Nigeria Forum: between Jonathan and Buhari, how did we find ourselves in this mess? – By Adewale Maja-Pearce
One doesn’t have to be a member of the opposition All Progressive’s Congress in order to consider President Goodluck Jonathan a colossal failure. Whether he is the most corrupt of Nigeria’s long list of venal leaders is debatable and possibly pointless, but what really rankles in all but the most partisan is the impunity he has allowed to be celebrated.
As I write, there are reports that $700mn in cash was discovered in the home of Diezani Allison-Madueke, the long-serving petroleum minister (where all the money comes from, or what is left of it), who was earlier accused of blowing N10bn on chartered aircraft over a two-year period while she admonished the masses to stop “˜pointing to corruption, if we are not prepared to bear some of the hardship.’
And hardship is what Nigerians suffer daily. Five years after assuming office following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, most still live without reliable electricity or running water, and the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency continues to make a mockery of the county’s armed forces, abducting schoolgirls at will and decimating entire towns. They are currently threatening Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Ordinarily, Jonathan’s defeat in next month’s elections should be a foregone conclusion, the more so given his inability to come across as halfway coherent, as is painfully obvious in the (significantly few) interviews he has granted the international media. Clueless is the word most bandied about him in the pages of the newspapers. Unfortunately, his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired General and former military dictator, comes with questionable credentials.
Literally so: the raging controversy – and raging it is – concerns his primary school leaving certificate, which he does or does not have but which he needs in order to qualify for the job. He swore to it in an affidavit he filed with the Independent National Electoral Commission but then went quiet when the ruling People’s Democratic Party called him on it, only to produce a document containing subjects that weren’t offered back then in grades that didn’t exist.
The problem with the suspect certificate is that Buhari is running as Mr Clean, having overseen the “˜War Against Indiscipline’ in his previous incarnation in khaki, when he also caused three men to be executed with a retroactive decree and had soldiers whip people in the street for not standing in line. But then he was young and impulsive – “˜youthful exuberance,’ as we like to say – and is perhaps more tolerant now that he is older and wearing an Agbada.
Then there is the added problem of his apparent Boko Haram sympathies. Just two years ago he compared them to the Niger delta militants while arguing in favour of an amnesty for them on the grounds that both were fighting an “˜injustice’. His reasoning was difficult to follow but he has since distanced himself from “˜these barbaric purveyors of power’ and promised to mop them up within the first three months of his administration, although that would be a miracle given the impunity with which Boko Haram has so far annexed 20 per cent of the Nigerian state against a military mired in corruption. Unfortunately, a miracle is what Nigerians are looking for with Jonathan only promising more of the same.
At the root of all the angst over who we should or shouldn’t vote for is the idea that this is the moment when the country will break up. That Nigeria is already failing is not in doubt, which is why John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, is currently in town cautioning both candidates to play by the rules. But it was this same America which ten years ago predicted our collapse this year, at least according to popular mythology, which is invariably the prevailing mood in interesting times. In fact, America wasn’t the culprit but the Washington-based National Intelligence Council that envisioned “˜the outright collapse of Nigeria’ in 2015, but America (if not President George W. Bush himself) might as well have said so. Not that it matters. Most Nigerians believe it, if only because the Nigerian media has reiterated the same ad nauseam because checking the accuracy of their claims is not what they are primarily paid for.
The result, as I write, is a Buhari victory by a small margin, at least as gauged from the social media, from which most Nigerians – rural, largely illiterate – are excluded (this makes accurrate polling very difficult). Nobody but Jonathan’s hangers-on and their dependants (the contractors, the civil servants, the fly-by-nights both foreign and local) seem to want him back.
But what might a Buhari presidency portend? And why should the “˜Giant of Arica’, recently christened the continent’s largest economy, be polarised between these two representatives of 160 million people? That we should even ask the question is “˜the problem with Nigeria’ in all its ethnic, linguistic and religious ramifications, and not merely in the dismal quality of its leadership, as the late Chinua Achebe would have it. Achebe himself, the title of whose 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart, was prophetic enough, titled his last book, a memoir of the civil war of the late 1960s we seem intent on fighting all over again, There Was a Country.
But all of this is to assume that the elections will be held in the first place. A few days ago, Sambo Dasuki, the national security advisor (and himself a retired General), recommended postponing the elections – which in any case can’t possibly be held properly in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, where the emergency currently persists. Jonathan himself has little interest in Borno and Yobe (Adamawa is leaning towards the PDP), which Buhari swept in 2011 using the same affidavit concerning his academic qualifications (or lack thereof). The question really is: How did we find ourselves in this predicament so many years after we won the right to direct our own affairs?
Adewale Maja-Pearce is the author of a number of books, the latest of which is a memoir, The House My Father Built. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
NICE ARTICLE. We wish Nigeria a peaceful elections. Whether Buhari or Jonathan, let people have their say.
A Consideration for Electoral Professionals in the Advancement of the Civic Civil Electoral Process in Nigeria
I suggest in a manner strong to all engaged elections professionals that the social political public civic civil electoral leitmotiv for the calibration of any National/Regional/Local Election be grounded in considering with strict strident urgent attention the following statement uttered by Woodrow Wilson when he was campaigning to become President of the United States in 1912.
â€œAre you going to vote for a government which will regulate your master, or are you going to be your own masters and regulate the government and through the government these men who have tried to regulate you?â€
The â€˜Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihadâ€™â€”better known by its Hausa name â€˜Boko Haramâ€™ meaning â€˜Western education is sinfulâ€™â€”is an Islamic jihadist and takfiri militant and terrorist organization governed by the gangsterism ethos without any credence to the serene intellectualism of the Islam Religion advanced by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the Boko Haram organisation seeks to establish a â€œpureâ€ Islamic state ruled by sharia law, putting a stop to what it deems â€˜westernization sustained by crass colonialismâ€™.This Boko Haram cult of gangsterism evidenced in the violent abduction of young women from their schools must/ought be considered and regarded by all who value social order; as this abduction of innocent women reflects/refracts in the strongest lack of governance dialectic. These school girl abductions reinforce the gross lack of civil civic social order in Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan and his administration of governance must be held to strict account. These innocent young women were seeking only to improve their intellectual social standing grounded in learning in acquiring both academic and practical knowledge so as to enhance their personal lives along with enhancing and strengthening their society and culture in terms of prescriptive social civic civil cohesion.The government of Nigeria has a fundamental obligation to eradicate this element of gangsterism shrouded within the veil of Islam using every and all national resources. Anything less must be considered as tacit compliance in accepting this pernicious cult of gangsterism who regard themselves as â€˜lawâ€™.When an election â€œis seriously compromisedâ€ using both qualitative and quantitative metrics does pose normative queries which are not necessarily easy to reconcile. The salient issue might well be: What can the International Community of Civic Civil Electoral Expert Advisors do in addressing this combustive technical [quantitative] and public policy [qualitative] concern in persuading a National Electoral Commission to step up and take full civic electoral responsibility in investigating [profound] allegations of electoral fraud?The failure of young democracies [Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Thailand, South Africa, DRC, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt] has enormous inter-continent civic electoral consequences notwithstanding that the â€˜democracy ideaâ€™ grounded within a civic electoral matrix eventually and ultimately will be the end state of every nation on earth. This civic electoral â€˜democracy ideaâ€™ remains a most powerful seductive concept [Fukuyama]. In the long run, democracy is on balance the best political systemâ€”-not because it allows citizens essential fundamental freedoms but because democracy as a normative concept enhances transparency and rule of law which in the long run will foster and encourage prescriptive ordinal citizen prosperityâ€”the fundamental ontological essence of â€˜civitasâ€™â€”- essential in pluralistic dynamic flowering and flourishing of values connoting and promoting respect, peace, and good order. Civic Institution Elements grossly lacking in many fragile social democratic societies today.Qualitative Electoral Good citizens who are alert, engaged and educated in the advancement of pluralistic common values should participate in a national conversation and reflect collectively upon the content and character of their shared national identity. In a prescriptive pluralistic society open to engaged polite debate, the motives of good citizens should arise freely; virtue cannot be the product of state civil coercion or servile civic indoctrination.A liberal nationalist conception of civic virtue seems to imply some project of institutional design. The stateâ€™s institutions and practices need to be structured so as to cultivate and elevate civic virtue among its citizens. The most obvious realm is that of education. We cannot assume that citizens will fulfill their [civic electoral] responsibilities. Good national citizens are more likely to be the products of just institutions and of active pro-engaged public polity participation.Civic Education involves reconciling an interest in the social reproduction of citizens with three important values.1. the question of whether civic education might obstruct individual autonomy, by privileging civic conformity over critical self-direction2. civic education must account for how parentsâ€™ interests in raising their children according to their beliefs and way of life can be accommodated, [if at all]3. any transmission of civic virtue should be consistent with the toleration of difference and cultural respect: civic education, most particular the content of school civic curriculum, must not involve the oppressive assimilation of cultural minorities.When organized along liberal pluralistic rubric, civic electoral education should/ought be guided by two ideas/concepts corresponding to ends and means. Respecting the ends, the liberal pluralistic nationalist should/ought to promote among future citizens a patriotic desire to contribute to a national tradition. This rules out one method of civic education favoured by many western type societiesâ€”a civic minimalism limited to basic political knowledge. Deliberative pluralistic democracy requires a more exacting standard of civic civil citizenship. Civic education should/ought involve an element/form of â€˜nationalâ€™ civic civil education, which equips future citizens with cultural civic civil literacy and which prepares them to participate in critical self-interpretation of the national civic civil culture.The essential challenge for this civic civil educative program process is to ensure that any civic civil education is most sensitive to a normative value of cultural respect, which I believe has not historically been the case in many western civic civil education programs. Moral civic civil dialogue should/ought to be fostered and encouraged among all national participants. The young citizens over the course of their schooling and education should/ought have the opportunity to have multiple encounters with peers from divergent social backgrounds, and in the process forge/create/develop effective and affective ties of common fellowship with their future fellow citizens. Following this education rubric the potential exists in: will these future citizens be best equipped to participate in the kind of national-cultural dialogue conversation that defines a pluralistic national civil identity?In theory, governance â€“ once a constitution is in place â€“ starts with elections. Let the people decide. But in Africa that great line from Barbara Kingsolverâ€™s novel, The Poisonwood Bible, sums it up: â€œTo the Congolese it seems odd that if one man gets fifty votes and the second forty-nine, the first one wins altogether and the second one plumb loses. That means almost half the people will be unhappyâ€¦ and in a village thatâ€™s left halfway unhappy you havenâ€™t heard the end of it. There is sure to be trouble somewhere down the line.â€This is especially the case in countries that are divided by ethnicity. Ethnic identity is deeper and stronger than national identity in many countries. In most, ethnic support in elections means the winner must reward that support by spending money in the region. Elections become a simple numbers game, a competition between ethnic-based parties. The winner takes all, leaving great swathes of an electoral region unrepresented and often ignored by governments as the current situation in Nigeria suggests in a manner real and quantitatively calibrated which is grounded upon the lack of a strong ordinal civic civil social culture which is most profound qualitative in form and function.The Civic Electoral Process defies a simple quantitative measurement series of rubric measurement criteria. The Civic Civil Electoral Process is an amalgam exercising qualitative metrics within a quantitative norm of civic civil social cohesion essential if the civic civil electoral process is to be valued, validated in the normative element and most critical respected by the electorate even those who elected not to participate in the civic civil electoral process.