There should be no more presidential election in Nigeria: by M.M. Wokili
As a patriotic Nigerian with a reservoir of similar previous experience that has made you hyper-sensitive and seeing the screaming headline of this message, I know your mind will be running berserk through the memory lane with livid anger! “These wicked, hired and mindless Nigerians are at it again – another June 12 is lurking at the corner”. Your alarmed mind concluded even before you read this peaceful piece! My rib is cracking with laughter at your ignorance but I understandably appreciate your patriotic zeal and concern. The most appropriate headline could have been “The best way to massive and rapid development in Nigeria” but I deliberately made it what it is to make it 'catchy'!
My name is not 'A. Nzeribe' from the east, not 'A. Davis' from the west, neither am I sponsored by any semblance of Association For Better (Battered?) Nigeria, ABN! Nor am I 'D. Kanu' from the east that will organize a self serving 3 million peopled solidarity march at Abuja for any dark goggled despot to continue in office for ever. I can never go to the law court to scuttle any presidential election through a mid-night satanic judgment with the aid of an 'Ikpeme' desecrating the sacred sanctuary of the judiciary. No my dear, because I sincerely love Nigeria and Nigerians. Look above or far below for my name. Iam at LEAST as patriotic and nationalistic as you are! I am sacrificing my resources to bring these suggestions/humble contributions to the powers that be for possible consideration, in exercising my fundamental human right inherent in the universal freedom of speech that can also be expressed in writing, as guaranteed in our constitution and UN charter to which Nigeria is a signatory. Till date, I do NOT belong to any political party! Iam for a free, united, prosperous and democratic Nigeria with a level playing ground for everyone to grow according to his/her talents and potentials without god-fatherism having any hold.
My messages nay suggestions (called it epistles if you like), in form of questions and answers, are the conclusion of a prolonged analysis of the problems that have been hindering rapid and massive development all over Nigeria in our quest and desire to catch up with the modern world. The ever revered sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, once said: “I have never regarded myself as having a monopoly of wisdom. The trouble is that when most people in public life and in the position of leadership and rulership are spending whole days and nights carousing in clubs or in the company of men of shady characters and women of easy virtue, I like a few others, am always at my post working hard at the country's problems and trying to find solutions to them” I can obviously include myself among 'a few others' that the foremost visionary Nigerian talked about despite the fact that I have not personally benefitted from or been made by the Nigerian state --- all I have gotten so far from Nigeria are buffetings of corruption. Yet when alone, I spend quality time during my quiet time to brainstorm the problems of the country for solutions. Nigeria is yet to come out of the underground tomb while the modern outside world has taken a flight to the moon! Yessssss, I repeat, there should be no presidential election in Nigeria as part of the remedy. Please read on with a neutral and open mind.1. We are in a democracy which can only be defined by elections, then, how come you suggest that the highest office in the land should not be occupied through an election?Good question. With my suggestions to be explained later, the office of the President will still be occupied by an elected person but not through any presidential election, therefore, the arrangement can not be described as anti-democracy. There is no straight-jacket universal democracy --- the developed countries practice variants of democracy and my suggestion can be our own peculiar variant that addresses our IMMEDIATE need which is rapid and massive development within the shortest period.2. What informed you of this variant that you are yet to fully explain?
Development! First of all, we need to identify our ultimate national objective/goal that needs to be achieved very URGENTLY. To me, it is development that we badly need at this moment of our history. As a nation, we are too far behind in terms of development which can only be achieved through good governance. I give you an example: Ghana was practically a dead nation when I was serving the nation under the NYSC scheme in 1981 at Gusau in the then Sokoto State. We had many Ghananian university graduates working as menial labourers (carrying concrete and sand on their heads) at our construction site at that time. They were hungry people scattered all over the world with their morale thrown over board for self preservation. It was common to see the male ones encouraging their alleged wives or sisters to go out in the night for unholy activities just for the sake of money to take care of themselves and their loves ones back home! Nigeria was like a haven and heaven to them. Where are we today when compared to Ghana in terms of development and good governance?
The indices are there for an answer --- Nigerian manufacturing companies are re-locating to other African countries including Ghana because they consider the countries more conducive for business operations and far better than Nigeria! Few years ago, Ghana celebrated their uninterrupted power supply while it will be a miracle in Nigeria to have 5 hours uninterrupted power supply in days that power ever comes up. Amnesty International rightly grouped Nigeria among the most corrupt nation on earth and we all know that corruption is the engine thrust of underdevelopment. Ghana is not within that range. Nigerian cross-boarder traders now flood Ghana to buy Ghana made goods for sale in Nigeria! Ghana is on the high way to prosperity, their morale recovered and towers that of Nigerians, very law abiding and their government is responsible and responsive to the yearnings of their citizens as demonstrated with their last successful presidential election where the candidate of then President was defeated by the opposition! On my God! What a dramatic transformation over and above Nigeria! Kudos to Mr. Rawlings, the father of the modern day Ghana that charted the path of honor for his country. But we don't need Rawlings's method to achieve our own development because of our peculiarities, hence, my suggestion of choosing an elected person as our President but not through a presidential election as will be explained later.3. What then is the variant that you are talking about?
In a nut shell, elections will be conducted as usual and I doubt if any future election in Nigeria can ever be different from the previous ones because rigging has been rewarded so far and will continue to be rewarded by the system --- no any form of deterrence. In any case, let the elections take place and with my suggestion, it is assured that it will be the last flawed elections and the last presidential election in the country. It means that my suggestion can only be implemented after the next presidential election in 2011 but the constitution has to be amended now to incorporate this suggestion amongst others. At the end of the usual 4 years tenure, all other elections will be held except that of the President because the best governor in terms of development will be chosen by a completely neutral and independent body to be our next President! The incumbent President will have the chance to continue in office for another 4 years if only if he emerges the best in terms of development among the competing governors for the same seat. The presidential tenure should be open ended as an incentive for the incumbent president to continue his competitive development if not he may decide to plunder the national resources during his last tenure if there is a seal on the presidential tenure.
We don't need any T.B. Joshua to know that this method will ginger up massive and rapid development across the country within the shortest time. The governors will make sure that the Local Government Chairmen within their states majorly invest in infrastructural development in their areas to boost their records of performance in their quest to be the next President of the country. After sometimes, the same method will be used to choose state governors from the Local Government Chairmen. We can't use the method to choose Chairmen from councilors because the Chairmanship is the least executive position in the country. At the end of the day, our president must have been a tested performer right from the Local Government level. 4. Haba Wokili ! This method will deny generality of Nigerians their rights of choosing their President through a Presidential election. What do you say about this?
I will ask you a question in return ---- when last did your vote count in this country? When last did the general populace freely choose their President? While two wrongs can not make a right, my suggestion is not in anyway undemocratic. Remember the best governor to be the next President is 'elected' by the Nigerian standard! You may argue that he is elected by the state that he governs and not the whole country that he is to govern as the President. To me and for the purpose of this write-up, we can not dismember Nigeria. Nigeria is one! I make a very simple example. Assuming the reader's name is 'John'. When you steal and get arrested, it is your whole body that will be arrested and not only your hand that picks the stolen item! Your body is made of various units --- hands, legs, head, trunk etc. Which part of your body is called 'John' if I may ask you? “John” is the whole you as the various units make the whole because 'John' can not be dismembered! That is why when the hand offends, it is 'John' (your whole body) that offends! In the same vain, any action taken by any state in Nigeria, especially within the context of this article, can be said to be taken by the country because the country is indivisible.
For this reason, any elected governor in any part of Nigeria can be technically deemed to be elected by the whole country because the country is one and the various units (states) make the indivisible whole Nigeria). Moreover, there is no state in Nigeria that does not have representatives of all tribes in Nigeria residing in that state! Each state is a mini-Nigeria. Don't say the numbers of such tribal representatives are small. I ask you – how many Nigerians have voted in any given election? The number of voters in any country in the world, is usually less than the number of people that don't vote and yet the votes of the minority voters decide the fate of all. The voters in the last presidential election were less than 70m in a country with a population of over 200m! If we still call it democracy, why do you tag my suggestion as undemocratic? It is proper and logical to say that any elected governor can be technically considered as elected by the generality of Nigerians and therefore can occupy the Presidential seat through selection with developmental performance as the only yardstick. The hallmark of democracy is to implement the wish of the majority. Iam sure the URGENT wish of ALL Nigerians is development cum good governance which can be best achieved with my suggestion under our present peculiarities. Right from the start, I have stressed the importance of defining our national goal before we consider the best method to achieve it. If our immediate goal is RAPID and MASSIVE development WITHIN THE SHORTEST PERIOD, which method do you think is better than this suggestion and yet remain within democratic norms?5. Can the implementation of this suggestion alone guarantee development?Yes, relatively speaking when compared with our present pace of development (retrogression?). But the maximum development potential shall be realized when other supportive structures are in place which require constitutional amendments as well. 6. What are the supportive structures?
These are the current administrative structures that need holistic, fundamental and radical changes as earlier explained in my last article published yesterday in this same newspaper. In a nut shell the various institutions of governance should be free of fetters and chains that have been beclouding their sense of fairness and uprightness. Institutions such as the judiciary, EFCC, NIA, SSS, the Police, INEC, ICPC should be completely independent in terms of funding and administration, detached from the aprons of the various Executives for optimum and impartial performance. The various law enforcement agents should immediately carry out court judgments without prior permission from any Executive. The system should be designed in such a way that Executives can not interfere in the administration of these institutions by completely removing their sphere of influence. Untill the system is corrected, we can not blame the people that occupy these institutions for any wrong doing because proper and fair performance will be impossible when undue influence from superior quarters can't be resisted by them. The system should protect the institutions from any form of vulnerability from 'powers from above'.
When the present defective administrative structural system is perfected, executive arbitrariness with impunity will be eliminated, then the courts will truly be the last hope of all including the executives, legislators and the commoners; heads of various institutions can be able to discharge their duties without fear or favour and can in turn be held accountable by anybody without fear of harassment as the court is there for redress; the various executives will be incapacitated in interfering in the course of administration of justice as they will not have the constitutional power to punish anybody in any form or starve any institution of funds; everybody including the leaders will be completely under the law etc. We presently have enough laws to make the society a decent one but the laws will be ineffective as long as the system empowers the executives to have authority over these critical institutions influencing their direction and actions. In a truly presidential democracy, the three arms of government namely the judiciary, executive and legislature are at par in authority in their own distinct spheres of operation and resolution of conflicts converges at the law courts whose pronouncements should be final and the actions of all law enforcement agents should be guided solely by these pronouncements irrespective of whoever they favour or go against. It is type of administrative structures that divide the developed and underdeveloped worlds – nothing more, nothing less. There can not be development where there is no unfettered administration of genuine rule of law. We need to look at and build institutions and NOT individuals.
Finally, I need to pay tribute to some of our heroes past: the selfless Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Zik of Africa, the puritan Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Vanguard of the masses – Malla Aminu Kano, the Chief Apostle of politics without bitterness – Alh. Waziri Ibrahim, the conscience of the masses – Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the peaceful campaigners for justice, fairness and development– Messrs. Ken Saro Wiwa & Isaac Boro, selfless campaigners for equity – Micheal Adekunle Ajasin, Pa Adesanya and others too numerous to be mentioned for lack of space. I hope and pray that our present leaders will be far from the hall of infamy by taking the part of selfless service so that posterity will mention them among these people who were not super rich while alive. The craze for dirty wealth MUST stop!
Please be kind enough to spend a minute to pray for the healing of our President! GOD bless a united and prosperous Nigeria. Peace be unto you the reader.
Dr. M.M. Wokili writes from Kaduna.