For what it’s worth, political leadership, in its purest form, is about attaining political power and leveraging on it to influence decisions that bring about human development, and improvement in the quality of lives of those under our jurisdiction. But ironically, our political landscape has repeatedly been plagued by transactional politics where politicians try to recoup as much as possible from public coffers, while the society that was entrusted to them for safekeeping is allowed to deteriorate.
But what is most regrettable and worrisome is that we have created a society where such a menace is allowed to thrive. We have bastardized our political culture to the point that it has become attractive to political merchants whose only aim is to prey on our collective resources. People who lack leadership capacity and moral decency are now dominating our political space due to the fact that we have created a society where no one pays attention to ideologies; a society where there are no issue-based dimensions along which political discussions are based; a society where political parties are structured without any vision. Thus, there are no qualification requirements for prospective candidates. And when indicators of credibility are not used as a litmus test for candidates, there is now room for opportunists to ruthlessly take advantage.
It’s so sad that relevant experience, antecedents and credentials are no longer a determinant for both political parties and the electorates to decide who is most suitable to run for a political office. Rather, it is now about who can outwit the other candidates through vote buying and compromising the electoral process. This new culture and trend have produced dealers at the expense of leaders—dealers who are mostly characterized by greed, ineptitude, and insensitivity.
Owing to this sociopolitical situation we have created, people with questionable character are now on the political spotlight. And their primary aim is simply to obtain the absolute immunity associated with power, and also to enjoy the ample financial reward and unrestricted privileges associated with holding such political positions.
No wonder poor leadership has persisted. Political vulgarity has become our reality. Hypocrisy has taken over our political atmosphere. Corruption is now a celebrated culture that has eaten so deep into the fabrics of our core values.
Our state now creates leaders who are demigods rather than public servants, and the desperation to grab power by all means has heightened. These political positions have been made a safe haven for the demigods to unleash their insatiable greed, unquantifiable looting, negligence towards the plight of the masses, intimidation, falsehood, and abuse of power.
This mediocre and retrogressive politics has persisted because we have allowed it to thrive by not making enough inquiries to ascertain who an aspirant really is and what he has to offer; by giving room to mediocrity instead of meritocracy; by looking for a candidate that would buy our acceptance with money instead of the one that has a long-term plan for effective leadership. Sadly, we are now majoring in the minor and minoring in the major.
And it might get even worse if we fail to wake up from our slumber. We as imolites must take drastic measures to ensure that our retrogressive society becomes progressive. We must rebuild our value system to accommodate only leaders with proven integrity and antecedents.
But are we eady to do the needful in order to halt this rot? I ask this because we are in yet another election season in Imo State, and the nontransparent process that produces candidates, coupled with heavy financial inducements, has persisted. In fact, it took a more dangerous twist. How can candidates whom the processes that produced them as flag bearers remain shrouded in controversies promise us a transparent government? Are we seeing people who are willing to serve or people who want to do a show of money and muscle in a bid to see who outwits the other in getting the keys to our state Treasury?
But in all, the situation is not entirely hopeless. For while most Frontline political parties were locked in chaos, one major political party—the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) which has remained the pride of the east—stood out amongst equals. They quietly conducted one of the most transparent, peaceful and rancor- free primaries ever seen in Imo State, and produced a dynamic and vibrant technocrat in the person of Mr Anthony Ejiogu. And while some other candidates are still busy with litigations arising from their shady primaries, the young visionary is steadily penetrating the nooks and crannies of the state with his personality and ideologies. I am not suggesting to Imo people whom to follow, but I am urging them to pay more attention to what Tony Ejiogu and APGA are bringing to the table, especially with their campaign flag off imminent, and they won’t find it difficult to want to key in.
The future of our dear state, that of our children and the generation yet unborn, is at stake, and if we don’t pay attention to tiny details, we will forever be condemned by guilt for the role we played in abusing our own society.
We might have lost a huge chunk of yesterday and today, but we can’t afford to lose tomorrow. Politics shouldn’t be a platform for unsavoury characters to take cover and unleash destructive tendencies. Voters in a democratic system must seek information on the quality of candidates if they are to hold their political representatives accountable to a certain standard. The time to usher in an exciting new era is now.