People who resist change have forgotten that pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus who maintains that everything in the universe is in flux, that you cannot stop step on the same river two times, and that mortals are immortals while immortals are mortals. Jonathan is making a change from eight-year-two terms to six-year single term for president and governors in Nigeria. The critiques have forgotten Jonathan’s promise during the electioneering days to overhaul and bring total change into Nigeria’s electoral system so as to ensure a free and fair election and to block all loopholes and avenues to corruption, while attempting a true democratic system for Nigerians. He has the guts!!
Rather than condemning him Nigerians should dispassionately look into Jonathan’s tenure’s reduction, instead of viewing it as tenure “elongation”, and comparing it with that of Obansanjo who did all things possible to perpetrate himself in office for the third term. President Jonathan means well for the country, more so, as he had excluded himself as a beneficiary of the six-year single tenure for Nigeria’s Presidents and governors. My prayer is that the six-year single term be extended to all elected positions in our country’s democracy, beginning from the local government councillors, through various legislators, the governors and ending in the president. The innovation should be total.
Let’s come to think about it. Which would you prefer? A politician who takes election as a do or die affair in Nigeria, and indeed in Africa. He uses all borrowed resources from his godfathers and his political party and associates. He goes into contesting, applying all means and degrading tactics using the Obansanjo’s “do or die” syndrome and wins an election. Tell me. Who truly is the Nigerian politician who goes through such an unpalatable political rigours, and would truly serve his country, whether as the president or the councillor? His immediate relief if he wins will be to steal the states money in every conceivable way to pay back his huge accumulated debts, including the regular huge subscriptions to his godfathers and political party. For the first four years, he does that without tarring a road, bringing in water, developing other infrastructures or even paying workers’ minimum wage he so fervently promised the electorate during electioneering.
Now, ask all the Nigerian governors who, only yesterday promised workers good welfare packages including the eighteen thousand naira minimum wage which had been signed into law, but today, only to renege, because elections have been packaged and put behind us. They would wait until the eve of the next election, after the first four-year term, when they would resume their false promises once more, fill all pot-holes with sand, pretend to be tarring roads, attending social gatherings, flaunting their six and half billion naira unaccounted-for security vote. They have accumulated monthly six and a half billion naira over four years on the faces of the electorate. This and other allowances coming in, in various names and including the stolen state money are jealously guided and accumulated for campaign for the next four-year-term. If you do not know it, it is in Nigeria that elections campaign expenses are recorded, as the highest in the entire developing world. This is the source of corruption, in the country, the reason why many thugs join politics, rig elections and occupy positions of governance without the requisite qualifications. Intellectuality alone cannot qualify one to rule a country and neither can your huge bank account make one a good ruler. Like Plato has asserted, only men of wisdom (intellectuality) and virtue (moral discipline) should rule a country. Where do we find such men, you may ask. If ever we find them, who will give them a chance to rule? For reasons of corruption, he admonished such men of wisdom and virtue to stay clear of politics, since politics is filled with corrupttyrants who have no iota of love for the suffering masses who queued in rain or shine, casting votes for them.
What heart has an elected state governor who after assuming office reneges from the agreement already signed into law, to pay minimum wage of only eighteen thousand naira to his workers. To say the least, such governor’s action, threatens the security of his state, since angry workers who are poised for a nation-wide strike can ignite situations which may be anti-state and likely to cause wide-spread damage to the entire nation. Why then should we thrust our fragile nation to elected governors who have no honour? Only men with wisdom (intellect) and virtue (moral discipline) should rule Nigeria. With the magnitude of official corruption by men in official positions in this country, the length of governors by each elected officials should be drastically reduced. In so doing, corruption in the country will be greatly reduced and eventually made extinct.
The basic question now is whether such politicians be allowed to hold the entire country and indeed, all Nigerians to ransom for eight years without anything to offer to the people? The nation is between the devil and the deep blue sea. Rather than hold the people to ransom for eight years, let the people accept a more tolerable option of six years within which to close their eyes to the inhuman politicians who have no plans for the poor people. No doubt, Goodluck Jonathan is an intelligent individual who needs his guts to do what he has done. He knows that the greatest evil bedevilling this country is corruption which has its roots in incredible and unfair elections of political leaders. This is why he opted for a total electoral reforms prompted by the late President Umaru Y’ardua.
Once elected, either credibly or by error, they should make their exits hastily after the misrule for six years instead weighing down the country and its economy for a long eight-years in the name of a second term of four years. While agreeing and congratulating President Jonathan for his guts of the single six-year term proposal for Nigerian presidents and governors, he should as a matter of urgency, extended the proposal to cover all the legislators at various categories nationwide. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and not to a few thugs who by hook or crook found their ways into political leadership and public offices
Pat Asakome, a broadcaster, a University lecturer, an author and analyst in public affair, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.