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Second term ambition amidst a depressing scorecard – Punch Newspapers

Second term ambition amidst a depressing scorecard – Punch Newspapers
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Eze Onyekpere

A couple of days ago, the Senate came out with a call for the replacement of the leadership of the security agencies for their failure to stop the bloodletting. Last week, they got an answer; the security of their chamber was violated in a very rude manner. Before then, public opinion had been divided on the propriety of the call by Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), for his people in Taraba to defend themselves against the marauding Fulani herdsmen. A traditional ruler who had witnessed unceasing killing of his people also made a similar call. All these calls are borne out of frustration, to stop the carnage and to put Nigeria on the path of rectitude.

A lot of has been written on this subject but we must continue to dwell on it unless we all want to be caught up in a conflagration that we cannot manage. For every position or job, from the President down to the cleaner, there is a job schedule, Terms of Reference and expectations from the employer of the employee(s). The employee keeps their job when they perform satisfactorily. They are sanctioned when they fail in the discharge of their duties. Some offences and failure to perform duties attract a query and warning, some could be punished by suspension, demotion and in grave instances, termination or dismissal.

In governance parlance, failure and neglect of duty to protect life would amount to an offence of the gravity that would attract a dismissal. Very good employee performance attracts a recommendation, a prize, award or promotion.

It is within this context of performance and the sanctions and rewards appurtenant to it that Nigerians must view and approach any declaration by an incumbent for re-election. For a President or governor to declare interest in getting a second term in office, he must present his report card and the card must show that he has done well in his first term. Otherwise, at a time the nation is being painted with innocent blood and there is no evidence of any concrete action to stop the killings and the Commander-in-Chief declares interest in a second term, something is fundamentally flawed with such a declaration. The declarant should solve this life and death challenge for the people he leads and thereafter declare for a second term. If Buhari is not able to substantially stop the blood flow, it would be flawed to continue the chase for a second term, being a desire to continue doing something which he has no capacity to do.  A life, once lost, cannot be replaced and no amount of apologies would do.

I know some Nigerians would immediately come up with the right of a President or governor to present himself for a second term. Such an argument misses the core issue, the real paradigm that needs to be addressed. It is not about the right of an incumbent to stand for election, it is about the right to life of the occupants of the highest office in the land, the office of the citizen; the citizens living in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Zamfara, etc. Elections are only for the living and the right to life trumps other rights. Again, the argument that everyone, including incumbents who have performed very poorly should come on board and let the people decide holds no water. Should the majority be in a position to decree death through the popular vote to the minority? There is no such right for the majority under national or international law. There is also no such right or claim cognisable under Christianity or Islam, being the two dominant religions in Nigeria. But what happens when the examiners, being the ordinary people, a majority of the voters, are too uneducated, ignorant or fickle minded to determine what is good for them? What of the voters who will cast their vote on the basis of ethnicity, religion and similar prejudices even against their enlightened self-interest? The answer is intensive sensitisation and civic education for the majority. This should focus on linking the quality of development and governance and the decision of the citizen when he casts the secret ballot.

This trend of thought should apply across board to the governors. Those owing huge workers’ salaries and allowances are not deserving of a second term. Governors who have contributed little or nothing to the economic, social and political development of their state should not waste their time attempting a comeback. A second term is an endorsement and validation of the performance of an incumbent. But if we are all agreed that an incumbent has performed poorly on all reasonable indicators, it makes eminent sense to ask him to step aside. The decision we make today will determine developments that will shape our future. At the end of the day, it is up to us to decide.

Where shall we run to? Who shall we tell and who do we complain to? Who will accept us as refugees? Which country in the sub-region is large enough to accommodate fleeing Nigerians? These and many more questions agitate my mind. There is a leadership vacuum in Nigeria, from the executive, legislature to the judiciary. People are paid for the jobs they seem not competent to do. New ideas are lacking, intellectual stagnation is the order of the day and human life is no longer worth anything at all.

All neighbouring countries are too small in terms of land area, financial and other resources to receive and manage a deluge of refugees from Nigeria. The world seems to be tired of Africans, especially black people murdering and killing one another on flimsy excuses due to differences in tribe, tongue and religion. Every society has its challenges and people in the western world are beginning to look inwards, in these days of a wave of old fashioned nationalism. So, if the Nigerian leadership thinks that it can continue playing the ostrich and things will get better through the shedding of innocent blood, mindless violence and dereliction of duty, then, they are in for a rude shock.

In civilised climes, when a person in a position of authority or leadership fails in the diligent discharge of their duties, either arising out of gross negligence or incompetence, they resign and throw in the towel. In many instances, such people offer a public apology to those who trusted them and whom they let down. The managers of the system conduct an investigation, a system check into the circumstances that led to the failure and take steps to block the leakages in the system. However, this is not the case in Nigeria, as many of our leaders come to positions of authority with a sense of entitlement. They come to be served and not to serve; they feel they are doing the public a favour, rather than the public offering them an opportunity. With this mindset, the society is left ungoverned and law and order is at the tipping point of collapse.

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