Saturday, July 15, 2006

Brilliant, Bold & Visionary

As the curtains close on yet another adventure in the Nigerian quest for nationhood, the political arena is becoming more and more frenzied and perturbed. Many politicians are scheming, forging alliances and making nice with the powers-that-be and the electorate to position themselves in the right light for the 2007 elections. Already, there are reports of violence, assassinations, intimidation and back-stabbing.

What makes the 2007 elections critical is all the events that have played out since 1999 when Obasanjo was elected president. Successes include the completion and implementation of the wireless telecommunication licenses, formation of EFCC and last year’s $18 billion Paris club debt relief. Topical issues tabled in both houses of the legislature include furniture allowance, impeachment of a couple of senate presidents and the speaker of the house, impeachment threats made by both houses of the legislature to the president over issues including disputes over appropriation bills among others. We have had a couple of governors arrested both abroad and at home over corruption and murder allegations, assassination of the attorney general of the federation, trials of Abacha henchmen, a couple of plane crashes, dissolution of various federal government parastatals and the formation of equally ineffective ones. We have seen the escalation of violence, hostage taking and terrorism in the Niger-Delta. Also, we have witnessed the recently scuttled “third-term agenda” being fomented and dealt a death blow by the senate.

In addition to these, we have seen the price of crude oil, Nigeria’s primary foreign exchange earner soar to as high as $75 per barrel and more. More money now accrues to the federation account and by induction more resources are available to the state and local governments which all get their sustenance from the federal government allocations they periodically get. Hence there is more agitation by all the local and state governments across the land, especially those in the oil producing regions, for more money to be allocated to them.

Against this backdrop it is no wonder that many career politicians are jostling for power in order to control this windfall of resources that are accruing to the Nigerian government as a result of high oil prices. There is absolutely nothing wrong in vying for election since it is the right of every Nigerian. What is wrong is to do so with the intent to defraud the Nigerian populace through embezzlement and gross acts of abuse of authority as have been the case with many present and past elected and self-imposed leadership. What Nigeria does not need are the green-eyed monsters of the Abacha ilk with sticky fingers, dubious intent and vile hearts. What Nigeria needs in the coming years are men and women of substance who are brilliant enough to understand what makes good governance, bold enough to stand up to proponents of the status quo where graft, nepotism, tribalism and injustice prevail, and visionary enough to chart a new course for the Nigerian Nation.