It is tragic that our level of political discourse in Nigeria has not advanced too far beyond the level of throwing insults. This applies across the spectrum, whether APC or PDP. For a start, Nigerians need to understand that it does not matter why you support a particular candidate during an election, what matters is that you participate in the process of voting, and then participate in the process of holding the winner to account, regardless of whether you supported him, or not. I will repeat something that I said last year, sometimes, it is better to be pragmatic, rather than to be idealistic. Abstention, especially at our stage of development, is not really an option. Abstention will become an option when our institutions are strong enough to protect themselves, if ever such a time will come.
I made this quite clear a year ago when I opted to support the current President, despite his past history. When he won, I also made it quite clear that I would “fight” him. I began to do that shortly before he was sworn in, when there was the incident involving AIT. It’s my job as a citizen, and I don’t expect less from any other person who wants the greater good of Nigeria, and all who live within her borders.
I will be honest and admit that the current government, has succeeded in disappointing me thus far, and that is even with my very low expectations of it. However, I can only shake my head at those rejoicing at this government’s struggles. It is the height of foolishness, to pray for your country’s leadership to struggle. You can pray for challenges, as I do, because those will bring out, possibly, the best in us. But to rejoice at failures?
We are all in petrol queues, those who defend foolish actions by the government, and those who pray that the government will fail, so what is the point? We must all hope for the best, and contribute towards the best in our own ways, but ultimately by speaking truth to power at all points in time.
About the success or failure of the Buhari government, those who support this government must realise that criticism is not always from a bad place. The Ambode government was heavily criticised as it started badly, but it has taken a hard look at itself, and began to perform better. We must all understand that the success, or failure, of the Buhari government, will be our success, or failure. If despite the terrible situation, some are still screaming “Sai Baba!”. Those people, no matter their protestations, actually want Buhari to fail.
As for the ‘who’ I voted for last year, let me say this: with all that I now know of the Buhari government, its seeming sectionalism, its slowness to achieve the most basic tasks, its lack of economic directions, the second worst energy crisis in our history, which is on track to become the worst, with all of this knowledge a year in, if we are running the 2015 elections again under same temperature and pressue, I will vote the same way. Not because I believe that Buhari is a messiah, I was quite clear last year that he isn’t, but because I still believe that the actions of last year were pragmatic. They were about our democracy. That we removed a sitting government opened a door of opportunity which strengthened our democracy more than what any iteration of our political class, APC or PDP could. Whether that door remains open is up to us, although sadly, many would rather relax and wait until 2019.
Therein lies the mistake. Democracy is a process, not an event. It is not about elections, but about stressing the occupants of office out.
Let us hope that our political landscape can evolve and our political discourse can become more mature. Nations are not defined by their failures.. As a matter of fact, every great nation must have its failures. Failures are not the issue, not at all. The issue has been, and remains, our inability to learn from our failures, and having a competitive political climate will form part of the process of instilling accountability.
If Buhari fails, that will not be a tragedy. What will be a tragedy is if we fail to sit down, and understand why he failed, how he failed and how the next administration can take things to the next level. That is clearly something that the APC has not done regarding the PDP. Building a nation is not about shortcuts and cheap tricks. Building a nation is an evolutionary process. Those who expect miracles and steep turns, and clearly there are many, are deluded.
By Cheta Nwanze