When Impunity Is Expected & Endorsed ….
Competence, character, capacity (the 3Cs) or competence, character, capacity, courage and compassion (the 5Cs) started gaining currency in 2019. By 2022, even incumbent politicians were using the words to describe themselves. Hmm ….
However, it would seem that we want those things on one hand; but on the other hand, we say that politics is “dirty” and “dangerous” and we should just leave the space to “them”. Who are they? It would seem that they are those who run for political office but don’t understand the concept of servant leadership. They believe that with the sheer weight of their financial resources; co-optation of the state apparatus for wealth acquisition and use of violence, they are able to manipulate an ill-educated and poor population; as well as an indifferent “educated elit” to believe that “they” are more powerful than “we” are.
Citizens are the most powerful group of stakeholders in a democracy. Our Constitution captures it quite clearly in Section 14(1) and (2):
The Government and the People
1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that –
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
Section 14(2)(a) is clear – sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.
We have the power. The Office of the Citizen is the highest office in Nigeria and until citizens understand that power and occupy their office, those we elect will continue to abuse us while we “honor” them by virtue of the office they occupy.
Agunze Chib Ikokwu wrote the piece below as his reflections on the trials and tribulations of Tonye Cole, the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State.
Nigeria is an interesting country. Ironically, it tends to emulate some biblical story variants without bothering to appreciate the ending of the narratives as it concerns Isaac and Jesus.
Isaac was a test of faith that had a reprieve at the zenith of the test. Jesus, fully aware of His mission, almost caved in but left it to the will of His Father. That trust earned Him the reprieve. He rose up on the third day after crucifixion.
The Nigerian political demagogues on the other hand, aim for the jugular to the excitement of their transactional followers and willing hands at every thing that debases the enthronement of good governance, accountability and societal egalitarianism. Our system recognises the qualities, indices and virtues a well meaning political actor should possess to be able to initiate a positive change in our clime but would rather excoriate any possessor of such on the altar of primitive sentiments and narcissistic tendencies. The end result is that the best materials never volunteer themselves for political services in Nigeria.
Based on the plank of material comfort and self fulfilment, Tonye would have no reason to lend himself to the shenanigans of field politics moreso, as to be found in Rivers State. His desire to change the lives of his people for the better and by extension, those of other Nigerians whose economic umbilical cord is tied to that of Rivers State must be the gravitas underpinning his cause.
To observe Tonye these past four years and more pointedly, in the last one year is to simply doff my hat to a man with a grit that most people will never ever credit him with. Absolutely clear headed, he has conducted himself with the sort of stoicism that has rattled his traducers. His blueprint for Rivers State remains unparalleled. His motivation and desire to serve as a servant leader is unquestionable. Appreciative of the minefields inherent in the politics of his State, he has conducted himself to date with absolute decorum and unflappable dignity inherent in his pedigree.
Without constituting a nuisance on anybody, Tonye has carried a financial and stress burden that can only best be imagined. Surrounded by fifth columnists and all shades of moles, he and his wife Sylvia have maintained a calm demeanour whilst dealing and accommodating all parties irrespective of end results. Last minute Judases are still carrying out their nefarious roles but their Akeldama is in the proximity.
There is something noble about being true to oneself and heritage. I saw it whilst Tonye was facing the Ijaw elders; I followed it whilst he was traversing the twenty three LGA’s of Rivers State; I witnessed it whilst he visited and addressed all the major commercial associations and town unions; I monitored his endless relationship with the downtrodden and his age old philanthropism to the indigent beings; I felt his honest calling to his faith and levelling out with his fellow christian adherents; I tracked his self improvement whilst at National Institute for Policy and Strategic (NIPSS) Kuru and Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University and finally, his consistent, convincing delivery of his vision for Rivers State whether on his many Radio and Tv shows or at the Autograph Event Centre, PH. They were all manifest enough to prove that Tonye was not only a Governorship material but a Presidential one as the case may be. Time will tell.
Nigeria requires a deep analysis of the sort of governance structure that would work for her. The current pseudo attempt at the democratic system is simply driving her citizens into the Hobbesian State of Nature.
We shall continue to pray for the likes of Tonye whose political travails are not unlike those of my friend Dr Alex Otti of Abia State. The comfort to it all is that out of the entire tommy rot that symbolises INEC and the shady politicians in cahoots, there will appear in the horizon, a Professor Nnenna Oti.
To Tonye, I say, God is with you. Aluta Continua.
It is clear that until Nigerians understand their rights and responsibilities and use that knowledge to hold government accountable, Nigeria will continue to be unjust and we’ll continue to feel voiceless and powerless.
– ‘Yemi Adamolekun is the Executive Director of Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria). She has an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics (LSE) and an MBA from Oxford University’s Said Business School.