It is human nature perhaps to dislike change because we are mainly creatures of habit. We hold on to ideals and ideas long after it serves its original purpose in fear of the resultant effect in change, forgetting that in essence without change there can neither be progress nor room for improvement.
Nigerian democracy and politics is at an infant stage some will argue and in comparison with that of the western world the same peoples will also admit it is the reason they have mastered the world while we linger in the third world column. However we fail to also argue that their system isn’t one that is perfect in actual sense as they are always reviewing and constantly tweaking an already admired electoral and governing process to achieve perfection suiting the dynamism of time.
In recent weeks, the Edo State governorship contest has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly and with the June 18th APC primaries around the corner, one can only question the process as to its credibility in hope that the ruling party will get it right. From more than 20 odd patriotic candidates who have signalled intent to lead the Edo people for the next four years, opinion polls suggests three candidacy that have shone the most, leading the pack at this stage. The deputy governor with a previous structure chairing the local governments, the economic adviser tapped by the Governor and his legislative machinery, and of course the peoples mandate a profound public servant of almost four decades.
Amongst the leading pack only Mr. Integrity is considered an outsider; labelled so as he hasn’t been part of the previous state dispensations and thus the only aspirant bringing fresh ideas and an eager enthusiasm of progress that lit up his career path. However, it seems the odds are stacked against him since the establishment would prefer to maintain status quo whilst retaining position and hierarchy. The understanding is that due to his reputation for shaking up previous organisations in favour of maximizing productivity, the injection of fresh minds and ideas may render some existing office holders redundant. This push back has thrown the state party chapter into a media frenzy with one of the aspirants exiting on the grounds that there is a return to ‘Godfatherism’ which raises important questions such as; will a primary election be fair when an aspirant is allowed to use government personnel’s and machinery as a campaign tool. Secondly, would an election have a level playing field when the legislature have decidedly left their constituency and taken up an oversight function of openly parading themselves with an aspirant. Thirdly can an election be free when elected and appointed officers of the state choose to use their office to seduce delegates into parting away with their permanent voter’s card, a possible form of identification for the primary election.
I believe the answers to these questions are obvious, yet we continue to hold on to status quo, condoning the same narrative of previous elections and refusing to heed the lessons of 8 years ago which sought to break the strangle hold of one man’s imposition of his preferred choice on others. Thus it is only fair that we look to compare and adopt the best practice of modern democracy that has become so dominant in the world today. For instance in the ongoing United states primary elections, it was only until recently after Hillary Clinton had surpassed the required delegate count to clinch the democratic ticket did the president publicly endorse her candidacy even though she may have been his preferred choice originally. Also one can imagine the resultant backlash if the Republican speaker of the house Paul Ryan came out to openly campaign for Donald Trump even at the suggestion by his constituency. Rather, what both the President and the Speaker have done is to promote their party by showing the general electorate that they hold an unbiased stand. It is this process our timid democracy must embrace in search of its own perfection.
Finally, citing the current relationship between the common everyday people and the ruling party, it is imperative that delegates and party chieftains take into consideration the general election and choose a candidate capable of contesting favourably with the best the oppositions may have to offer. We must understand the rules of engagement and why democracy has functioned for so long if truly we are to make Edo and Nigeria blossom again. In summary, if the voice of the people is the choice of God, then any other choice will bring the voice of wrath.
Jeffery Igbinigie,a public affairs analyst writes from Benin City