By Jaye Gaskia
As the forced rescheduled dates for the 2015 general elections rapidly approaches, the ominous clouds that have been gathering over our national existence have continue to thicken and darken potentially threatening a deluge of biblical proportions.
The gladiators in the ensuing contestation have continued to dig deeper into their trenches, while more or less blindly undertaking ill-thought, ill-conceived, irrationally strategic and illogically tactical actions.
What is disturbing is the emergent lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of those saddled with the duty of ensuring that the Nigerian state fulfills its constitutionally mandated role of ensuring the security and wellbeing of the state.
Throughout history irresponsible opposition parties have sometimes taken actions that have not only undermined ruling parties, but have also gone ahead to critically undermine the state and the stability of the entire polity and nation.
Alas, however, in the unfolding process in Nigeria, in this rapidly evolving situation that can be likened to the phenomenon of ‘dancing naked on the edge of a precipice’, it is the ruling party, the incumbent government, that is misbehaving like a deranged opposition, undermining one after the other, every conceivable institution of the state, and threatening not only the body polity, but also the very corporate existence of the state and nation.
For the first time in the history of our country, and in living memory, an incumbent government and a ruling party is engaged in strident, vigorous orchestrated organization and mobilization of public opinion, accusing the electoral institution not only of being irreversibly unprepared, but also of colluding with the opposition to rig the elections in favour of the opposition!
Really? The same electoral body forced almost at gun point to postpone the elections in accordance with the demands of the ruling party and its presidential campaign organization?
And in furtherance of its orchestrated campaign to discredit the outcome of the elections, it has launched a sustained onslaught of personal and institutional abuse on the electoral body, questioning the use of PVCs, casting aspersions on the use of card readers; all of which are measures that potentially have the capacity of reducing the ability to rig elections.
So every day, a ruling party and a campaign organization of the incumbent president inundates the populace with a million falsehoods about why PVCs and card readers should not be used, and about the permanent character of the lack of preparedness of INEC.
And this is not factoring in the dangerous mobilization of religious sentiments, and the open appeal to adherents of rival religions not to vote for candidates who express religious faith other than theirs. In a manner worthy only of a deranged opposition, the ruling party has promoted advertisements calling on Christians not to vote for the opposition because of the alleged plan of the opposition to Islamize Nigeria, while also cheekily at rallies and behind closed doors urging Muslims to vote only for the ruling party because it is the party of Muslims!
Let me be clear about this under the current unfolding situation, the ruling party and the incumbent president along with his campaign organization are emerging as the greatest threats to the survival of the 4th Republic, the greatest obstacle to democratic consolidation, and the greatest danger to the stability, unity and corporate existence of our country.
A friend and longtime colleague, with whom together we were one of the major actors in the revival and advancement of the Resource Control struggles of the peoples of the Niger Delta between the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, had once authored, or co-authored a radical protest compilation titled ‘The Naked Emperor’; a protest literature directed against the rapacious almost fascist dictatorship of Abacha.
How apt that title is now to describe the unfolding scenario in our country. Alas, my friend, who launched with the greatest fanfare possible in those dark days, is now one of the most strategic and senior aides to the incumbent emergent emperor, who is not only increasingly becoming nude, but has begun to dance precipitously close to the brink of a gaping abyss!
Let me however be clear on the sense of historical urgency of the moment, let me clearly restate my concerns as well as my convictions about this moment in our history;
I agree that in the current situation, there is no revolutionary or left leadership in contention; what is worse is that such an alternative is not even in contention much less being a viable alternative or option to the two leprous fingers of the ruling class in contention, that is the PDP and the APC. It is one thing for an option to actively exist, and another for it to be a viable option. The first is the beginning, the second is a qualitative leap forward.
I also agree that the absence of such a radical option and alternative, much less a viable one in the political contest is a most manifest indication of the collective failure of left and revolutionary forces, or whatever remains of them, in the country.
Having said this, however, I refuse to be backed into the unpalatable and thoughtless corner where the choice and options before us are presented in an exclusively bipolar nature: GEJ or GMB; PDP or APC!
I refuse to endorse the perception that GMB and APC are somehow the manifest embodiment and representation of the genuine popular change that we require.
Nevertheless, in spite of the above recognition, I refuse to endorse the gross incompetence, grave ineptitude, glaring and fatal mis-governance, powered by untrammeled corruption and treasury looting, of the GEJ presidency as well as 16 years of PDP rulership.
I remain convinced that the people have a right to be able to choose; that they have a right to reject failure and incompetence; and that in doing so they well chose the appearance of change where the essence of change is absent.
But far more fundamentally, I refuse to endorse, because of the fear of being accused of supporting an opposition I have always disclaimed, the creeping coup, and the vigorously vagrant, orchestrated and manipulative processes aimed at unconstitutionally elongating the tenure of an incumbent against the will of the people; through the truncation of the current democratic order, by a faction of the ruling class cohering around the presidency and the ruling PDP.
I understand clearly and regret the absence of a viable revolutionary option; Nevertheless, I also equally clearly understand the revolutionary potential of the current unfolding crisis, underpinned by the unraveling of the ruling class consensus that has hitherto held the present civilian democratic order together since 1999.
As a dialectician and revolutionary, I understand that this election given the deepening context, has the potential to trigger a revolutionary crisis regardless of the party that eventually wins.
Furthermore, I understand that a fraudulently won victory by the incumbent and ruling party, although will trigger a crisis; nevertheless it has the potential to preserve the illusion in the ‘cheated’ opposition as the bearer and beacon of real change.
On the other hand, a victory, acclaimed by a majority of citizens as credible by the opposition can very rapidly engender a crisis of unmet and unrealized expectations, and as a consequence trigger a revolutionary crisis, with the essential and significant difference this time, that the popular illusions in any of the major factions of the ruling class would have been exploded, while unraveling the spurious claim of the opposition as the agent of genuine, radical change.
In such a situation and context, a revolutionary option can very rapidly become viable, making a revolutionary outcome more plausible.
JAYE GASKIA is National Coordinator of Protest To Power Movement. Follow me on Twitter: @jayegaskia & Interact with me on FaceBook: JAYE GASKIA & TAKE BACK NIGERIA.