While we are basking in the euphoria of defections that have recently filled the polity, we must remain focused on the issues. It does appear that so far the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party has benefited the most from the gale of defections.
There is no doubt that Nigerians have looked forward to it for hope of taking Nigeria back from those who have destroyed it by their actions and inactions. The PDP, while they celebrate the recent increase in their stock, must remain vigilant and not be fooled into thinking that it is all Uhuru for the party. To those who shall determine the flagbearer of the party at the general elections, be reminded that the single most important factor that must drive votes in the next election should be an intrinsic ability to heal our divides. The nation has never been this divided since post the civil war period and this is made apparent in the number of agitation and insurgencies there are. Even if we are naive enough to think that we have never been really united, we can say for sure that this administration has made it worse. The bonds that bind us together have remained at their weakest. Yes, the economy is in shambles and there is a dearth of infrastructures but all these will come only after there is a country. A fair progressive united Nigeria is only possible with a fair leader free of fanatical tendencies, a leader who truly sees Nigeria as it’s constituency despite belonging to a constituency, a leader with no fanatical association with any group, tribe, region or religion. For these are the issues that have brought us to where we are now
The desperation of the opposition party to take back power is understandable but such efforts will be wasteful if they allow such desperation to becloud their sense of judgement as they search for a presidential candidate. The task of defeating such uncouth mean tyranny in an election is huge and requires as many collaborators as may be willing and are available. It does require first a candidate with the clout and capacity to defeat an incumbent. It is however worthy to warn that it will be disastrous to replace one very divisive individual with another. The characteristics of the available candidates aside their popularity must therefore be put into consideration. Irrespective of who leads the government, it will be difficult for Nigeria to survive another four years of bigotry, bickering, incompetence and retrogression. Our presidential system of government makes for a very powerful president whose thoughts, belief and attitude influences all level of governance.
An individual with an intrinsic tendency to discriminate against people based on their beliefs, religion, region or tribe must be avoided like a plague for our today’s problems are closely knitted around such behaviour. A person with fanatical affiliation with a group, region or religion will naturally be biased against other groups, regions and tribes and this subsequently will affect policies and eventually, governance.
Parties don’t change bigots. Irrespective of the party that such individual is in, such traits are so strong that they usually will erode even well thought out party policies that were designed to ensure fairness. It is safe to say therefore, that bigotry is a human attribute and not that of parties.
As the search for a candidate continues, the parties must now learn the bitter lessons that have been apparent this last three years. They must learn that while cult followership may help to win an election, it may be a vice to good governance. You may defeat an incumbent with cult followership by fielding a candidate with cult followership, you will not solve Nigeria’s myriad of problems with a president with cult followership. We have seen this in our life time even as young people. We have seen in the recent past, that the base that forms the cult are usually a minority and yet the candidate cum president will always be under pressure to satisfy them. So, while the nation suffers from the policies of such candidate, the cult celebrates one of their own. We are at a cross road and all cynicism must be dropped at this time to consider only that which is best for Nigeria. While it is important that the election is won, it is more important that the nation begins charting a new path. The antecedence of the candidate must therefore be seriously considered. Even as difficult as the task of defeating this incumbent may be, the task of righting all the wrongs including uniting us is humongous.
To be concerned alone with winning the election hoping that the party structures and policies will keep the candidate in check will be a huge mistake.
A mistake Nigeria may not be able to survive. A president may heed the advise of party men on who best to appoint to grow economy, fix infrastructures, revolutionise agriculture and turn around power and steel and even manufacturing. But a bigot stays a bigot. It is in him not the party. I have always argued that those who sold to Nigerians the President as a candidate were unpatriotic. And I maintained that going by his antecedents, they should never have expected anything more. However, they were desperate to overcome an incumbent and thought the candidate’s cult followership was an asset. Those who are true to their conscience know how wrong they were. Some have long retraced their steps and have joined in the crusade to take Nigeria back. Others have stuck with him for personal gains while some have stayed only for their ego. History does have a way of repeating itself and the happenings already are looking like a déjà vu. The opposition party must therefore ensure that the mistake of the past is never repeated.
Let me reiterate that bigotry is a human attribute.
•Dr. Bright is a medical practitioner and wrote from Warri, Delta State