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By: Kali Gwegwe  
 Published March, 16th, 2010

Recent political developments in Nigeria have unearthed the true depth of the underlying spirit of her nationhood. It has also put to a simple test, the character of our political leaders; who are supposed to be advocates of sound democratic political culture. But as it is now, the parochial interests of the nation’s political, tribal, and religious leaders have made nonsense of the character of sound political leadership as prescribed in every healthy presidential democracy. It is most absurd to note that the political class has shamelessly turned Nigeria’s democracy on its head. This sad development is a clear demonstration that the noble democratic culture of good governance has been deliberately drowned in the pool of negative political scheming.

A curious observation of unfolding events in the country following the hospitalisation of President Musa Yar’Adua in King Faisal Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia would lead one to the bitter conclusion that Nigeria’s institutional framework has become too weak and consequently unable to carry the burden of Due Process and the Rule of Law. While Transparency and Accountability are products of the culture of Due Process, the Rule of Law promotes Justice and Fair Play. These principles are unarguably the pillars of every healthy society. Without them, political leadership will be of no benefit to the masses. This should help explain why Nigeria is still counted among the poorest countries in the world despite the abundant human and material resources in the country. It has also given a clue as to why Nigeria- the sixth largest producer of crude oil in the world relies on the importation of petrol and kerosene. Instead of this sad reality posing a huge challenge to our political leaders; they have with selfish intentions allowed the country to drift far into the ocean of anarchy and disintegration. Surprisingly, the political class is carrying on as if Nigeria has nothing to lose, even when the contrary is clearly the case.

Just like I have submitted in previous write-ups, Nigeria’s greatest problem is tribalism. It is owing to the deep rooted culture of tribalism that successive administrations have not been able to effectively fight corruption in the country. There is an unwritten law in Nigeria that forbids citizens from exposing or prosecuting fellow tribesmen for corrupt practices. That is the reason why public servants that earns less than N12m annually will build mansions and own fleet of exotic cars worth over N500m and still be conferred with chieftaincy titles without verifying the sources of the sudden wealth of their kinsmen and women.

Nigeria has been turned into a country where one must also have his or her tribesperson in position of authority in order to be employed, given a key appointment, or awarded a big contract. This anomaly is hugely responsible for why the issue of tribal lineage is regarded far above every other factor in the Nigerian society. In a nutshell; tribalism can only become rife in a country where there is no transparency, accountability, justice, and fair play.

Furthermore, tribalism promotes national poverty. It compels citizens to be lazy. In a tribal-induced bureaucracy, even people that sow nothing can reap bountifully simply because their tribesperson is in power. This is clearly against natural principle. The more we promote tribal agenda above constitutional provisions, the closer we get to the source of our disintegration. Everybody professes “One Nigeria” but is unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to unite the various ethnic clusters in the country.

It is indeed a solid fact that the current political tension in the country is mainly as a result of an avoidable clash between forces of democracy and that of tribal interests. The northern belt of the country believes that based on a power sharing arrangement by the ruling PDP, the period spanning between 2007 and 2015 is their turn to occupy the Nigerian presidency. They therefore see the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as the substantive president as a rude interruption of their political sail. This has forced quite a number of them to disregard the spirit of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. They were forced by the spirit of PDP to quickly forget that even the presidential democracy has a character. Owing to all of these, most individual and group opinions from the north became infected with deep tribal sentiments. The consequence was the emergence of an overheated polity. History is starring at us; as we dance naked in the market square.

Power belongs to God. He gives power to whoever that pleases Him. God also takes away power whenever it pleases Him. One is therefore forced to wonder why people see and treat power with a “do-or-die” attitude. Perhaps, one should emphasise here that the basic aim of political power is to improve the lives of man and society through quality leadership. If that is the case, why all the fire and brimstone flying all over the place? It points to the fact that many people seek political power for reasons other than offering quality leadership. That is why it is uncommon for public servants in Nigeria to resign from office no matter the circumstances.

Just as Nigeria is bigger than any one individual or political party; the presidency is by far greater than a president. Most times, both military and political leaders are tempted to see themselves as sources of power. This accounts for why many public officers use power as if it were their personal property. Through this way, power is most times abused by those in authority.

As the political drama in Nigeria continues to unfold, one fact has emerged conspicuously. The northern belt of the country has spoken in very clear and loud voice: They want to secure their stake in PDP’s 2007-2015 power sharing arrangement. As long as PDP remains in power, no one can fault their position. No southerner is against a northerner becoming the president of the federal republic of Nigeria in 2011. It should however be noted that the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria has collided with that of the PDP. Is the north saying the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria should give way for that of PDP? It is for this reason that this writer is of the opinion that no section of this country should destroy our today in a bid to their secure tomorrow. We do not need to be reminded that tomorrow is the daughter of today. We all therefore need to protect our today so that it would grow up and give birth to both our sectional and collective tomorrow as the case may be.

It is indeed most unfortunate that President Yar’Adua fell sick. Everybody is concerned and has shown this by offering prayers for his quick recovery. The actions and inactions of a few persons have tended to create a false impression that the southern belt of the country is happy about the president’s poor health. This is not true. What has actually created a sharp divide is in the way and manner some close family members and aides of the Yar’Adua have handled the president’s ill-health. They have refused to accept the fact that a president is a public property. They have also forgotten that Nigeria is a presidential democracy with an operating constitution. Some sincere persons of northern extraction too have openly condemned the actions of the president’s family members and close aides.

More than that, the refusal of the president to activate section 145 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria points to one direction: Those entrusted with the wellbeing of the president during this period of his ill-health are not in any way ready to trust any other person with power despite the unforeseen circumstances that has almost enveloped the country. Many are beginning to feel that the north is not ready to make the required sacrifices to enable this country move forward. The sacrifice is conspicuously stipulated in section 145 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria. It was in recognition of this fact that the National Assembly in its wisdom declared Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as the acting president and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the federal republic of Nigeria. Ordinarily, it was President Yar’Adua, and not the National Assembly that should have voluntarily brought about making Jonathan the acting president.

Only God knows what would have become of Nigeria if the National Assembly had not acted on time. To appreciate how far men can go, some persons are still faulting the intervention of the National Assembly. Their argument is that the absence of President Yar’Adua from office did not create any vacuum and therefore had no need to proclaim Vice President Jonathan as the acting president. It is quite ironical that those who claimed the absence of the president did not create any vacuum were the same people that ferried the 2009 Supplementary Budget to the convalescing President Yar’Adua in Saudi Arabia for signing. It was also the same set of people that asked a retiring Chief Judge of the federation to swear-in his successor. Are we not aware that federal permanent secretaries could not be sworn-in owing to the absence of the president? Whom do they want to deceive?

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