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Review & Outlook: The Need For A National Compromise

  BY KANMI ADEMILUYI WITH guidelines out for the conduct of the party primaries and the humongous price tags unveiled for potential participants and wannabes, the race to succeed incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is in full swing and it is not for the faint of hearts. Ordinarily, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should have the…”
Yusuf
April 22, 2022 5:28 am

 

BY KANMI ADEMILUYI

WITH guidelines out for the conduct of the party primaries and the humongous price tags unveiled for potential participants and wannabes, the race to succeed incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari is in full swing and it is not for the faint of hearts.

Ordinarily, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should have the first offer of refusal. He has the gait, the demeanour and the preparation. In addition, on the infrequent occasions he has held fort for his principal, he has had a good innings. Also, in his favour is that he clearly has a very good grasp of today’s world. This will be crucial as Nigeria has to navigate its way through a make-or-break decade. And it will be make or break with the cards stacked against a hideously uncompetitive economy in which disturbingly, population growth rates are way ahead of economic ‘growth’ projections (more like ephemeral growth without sustainable development).

So far, the objections to Osinbajo’s bid have being infertile. Arrant nonsense actually. The irresponsible well-funded and coordinated smear campaign exposes a feudal mindset. It is as if the Vice President has served up to life long indentured labour in servitude to a slave master. Those peddling the mendacity have clearly watched too many Mafia films.  There is also revealed an authoritarian paradigm and intolerance of opposing views and tendencies which is profoundly disturbing and a forewarning of a streak of underlying nastiness and probably brutality. We have been put on notice. The fascist mindset revealed should make the rational mind as well as the democratically inclined very weary.

Outside of the entitled self-serving authoritarianism of the anti Osinbajo crowd, much more worthy of consideration are the reservations about the succession race by two seasoned worthies, Afenifere elder Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the notable lawyer and university proprietor, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN.

From disparate perspectives, they do not see the fixation on the 2023 succession as a panacea to the nation’s myriad of existential horror stories.

Are Babalola’s call for an interim national government is impracticable, apart from lacking in constitutional validity. It also, although this is not Babalola’s intention, brings back better forgotten nightmares of an undemocratic interlude in the aftermath of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election. Chief Adebanjo believes that a resolution of the issue of the nationalities, (the national question) should be resolved first before any election.

Impracticable and disagreeable as they are, the suggestions are symptoms of a desire to infuse seriousness into an hitherto uninspiring political season. The two chieftains are sensibly trying to steer the debate away from the self serving platitudes and vacous utterances and abuse currently on offer. We should be grateful for this.

It presents an opportunity to think beyond the absurd fixation on the discredited Great-Man-heory of history. This position that a tree makes a forest is a childlike fixation on a search for a father figure. As Galileo said in pleading for mercy to save himself from the wrath of the Pope, “woe betide a nation in search of a hero”. Nigeria today is in need of a program of social and economic reconstruction. Searching for a hero is childishly delusional.

A solution worthy of consideration as a solution is to put together our own version of Italy’s ‘historic compromise’ (Comprimessio historica in Italian). The Italians in the 1970s decades ago were in a similar predicament. As in Nigeria, the country had secessionist agitations; principally the most prosperous region Lombardy was seething with discontent. The fiscal framework was in disarray and the currency in freefall. It all resembled what we are going through today.

What saved the republic in Italy was a remarkably far sighted and patriotic political elite. The differences between the dominant parties, the Communists led by the hardline Stalinist Togialati and the Christian Democrats looked unbridgable. Nevertheless, the historic compromise took place and it worked, reinvigorating the republic and perhaps saved it from implosion. 

There is clearly no such ideological gulf between the APC and the PDP. If anything, they resemble the satirical Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum. The problem is that unlike in Italy at a time of dishevelment, Nigeria does not appear to have an expansive national patriotic establishment capable of putting national salvation ahead of self – aggrandisement.

A newly sworn in president next year must try and set the stage and create the atmosphere for a national compromise. The entire spectrum of civil and political society must be woven into a national consensus in order to take the difficult decisions necessary to break the present logjam. Difficult to work out an alternative.

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