Dr Abubakar Abubakar Kana is a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Nasarawa State University, keffi (NSUK). In this interview with Dominic Akpensuen, the don stressed the importance of democracy and the role of the citizens toward the success of democratic ideals, even as he also called for national unity as the springboard of development. Excerpts.
Nigeria has successfully transited to democratic governance since 1999. How has it fared?
No society that has operated democracy to the fullest; at a particular stage it must observe some obstacles. However, we can get to the promising land. Indeed, let’s take America for instance, it took them a lot of time and energy for them to get to where they are today.
Democracy as we all know is the government of the people and for the people. And as you mentioned two decades since democracy, now where are we standing and going? Democracy is a system and for the system to work very well, the components must come together. Here, these components are politicians who always introduce either religion or tribal sentiment. They create division between the working class and others.
What is your view on sit-tight leaders?
There is now the Not-too-young-to-run law to take care of that. I express my appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for signing such bill in to law. Nigeria is a society that doesn’t go by what we call national interest, if it is, then it is better for young persons to lead Nigeria as a nation. We need leaders with experience both at the local, state and national levels. For example, French President Emmanuel Macron is less than 40 years old. But can Nigeria allow such to happen? Not. Although constitutionally, the bill is existing but it is the area of concern. Let us go into historical perspective of Nigeria. When Sir Ahmadu Bello was to become prime minister of Nigeria he said no and brought Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from Bauchi to take his place. This is the kind of leadership we are yearning for. It is not the question of leading, but commitment and patriotism. Look at the general elections; candidates are not elected in on the basis of credibility, but on parochial interest of religion and ethnicity. Nigerians always talk of revolution, which doesn’t come easily.
Does Nigeria really need restructuring?
Restructuring is calling for constitutional amendment. But the call for restructuring is politicised and not based on national interest. Why should I say so? It is because most of the people calling for restructuring were not satisfied with the present arrangement. Nothing is permanent, things must change. But when you force change to come you have to pay for it. When you allow change to take place gradually, definitely, everybody will enjoy, both the rich and the poor.
How do you access the 2019 general elections?
Looking at the 2019 general elections and compared with that of 2015, you can found out that 2015 was more stable, but the issue is political class. It has never come out with any alternative process of democracy. Contesting for election has two basic things either you loss or you win. But Nigeria politicians never want to loss an election. As far as the politicians don’t want to loss election that is how we shall continue to have problems. And at the end, we pay for it because it is the masses that suffer for the action. For example, the Igbo say they don’t want to continue as Nigerians again, but they have National Assembly members who are still serving in Nigeria.
The issue is, you don’t disrespect the pot you eat from. Elections come and go but the society remains. If we want to call ourselves Nigerians we have to set aside our differences.
How best can people understand the values of democracy?
For the masses to understand what democracy is all about, the masses have to know the importance of democracy. Democracy is the best form of government. For democracy to survive in any society the masses have to be educated; for democracy to create happiness to the people of the society, it rather creates problem for them. There is the issue of creating awareness. Let people know the political culture. The masses should also have an input to the system. Let their input be appreciated in national affairs, and their votes count during elections. But where votes don’t count, there will be problem.