Could Nigeria produce a young politician that is inspiring and innovative? Would such a person, man or woman, eventually have a chance at running the country from within the gated walls of Aso Rock - the seat of Nigerian presidential power?
This is a question that I have been wrestling with for some time now. And, apparently, a lot of other people are pondering this issue, as well. Former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter C. Carrington, recently concluded that Obama could never have emerged as a Presidential candidate in Nigeria. Carrington explained that politics in Nigeria is not controlled by the people, but instead by powerful godfathers who determine which individuals could rise through the ranks to eventually run for and become Nigerian president. In fact, Carrington's description of the Nigerian political power process was akin to a basic description of a Mafia operation. He said,
"[m]any ... parties perform like our big city machines used in places like Boston , Chicago and New York . The days of corrupt machines are mostly gone."IF CARRINGTON IS RIGHT...
But, apparently, those days are not long gone in Nigeria and what does that spell for the future of Nigerian 'democracy'? If the democratic system cannot produce and protect those with ideas that go against the status quo and the incumbents, then when will Nigerians truly become determinants in their own future? If veritable opposition parties cannot exist without having accusations of treason leveled against them by the party in power, then what assurance is there for those outside of mainstream politics that their ideas can have a place in Nigeria's political town hall?
Granted, 2007 was the first time that one non-military ruler passed power to another non-military leader in Nigeria's history. So, yes, one could argue that Nigeria is still 'adjusting' to democracy. But, how slowly will Nigeria 'adjust'? Will the rest of the world, and particularly the developed nations Yar'Adua and Nigerians so desperately want to catch up with (re: Vision 2020) continue to leave us in the dust? If Nigeria does not become a place where original and innovative thought is at least acknowledged, without being attributed to the devil or demonized for being 'un-Nigerian' (whatever that means), then true democracy will continue to be nothing but a drunken and unattainable dream. And the possibility that our very own 'Obamas', whoever and wherever they are, will never have an opportunity to share their insight and ideas is quite disappointing.
However, that is just my inclination on these matters. I hope to know yours.