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Nigeria-Leadership;Free and Fair elections;And Knowledge-aristocrats

Nigerian National Assembly

Everybody seems to agree that Nigeria’s greatest challenge is leadership.The consensus is that able and enlightened leadership is needed to complement it’s abundant resources,human as well as material,if Nigeria is to actualize the promise of it’s undoubted potential.This leadership does not refer to just the ability to mobilize and focus it’s disparate gifts and talents,in pursuit of common goals and objectives,but also the capacity to set agenda and initiate meaningful,if incipiently painful,change.To provide this leadership capacity,we need to build a capable and focused political class,dedicated to the cause of improving Nigeria.

The reality today,is that the political process is desperately vulnerable,if not hostage,to a thuggish element.The result is the exclusion of it’s most educated,refined,urbane and qualified people:in other words,it’s first eleven.These people constitute Nigeria’s knowledge based aristocracy.This should not be confused with the feudal aristocracy,whose membership is prescriptive(status is inherited from father).Instead,knowledge-aristocrats are  indebted to their personal achievements for their status rather than the circumstances of their birth.These are people whose education and work experiences span the best schools and companies around the world.To bring about the desired change in Nigeria,we need a critical mass of these people,not a sprinkling.

The main reason for the absence of Nigeria’s best minds from it’s political process,is the “weaponization” of the electoral process.Elections were conceived as a tool to share and rotate political power among different political parties.When opposition parties trust that elections will be free and fair,they will be willing to wait for their turn.This promotes the embrace of peaceful politics by all,thereby  fostering peace in the realm.When however,elections are weapons to be used for monopolizing power to the exclusion of all outside the incumbent party,politics becomes brutish:a game for only those who believe in  violence,in and out of the now one-party state.Enlightened and polished people,who spurn violence,are going to be squeezed out of the system.

Free and fair elections must be the focus of the electoral process,if we are to attract these people in sufficiently large numbers to make a difference.Free and fair elections would be a signal to all that,no longer,will the electoral process reward thuggish or criminal behaviour in whatever shape or form.Only when this message has sunk in,will the level of political and electoral violence critically fall.We have to remember that these aristocrats,being economically and financially comfortable,do not need to be politicians in order to live well.We have to give them every motivation to leave their comfort zone.That motivation is the opportunity to serve their country and to remake her in their polished,urbane, civil and enlightened image.

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