(By Arnold Alalibo)-
Port Harcourt and Abuja were enthralled with heightened political animation penultimate weekend. The two dominant parties – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) — had their presidential primaries to wind up the series of political events that set about the nomination of candidates to vie for elective positions in 2019.
Similarly, primary election held sway across some of the 91 political parties in the country. But the active rapid commotion by politicians at the primaries almost stirred constriction in the country. If primaries could assume that form, what will come off when the general election holds next year? Unfortunately, the concluded primary election witnessed all manner of peculiar behavioural attributes such as outright hostilities and exchange of blows, thuggery, protests, altercations and death in some instances. All ensued for the singular purpose of taking over power. They maimed and maligned characters just to offer themselves for service. Shame!
Apart from the improper demeanours that were visible, the reckless deployment of financial resources is a clear indication that politics has been reduced to bread and butter and become a matter only for the rich. With this, I have no doubt that politics in Nigeria is all about self-aggrandizement.
The excessive commercialisation of politics points to one fact — the soul of leadership is gone. What it means is that in Nigerian politics service has been substituted for filthy lucre, profligacy and massive corruption. If party primaries are mere ways of choosing those to govern us why have they assumed such ugly dimensions?
Whereas democracy is universally defined as government of the people by the people and for the people, what materialised at the primaries across most of the political parties, particularly the two predominant parties, show that democracy vigorously relishes a different definition in Nigeria. It is not a government of the people and by the people but a government of the rich and for the rich alone. In other words, what we have is a well-contrived plutocratic government.
As long as leaders are chosen this way, corruption will never cease and the nation’s resources will continually be in imminent danger of extinction while politics will remain a huge investment in our dear country. It is convenient to blame the politicians. After all, they are the actors-in-chief, major and minor, in this our political drama of the absurd. But the average Nigerian has a greater portion of the blame.
The irony of it is in the midst of the manipulated flap, the people, the poor masses, that should have taken advantage of the confused situation to elect genuine candidates, were caught up in the hysteria as they sat in on the specks that fell from the politicians’ table. This renders political offices in the country good-for-nothing.
Though it is usual to witness political tenseness towards the end of every election circle, the backstabbing, character assassinations, anxieties, blackmail, threats, and in some cases killings that are observable now portend greater danger for the 2019 general election.
The developments are astonishing not only for the ugly events that always characterise electioneering in the country, but that while Nigerians complain no one does anything to at least reduce the impunity and incidents to make our election civilised and civic-minded, not wars in which opponents must not only be defeated but crushed at all cost.
Nevertheless, one still harbours a measured hope or optimism that Nigerian politicians will have contact with sanity someday. But that is only realisable when we all compel candidates to stick to issues that will develop the country during electioneering.
Party primaries have enjoyed years of successful vote rigging and from what I can see, the political class is not prepared for a change. For that reason, Nigerians have to draw the line between politicking and public service. It is sad that our politicians have ascribed to themselves far more than a fair share of public resentments. They must purge themselves of greed and lewd excesses and go for purification.
Nigerian politicians must spare a moment for deep introspection. They should recall the pain and sacrifices some Nigerians made to enthrone the constitutional government they savour and ride roughshod over after several years of military dictatorship.
Now, the big question is, are our politicians striving to build a country that is big for something or must Nigeria continue to sway in the wind, groping for that magic formula that would propel it to where it should be?
Spare a thought for this nation.