It is hope rising in Nigeria as the opposition party PDP rose from prolonged political hospitalisation to stage a return, wage psychological warfare on the ruling APC similar to what the opposition has just done in South Africa. Although a No Confidence vote on President Jacob Zuma failed last Tuesday, it held the president and the ANC to account. Or, at least, it reminded them of that. There is no better evidence of democracy in action in that.
It is still too early to say that the PDP is comfortably forgetting 16 years of taking Nigeria for granted because the party is just coming back to political life but former President Jonathan’s disjointed empiricism about accomplishments and the quantum of corruption under PDP could be counter productive if not carefully handled.
Critics would, however, give it to the PDP in terms of acting as a symbol of national unity, in fact in a manner as if innate to it. Critics would equally give it to the party the status of an unbeatable discourse of remaking Nigeria- the transformation agenda slogan. The question though is whether PDP has the practitioners of that discourse. The last six years of the party when that discourse inferiorised alternative discourses within the party didn’t show it does. Yet, it is its most important contribution to politics so far.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, Nigerians do not have to worry whether the PDP is discursively competent or not as the country has two political parties to choose from. In 2019, the winner will be the party whose candidate fires the imagination of Nigerians by the capacity to break down such radical and collectively empowering discourses of power. The quality of newness of the presidential candidate of each of the two parties will be the other key criterion of success. The loser will be the party whose candidate offers nothing or very little of these two definitive assets. Rigging will not save any party then because postmodern politics has its own limits for such behaviour. That is why the world is witnessing what is coming out of elections in Europe, North America and Asia, (Indonesia and Philippines, in particular).
In this respect, it is very unfortunate that all the king’s men and king’s horses could not stop post election violence in Kenya. Not only that people are killed, it is such developments that add up to the image of Africa as a people that can be dismissed. Since the investment the continent is hooked unto for the transition to modernity is with those who hold such opinion, it will be stupid to say that such image of Africa doesn’t matter. It is difficult to understand how the Kenyan elite did not learn anything from the groundwork of peace that preceded the 2015 election in Nigeria when it was suspected that there could be violence. Or pick a lesson from the wonders of elite pact in Ghana.
A critic of former President Jonathan of Nigeria argued furiously last week but not as his critic this time, saying instead that Nigeria would have found itself in a violent ditch if he stuck to staying put. Perhaps, irrespective of the big masquerades or Jonathan’s own personal fears that underpinned that concession, it might be worth noting that Jonathan did claim the high ground after acting low for a long time. That is the ambiguity of reality and the meaninglessness of meaning that rationalists cannot understand. In democracy terms, Africa is perhaps rising!