Regardless of the outcome of the 2015 elections, Nigerians are going to have the opportunity to end once and for all the issueless “quota” system and “power rotation” electoral arithmetic and politics which is devoid of merit and quality. Nigeria will be left with no option than to institute a politics based on issues, ethics, merit and program. This is the case for some reasons.
The failure to institute appropriate public ethics is Nigeria’s main problem in the 21st century. That this ethical problem is lost on members of the “middle class” who ordinarily ought to know is part of the problem. Hence, Nigeria will remain an un-realizable dream if Nigeria fails to resolve its ethical and moral challenges. And this proceeds from who the head is because the African proverb says the fish rots from the head and its rottenness infuses cancer on its body.
But co-existing with a rotten Nigerian head and system is the dynamic strength of the individual Nigerian, a strength that has become a universal story and legend. No other country in the world has the natural and human resources and potentials Nigeria has.
Today, in the US, Nigerians are the new “model immigrants.” Everywhere Nigerians turn it is the language of tenacious and dogged striving for excellence and merit. But sadly, no other country is so dumb as to fritter such human resources away back home as Nigeria does.
This is why Buhari/Osinbajo and Jonathan/Sambo offer very sharp moral alternatives and possibilities because in terms of policy measures, body language and examples, President Jonathan has failed to make the ending of the looting of government resources a major policy measure. While failing to declare his assets publicly, as a model for public ethics, and telling Nigerians to their faces that “ I do not care…” President Jonathan said, “Stealing of government resources is not corruption”!
Forced to respond to the looting that goes on in the petroleum industry, President Jonathan set up the Ribadu Task Force on Petroleum Industry”. The report of the task force indicts main operators of the petroleum industry led by Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke, President Jonathan’s minister of petroleum. President Jonathan collected the report and Mr. President must have forgotten where he put it. Pro-corruption, corruption friendly, and, corruption loving body languages such as these from President Jonathan make the 2015 elections a critical one.
A corrupt political, social and economic system which appear irredeemable constantly shame Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora each time Nigerian issues come up for discussion. Except one is insane no one can be proud of a country whose president says on record that stealing is no corruption!
Curiously, despite the moral failure of President Jonathan, he and his handlers have consistently defended his government not on issues but primarily on the basis of “quota” and “power rotation”. President Jonathan accidentally came to power as a result of the death of then President Yar adua. Given the “quota system” and “power rotation” system of the-PDP- ex-president Yar adua was seen to be exercising a “Northern” slot.
With Yar adua’s transition, the question is whether President Jonathan was completing a “Northern quota” or was starting a “South South quota” Given the practical nature of the problem, one of the informal tools which the PDP being the ruling party was said to have used was the alleged agreement that President Jonathan would serve one term after succeeding Yar adua.
President Jonathan has denied that such agreement exists and his handlers have defended his right to contest. I think it is significant that he denies this, and I think he has a right to contest. But his right to contest is anchored on his individual right and not on collective rights of a zone.
Hence, President Jonathan’s exercise of his individual right to contest has technically ended the “quota system” and “power rotation” among the zones because “quota” and “power rotation” is about collective rights of “zones” and not individual rights as already exercised by President Jonathan. Zones do not contest, individuals contest elections.
Mr. Buhari’s candidacy presents the same challenge to “quota system” and “power rotation”. Given that Buhari belongs to the APC, the question before Buhari’s candidacy is whether it is in fulfillment of a “quota” or “power rotation”. If Buhari’s candidacy is in fulfillment of a “quota” or a “power rotation” the question is, which “quota”, which “power rotation” ?
The Buhari/Osinbajo candidacy and the Jonathan/Sambo candidacy have both called to question and ended “power rotation” in Nigerian body polity. Therefore, it will be flawed for President Jonathan as he and his handlers have done to campaign on a “quota system” or “power rotation” to the South South and retention of power in the South South because he did not respect that assumption in his party in the first place. And he has correctly exercised his individual right.
Also, it will be flawed and unacceptable for Mr. Buhari to campaign on the basis of “quota system” or “power rotation” back to the North because none exists especially given the failure of the present ruling party-PDP- to honor its alleged informal agreement. And because Buhari/Osinbajo candidacy is an APC candidacy and not a PDP one, the issue is you –as APC-cannot claim to want to implement or restore a “power rotation” formula of a party PDP-which you-APC were not part of.
Nigerians should see this technical and practical shredding of “power rotation” and “quota” in Nigeria’s electoral and party politics as very positive for Nigerian democracy because it creates a vacuum that has to be filled with a campaign based on merit, issues, programs, the economy, ethics in governance if the election is not rigged.
In this regard, the primary issue is the moral and ethical vision, and the competence in governance of the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket and Jonathan/Sambo ticket and not whether power should stay in the South South or go to the North. Practically, both propositions have been destroyed by the nature and emergence of both tickets.
So the questions we are left with are: which ticket is capable of ending corruption and stop the ceaseless humiliation of Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora? I love my Nigerian roots for that partly explain my staying power but I am not part of a system that celebrates the claim that “stealing is not corruption” because “stealing is corruption” and it is evil.
My children who I constantly remind of their Nigerian roots as part of their staying power also throw back at me and remind me of President Jonathan’s statement “stealing is not corruption”! When my children remind me of President Jonathan’s statement, they defeat and demoralize me for how can a President say “stealing is not corruption” my children wonder aloud in the Diaspora.
Furthermore, given the tenuous oil dependent mono-cultural nature of the economy, and with the end of oil in sight, which ticket can aggressively end and terminate corruption, engender a healthy, manufacturing, agriculture and productive economy, institute transparency which will then attract the moral confidence of foreign investors, redefine the education sector, solve our electricity problem thereby create employment for our teeming youths?
Given the plural but fragile nature of Nigeria, which ticket is able to engender and respect a true federal system, its principles and laws. Such true federalism means culturally, politically, socially, economically viable federalism.
In other words, which ticket will not deepen the present rigged unitary system, which is not working in the country today for our politics and economy? To foist a unitary system on Nigeria is to crack Nigeria and bury her.
Which ticket is able to engender a clear notion of citizenship and residency, which co-exists in a healthy manner with true and culturally, socially, politically and economically viable federal system?
Which ticket is capable of giving Nigeria a Commander in Chief who will defend Nigerians both in the South and in the North, Christians, Muslims, non-Christians, non-Muslims, atheists, non-believers etc.?
Which ticket has the competence to govern a plural society? Which ticket will govern in accordance with the laws of our nation and not govern with impunity? Which ticket will not look the other way when thugs (who are not members of the assembly) were imported to make Nigerian laws as it happened in Ekiti state house assembly?
Which ticket will not make the police invade the national assembly as it happened recently? Which ticket will allow the police; military and the security do their jobs professionally and not manipulate them for political and partisan purposes.
The candidacies of Buhari /Osinbajo and Jonathan/Sambo are a healthy and welcome defeat of and end of “quota system” and “power rotation” in Nigerian politics.
So let each ticket rely on its history, its ethics and moral vision and tell us what they can do.
Adeolu Ademoyo email@example.com Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.