Recently, apparently in their bid to ensure that the 2015 general elections in Nigeria will be free and fair, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the major opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) honoured an invitation by a United States of America, (USA) based organisation, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington. Senior officials of President Barack Obama administration, including that of the U.S State Department with some other democracy building institutions in America were at the forum.
Trouble started when leader of the APC team, Alhaji Lai Mohammed highlighted the alleged failings of President Goodluck Jonathan in governance, casting doubts about his sincerity towards conducting free and fair elections in 2015. This did not go down well with the leader of the PDP team and Presidential Spokesman on Political Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe as well as Nigeria's Ambassador to USA, Prof. Ade Adefuye, both of whom warned against dragging the personality of Nigeria's president into the forum and washing the country's linen in the public. Okupe specifically warned Mohammed thus, " Lai Mohammed should not cast aspersions on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because if he does that, he knows me and what I can do." The banter did not end with that as both camps continued to bicker at the forum. This Newspaper finds this show of shame by Nigerian leaders in a foreign forum very unfortunate, disappointing and condemnable.
It is sad that Nigerian political leaders are bent on playing politics of do or die nurtured by too much of acrimony and rancour which is heating up the polity to a worrisome height. It is worrisome that Nigerian politicians seem to have lost all sense of courtesy, decorum and circumspection characteristic of due democratic political best practices. It is painful that 15 years after the re-institutionalisation of democratic governance in Nigeria, the language of politics and political discourse and engagements among politicians still resonate of so much of military orders and autocracy, lacking in caution, tolerance and civility. What did Doyin Okupe mean by his threat, "... he knows me and what I can do"? That definitely does not fit into modern language of democratic politics. We feel that he should not have made such a threat in such a foreign forum. Certainly, these Nigerian politicians by their conducts in Washington DC have done Nigeria's fragile image an unfortunate disservice. This is most unacceptable and must stop.
On no account should Nigeria's corporate personality and image be disparaged in a foreign land.
The mission of the politicians to America was designed for the good of Nigeria, no doubt. But like Prof. Adefuye queried, why did the political foes, PDP and APC honour a U.S forum to discuss an internal issue as the 2015 general election? Nigerians never knew that both parties had such strong issues about the 2015 elections that required foreign intervention. We sense, however, that the mentality of trust in foreign places, people and products is at play in this incident. When will Nigerians learn to trust its own and do away with this mentality? Is there anything the PDP and the APC will say in America that cannot be said in Abuja? Why should Nigerian taxpayers resources be expended so inauspiciously on such a mischievous jamboree? At the end of their American clash, is there any dependable proof that 2015 general election has been guaranteed free and fair? Inevitably, the questions are many and we feel it is only the persistently overzealous Nigerian politicians that will proffer the correct answers.
Having said that, this Newspaper recommends further that Nigerian politicians should make a rethink, close ranks and come to realistic terms about the sustainable roadmap for Nigeria's development They must jettison mutual suspicion, distrust and resentment. Politicians must eschew politics of bitterness, hatred and malice. Above all, let Nigerian politicians prepare to be magnanimous in victory and gallant in defeat as demanded by democratic best practices. Only Nigerians can take Nigeria to her Land of Promise and the most reliable guide to attain this is the political leadership.