Monday, 12 January 2015

2015: What position for Akwa Ibom masses? BY KENNETH JUDE

2015: What position for A’Ibom masses? BY KENNETH JUDE

The year 2015 is surely replete with events, activities and happenstances of diverse hue and interest that will most likely make or mar our country nay Akwa Ibom state. It’s a remarkable year for Nigerians especially as they will once again go to the polls to elect leaders to man various positions in the country for the next dispensation. It’s also a year that will witness unprecedented level of intrigues, accusations and counter accusations from left, right and centre. 

In fact, already, the polity has been heated up ahead of the most anticipated polls as the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the major opposition, the All Progressives Congress (APC), have resorted to exchange of bitter words, launching of vitriolic tirade and uncivilised verbal punches at each other. Both parties are at each other’s jugular over whom the electorate should either support or reject. They are busy digging up perceived ills and shortcomings bedevilling either party without taking time to look in wards to correct the anomalies within their own rank and file with intent to put same in order before the polls.

Regrettably, they have taken great delight in campaign of calumny, baseless arguments and hate. It’s a pity that these guys are yet to come to terms with modern ways of campaigning for elections. By their action and inactions, they are once again proving to the teeming electorate that they are not ready to decisively and determinedly tackle the deluge of issues that have held the people captive. Today, our leaders have failed to display traits and attributes that inspire confidence in the people that the country will be better. They are daily buffeted by wild tales and occurrences that leave them with mouth-agape and arms akimbo.  As the general elections looms large, Nigerians are understandably apprehensive as to the direction the country will go going by the way events are panning out within the polity. They go around with the sad reality that their votes may not count after all. 

Yet still, those they look up to are perambulating all over the place with unmistakeable swagger as if all is well in the country. As you peruse this entry, not a few people are saying they won’t bother going out to vote as they believe in many quarters is that the polls which commences on February 14 will be rigged in favour of particular candidates and party by the powers that be. With this in mind, many are threatening to adopt the siddon look approach from the comfort of their homes. That’s the level political apathy has taken hold of the electorate. Do we blame these people? I’m just wondering aloud though.  But wait a minute, how and when did Nigerians become this sensitive to the shenanigans playing out in the polity? One may be tempted to ask. 

The answer is simple. Nigerians are now fully aware of how government works. They are no longer passive as regards how their country and different states are managed. They are highly enlightened and academically sophisticated to be treated with disdain by their leaders. No one wants to be misled or misguided by those who think leadership is their birth right as such they should be allowed to remain in power even when their policies and programmes are at variance with the collective wishes of the people.

As things stand, the people are in dilemma whether to vote on the basis of political parties or persons. The talk about town is that they are yet to be convinced that party A is better than party B. On the part of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), their conducts, posture and grandstanding has left so much to be desired. As the elections draw near, the acclaimed biggest party in Africa are yet to convince the people that they are willing to turn around the fortunes of the country and squarely proffer lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges besetting the nation. It beats one hollow that a party desirous, according to their sayings, of transforming the nation are still grappling with internal wrangling and squabbles that to many, are elementary but yet paramount in the overall unity and acceptance of any party as democratic. For a party to gain the confidence and massive support of the teeming populace, it needs to first of all put its house in order and conduct its internal affairs within the parameters of law, order and decency. Sadly, these qualities seem to be lacking in almost all the parties clamouring for power in 2015. 

Now, with just weeks to the general elections, the ruling PDP are yet to correct or even pay heed to calls by party faithful who participated in the last primary election to select candidates for the polls. There have been massive and deafening calls from well meaning citizens to the effect that the process that threw up some candidates as standard bearers for the party was flawed, undemocratic and most appropriately a farce of frightening proportions. Using the December 8 purported governorship primary in the state where Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel was adjudged the winner  which is still generating ripples and unrest within the polity as a case study, the aspirants who indicated interest in the job by buying the party’s form and doing everything constitutionally required by law in the country and in the party on which platform they sought power took great exception to the way and manner events leading to the process was handled, which they noted bothered on deceit and manipulation, boycotted the exercise over what they termed as strangulation of all known democratic norms in a bid to favour a particular aspirant.

Upon walking out of the venue of the said primary, they made their complaints known to the electoral panel where they clearly listed culpable reasons for their total dissatisfaction with the exercise. Petitions were written and forwarded to the appropriate quarters with the belief that the complaints raised will be looked into by the party hierarchy and the proper thing done. Sadly, over 36 days later, no word has come from the leadership of the party in regard to the numerous petitions sent to the party. They have turned a deaf ear to members of their party in endorsement of falsehood and annihilation of democracy and all it stands for in the country. One is at pains to explain away the party’s silence on the thorny issue. 

Not a few people have expressed their displeasure over the seeming and clear conspiracy of silence emanating from Abuja especially President Goodluck Jonathan who is, by virtue of his office the leader of the party. The Otuoke-born politician has failed to address the issue, an act many consider as unpresidential   and insincerity of calamitous level on the part of the former Bayelsa state helmsman. Not a few people belief he has been influenced to keep mute on the raging issue. Now, if these suspicions are true, it therefore means that we have a president that lacks self-belief, conviction and is not strong willed and hence cannot be trusted to pilot the affairs of the country again as such acts quickly sends the message that such a leader is unfit and therefore lacks the most needed capacity to take tough decisions without necessarily pandering to the whims of his comrades. I hope no one crucifies me for pointing out these ills in our system.

 This writer is not a Politician; and, in fact, to put it succinctly, I’m not a card carrying member of any party. I am a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who desires that the nation grows in all facets of her socio-economic life without let or hindrance. I believe in the rule of law, the constitution of Nigeria and supports programs that are people-oriented that are noble and pursued the right way. That he who comes to equity should do so with clean hands is not a new cliché. 

But do the leading class spare a thought for this age long truism? It’s trite to add here that the quest to amass wealth and perpetuate oneself in power ad infinitum has led to our leaders leaving larger than life lives, moving and behaving like demi-gods. They do all these forgetting that man has only but a limited time on earth. They throw their milk of human kindness to the winds with scant disregard to what tomorrow holds. They claim to love the country more than we do yet they engage in the most bizarre of acts that only makes nonsense of their claims. What a generation! What a people! What a nation! This group of 22 aspirants who suffered the fate of wicked conspiracy and now go with the sobriquet G-22 have been indirectly told by the party that they can go to hell for all the care. Or how else does one explain this neglect? I don’t know. You, tell me.

They have been ignored by the family they belong to-a party, on which platform they pay dues with unfailing regularity-a family they helped wean and nurture to this present level. Some of them were there when the party kicked off in the state in 1998; they contributed both financially and materially to solidify the party in the 31 local government areas of the state. Alas, today, they have been ‘used’, and dumped by the same people and course they worked for. That’s the tragedy of life; a cruel fate indeed! As the race to the Hilltop mansion gathers steam, the ruling party is facing the fiercest of contests in the political history of the nation. The opposition APC are not leaving anything to chance in their avowed bid to wrest power from the PDP. Though, many still habour doubts if they have the capacity to cause any upset at the polls. While the ruling PDP are head and shoulders’ above the opposition APC in many aspects, it will be foolhardy to write off the threat they will pose at the polls. One will be doing so at his own peril. While I’m not advocating that the electorate should vote for a particular party, my point remains that the people should be allowed to freely exercise their mandate without the tempting allure of crispy notes and crude coercion by way of oath taking and other crude practices. Let the peoples will prevail. Nobody should be forced down their throat. 

The process to elect the next leaders into various offices should be rancour-free and devoid of blood as advocated by Ndito edidia nso volunteer group in the state and the country at large. We just must sheathe our sword and embrace peace brought about by dialogue through the instrumentality of a round table discourse. That Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, the PDP national chairman observed unequivocally the other day that the acclaimed largest party in Africa is full of injustice is most apt and instructive too. 

If as the chairman of the party, he made those scathing comments, then he was only saying the obvious and confirming what many had long come to identify the party with. Those comments are still engraved in the minds of Nigerians and that, among other things may play a major role at the polls more so that they are still promoting and abetting the injustice to a higher level without a modicum of care for the people. These people have failed us; this, president Goodluck Jonathan also admitted recently. They know they have failed to attain to the basic needs of the people. Our roads have become easy pathways to the world beyond; the hospitals are still groaning under the weight of inadequate facilities and as such have been derisively termed mere referral centres. Fuel prices have remained unstable, while kerosene, a major staple in every home is beyond the reach of the common man. Our schools are in various stages of dilapidation. We still use outdated curriculum to impart knowledge on our teeming and helpless youthful population. Some of our universities are glorified secondary schools. How about the shabby and shady deals that has enveloped these institutions? What efforts have our leaders made to fix these anomalies? Is it corrupt officials that have been brought to book? Pitiably, it is children of the defenceless that are thrown behind bars without trial for decades like what is playing out in Akwa Ibom state today with Odudu Ukpanah. Poor folks! Let’s quit this hypocritical lifestyle where we preach peace and justice yet do the stark opposite almost all the time. 

As we head to the polls, let the collective wishes of the people prevail. It is our plea to the elites. While we have come to accept rigging as a way of life, can we please spare the lives of innocent citizens and allow them live their lives peacefully without fear or intimidation? I pray so. Meanwhile, a very warm but belated new year wishes to you our esteemed readers. God bless you all. And may the peace and love of Christ dwell with us this year, now and eternally. Happy New Year!

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