Meritocracy is welcomed by many liberal democracies across the globe. Many nations under the sun encourage debates by contenders for any elective post with a view to assessing their mental intelligence and capabilities. The importance of this can not be overemphasized considering the opportunity it offers. It affords the electorates the chance to know and indeed the international community the caliber of people at the helm.
In a rigid class society like Nigeria saddled with many problems varying from our individual complexity to frustration factor, care must be taken when selecting leaders. Today the poor and the common wage earners abound while unemployment has become a national phenomenon which promotes crimes particularly violent ones. However, I remain unshaken in my conviction that the totality of this broad spectrum of our population must be fully mobilized by competent technocrats and economic managers in a truly nationalistic sense. This is where meritocracy comes in handy.
Descending to pedestrian analysis meritocracy is the holding of political power in a country by influential class of educated and able people. This is difficult to come by without conducting a debate among aspirants to enable the electorates know the caliber of men to choose from during elections. Aspirants who know the peoples’ problems capable of acting as spokesperson for the country on the foreign scene are who Nigerians urgently stand in need of not brainless dolls that will bring shame and disgrace to us as a people, the largest and biggest black nation on mother earth.
There has been a hue and cry about presidential debate between the two strong contenders for Nigeria’s plum job, Mr. Mohammadu Buhari, and incumbent President Jonathan. While the former’s educational qualification and background are under serious contention, the latter’s is not in dispute being a Ph.D which makes him a cut far above his major opponent. Debate between these two men who want to lead Nigeria again in the coming years is absolutely necessary to enable us see who will best proffer solutions to the problems plaguing Nigeria as a nation. In this connection, we must not allow meritocracy be sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity because the writer has it on good authority that the All Progressives Congress presidential flagbearer is shying away from this all important presidential debate prior to the presidential election. Nigerians must be careful who they entrust the lives of over that 170 million to in the nick of time.
Let us see briefly see why this presidential debate is very important. Televised debates have been seen, in hindsight, as crucial to a challenger’s successful campaign. In liberal democracies, Britain, for instance, there was a televised debate between the contenders preceding the election that brought David Cameron to power. Recalling from dim memory, we saw it all on TV before Britons went to the polls and the power of incumbency which Gordon Brown had hoped in did not yield any fruitful dividend to give him an overwhelming victory at the polls.
Nigeria’s case must not be different. On behalf of other Nigerians who mean well for this country, I insist with all the emphasis at my command that this presidential debate be held because what Nigerians and the rest of the world want to see is a confident young Nigerian, skilled communicator who would at least appear at home on the debate stage and presumably on the world stage and not a cast of neophyte actors or uncivilized old brutes who want to subject everyone to their diabolic whims and caprices with dissenting voices being harassed, hounded and thrown into jail. We have had that bitter experience which no one is prepared to ever relive.
Words are often seen to have more substance capable of convincing voters, men who are strangers to their hearts are not hard to know during cross-questioning. Nigeria has marched past the era of use of brute force. We are no more under the jackboot of the military where anything goes. In advanced countries, for instance, modern techniques are employed for crime prevention and detection but back home in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. An investigating police officer in Nigeria often uses brute force to extort confession from the accused and some innocent people often get killed in the process resulting from hard torture. This was the same method Mr. Buhari used in killing innocent Nigerian leaders during his reign of terror as a military Head Of State. Need Buhari be reminded today that Nigeria and Nigerians have marched past that stage and the Nigerians he thinks we are have undergone a massive evolution and no more Homo sapiens of an extinct barbarian tribe that can be ruled over by sticks and cutlasses?
This presidential debate between Buhari and President Jonathan will in no small measure enable Nigerians know which of them is a self-interested plutocrat who is unaware or unconcerned by the conditions in which ordinary Nigerians live. History, I think, would be repeating itself calling to mind the disgrace suffered by Alhaji Bashir Tofa when he was trounced by the uncrowned winner of 1993 presidential election late Chief MKO Abiola in 1993 presidential debate.
I wonder how a man -Mr. Buhari- who says he alone could stabilize world oil price – a sheer display of ignorance and mediocrity- could face and possibly do better than a PhD under whose administration Nigeria rose to become Africa’s largest economy and of course the third fastest growing economy in the world!
Iyoha John Darlington, aka Lington Donovan, is a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues.
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