Our next frontier

By any stretch of imagination we cannot conclude that those who have lost out in the leadership vacuum saga will fold their arms now that Jonathan Goodluck is Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Even now some have gone to the Federal High Court to challenge the legality of the actions taken by the National Assembly to recognize Jonathan Goodluck as Acting President, and this is not unexpected, as more will follow the same path.

Some may engage in clandestine activities to undermine the Jonathan Goodluck Presidency while others will go back to the drawing board to strategize either waiting for the miraculous recovery of Umaru Yar’Adua or for an opportune time to strike back. 

The responsibility of defending the Presidency from these multiple attacks now rests with Jonathan Goodluck who in his acceptance speech had agreed to assume and discharge the full responsibilities of that office and going by some of his initial actions it appears he knows what to do. 

Jonathan Goodluck has in a cabinet reshuffle made Adetokunbo Kayode the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the former Justice Minister, Michael Kase Aondoakaa is now the Minister of Special Duties. 

Evidently defending the legal status of his presidency appears to be the top priority of Jonathan Goodluck and he has decided that the former Justice Minister may not be the best person to spearhead that issue although he may have a brilliant legal mind. 

For the rest of us ordinary Nigerians, this is not the time to withdraw from the public space that we have increasingly dominated in the last 78 or more days as we agitated for the need to address the leadership vacuum in Aso Rock in accordance with the Constitution. 

Now that Jonathan Goodluck has become Acting President, ordinary Nigerians must resist the temptation to declare that the struggle is over and return to face their daily personal struggles that are taking place in an environment that satisfies Stone Age conditions. 

The struggle for better quality of life for all Nigerians, and not just for those under the covering of the Umbrella, has only just begun and what was achieved with the National Assembly recognizing Jonathan Goodluck as Acting President is proof that concerted action on the part of Nigerians yields dividends. 

Nigerians must recognize that the key to improving their collective quality of life is determined largely by what happens in our three tiers of Government, i.e. Federal, States and Local Government, and by the quality of the people exercising political authority through being elected to public office. 

Nigeria is one of a handful of nations in the world where revenues are shared monthly using a formula called Revenue Allocation Formula between the Federal Government (created by British Colonialists) , and States and Local Governments (created arbitrarily by successive military administrations) . 

While some may have issues with these arbitrary creations collecting a lion’s share of public resources the fact remains that one of the quickest routes to becoming rich in Nigeria is to be embedded in any of these tiers of government either through election or appointment or by association. 

When we had military governments running the affairs of this nation Nigerians were oblivious and wisely so, of what the soldiers were doing with these public resources and this was understandable because the source of legitimacy of those governments were derived from the barrel of the gun. 

While we may not have participated in the drafting of the 1999 Constitution or adopted it in a referendum, Nigerians through their acquiescence have in the last 10 years come to recognize it as the supreme law of Nigeria and this is what many rallied to defend during the leadership vacuum saga. 

That Constitution predicates the validity of any government in Nigeria on the lawful votes of Nigerians of 18 years and above who in exercising their rights to choose candidates fielded by registered political parties cast those votes in elections conducted by electoral officials. 

In May 1999 we transited from rule through the barrel of the gun to rule through the votes of Nigerians, and while that transition may have taken place in the physical, Nigerians are yet to effect that transition in their hearts and still do not believe that the right to rule Nigeria now flows from them. 

Nigerians do not yet appreciate that the Constitution gives them the right to hold the keys (votes) to the vaults (elective positions) containing our collective inheritance (public funds) and have instead allowed political godfathers and the ruling elites to hijack the keys from their hands. 

Utilizing the tools in their evil arsenal, such as power rotation, geo-political zones, religious and tribal differences, illiteracy, and poverty, these hijackers are intent on preventing Nigerians from waking up from their slumber or stupor to take back what rightly belongs to them’ i.e. the power of the vote. 

That is why we thank all those who helped in prolonging the leadership vacuum saga because the experience taught us the importance of consummating Section 145 of the Constitution and now we are wondering what if the sections that have to do with the voting processes are also consummated? 

That is our next frontier and the goal we must collectively pursue, i.e. to wrest from the hijackers the keys to Nigeria’s vaults by taking our place in the electoral process as the ones that provide legitimacy for any government through the exercise of our voting rights.

“We must be the change we want to see in the world.”  – Mahatma Gandhi