2023: Did Afe Babalola just fly a kite?
“The most serious failure of leadership is the inability to foresee.” –Robert. K.Greenleaf
In the political sphere of human endeavor, Nigeria is by far the most active nation. A full year before every election season in Nigeria, the conversation is still fierce. Sometimes it looks like the country is going to explode; but somehow we squirm and continue the trembling journey to the nation. This year comes before yet another general election, and society is convulsed with politics and the intrigue that ensues.
The type of governance put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress party over the past seven years makes it imperative that 2023 be a tumultuous one as the nation struggles to find a direction for the future. The dissenting voices in the ongoing political conversation reflect the situation ahead of 2023. Perhaps that is why the iconic Ekiti State-born lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), is in the eye of the storm about his shocking proposal along the way. forward for Nigeria. He is one of Nigeria’s most well-known and well-mannered professionals [not boatrocking] former statesmen.
His statements, by notation, were never frivolous or unseemly. When a man of no reputation makes a statement that seems strange and unexpected, it should not be taken at face value. Chief Babalola took a bend in the ongoing political discussions ahead of 2023 and said what was not expected of a Democrat. The statement, as expected, drew mixed reactions.
Last week, the legal luminary took the political discourse to another level by proposing that instead of the 2023 general election ending President Buhari’s two terms in office, an interim regime be formed to steer Nigeria in a new direction. . He suggested the outright suspension of the planned general elections while the interim regime remains in place for six months to work out “a new popular constitution which should provide for part-time legislators and [a] non-executive chairman.
While Afe Babalola’s theory continued to generate backlash in some quarters, he once again shocked many by insisting that his proposal is the best option for the country at the moment. Before dissecting the merits/demerits of the proposal, let’s look at how the kite works in our politics. First, was Afe Babalola flying a kite for remote intrigues of certain eggheads or was he driven by conviction based on the deplorable state of Nigeria? What is a kite, you might ask? According to Google, the earliest known written account of a kite is found in China in 200 BC, supporting China’s claim to the origin of the kite.
Chinese General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty flew a kite over the walls of a city he was preparing to attack to measure how far his army would have to dig in to reach the defense. In the political parlance of our climate, the kite, as Google explains, also refers to the tactic by which a politician, usually through the media and often through intentional leaking, raises an idea to measure the reaction of the public.
This definition seems to capture Bsbalola’s position. Curious minds wonder, what propels Chief Babalola? Is he driven by patriotism to find a way out for a beleaguered nation? Is this part of a grand design to truncate the democratic process for an ulterior motive? Has democracy as practiced in this country since 1999 contributed to Nigeria’s growth? Are there any positives to wanting to continue with this system? Is our problem a systematic thing or our attitude as a people or both? Is Babalola’s proposal a better option than the one we made? These permutations are necessary because it doesn’t seem like the problem with Nigeria can be located outside of what late literary icon Chinua Achebe has in The Trouble with Nigeria. In the book, he identified one thing – a leadership failure.
“There is nothing [else] wrong with the earth or the Nigerian climate or the water or the air or whatever. Building on Achebe’s position, even with Chief Babalola’s proposal, the problems may persist until we find a way out of the leadership issues. This makes this period very critical in our political life because the political parties are in the process of choosing their standard bearers who will ultimately be our leaders, the president and his deputy, the governors and their deputies, the legislators at the federal and state levels. . the levels are all chosen now. If we are unanimous in saying that in this dispensation we have experienced no appreciable growth as a nation and we continue to do the same thing and expect different results, then something is fundamentally wrong with us. as a people.
The concern is not whether we have failed politically as a nation, but whether we seem to be faced with our situation. Otherwise, why shouldn’t we all feel restless to think and work outside the box for once? That some political leaders are still looking to take the wrong path instead of looking for solutions to problems as future leaders is troubling and worrisome for the future. If in 2015 a cross section of Nigerians felt that then President Goodluck Jonathan was not doing well and needed to be changed and eight years on some gladiators are desperately looking for the same Jonathan not for his performance but for the selfish reason that he’s the only person who only has four years to be in power, so we don’t appreciate the enormity of the problems on the ground.
Our interest is more in grabbing power than in finding the pathfinder to point us in the right direction. Whether or not Dr Jonathan fits into the present and has the wherewithal to run the Nigeria of today is a story for another day. But suffice it to say, the level of confusion in the system could have informed Chief Babalola’s strange proposal, even if our story with the caretaker government does not end well. Chef Ernest Shonekan is a sour case in mind. Rather than solving the problem, he set out to do so, he made it worse, which led to the emergence of Nigeria’s worst dictator. Why did Shonekan fail, as the motive to bring him was suspicious and selfish.
So let us pray that Chief Babalola does not, knowingly or unknowingly, play a scenario of ousting the Southeast from the executive presidency by rotation. Whenever public opinion favors Ndigbo gaining power, a bizarre kite similar to Chief Babalola would be flown and eventually made real. In 1983 kites were launched to end democracy after the general election; it happened that three months after winning a second term and that the vice-president at the time, Alex Ekwueme, seemed well on his way to succeeding president Shehu Shagari, the regime was torpedoed by the military junta led by this same Muhammadu Buhari. If there are intrigues along these lines, Nigeria, God forbid, is headed for the dyke. If the owl cries at night and the baby dies in the morning, there is a strong bond. This Igbo saying has its variants in other African languages. May God help us.