Reading some of the reactions and outrage that have continued to trail recent and ongoing crises in Rivers State, one manages to find some positive spin. Nigerians, at least most of the commentators, recognize that the crises in Rivers State is not necessarily about Gov. Amaechi. It is, I surmise, like most others have done, about our political culture and its future.
It is about the level of ignominy and impunity of the political class. It is about the nature and quality of leadership of the present political dispensation under President Jonathan. It is about abuse of power and further corruption of the democratic process; it is about the negative transformation of the shoeless Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his Presidency that has now acquired a big ego shoe, which it is using to trample on anyone on its way. It is a Presidency that has more than enough reason but has failed to distinguish itself and chart a new course for Nigeria’s political experience and culture. It is about a Presidency that is its own worst enemy and a political class that has essentially reaped why it did not sow and, as such, now it constitutes the greatest danger to Nigeria’s ever wobbling democratic pretension.
Let us go to Egypt first and see if we can draw some parallels or lessons, not matter how far-fetched such a prospect may seem on the surface. Recently, the people of Egypt demanded and got an unconstitutional removal of their first ever democratically elected President, just on the anniversary of his first year in the office. They readily played into the hands of a waiting and ever willing military that has historically constituted itself into a part of Egypt’s political DNA. The sins of the deposed President Morsi were many. He and his party came to power as beneficiaries of a revolution for which they were at best peripheral actors. They savoured Egypt’s democratic rebirth, but lacked the courage to practise democracy. They imposed a constitution on the country, and adopted a winner-takes-all style of governance. They froze every viable space for democratic venting for the rest of the population. They proceeded to re-create Egypt in the image of their ideologically shallow Freedom and Justice Party (a.k.a the Muslim Brotherhood). They believed that as winners of 51.7% majority, they did not need the rest of the country to govern. Worst of all, the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood constituted an evident danger to Egypt’s vulnerable economy as they lacked the vision to stem an imminent economic collapse. Majority of Egyptians, including some who voted for Morsi, ran out of patience.
And the military capitalized on it. Now, the military seem to have returned to power from the back door and can only be kept in check through the vigilance of the people whose call they have just enthusiastically heeded within a mixture of institutional and altruistic national interest. The irony is that those who initiated the recent change in Egypt are equally culpable as the Muslim Brotherhood they toppled because both the Brotherhood and the rest of anti-Morsi folks have demonstrated their lack of respect for rule of law and the democratic process. Ideally, Morsi could have been allowed to complete his term or be impeached. The latter option was not possible. In the former scenario, following the completion of his term, the Egyptian people, even members of his Party, would expectedly have had sufficient reason to send him packing through the ballot box in the event he desired to renew his mandate. But that is “ideally”. In Egypt, the attempt to get two wrongs to result in a right is presently an unfolding drama.