On Open Letters, Passing The Buck and Democracy as an Overrated System of Government


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In case you are just landing from the moon or you have been living in a cave all your life, let me inform you that President Goodluck Jonathan has finally dropped his own reply to former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s diss track, sorry I meant open letter. While I have my doubts as to whom really wrote the letter, I hope that it wasn’t the president who wrote the letter himself. If he did, then the question is should replying an open letter take precedence over the business of governance? Of course in my opinion the answer is no, but contrary opinions are welcome.  Whether the president wrote the letter himself or not, the tone style and grammar of that letter is a negative reflection of the quality of people president GEJ has in his cabinet. However, let us not get pedantic about grammar or style here,  that is not where the piece is going. However for the purpose of argument let us say he wrote it
     GEJ’s letter  here is a long list  of accusations on the things Obasanjo did, or failed to do in his eleven years as the president of Nigeria, especially the eight in which he was a democratically elected president(see why I called it a diss track earlier?), and what he is currently doing now as a retired head of state.  He mentions the Siemens and Halliburton scandals, the origins of Boko Haram, Obasanjo’s non performance on militancy, his role in the PDP crisis and sundry issues. While I do not totally agree with the writer’s position, I understand the intent of the letter.  I agree a hundred percent that people should be made to take responsibility for the things they did when they were in power, and I believe that it is improper and hypocritical for a former president to turn himself into a development advocate, as if the rot didn’t start from his tenure in the first place. The Siemens and the Halliburton scandals that the letter mentions particularly got my attention. The said scandals happened during Obasanjo’s tenure, but the last time we checked the people directly concerned with these issues haven’t been prosecuted yet. It still lies there like an open sore of a country, festering and unattended to. Why then should it be used as a stick to beat the Obasanjo government with if the Goodluck Government has not done anything about it?
This is the kind of buck passing that has not allowed us to even get out of the starting blocks of development. Leadership is about the person in charge taking responsibility. This “if it didn’t start in my tenure, then it is not my business,” or  “ the problem started in your tenure, so you have no right to blame me if I don’t know what to do about it” mentality is why after fourteen years of democracy, we have still not moved out of first gear in terms of development. Former President Obasanjo is guilty of exactly the same offence, the one of sanctimoniously  trying to look for a scapegoat for his shortcomings, but he is no longer in charge, he is now only a normal citizen ( at least if only in name).  Jonathan should know that all the finger pointing and Too Qoque arguments will not get him anywhere. I hope sooner or later he would realize that this is his watch and nobody will help him to shoulder any responsibilities. Harry S. Truman,33rd president of the United States had a sign on his desk “The Buck stops here” how wonderful will it be if Jonathan’s advisors can advise him to do the same, instead of looking for whom to blame for his incompetence.  At least he should take a cue from Obasanjo and wait until he is out of Aso Rock before he can have the freedom to point out who is not doing what right. All the blame shifting he is doing now is just making him look more clueless.

This brings me to the point of the system of government called Democracy, and this is not just a Nigerian problem either.  Because we as a people people are free to elect their leaders in a democracy, every four years (or eight), we elect someone who undoes what his predecessor has done (He may even add an Open letter to remind the general public that the latter did rubbish in his tenure), someone who has no inclination to be responsible, who throws shit around as he pleases, because he knows that his tenure would soon be over and it would be the successor’s job to mop up  the shit he has thrown around . What is more? He would even be free to make himself a human rights activist and criticize his successor for not riding the country of the pile of feaces and the bad smell. Then in four years we repeat the process, and so we move around in circles like Google+ (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).
      Sometimes I wonder if a dictatorship or communism can be a viable alternative in for this thing called democracy, at least the people in charge know they are in it for the long term and thus, they would be obliged to take on some responsibility. However we all know that that system has its own problems, because being aware of your responsibilities does not mean you will take care of them. A system of government is only as good as the people who run it. Not so?
 

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