By Afolabi Aribigbola
The national space in Nigeria in recent times has witnessed a barrage of unhealthy accusations and rebuttals among the major political gladiators towards and after the recent 2023 general elections in Nigeria. Some of the embarrassing trending accusations and counter accusations boarder on forgery and falsification of academic records among others. Surprisingly, some of these accusations were extended beyond the shore of Nigeria for the purpose of discrediting opponent so that they could be declared the President of Nigeria.
This unfortunate development is still unabated with more damaging and embarrassing disclosure about the major presidential candidates in the 2023 elections. I watched and considered passionately the unfolding events particularly those that involved the Presidential candidates. I ponder on the consequences and I begin to ask questions, why the unprecedented fight to finish syndrome amongst the candidates or why the win at all costs syndrome by the candidates and in whose interest? Is current degrading tirade of damaging disclosure necessary and is it in the interest of the candidates or Nigeria? If it is in the interest of Nigeria, do we need to destroy the reputation of all the candidates and that of the country in the global community?
The above and the scenarios playing out in the country since the February 2023 elections motivated one to look at the concepts of self-interest vis a vis the national interest with the current conducts and tendency of the Presidential candidates and their followers. What then is self-interest and national interest and how do they interrogate the current damaging disclosure in the public space about the Presidential candidates. Why are the candidates projecting self-interest over and above national interest in a world where national interest is the ultimate societal goal. Also, how can one classify the post-election 2023 activities of the major political parties in the country. I must not fail to submit from the outset that the present intense altercation and damaging actions to obtain power were not motivated by national interest but by selfish narrow interest of some individuals and their groups. We therefore examine the term self-interest and national interest. Self-interest has been described as anything done for personal gain. It involves projecting one’s personal interest or advantage especially when pursued without regard for others. On the other hand, national interest relates essentially to the interest of a state or a nation to achieve its goals and objectives. These societal goals and objectives could encompass social, economic, political and security objectives. They are basically created goal of the government for securing a country’s security, economic well-being, socio-cultural values, military and international political goals. Therefore, if one relates the above meaning of self and national interests with current activities of the political class in Nigeria, one can safely conclude that they are pursuing self-interest rather than national interest as being portrayed by them. As a result, their overwhelming quest for power has relegated the goal of securing and guarantee the well-being of Nigerians to the background. Indeed, it is not out of place to contest outcomes of elections but the dimension or turn of events of exposing the entire country into ridicule in the eye of the global community is clearly an unacceptable one and at the best a self-serving effort. In the last few months, all what the political gladiators are concerned with have been who becomes the President of the country so that they can benefit themselves, families and cohorts. Whereas more fundamental issue of insecurity, unprecedented economic crisis and deterioration in moral values and poverty that have reduced many Nigerians to beggars and criminals are left unattended to because of the overriding of fight for a mandate that can only reside in one person or group at a time. These issues that should be paramount and which requires solutions have been relegated for hot contest for power. The consequences have been decline in the fortune of the country, escalation of insecurity and further decline in the country’s image due to damaging information about the leaders of the country.
In addition the fact that Nigeria and Nigerians are going through hard times that should interest the leaders of all persuasions especially the opposition parties to seek solution to them have unfortunately not attracted their attention but to obtain power at all costs. At the centre is personal interest as against collective interest that is the hallmark of leadership. In Nigeria except for those that obtained independence for the country, most people seek power for personal fulfillment of being President or other positions in the most populous black nation in the world. Indeed if the self-interest of these candidates are subsumed in the national interest of solving the humongous problems of insecurity, social, economic and environmental crisis in the country, they will not go to the extent of not just externalizing a local national issue, they will be concerned with how to get the country out of the woods. As the major gladiators are fighting to become the President of the country, her ultimate goal for a better and prosperous Nigeria as enshrine in the constitution of the land are not being addressed as anticipated.
With hindsight and amidst the various vituperation, expositions and damaging reports and attacks from the political gladiators and their supporters, can one conclude that they are self-serving or serving the national interest? This is because at what point does self-interest transcend or snowball into national interest, does the current initiatives and efforts to discredit the President and other presidential candidates have implications on the image of Nigeria? Beside destroying the image of the country, it does not give room for solving the crisis facing all sectors of the economy of the country. Mind you the country has been having a number of negative reports and activities that made persons carrying Nigeria green passport to be treated differently with unkind disposition and sometimes ridiculed among other passengers when on international travels.
I will conclude that with the various attacks and counter attacks by the Presidential candidates in the 2023 elections were all geared towards personal interest of being accorded the president of Nigeria with all the respects and pecks of office and their cohorts, cabal and associates and not because they wish to salvage the country from its present predicament and hydra headed seemingly intractable problems. The reasons for this conclusion was that with the revelations so far portraying the leaders and people of the country as fraudsters and documents forgers has the potency to demean and make international community to continue to look down on the country and her people. It also appeared that our political leaders have failed to acknowledge the complex mixture of ingredients that make up national interest and pursue it. The leaders should operate beyond their self-interest to graduate to imbibing the attributes of good leaders by seeking more national interest as well as pursue them. They need to drop the toga of combative intense struggle to just wrestle power to focus on how to grow and develop the country. They need to focus on addressing the escalating crisis in the country. In sane climes, prudent leaders will relegate struggling for offices to join forces to address the problems of their society. Therefore, beyond the “roforofo’ and uncherished fight for power, political leaders must show concern to the goals and aspirations of Nigeria and Nigerians as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the country. Anything beside this is self-serving and such does not make for overall national development.