Behold the Reformers

Nwachukwu Egbunike

A subtle yet violent confrontation against electoral reform is unfolding. If words were enough to transpose a swift transmutation on Nigeria’s eluding electoral shamble, then the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reform (CODER) would have since gone extinct. The CODER last week Thursday presented three private bills on electoral process reform to the public in Abuja. With the hype it created one would have thought that reform has finally arrived, I am not so optimistic.

Granted that CODER as constituted embraces both partisan politicians – from different parties – and civil society organisations, nonetheless, can politicians ever agree to a common cause? Nigerian politics have been driven more often by selfish interests leaving the common good in the cold. When politicians united against the third term bid, it was not so much that some of them were against it, rather a third term spelt disaster for their personal ambition. Thus the Action Congress was a cacophony of sorts, those whose bread seemed in danger of having no butter melting on it. It was quite obvious that as soon as the immediate threat (Mr Obasanjo) was sent back to his farm in Ota the marriage of convenience will elapse. And so it did, a present discord between Mr Atiku Abubakar and Mr Bola Tinubu is turning into a festering wound.

Nonetheless the courage of CODER should be admired, for by daring to stand against the Nigeria establishment they are toeing a tight rope. This cord has the potentials of either setting to right the rumpled electoral bill or strangling it. So far the Yar’Adua’s government has left no one in doubt of its intentions of killing democracy. Against the initial populist mega phoning of commitment to the rule of law and electoral reforms, the actions of Mr Yar’Adua hue the opposite.

Call it skepticism or outright cynicism, the parade of politicians in CODER gives me goose bumps.  It seems to be a coalition of the opposition, which is quite welcome bearing in mind that the PDP is practically running a one-party state. At the same time, politicians in this country do not like being in opposition. They may ride on its tide to popularity, but at the slightest opportunity, they decamp. How they intend to fight “the largest party in Africa” will be a glad revelation. The issue here is not the formation of an opposition party, rather is seeing it to a logical conclusion. I envisage that as soon as the division of political offices to be aspired come nearer, then there may be a split.

How CODER will be able to manage this great company of diverse interest will in no measure determine the future of democracy in Nigeria. While 2011 draws near let’s hope we don’t slip into the trenches of a disorganised opposition that has given the PDP the leverage to continue its violation of Nigeria’s democracy. “We are in no further need of politicians; we need statesmen now,” Paul Haris opines. Unfortunately I neither see statesmen in PDP nor in the opposition as presently constituted.

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