Lessons according to Obama’s Victory
I promised to share my insights into the lessons Nigeria as a nation should learn from the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America. It is so sad that as at this moment; Nigeria does not have the kind of structure and moral fiber needed to have the kind of celebration we saw after that historic election.
I am not a prophet of doom nor a pessimist but I am just being realistic. However, I intend to be a part of the solution rather than contribute to rhetoric and whining that most of us are known for. My friend ‘Gbenga Sesan wrote an interesting article titled Obama ran an Utomi-like campaign. It is surely an interesting read and see my comment to that post.
I feel u GS. The thought came to my mind to link Obama with Pat Utomi. But I quickly made a reverse to analyse the situation in a more realistic light. Let us be sincere with ourselves – would Obama have won the elections if he ran on the umbrella of a party other than the Democratic and the GOP? How many people in the US even know the names of independent candidates? Even Bush did not invite the other candidates for their opinion in the height of the bail out debate. US media don’t pay attention to candidates of other parties. That is the reality of politics. Remember how much Obama spent on the campaign trail … a whooping 1.6 B dollars – wow. Politics is indeed very costly. I have been thinking seriously in the past few days on what chance people like myself and Pat Utomi have to ensure we break the power of the serial rapist parties like PDP and ANPP where members keep changing and names of the parties are remixed. I am longing for a party that will start and exist for the eternity without a change in name and integrity. I remember the last presidential election in Nigeria where Pat Utomi’s party did not have agents in polling booths within Lagos State. I remember asking myself how he could have won without those kind of structures on ground? If we are serious about emancipating Nigeria – it will cost more than rhetoric and one leg in type of politics —- it will mean a big commitment. Are we ready for it?
I am getting somewhere with this post and that is to highlight the lesson Nigeria must learn from the United States and the just concluded elections. The one and only Abami Eda – Olufela Anikulapo Kuti gave us a lesson in his song democrazy. He made us realise that the colonial masters taught us democracy but in a wrong way. He further said that when a student makes a mistake – a teacher makes the necessary corrections but in our case – the Oyinbos did not correct us. I am afraid that the kind of democracy we practice is bound to eternal failure and we might never be able to get to the level of advanced democracies unless we take a step back to get the basics. Democracy will never live to its billings unless the fundamentals and ideologies of political parties are right. What we have in Nigeria are people with the common goal of winning elections through whatever crooked means available. A political party should start due to ideology and a call to service; once the basics are wrong – we have the chaos we call parties in Nigeria.
Consistency is also a very important factor to consider in this case. The Democratic and Republican parties in the USA are very old and till today still possess to a certain extent the qualities which their founding fathers imbibed. Same in the UK where the Labour and Conservative parties still carry the flags of their founding fathers. The political landscape in Nigeria started on a false path due to the military intervention which remained a recurring factor till as late as 1999. The different coup plotters and sit-tight military head of states ensured a continuous disruption of political activities – banning the parties and ensuring that even politics was militarized. Let’s just imagine what could have been if the Awolowo ideology survived till today with the political machinery he made popular? What if we still have the Action Group as Action Group today and not the mangled Action Congress and Alliance for Democracy? What if the political ideology of Zik of Africa still stands till today? These are questions that should be asked on the way to getting it right. I look at the PDP today and see many strange bed fellows with selfish agenda. Same goes for AC, ANPP and others. It is only in our part of the World where one politician crosses carpets to the next available party without thinking at all – yeah it is because the kind of politics we practice are not tied to beliefs and ideology but monetary gains.
If we will correct these maladies, the journey is not simple. It is not a matter of supporting credible candidates during elections. It is about understanding the lessons of Obama’s victory. It is about knowing that Obama did not only win because he was loved by the US and the world but that he ran on the ticket of a strong party and he had the support of the same party. If Obama were more eloquent than he was during the campaigns and he ran as an independent – forget it, he would have lost. So what do we take from all of this. I sense it is time for Nigerians to sit down and ask what they want. In Zimbabwe – Morgan Tsvangirai and others started a party that in just a few years successfully challenged Mugabe and won the elections. How they did it is novel because Mugabe never thought anyone could do that. Fine, it is still not well with the once beautiful country but imagine Nigerians having the chance of organising a strong party that could defeat the PDP? Imagine the same party having credible candidates like Pat Utomi on the ticket? Imagine the possibilities?
Unless we do this – our credible leaders will never have the chance of being elected.
As a good and progressive citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria- I have decided to embark on a study. This study will give me an insight into how the major political parties in the USA and the UK started and how they have been able to hold fort till today with common opinions and the love of their country in their heart. I will share my findings as I move on and I hope it will help us in deciding what to do.
I have a dream – that one day, Nigeria will have political parties based on solid ideologies, the will to do good, service to humanity and above all – the love of our motherland. Parties that will be known even to my granny in the village as well as the professor in the University. Yes … it will happen!