Nigeria and Democracy Inaction
How long can Africa’s most populous country go on without a clear leader?
This week, the ruling party asserted that it wants the next president to come from the Muslim north portion of Nigeria. This rules out Vice President Jonathan, as well as anyone else from the Christian south portion of Nigeria. The north/south division is an ongoing sensitive issue in Nigerian politics and society, with a history fighting having taken place between Muslims and Christians. Under the terms and conditions of the People's Democratic Party, leadership must be evenly split between the two faiths. Yar'Adua, who is Muslim, is only half way into his first four-year term, while the last leader, Obasanjo, was a Christian.
If there is indeed anything to be gained from what has been going on, it is that Yar'Adua's absence has sparked an outrage in Nigerians. For the first time in years, people have not just been talking about what's going on, but taking action. Protests and newspaper articles are part of that. Many organizations dedicated to change have sprung up, including the nonprofit Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI), of which I am a member. NLI is made up of Nigerians, both inside and outside of Nigeria, who are dedicated to transforming leadership and values for the benefit of the Nigerian society. Political action also has an important role: Just this week, Nuhu Ribadu announced that he would be setting up a shadow government. That's the kind of action that Nigeria needs.
There is much that's going on in Nigeria that is great. Recent years have seen a real boom in business and cultural activities in the nation, and many Nigerians who were born or educated in the West have been returning in droves, bringing with them new ideas and attitudes. It is now in the hands of Nigerians to be cause in the matter of helping the country become a fully functioning and fair democracy that works for the greater good. We all have a vision that we wish to see come to life, so that Nigeria can be a shining beacon of African success. If the leaders won't do it, we, the people, can and must.
Lola Adesioye is a black British sociopolitical writer of Nigerian descent.