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POWER AND THE PEOPLE – THE CASE OF NIGERIA

January 26, 2016 | Edmund Obilo


The struggle for power shapes the leadership question in Africa. African countries have been left behind due to the quality of minds holding vital leadership positions, and failure to interrogate the issues hindering the long awaited revival of the continent. Nigeria represents the leadership mishap that Africa bears on its bent back. Power in Nigeria has been used by the privileged class as a tool for economic and political manipulation, owing the people nothing and telling the audience the best of lies. It is under this rowdy and manipulative reality that Muhammadu Buhari emerged as Nigeria’s president. Dressed in the garment of a corruption fighter and imbued with a spartan life style that exudes hope in the face of past deceptions, Buhari’s understanding of what is expected of him, will be the chalkboard on which the indicators of good governance are written.

What stands Buhari out in the Nigerian democratic project is his consistency in the pursuit of power. Having contested in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 presidential elections, his political adventure is devoid of the prompting of powerful class known for imposing on the country, men whose ambitions at the time they were railroaded into the power dynamics were not to be presidents. By implication, Nigeria has always had accidental presidents selected on the ground of ethnicity and religion. This distinguishing feature, that produced “movement Buharism” during the 2015 election, might also represent a new paradigm for Nigeria’s development. This means there must be a departure from the selfish and self-elevating characteristics of previous leaderships.

Having contested the presidential election four times, before emerging victorious, the expectation is that he must have taken the years of preparation to understand the power and economic dynamics of the state. There appear to be a slack here, considering his response time to critical management and intervention issues required to reposition the Nigerian state. Having touched on that, there are compelling reasons to believe that the government that Buhari leads, will perform better than previous administrations. But time is of essence in the implementation of developmental initiatives in the quest for Nigeria’s progressive evolution.This evolution can be revolutionary if the president’s fight against corruption ends up decimating the devilish political caucuses that have sucked the Nigerian state of its energy. The situation becomes more complex in the face of the personalities that now enjoys the president’s confidence. On the other hand, there are cartels made up of economic and political profiteers as seen in the petrol marketing business. Taking out cartels is a hard task especially when they are installed by entrenched political interests to shortchange the state.

Without pointing fingers, there will be a strong resistance at attempts to dislodge entrenched interests planted to suck profit directly from the artery of any nation. There will be economic prices to pay to dismantle them. Petrol scarcity is one of them. There will be political prices to pay to redistribute the wealth that has been cornered by the privileged elites. A likely implosion in the ruling All Progressive Party (APC) will be a test case.

While the system is being prepared for re-engineering, the biggest obstacle will come from insiders whose missions are to truncate it. Whether the president, will find himself truncating a renewal process for political reasons will be seen as time progresses. The Nigerian people therefore, cannot afford to play the role of the viewer. If the people failed to play the role of a checker, demanding efficiency and purposefulness in governance, Buharism’s objective will not be realized. In this time of economic hardship, the political class must be seen to be fearful of the people. But that is not the case. Until, this is attained, it will be risky to live Buhari alone to define Nigeria’s new development paradigm.

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