POLITICS cannot be effectively organised and carried on without political parties in competition among themselves. Plurality of parties widens the channels of political discussion and discourse engenders plurality of political issues, promotes the formulations of competing ideas, policies and programmes and generally provides the citizens with a choice.
2023 power transition opened up opportunities for a change in political discussion and attitudes. The contest was between the entrenched hegemonic forces represented by PDP and APC, and the seeming change that well-meaning Nigerians have prayed for, which Peter Obi and Labour Party epitomise.
If the ex-general and some clandestine forces tried to weigh in their influence on Labour Party leadership as claimed by Prof. Wole Soyinka, it won’t be out of place. It means that the former army officers and their partners have come to recognise the legitimacy of democracy as the best form of government for us here in Nigeria. They have recognised that democracy provides forum for active participation of citizens in governance, whether as a member of party in power or in opposition. It is the nature of political development for interested stakeholders to always push their own lines and it is better through a political platform. To have said that the ex-generals and some forces were trying to use Labour party to scuttle democracy is a big lie. The idea only exists in the imagination of the Nobel Laureate. Nigerians are aware of what is going on nowadays, and some of the things that happened during the 2023 electioneering period as well as the voting period. No one, irrespective of his or her stature, can twist the narrative.
Past military coups in Nigeria did not use political parties as spring board to lunch into power. If anyone or group of persons have rubbished democracy in recent times in Nigeria, it is politicians themselves. The visible dividends of democracy today are corruption, nepotism, insecurity, poverty, unemployment, etc. There is so much social tension in the land. Politicians and those who speak for them in and out of the country should do more than mere rhetoric. APC has produced two presidents who approached national questions through ethnic prism. In the government of Muhammad Buhari, most of his appointees were Fulanis and Muslims. Some believed that his government was all about the Fulanisation and Islamisation of Nigeria. Despite the criticism, Buhari was never bothered. Nigerians are also seeing the same trend in this government. Most of the appointments so far are Yorubas and Lagosians. It is believed that the regime is all about Yorubanisation and Lagosianisation of government.
What we can glean from APC leadership style is that they are a group of ruling elites that are ready to deepen our fault lines. Our country is progressing in the wrong direction. PDP government was accused of corruption, but not nepotism. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s appointments were well-balanced. The world could see that he was a pan-Nigeria president. He brought Nigerians from every part of this country that were hitherto not known at the national space. The late Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan Goodluck followed his example. APC government has introduced the use of ethnic agenda to execute a national assignment. Nigerians expect that this dangerous development will bother Prof. Wole Soyinka more than pushing the Yoruba agenda of supporting the arguments of Tinubu’s victory at the polls, that the world already knew he never won.
Even in terms of corruption, the APC’ s eight-year government of Muhammad Buhari out-performed PDP’s sixteen years rule. Though I do not have anything against Tinubu’s government in the area of corruption so far, but his nepotistic appointments have defined where he is headed. Corruption and all forms of inordinate practices are easier perpetuated in government when you work with your tribesmen/women and members of your family.
From steps taken so far, Tinubu’s administration will not be better than the Buhari administration.
What is worrisome is the criminal conspiracy of silence by people who are supposed to say something about this ugly dimension to political appointments. More annoying is the fact that respectable people are trying to create distraction by raising non-issues at world stages just to hoodwink us. If by our criminal silence we are giving tacit approval to nepotism, then if an Edo, Calabar, Igbo, Birom person emerges as president in the future, it will be proper to only use people from their own ethnic origin.
Nigeria’s economic structure is today completely in the hands of the Yorubas, and a self-acclaimed righteous professor and his fellow Omoluabis did not see anything wrong. Must Tinubu follow the template left by Muhammadu Buhari? The governor of CBN, Minister of finance, Chairman of FIRS, Minister of digital economy, and Minister of marine and blue economy and many more cabinet appointments are all Yorubas. Where is fairness and equity in all these?
Professor Wole Soyinka should be reminded that equity, fairness and justice are the fundamental principles upon which equitable societies are built. We have visibly seen that Tinubu has a plan to Yorubanise and Lagosanise the economy, we can only pray that our economy is not alphabetised.
Comrade Amechi, a trade unionist and pro-democracy activist, writes from Lagos.