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Fast-forward to 2023

Published by The Nation on Tue, 24 Nov 2020

Gabriel AmaluThe Nigerian elected political officials are a special breed of optimists. Their spirit of never say die, even when others are seeing political graveyards, can only be matched by the stubbornness of the defeated Donald Trump of United States of America. Except for platitudes, most of them have no fidelity to the provision of section 14(1) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), which provides that: the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.One wonders if they are concerned about the state of insecurity in the country, which has worsened since the Nigerian Police was sacked by vandals and criminals last month. Even the fact that Nigeria has become the country with the greatest concentration of the poor is not enough warning to thread with caution. To further aggravate the desperate situation, the country according to the World Bank, is facing the worst economic recession in many decades.Yet, the only matter of concern from the presidency to the least official is strategizing for 2023 presidential election. Take the tango between David Umahi, the erstwhile Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor of Ebonyi State, who has ported to the All Progressive Congress (APC), and Nyesom Wike, of the PDP. While the president and APC governors are celebrating as if they have discovered a cure for Corona virus, Governor Wike, the self-appointed general overseer of PDP, has said the real reason Umahi defected is to position himself for the presidency in 2023.Of course, Governor Wike on his part has not denied his plan to draft Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, as a candidate in the PDP presidential primaries in 2023, as he did in the 2019 primaries. And with his second term ending, Wike, obviously hopes to run as his deputy, if not in the reverse order. Elsewhere, the APC governors have visited former President Goodluck Jonathan, celebrating him as the best thing to happen to democracy. Yet, their party dismissed the same Jonathan as clueless in 2015.So, fast-forward to 2023, and damn the political and economic challenges that nearly torpedoed our democracy few weeks ago. In their usual reckless manner, our elected political office holders are not concentrating energy to interrogate the groundswell of massive discontentment that saw the underclass of our country try to burn down the country in orgy of violence. In their bravado, they hope that haven regained the initiative after the mayhem of last month; the dissatisfaction in our country can be treated as a matter of law and order.The ruling APC which has been hijacked by the governors forum, are behaving like their contemporaries in the opposition party did, when PDP held sway. As long as they are in the drivers seat, it is fair to overwhelm the environment with the political machinations for 2023. Few weeks after the house they occupy was almost burnt down, they have not pursed to ask themselves what they have been doing wrong, to generate such malcontent, beyond blaming the promoters of #EndSARS protest.Instead of calling a bipartisan governors meeting to discuss the state of the sick union, they are gallivanting all over the place, pretending that all is well. Their counterpart in the PDP, instead of offering clear alternatives to the beleaguered citizens, are rather busy plotting for supremacy over 2023. None of the governors, who are desperately plotting to gain positional advantage in 2023, has offered an intellectual pathway for the recovery of Nigeria. As far as they are concerned, what matters most is scheming to control the party, not to offer any worthy alternative.With the times so uncertain, a more responsible influential stakeholder like the governors forum should have concentrated energy offering solutions to the security challenges made bare by the inefficiency in the police force, which predates the present crisis. Rather, the governors pretend they cant see a manifestly disenchanted police force, when it is an open secret that most policemen have abandoned their duty posts, or have sent in their resignation letters out of frustration.In Lagos, last week, the okada riders who have become a menace to residents and other road users in the metropolis, refused the entreaties to remain law-abiding. In some cases, they mobilized and confronted the beleaguered police and state task force officials, who had to flee from the horde of motorcyclists in hot pursuit. Obviously, the message is lost on the governments at the federal and state levels, who may think it is just a Lagos problem.This column warns that the open confrontation that took place last week between okada riders, and the Lagos State Environmental Task Force officials, which include security officers, provides a birds eye view of what awaits our dear country, as the state security agencies try to regain exclusive control of the coercive powers of the state. Instead of expending energy politicking for 2023, the governors should deeply worry about the very survival of the democratic endeavour, because without the basic provision of security and welfare for the citizens, the entire thing may collapse on all of us.If the democratic project is allowed to derail, all the scheming and plotting would come to naught, as there would be no existing platform for the intrigues. So, any government official at any level who thinks that all is well with the democratic project is perhaps dim-sighted, and needs help to see well. Since governors now exert so much influence in the operational control of the two major parties, it is fair for them to be more concerned than any other political office holder.While the APC is entitled to celebrate the porting of the governor of Ebonyi State to the party, they should worry about what history will say about the time in power of their party. Regardless of whether the PDP could have done better, considering the extraneous challenges of the year 2020, the APC must worry to what extent they have delivered on their election promises. While the corona virus pandemic is easily blameable for the worsened economic crisis, it is not an excuse for failing on the political reform promises.If for any reason the APC is not returned to power in 2023, they would rue the lost opportunities they had, to help Nigeria become a sustainable federation. Many of the governors, especially from the northwest part of the country, who are excited about the power they are wielding during the presidency of the President Muhammadu Buhari, needs the structural reforms, more than the rest of the country. Yet, like Niger Delta political office holders under President Jonathan, they are ignoring the opportunity they have to engineer the necessary fundamental changes.
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