By Wale Adedayo
If there is something about Dr. Goodluck Jonathan I remember when he newly assumed office as president, it remains a solemn pledge to distance himself from Nigeria’s entrenched culture of impunity, which regularly places the personal desires of public office holders and their associates above societal values.
Ironically, in a manner reminiscent of the days in power of self-styled former President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the incumbent Nigerian president continues to give an impression that impunity pays. Unfortunately, there is no greater danger to a young democracy than the perpetuation of impunity by public figures that ordinary citizens should look up to in their conducts.
Although the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Mr. Joseph Mbu, who acted like an alternate governor has been moved, his redeployment to the Federal Capital Territory appears a promotion instead of serious reprimand the man richly deserves. It also came very late, as many in Rivers State believe that Mbu had the president’s backing to commit all the illegalities he did in the oil-producing state. Jonathan missed it here.
Mbu’s situation mirrors that of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which produced Jonathan as president. It took the party falling into disarray before Jonathan intervened to rein in its former national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as the businessman-turned-politician had become a law unto himself in running the affairs of the party turning internal democracy on its head in the process.
But two events gave indications that all may not be lost, yet, concerning Nigeria’s politicians insatiable appetite for self-aggrandisement at the expense of communal good. The first indication came from Kano State, where the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Gambo Salau, stepped down from his position, insisting that as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he preferred to resign instead of joining the All Progressives Congress (APC) as his colleagues have done. That is honour. That is principle. That is a new Nigeria breaking away from the shackles of the past.
Another person would have looked at the perks of office of Kano State’s Number Three citizen and agree to join the APC, not because he/she believes in the party’s programmes, but simply due to politics of the stomach. Many are those who grumble working under political office holders that are worse than military dictators, but these silent complainants do not have one per cent of Salau’s courage to walk away from a job that daily kills their conscience, turning Nigeria into a laughing stock among the comity of nations.
Some have argued that Salau was afraid of impeachment. While this may be true, it is also a fact that he could have agreed to stay on and continue to draw salaries, allowances and other perks of office as an APC legislator instead of keeping faith with the party that gave him the platform to become a legislator. If the new National Chairman of PDP wants credible fresh hands to help him reposition the party, I’ll gladly recommend this politician from Kano State as one of the faces of a new Nigeria that we so urgently need.
However, I must confess that an affirmation to forgo a long-held dream of becoming Nigeria’s president by former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in order to give APC a chance in the 2015 presidential election caught me by surprise. If there is anything negative about the average Nigerian politician, it is the size of his/her ego, which they never allow to reduce in order to give peace a chance when engaged in intra-party struggle.
According to Abubakar, “All of us are now willing to set aside our individual ambitions so as to build a formidable APC. So, for now, we are not talking about how to pursue our selfish political aspirations. We are collectively working to ensure the growth of the APC.” This is good news indeed, because the primary cause of factionalisation, thus unending crises in almost all the major political parties remain the bruised egos of key politicians, fuelled by their ambitions.
Therefore, it is without reservation I place the Turakin Adamawa next to Kano State’s Salau as faces of an emerging new order in Nigeria.