Caught between continuity and change

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POLITICAL life interests me a great deal. That is one of the reasons I studied Political Science. As we begin the New Year 2015, it is clear that we will soon hurtle into what must be one of the most defining elections ever held in our country, especially since the 1999 transition. There is a tremendous amount of expectations in the air. It is something akin to a pregnancy; we can all see a protruding belly, but no one can determine whether we will have a safe delivery or a stillborn baby. More than ever before, I think Nigerians are united in one direction, that of expecting that the elections should be free and fair, with an outcome which reflects the true feelings of the Nigerian people. But are we going to get a process that all will accept as reflective of this collective longing?

It was Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed who pointed out the remarkable paradox of our political situation recently. He said the 2015 elections would pitch a younger person in President Goodluck Jonathan, whose central argument will be more of the same and continuity; against an older opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, who is running as the candidate of change. These two individuals represent the two main tendencies in search of power today with all the difficulties that Nigeria will have to deal with, whichever way the votes go, in February. Those who say that Nigeria is likely to be in trouble, whichever of the candidates wins the election, are of course saying the troubling obvious. And it is the seriousness of the danger we are faced with, which has also triggered the suggestion that the leading candidates and their political parties must find a way to blunt the edges of vitriolic speeches and adversarial comments.

The situation building towards the February 2015 elections speaks for the most responsible conduct by the nation’s political elite. This is the time when a nation-building tendency must become the dominant ethos, to help achieve an elite consensus for an election that will not tear the country to pieces. The post-election violence that we witnessed in 2011 might be child’s play, if we do not act with greater wisdom and tact than at any other time in our country’s history, with the 2015 vote. It is not often that I agree with former Foreign Minister, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, but his recent call in that direction, in my view is spot on! The Nigerian people will be caught up in the middle of the struggle for power; between the advocates of continuity and those seeking change. It is in the best interest of the people that the struggle between these political tendencies does not degenerate to points where human lives will be endangered or the nation itself becomes pushed to the edge of the precipice. We have heard the politicians speak for their parties and we will hear them even more as we approach the coming elections. As we enter the New Year 2015, I do hope that our compatriots will think for Nigeria and its future. This is a very important juncture in our history. Happy New Year, 2015!


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