Home Opinion A call to responsible political followership, By Sonnie Ekwowusi

A call to responsible political followership, By Sonnie Ekwowusi

Peter Obi, PDP presidential aspirant

As we bemoan the complete collapse of the country’s security architecture as evidenced by the recent attempted hijack a moving aircraft and the attack and bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna train by terrorists, the pertinent questions are: why is it that despite Nigeria’s flourishing human capital, kakistocracy (government by the least suitable citizens or incompetent citizens) still reigns supreme in Nigeria? Why has Nigerian democracy been churning out undisciplined rabble, men of cheap appetite, and thieves from their hideouts and entrusting them with the sacred duty of governing the affairs of their fellow men? Considering that God has richly endowed countless Nigerian men and women with sterling leadership qualities, why is Nigeria ruled by scallywags, misfits and the worst citizens? How did we get here? How did we find ourselves in the current sorry pass? Specifically, why was President Buhari returned to power in 2019 to continue to mess up things despite his disastrous outing in his first tenure?

The answers to the above questions are crucial as Nigerians jostle to elect a new President in 2023. The mistakes of 2015 and 2019 must not be repeated. They were really and truly costly mistakes. There is nothing more monstrous, disgraceful and damaging than those mistakes. You and I are now suffering the tragedies befalling Nigeria as a result of those mistakes. Just imagine the monumental anarchy reigning supreme in virtually all parts of Nigeria at the moment.
Therefore the people must exercise their sovereign power reposed in them in such a responsible way as to ensure that another incompetent, visionless or clueless President does not emerge in Nigeria in 2023. At the risk of sounding repetitive, sovereignty in our presidential democracy resides with the people. This is because political power does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself: it derives it from the people’s mandate. In fact, the value of democracy stands or falls with the fundamental values that it embodies and promotes.
One of such fundamental values is respect for the will of the people. Since we need a shoe maker to make shoes, once said American philosopher cum educationist John Dewey, we equally need a shoe wearer to say where the shoe pinches. Going by this analogy, it is the Nigerian people who directly bear the full brunt of visionless leadership who should have the final say on who should be the President of Nigeria. Neither the PDP nor the APC nor Buhari nor Obasanjo should dictate to the people who should be their President in 2023. The Nigerian people are in a better position to determine who should be their President in 2023. According to Lord Acton, “the fate of every democracy, of every government based on the sovereignty of the people, depends on the choices it makes between these opposite principles, absolute power on one hand, and on the other, the restraints of legality and the authority of tradition”.
The American founding fathers aptly recaptured this ageless truth when they said many years ago that, “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. By voluntarily entrusting a few elected people with the responsibility of governing their affairs, the people have not relinquished their power. In short, the people are the repository of political power.

But unfortunately, the Nigerian people are not living up to their bidding as sovereigns in presidential democracy. To begin with, most Nigerian voters are not politically enlightened enough to evaluate the political issues at stake and the character of the candidates running for political posts before casting their votes on Election Day. My learned friend, Andy, strongly argues, and I agree with him, that the level of political illiteracy and stupidity is so high in Nigeria that if perchance President Buhari presents himself for re-election in 2023 some voters would still sheepishly and blindly vote for him on Election Day. So, the Nigerian people are their own enemies otherwise why should the ordinary Nigerians who gossip on WhatsApp, Face-book, Twitter and other social media platforms that Nigeria has been captured by political fraudsters, thieves and never-do-wells still be discussing the possibility of any the fraudsters, thieves or never-do-wells emerging as President of Nigeria in 2023. What is wrong with some of us in Nigeria?
Having seen the monumental ruin which has overtaken Nigeria as a result of President Buhari’s misrule, why are some of us still beating the drum for the emergence of Tinubu, Rochas Okorocha, Wike, Emefiele, Orji Uzo Kalu, Fayose or Amaechi as the President of Nigeria in 2023? I repeat: what is really wrong with some of us in Nigeria? Are these drummers suffering from a kind of political spell or what?  In common parlance, it is said that a people get the kind of leaders they deserve, meaning that an irresponsible political followership begets an irresponsible political leadership, or, put differently, a failed political followership begets a failed political leadership. In fact, there is a correlation between political leadership and political followership. Political leadership is a co-efficient of political followership. Quality leadership is a functional relation of a quality followership.

Ebenebe, for instance, is comparatively an unknown town tucked away in the Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State. The town has an estimated population of about 45,897. Prior to the last Anambra Governorship Election, Ebenebe was comparatively an obscured town hardly spoken about and hardly mentioned in conversations. But the town shut into the limelight during the last-concluded Anambra Governorship Election. How? The Ebenebe women defiantly rejected the N5,000 bribe offered to each of them by one of the political parties to vote against their consciences. The Ebenebe women voters, like most Nigerian voters, are poor, hungry and dejected. But they preferred to vote according to the consciences: they voted for Professor Chukwuma Soludo who later won the Governorship Election. Instead of accepting the N5, 000 bribe offered to each of them to vote against their consciences, the women stood their ground and voted in accordance with their consciences. A video clip clearly showing the women publicly rejecting the N5,000 bribe was making the rounds at that time. The Ebenebe women have demonstrated that money cannot buy the consciences of voters during elections. Nigerian voters should emulate the uncommon integrity of the Ebenebe women voters. If the Nigerian voters cannot vote out the clueless, thieves and vagabonds in power, then they should stop complaining that their leaders are making a show of their stupidity and wickedness in power. If Nigeria were a country in which the voters vote with their heads and hearts during elections, President Buhari would not have come to power in 2015 let alone be returned to power in 2019 despite his disastrous outing in his first tenure. 

So Nigerian voters should learn to vote wisely on Election Day. Prior to casting their votes they must first sit down and ask themselves the following basic questions: Why should I vote for a candidate who is so clueless that he doesn’t have the foggiest idea that the essence of wielding power is to render service to the people? Why should I vote for a physically-derailed and mentally-exhausted old man who uses political power to convert the State into his personal fiefdom?  Why should I vote for an old man who is only interested in using political power in foisting his ethnic and religious hegemony? Why should I vote for a bigot who is shamelessly interested in giving key political appointments only to people from his own part of the country in violation of the Federal Character Principle enshrined in our Constitution?   Why should I vote for an old political misfit who uses political power to oppress the downtrodden?

The choice is before us. Either we choose the path of liberating principles and vote wisely in 2023 in order to advance the truths and ideals which will strengthen our democracy or choose the path of perfidy by allowing thieves, scallywags and never-do-wells to hijack the political leadership once more to the ruin of our country.

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