

What then do I mean by generational shift?

Contrary to its ordinary connotation it has nothing to do with genealogical age per se, which, though relevant, is not as important as the character make up and progressive bearing of the individual leader.

A “generational shift” is thus used here as omnibus term or metaphorical expression to denote a shift away from a generation of leaders who embody and exhibit these deleterious character and attitudinal traits and predilections. It’s thus a shift away from a generation of character traits and attitudes that have confined the nation to the bottom of the pit since her independence while others of her peers are racing to the summit of the mountain of development. These so called leaders, who rearing their heads again have been severally and collectively implicated in ditching the nation in the past with their unsavory character traits and attitudinal orientation.

As indicated earlier, most Nigerians are in agreement that the older generation is a failure and it’s a failure because it harbors these character traits in abundance which they have been distributing and implanting in the younger generations in retail and wholesale forms. Their corrupt ways have been bequeathed to the younger generations because, as my people’s adage puts it succinctly, when the mother goat is chewing the cud the baby goat is watching her closely and taking appropriate lessons from her choice of leaves and how the cud is chewed. Cud chewing is thus a learned behavior and so is corruption and lack of public accountability in leadership.

The old breed’s attitude of total indifference, corruption, nonchalance, and resistance to selfless service to the Nigerian public has been passed on to the younger generation both in retail and wholesale forms. And what’s more, their do-or-die, warlike attitude to politics has equally been passed on to the younger generations both in retail and wholesale forms. In sum, the entire contents of the baggage of negativities of the older generation have been dumped on the younger generations as a bequest to propagate in perpetuity.

It’s a poisoned chalice and cocktail of negativities. It’s these legacies of negativities that have to be systematically uprooted from the body politic if Nigeria is to make any headway at all. Giving anyone of them associated with these vices another chance is tantamount to rehiring the driver who ditched the bus the last time. Only an employer on a suicide mission would contemplate doing that.

This being so I would venture to state without equivocation that the cases of IBB, Atiku and Buhari are pretty much settled by the average Nigerian who had borne the brunt of their atrocities over the decades and are now determined to liberate themselves from the shackles of mal-administration. These aspirants may nevertheless run to fulfill all righteousness, but it is pretty certain they will not go the distance. Powered by their huge egos and running against the tides, their fate had been determined and sealed even before the whistle is sounded. This is a prediction that is destined to come to pass and the reader can count on it as a fait accompli.  

The question therefore is not whether they will go away but who will be their replacements? If we do away with these rotten tomatoes that have infested and contaminated the good ones, what do we replace them with? The answer that pops right out is, the good ones, of course! Fine, but who are the good ones? Where do we find the good ones that have not been contaminated by the rotten tomatoes in our political vineyard? Many of the good ones have been infested by the bad and that has made our work all the more difficult. It’s a tall order and it’s like looking for a needle in haystacks.

However, the search for the good ones is made a little easier by narrowing the search field to the confines of the registered political parties. That should be the locus of our search for selfless leadership materials with no taint of corruption, self-centeredness, incompetence, religious and ethnic bigotry and lack of vision. Finding such individual within the confines of the existing party platforms may be a tall order still in the present set up, but it is possible to zero in on an individual who exhibits the least of the above evil traits.

But the party platform matters. The right candidate may not necessary win due to a weak and ineffective platform. This was demonstrated by the present Governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole, who was compelled to dump his Labor Party platform which he considered weak in Edo state and pitched his tent with AC to clinch the gubernatorial office.

Thus party platform is the key to electoral success and so are other supporting factors. The right candidate may lose because he/she is unable to articulate his vision and mission. The right candidate may lose due to lack of proper package by this party and his handlers. The right candidate may lose because he’s a political neophyte who could not handle the barrage of mud hauled at him by political opponents and character assassins. The right candidate may indeed lose because of misrepresentation and complete distortion of what he stands for by his opponents and political enemies. 

Right now in the United States, President Barack Obama is being viciously and relentless misrepresented and his policies distorted as a “socialist” and a “Moslem” by Republican nuts and racists without a shred of hard evidence to back up their delirious claims. But facts and “hard evidence” mean nothing to political demagogues and desperadoes. Their wild claims exist in their demented minds and they proceed to press their delirium on an economically distracted nation.

Those who hate the victim of these vile attacks readily lap up all the vitriol which fires them on till the next election. It’s bone for the dogs and blood for the sharks to feast on. And if a right candidate does not have the financial and organizational muscle to counter and discredit such base distortions and misrepresentations, his ambition is doomed from the start. “Pull Him  Down” (PHD). is the name of the game.

The morale of this is that it takes a whole lot more than being a right candidate to win elections. A whole bunch of factors are at play that could tilt the results one way or another. And sometimes a nation winds up with the worst candidate in power. That was how President GW Bush got elected in the place of Al Gore and John Kerry, respectively in 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. It’s one of the several weaknesses of democracy that have continued to undermine its effectiveness and virility as a system of government.

Crunch Time

The search continues in earnest but decision time is drawing nigh. At crunch time Nigerians will be presented with a set of candidates many of whom will be what I would term “legacy candidates” that have refused to quit the stage for the younger generation. As indicated above, they’re the very embodiment of corruption, financial profligacy, ethnic and religious bigotry, despotism and general mal administration. They’re the proud representatives of the old order with all that it connotes. 

Another set of candidates will emerge from the party primaries imbued with clear vision and messianic disposition to take the nation to the next level, untainted or minimally tainted with the ills and evils of the old order. They will be the proud representatives of the new order. It’s the burden duty of the Nigerian electorate to send a clear message that there will be no more business as usual.

But here is the bottom line. Nigeria’s new leader must move in tandem with the rest of the world and bring to our shores the benefits of modern technologies and good governance. Like Obama, he must be a digital and not an analog president otherwise the benefits of modern technologies will mean nothing to him because he will be living in the past and therefore apt to reintroduce the old ways of doing things in the 21st century. No one who has been left behind by the forward march of technology should show his hand during the roll call and if he does should be ignored outright by the people. Those who are not attuned to the digital age not apply.

Soon and very soon the dye will be cast and the determination as to whether Nigeria will remain a backward or progressive nation will be etched in millions of pieces of papers—the currency of democracy known as the “ballots!” That currency will be used to purchase for the nation a bad or a good leader as the case may be. And that singular purchase will make all the difference between failing schools, hospitals, roads and highways, water, electricity, public accountability, openness and transparency and the good life for the greatest majority of our people. All these are loaded in those little ballots but remain invisible to the average voter not schooled in the alchemy of democracy. 

Our destiny is in our own ballots! We can use them to purchase rotten tomatoes that will give us sour soup and suffer constipation or fresh tomatoes that will give us sumptuous dinner at the table that will nourish our bodies and souls. The choice is yours to make. Just remember this as you head out to the polls in January, 2011 to elect the new set of leaders: Whatever choice you make today you will have to live with tomorrow, because as you make your bed so you must lie on it. No one will make your bed for you. It’s all in your power. Be a smart political investor the next time around. 

Do not use your ballot to purchase damaged goods and bring them home to decorate your political shelves, for a ballot is a terrible thing to waste. 

It’s your ballot---your currency—your future! 

Use it wisely and prudently else you’ll be singing the blues down the road of perdition…     

Franklin Otorofani, Esq. contact:

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