The struggle over political leadership in Chanchaga Local Government Area of Niger state presents an alarming scenario that calls for a deeper retrospection about the onus of leadership. Political philosophers for centuries have opined that leadership is an act of service to society and humanity. If this was to be true and it is indeed true that leadership is an act of service, then the recent happenings in Chanchaga beggars for clarity given the theatrics of manipulations that we continue to witness in the months leading to the general elections in February and March 2023.
The quest for political leadership in Chanchaga seems to be turning into a battlefield of money bags and the powerful in the zone who believe that it is their birth right to force their wills against those of the people, the society they purportedly seek to serve. Repeatedly, we have witnessed an unhealthy demonstration of power and money in Chanchaga politics where the will of the people appears to have been overturned by the manipulations of a collective few who want to lord it over the critical mass of the people of Chanchaga.
While politics is a game of power, it cannot be said that the power and influence of a minority supersedes the goodwill and aspirations of the majority who are the true owners of power in a functional democracy. The will of the people is supreme in a democracy but this does not seem to be the case in Chanchaga.
Dr. Mustapha Jibril has come to embody the aspirations of the people of Chanchaga with his humane and altruistic leadership which is very much appreciated across the zone and the state given his wide acceptance as a man of the people. However, we have seen twice how the political elite in the zone seems to be bent on subverting the will of the people by denying him the opportunity to represent his people in bringing about the quality change that they have longed for years now. The continuous willingness of the super powers to undermine the will of the people is akin to holding a coup against the people of Chanchaga.
Firstly, the APC primary for the House of Representatives left a soar taste in the mouth of the people when it was obvious that they had been shortchanged in the process that saw the people’s true representative Dr. Jibril losing the primary election to the money bags in the zone. And to compensate for this unfair defeat and injustice, Jibril was persuaded to accept his fate as the will of God, and to contest instead for the chairmanship of Chanchaga LGA, he did and won the election. Barely a few months after his victory, we were inundated yet again with the news of his dethronement as chairman through a court judgment that is as controversial as his primary election defeat.
The court judgement has been met with condescending reactions as many have described it as emanating from a jaundiced conscience. How do you take power from a man that was duly elected and give it to a man that has been allegedly said did not participate in the primary election? How do you enthrone a man against the wishes and desires of the people in a democracy?
To make matters worse, it is alleged that the judge declared that the judgement is not contestable. How do you declare a judgment as non-constestable when the avenues of justice have not been exhausted in seeking redress, when the Appeal Court and Supreme Court of Nigeria exist to ensure that parties to any matter receive a fair hearing? This is quite unfair.
Perhaps, what is more disheartening in the entire saga is the boastful remarks being attributed to the supposed winning political camp that there is nothing Dr. Jibril and anyone can do about the judgement and what is appears a subversion of justice and the will of the people. It is appalling that in a democracy, this type of anti-people agenda still holds sway in today’s Nigeria. More threatening is the fact that the people whose will is being rubbished appear to be helpless and incapable of fighting for their rights. But as we know a man can secure power by force but not the goodwill of the people which is the most important asset of true leadership.
While the money bags and super powers may have taken over power through whatever means available to them, Dr. Jibril will continue to win the hearts of the people. And the good people of Chanchaga will continue to view this ugly development as a trial of justice. History as we know will always prevail against those who seek to undermine the will of the people. As we wait to see how this show of power and money will end, Dr. Jibril must continue to have faith in his people whose love he enjoys freely and in God who bestows the ultimate power.
Liam writes from Minna, Niger state