By Jaye Gaskia
If we are ever going to be able to make any meaningful impact on the 2015 general elections and influence an outcome that will be in our collective interest; one that can begin to truly combat the many challenges that face us as a people and nation, and proceed towards laying firm foundations for a truly transformational development; then the time to begin to engage with the polity is now.
Why is the present moment not only auspicious, but also decisive with respect to the processes that will unfold in 2015 and their outcome? Why should we begin the active and conscious engagement now, and not later?
The reason becomes very obvious if we pause to take a deeply reflective look around us. The polity is in a state of turmoil; a turbulence that is rooted in the parlous state of the economy; driven by the frustrations and deep anger engendered by increasing and deepening pauperization of a overwhelming majority of citizens; and one shaped by the response of the angry citizens to the mind boggling scale and scope of treasury looting, managerial incompetence [of the economy], and administrative ineptitude [with respect to governance] being perpetrated and perpetuated by the bands of criminal gangs in power across the country.
The height of the manifestation of this anger in recent times was the January Uprising, and all the mass mobilizations of popular dissent that has happened since then.
The evolving massive storm in the polity can be glimpsed in the panic driven hasty processes of political re-branding that is now being undertaken by the ruling political elites in all of their platforms. The turbulence in the ruling PDP; the forced, hasty and deeply troubled merger process of the main opposition parties in the APC; the hastily contrived alliance of 20 other parties with a rump of APGA; and all the noise and shuffling within and among the ruling political elites about retaining or gaining power come 2015!
This is the downside of the situation with the polity. There is however also an upside; the fact of the opportunity presented to us by these upheavals in the polity, to make our autonomous and determined entrance into the political process, and gain for ourselves and our country the right to participate effectively, actively and pro-actively in our own governance; in essence win the right to govern ourselves in our own collective interest.
One of the positive things that has been happening with the citizenry since the January Uprising, is not only the increased and increasing level of political awareness, and interest in governance; but also the increasing level of awareness and interest in the affairs of political parties as the vehicles for achieving good governance; Hence the increasing levels of interests of majority of citizens in politics in general, and in party politics in particular.
However, there is also an element of danger, of self limitation, and self imposed undermining of our capacity to be able to truly and deeply influence the polity; through the way and manner that we are going about our new-found engagement with the political processes.
As active citizens and activists, who are becoming increasingly politically conscious and aware, and who when we intervene are often seen and viewed as representing the opinion of particular groups in the population, particularly Women, Youths, and Workers [in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy]; we are undertaking our engagement with the polity and political processes as individuals or as representatives of broad based organizations who speak and canvass for Nigerians and citizens in general.
This process of largely individual engagement, even though we are actually canvassing the interests of groups, can only lead to a situation where we are co-opted by the polity, and our interests, those specific interests we are canvassing for, are mainstreamed and lost in the agenda of the ruling political elites. It will amount to attempting to individually influence the un-influenceables.
Our best bet in definitively influencing the road to 2015 and the outcome of the 2015 general elections, is if we engage the unfolding processes in the polity as powerful, autonomous blocs with clearly defined interests and asks.
Women’s representation and participation in politics and governance is clearly an issue, and one central to the transformation of the conditions of women in the country at large and in the polity in particular.
Youth unemployment is a huge issues, so is the lack of access to qualitative, functional and affordable education by children and youths. A resolution of these issues which directly impact youths, will go a long way towards improving the quality of our national economy and improving the conditions of citizens in general.
Workers, working peoples are central to the growth, expansion of the economy, to the creation of wealth; and their share of access to the wealth created in the economy is central to the quality of life of citizens, as well as of the economy.
This is the time when women, youths and workers need to organize their own effective pressure group political platforms, with which to engage the unfolding processes in the polity and mobilize and organize autonomously of the ruling political elites, with a view to ensuring that their interests are manifestly and genuinely taken onboard, and that some of their issues of main concern find their way unto the front burner of the competing political agendas.
It can even be said that given the antecedent of our ruling political elites; their uncommon level of greed and gluttony; their blind un-enlightened self interests; and their overriding drive to seek power solely for the purpose of accumulating wealth [treasury looting] and controlling patronage distribution networks and processes; it can almost certainly be said that this ruling elite cannot be influenced by anything other than their own selfish interests; and attempting to so do will be like in the words on Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating Minister of the Economy [under two regimes]; ‘it will be like “reforming the unreformable.”’
It is in this context that organized and mobilized conscious bloc engagement of the polity and the unfolding political processes by Women, Youths and Workers should go beyond the limitations imposed by the known political platforms and formations in their present state of flux; such engagement should seek to solidify the autonomous existence of the blocs, by playing central roles in the conception, ante-natal care, birth, and nurturing of new political platforms and parties, that are independent of the discredited, inept, incompetent, and light fingered ruling political elites!
It is only by organizing as such, and playing such central roles in midwifing alternative political parties, who seek power not as an end in itself, but as a means to the end of radical social transformation of our polity and economy towards our collective national liberation as a nation, and collective social emancipation as a people; it is only as such that we can be certain of creating the level of political seismic activity strong enough to cause a fundamental paradigm shift, and definitively shape the process towards, as well as the outcome in 2015!