Marks of A Democratic Leader


By Sehinde Omoniyi
In a matter of days, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a leader who will oversee the affairs of the nation for another four years and in making this choice, every caution must be taken to ensure that this man must be a democrat at heart and not by pretence.

This character trait has become perhaps the most critical factor in determining the choice of who rules this country especially at this point in its history because this democratic ideal will not only influence the way government business if conducted but it will guarantee the sustenance of the rule of law without which no democracy can endure.

Events of the past couple of years has proven that Nigerians must look out for this ground norm as they march to the polls to vote for the man who must be President for another four years, and further extend this to the governorship candidates as well.

Utterances credited to some past and serving leaders of the country has singled them out for what they are and this more than any other thing has shown why the country is where it is in promoting the people's right and tolerance of the other view which is an instrument which strengthens democracies all over the world.

The last four years has witnessed a plethora of voices many of whom think they understand better how to manage the Nigerian project, yet most vocal of these voices are the few who have had the opportunity to rule the country before and who in their attempt to rule and reign at the same time, had zero tolerate for opposing views.

These characters have suddenly become the chief advocates in castigating every government programmes and policies sometimes in condescending languages directed at the person of the President of the Federal Republic, a thing these past harbingers of our common destinies could not stomach while in office.

While the several insults directed at the person of the Nigerian president are quite condemnable, the way and manner Goodluck Jonathan has gone about it only goes on to show that he has the largeness of heart that is a prerequisite for anyone who aspires for the office of the Nigerian President.

In a not so distant time ago, Nigerians can recall the numerous acts of intolerance which another democratic leader introduced in the polity and he ravaged and decimated perceived opposition some of whom today are pandering to him out of selfish desires.

We are witnesses to how 8 lawmakers out of 32 in Plateau state sacked a sitting governor and these few lawmakers were hailed as patriots; we witnessed in another matter how the federal might sat on the constitutional and legitimate revenue allocation of Lagos state nearly grinding the government in that state; or have Nigerians forgotten so quickly how a perceived leader of touts was used to topple a sitting governor in Oyo state and the act of brigand was made a show for the world to see.

In several other instances of this past government, we witnessed how state apparatus was deployed to hound people who seek public office out of their legitimate intentions to serve. Some past and present principals of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are still very much around to testify of the witch hunting activities of the agency against 'enemies' of the state which is another to describe those opposed to that government.

In the last four years or more, not one of such ignoble and despicable conducts that Nigerians were treated to have reared their heads again and that is because someone who was grown in the cultured of respecting other people's positions and opinions is occupying the same office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Today, Nigerian are faced with selecting between two prominent candidates the person who will lead the country for another four years, yet this choice is not a complicated one because between them there is clear distinction on the basis of their tolerance.

While on the one hand is the man whom by a clear divine intervention is Nigeria's President; the other is an army general who was once head of a military junta who shot his way to power and while it lasted, he was a determined to exterminate everything and everyone associated with democracy.

Between President Goodluck Jonathan and retired General Muhammadu Buhari, there is no basis for comparison over who has an appetite for the compromises and tolerance that are essential ingredients of the democratic system. Six years has tested President Jonathan without him caving in at any point but in two years, former head of state Muhammadu Buhari destroyed anything associated with democracy.

Nigerians cannot be fooled for a second time, it took us 30 years to travel the rough and undulating road Buhari and his cohorts built, and now that we are here, we cannot afford to go back that path again.

Sehinde Omoniyi is a Media Practitioner and wrote from Abuja

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