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22 Apr Written by  Japheth Omojuwa

2015 and the Battles Ahead

Since 1999, the most popular years in Nigeria have always been the election years. From 2003 to 2011, the elections years always hug the headlines almost as soon as the latest general election is done with.

The reason is not far-fetched: Nigeria’s political class is not big on post-election duties and the execution of electoral promises. It is almost exclusively about retaining or having power. The debates are narrow and shortsighted; the arguments are mundane and uninspiring. It is always about personalities rather than about issues. As 2015 draws closer, it is apparent that nothing has changed.

The main battle will expectedly be between the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressive Congress. Before this final show down, many battles will rage within the main parties. As for the PDP, these battles have since started. President Goodluck Jonathan has had to pay attention to the reported ambitions of several of his party members. Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State are amongst the main suspects. It is easy to know that the current battle for the headlines between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi has 2015 written all over it.

History suggests that whoever wins the PDP ticket automatically becomes the president of Nigeria. Unless the APC shapes up to be a viable national political party, this will not change in time for the 2015 elections. That the PDP is currently divided is no news but only a naïve onlooker will write it off. Many political parties have come and gone since 1999, but the PDP remains the same. 

2015 looks like its biggest test yet. The party has collectively failed Nigeria if the numbers are to be broken down into the most fundamental. Two of every three Nigerians remain poor, the more six per cent growth rate  has not translated to improved quality of life for the people.

Impunity remains the norm instead of the exception. One of the biggest scams in the nation’s history, the 2011 fuel-subsidy scam, has since gone with the times without any major conviction. There are claims of transformation by those in government, but the pangs and pains of poverty in the governed are undeniable. An average onlooker would expect something to give by 2015 but experience has shown that the performance of office holders hardly reflects in the election results. Things remain dicey.

After several failed attempts, there appears on the horizon an able alternative to the PDP. Whether they even get to finally come together is not as big an issue as how they will come out post-formation. The many elements coming to form the APC will have their storming period the morning after. Until they survive this inevitable storming period, they cannot even claim to be in the fight yet.

The PDP storms have started early and it would either get the battles over early in time for the main fight, or mar the party altogether. Nothing is set in stone. Who knows, the governors have always looked like they had all the powers but history has shown that incumbent presidents always come bouncing back. Time will tell.

Politicians will tell you they are in it for the people, but if by now the people do not know better then they will never know. Nigerians must begin to understand that democracy offers them a better chance of changing their own fortunes than the military system did. During the military era, it was okay to sit and watch the khaki boys do as they pleased but democracy needs the people’s input.

Nigeria’s 14-year-old democratic experiment has been extremely expensive and the people have not had much to show for it. We have created billionaire politicians and seemingly richer cronies but the very people that democracy ought to be about have been at the wrong end of government's policies and unbridled waste and corruption. This is why 2015 must be different.

Nigerians must pay attention to everything! The era of the passive citizen must give way to that of the active citizen. No government will give you what you don’t know is yours. As the politicians shape up for the battle ahead, we must be tasking them on the dividends of democracy today. They have always promised us tomorrow but we should be wise enough to know that tomorrow never really comes in Nigeria.

Dog