This challenge to the oligarchs is in form of the opposition party, the APC, being able to mobilise the masses in opposition to the continuity of the People’s Democratic Party led government. Some, including veiled supporters of the PDP on one hand and socialist radicals on the other argue that the APC is, itself, nothing but a group of elites or bourgeoisies, struggling to wrestle power from another group.
It superficially sounds plausible but a further examination would reveal that the opposition contains, in itself, an antidote against its own venom. What I mean here is that in the APC itself there are factors that can restrain it from the blatant abuse of power exemplified by the current PDP regime. One of such factors is that; one can call the APC anything but oligarchical. The APC enjoys, within itself, the representation of various interest groups and this marks a giant’s stride away from absolutism toward political inclusiveness.
None of the parties that merged to form the APC can be said to be singly influencing the party’s policies and directions. This means even if the party takes over the mantle of leadership from the PDP, there will be no individual or group that can manipulate the government for a selfish end; such tendencies have, at least, been reduced to the barest by the nature of the party’s composition. Democracy started in Britain not by the immediate involvement of the masses but by the gradual inclusion of various groups of social and economic and political interests in a parliamentary representation. There were groups fighting both against and for business monopolies. While some represented cotton textiles others represented the interest of wool manufacturers with others trying to secure the trans-Atlantic trade and promoting the import of silk from India. Public petitions to the parliament were also an important feature of stimuli to the exercise of parliamentary duties. The other factor that makes democratic tendencies inherent in the APC is that the people support the party massively for no interest but the desire for change. This is a powerful restraint because, in contrast to the kind of free of charge support that the APC enjoys, the PDP used to purchase its own support in the past.
This mass support that the opposition enjoys and the broad based outlook it is forced, by circumstances, to adopt is an indication that this time around, Nigerians have decided to consciously respond to a critical juncture which took the form of President Jonathan’s monumental and internationally recognised failure.
It can be said that since Nigerians have decided to fling away ethno-religious and sectional differences by which the oligarchs have been manipulating them for so long and have now chosen to unite behind the opposition, they have taken the appropriate measure to advance their democracy and free their country from the yolk of underdevelopment. This is nowcountry the chance of selecting the desirable path to socioeconomic development and fostering national, rather than regional, sentiments. By this, national solidarity required for the over all peace and development of the country can be nurtured. This is, however, not the only path possible.
There are a lot more dangerous and destructive paths to be taken depending on the actions of other powerful wings of the society. The people have already fulfilled what is needed of them, what is left is whether the oligarchs can scuttle the people’s plan for a better Nigeria or not But some influential elements, particularly the military is trying to give the elites a broad chance against the people.
If the military and other security agencies; the DSS and the police, are able to resist the pressure to use them and scuttle the elections in an effort to subvert the people’s will and further the interests of the despotic oligarchy, a broad based, inclusive government will emerge after the elections. Such a government, which would enjoy popular support from the people, will be able to unite the country, bring to an end the use of religious, tribal and regional sentiments to divide the country and encourage, in their place, national solidarity. It will, wittingly or unwittingly, promote the principles of democracy as they are intrinsic to its constitution and basically form its raison detre. It will curb corruption in high and low places; especially in the military mission against the insurgency. This will help crush the insurgency and provide the required peace and adequate security for the resumption of economic activities along the all nooks and cranies of the country. Even if these would be its only achievements; they are enough to foster economic growth and development. But it is also expected to revive the power sector and promote small and medium scale industries and entrepreneurship. In short, the country will be cured of many of its ailments and be put on its feet.
However, the way the military is handling the insurgency with so much laxity thereby giving the insurgency the opportunity to occupy large swaths of land and setup dominion they chose to call their ‘caliphate’, the inconsistent and suspicious behaviours of the military concerning the issue of the academic credentials of the APC presidential candidate, Retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; an act which reeks of political motives and service chiefs’ remorseless intimidation of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to postpone the general elections earlier scheduled for February this year constitute a bad omen. The actions and inactions of the military high command since the beginning of PDP misrule in 1999 do not augur well for democracy. The PDP, led by General Olusegun Obasanjo(r.t.d) has set a bad precedence such that anybody who comes to ‘power’, (as they call it in contrast to coming into office as it should be), sacks the high commanding military officers and their chiefs to appoint those of his own choice. This gives whoever is in office the leverage to manipulate the military for his/her political interests. The military has, thus, been turned into an arm or an instrument of a certain political party; a very unfortunate situation.
If, therefore, the security institutions allow themselves to be used, as usual and likely, by the incumbent to intimidate voters on election day and rig the election, as they did in the recent gubernatorial bye-election in Ekiti State, an out of proportion corruption will continue unabated to the extent that it will bring the country to its knees. This is crystal clear because the President has so far shown neither the desire nor the capability to arrest the progress of corruption in his government. Not only his body language but also his spoken words sanction and encourage corruption and ‘stealing of public funds’, provided the amount to be stolen does not exceed the price of a peaugeot car.
Widespread unemployment, an all encompassing corruption and compromisation of the armed forces will contribute enormously to the growth of the insurgency in both human and material aspects. The insurgents will dominate most of the rural areas in the North. Government forces will invest all their resources to secure Abuja and a few major cities leaving the rural majority to defend itself.
This will lead to a self defence initiatives whereby groups like the civilian JTF, Vigilante groups and hunters will be supported by communities and a few well-to-do to form paramilitary organisations which may succeed in defeating the insurgency. The bad news is that it will be a case of falling from frying pan to fire because such paramilitary units will, after defeating the insurgents, establish their own authorities. Such groups, being not bound by any international conventions or treaties and having no human rights obligations, have the tendency to be as barbaric and primitive as the insurgents. They may extract arbitrary taxes, enforce brutal and impartial punishments for crimes of their own definitions. There enemies will be put to horrible deaths. All these are features of societies where the state has failed and anarchy has set in. And it will all happen when politicians purportedly representing such communities bask in hotels and mansions in Abuja and jet out of the country whenever they feel like. These politicians may, at times of nominal elections, seek the support of the paramilitary to extract votes for them from the people. The experiences of rural Colombia under the AUC Paramilitary Organisations, which emerged with the initial aim of crushing the FARC terrorists, in the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s would be a joke when compared to what will befall Northern Nigeria should Goodluck Jonathan continue beyond 2015.
One of the reasons that led many historians to believe that history is contingent is that it is very sensitive to the factors that influence it and the factors are so many that they can be considered to be infinite. Some of them act so subtly that they are hardly noticed. No one can know all of them, therefore, no one can predict history perfectly. As Leibnitz argued that all the truths predicated to an object are inherent in the object; and the collection of all of them represent the substance of that object. That the truths of an object are infinite so that no one but a Necessary Being can know all of them; because knowing all the truths of an object is know all that will happen to it, all that has happened to it and all that is happening to it. That knower would perfectly know its past, present and future. He who so much knows Pullo Fombina, for instance, would have known before he was born that he would be born at a certain place and time, by a certain couple of parents and he would school at so and so and that he would write this article containing exactly these words. This is because all the events involving an object are true of that object and, therefore, inherent in its reality and all the condition that warrant or induce an object, such as the mind, to take a certain action are inbued in the reality of the object. If one agrees with this great philosopher and considers history as an object, then one can see why it is difficult to perfectly predict the course of history.
Therefore, there are possibilities Nigerian history to take an astonishing course after the 2015 elections. Jonathan and his cohorts may decide to crush the insurgency for an only God knows selfish motive. If that happens, then Jonathan will have the chance to grow into something that would turn the stories of notorious dictators like Zial Ul-Haqq of Pakistan, Abacha of Nigeria and Pinochet of Chile into jokes. He has shown this tendency by his desire to crush any institution that stands in his way of promoting corruption and consolidating his power. He has turned the DSS into an organ of his campaign team, the military is trying to compete with the DSS in this role as his instrument of intimidating the opposition and voters. While the EFCC has been in trance since his assumption of office. He has attempted taking over the National Assembly by a brute force of the police. He has massively deployed the military to robb the gubernatorial election in Ekiti State. If he goes beyond 2015, he will surely try his best to overthrow the National Assembly and the subdue the judiciary. If he succeeds in all these, he will seek and secure tenure elongation. He will brutally suppress and economically subjugate any community from which he might expect any form of challenge to perpetuating himself in power.
If they let the elections go as they should, their candidate might lose and, if that happens, the selfish elements around may incite some groups, such as the Niger Delta hooligans who have been freely threatening the country, to unleash violence as a pretext for a military takeover. And, if that happens, it would be the end of our democracy. The country would then be an irreparable failure.
This is only a sketchy representation of some of the trajectories our country may take depending on our choices and the decisions of those occupying influential positions. It is the duty of all of us to do our utmost best to see that the undesirable trajectories are avoided for the well being of future generations.