Quest for men of good character in politics

Tuesday, 18th February, 2914
By Chukwudi Nweje

According to the UN, a country’s success in achieving this standard is a key measure of its credibility and respect in the world. It said that good governance promotes equity, participation, pluralism, transparency, accountability and the rule of law, in a manner that is effective, efficient and enduring. These principles it says are translated into practice, in the form of free, fair and frequent elections, representative legislatures that make laws and provides oversight, and an independent judiciary to interpret those laws.

In Nigeria where politics is often regarded as a dirty game, it had been observed that these principles describe by the UN is everything that Nigeria is not. For instance, Nigeria is blessed with enormous human and material resources. Yet, the UN estimates that over 70 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty level as these resources have not had any positive impact on the lives of the average Nigerian. In fact, economists have said that Nigeria suffered the ‘Resources Curse’ a situation whereby the vast resources had not translated to development.

This pitiable situation is blamed on the failure of leadership. In fact, late author and playwright, Chinualumogu Achebe, in his book ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’ 1983, observed that the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. Apparently worried by this, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is preaching a gospel of paradigm shift in politics.

The ex-President who went philosophical at the fifth anniversary thanksgiving service of the Chapel of Christ the Glorious King, a religious arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, practically reechoed the words of Plato, the Greek philosopher that; “the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

Obasanjo called on the good people of Nigeria not to leave the nation’s governance to those he described as “evil ones.” According to him, it is by participating actively in politics that they can correct the ills in the society. “I want to say here that Christians should participate in politics. We should not leave politics in the hands of the evil ones who cannot offer this country any good,” he said.

In recent times, especially after his controversial 18-page letter entitled ‘Before it is Too Late’ to President Goodluck Jonathan, religious gatherings appeared to have become the preferred venue for Obasanjo and President Jonathan to address issues of governance. On Christmas day of 2013, the President had during a church service at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja, lashed at Obasanjo, said he and his like do not own Nigeria, reiterating that Nigeria does not belong to any politician or group of politicians.

In fact at virtually every church service where he has had the opportunity to speak, President Jonathan had made statements that seemed to be in furtherance to Obasanjo’s letter. As a matter of fact, it got to a point that the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kiagama, advised him to stop making policy pronouncements in churches but rather go and meet the people in the villages where they are living in abject poverty and stop using his visit to churches on Sunday to play politics

Analysts think it is more than a coincidence that Obasanjo spoke in Abeokuta the same day President Jonathan was at the Redeemed Christian Church of God where he attributed the relative peace in the country to prayers by Nigerians.

Nevertheless, analysts agree that if the people are to reap the real dividends of good governance that people of integrity have to play more active role in politics. They advocated a system where by elected leaders respect the laws of the country rather than pilfer public funds.

Debo Adeniran, Executive, Chairman Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) said that, “In saner climes, the rule of law remains the most important instrument of democracy but that is not the case in Nigerian democracy. Over the years, our leaders have acquired the notoriety for flouting our laws with impunity.”

Culled from Daily Independent

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