“We do not need strong men in power, we need strong institutions”. These were the words of renown former American President Barrack Obama on leadership and sustainability.
The message we can deduce in the current travails rocking America’s democracy is in diverse views: first, no system is entirely perfect; and secondly, it is good to build a system that is capable of taking care of procedural error in exclusive legal prevalence, devoid of prejudice and sentiments.
It has been said that intelligence, hard work, brilliance and knowledge can take someone to the peak of his ambition, but the character is the sole currency required in the market for fame sustainability and legendary. The position of POTUS is the greatest one in the world today, yet it cannot be managed by a CEO attitude. The people are the eventual owners of the total sum of the power designated in the hands of the President.
The GOP and crucial allies of Mr Trump failed him in the end because they considered their allegiances first to the nation, and not the President or his exalted office. The people first in all cases and by every means!
Donald Trump went too far by launching an attack on the most cherished and revered democratic hub – the capitol. That was an unforgivable sin to the nation and the collectivity of its guiding institutions. Trump started digging his grave from day one in office and ended up sealing his coffin at the capitol, becoming the first American President to be impeached two times in a single term.
It is no longer news that President Trump is suffering from the consequences of his character in office, but the good thing is that America’s error did not require an external instrument to be corrected, it was reset from within.
The system is in auto-pilot for sustainability because while power assumption was built on efforts and competence, the sanctity of the nation’s norms and ideals were built on the sound institutional framework, one that can withstand all weather and turbulence of human excesses.
Back home, the bigger responsibility is in the hands of the people. The leaders we elect are a true replica of our thoughts and decisions. The Nigerian masses must rise to the task by putting the nation first, voting for politicians who will defend their common cause. Our established institutions are our greatest assets and hope; we must protect them with our powers which lie in our votes.
As a former lawmaker and progressive democrat, I can affirm that the legislature and judiciary are the greatest legal frames that uphold an ideal system, not even executive offices. If well protected, a nation can sustain its democracy and hope for justice and fairness in every circumstance, no matter how long it takes to attain them. This is possible if we always put the nation first and ready to defend the constitution against any partisan or sectional interest.
It is unfortunate how most leaders in Africa override constitutions to perpetuate themselves in power. Currently, in Uganda, it is sad to see how to sit tight President Yoweri Museveni who seized power 35 years ago still wrestle grand-child Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) who was only four years old when Museveni came into power in 1986.
The emphasis is actually not in the age gap but constitutional manipulation that would see Mutseveni outliving seven American Presidents with his controversial win in the just concluded elections that returned him to the office for the sixth time.
In error, America is still a model of democracy. The current scenario portrays America as a nation that is capable of correcting self despite the fatality of Trump’s manipulations of power and attempt to riddle America’s democracy with dictatorship.
In few days, the President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in, and the message he resonates is not party based but America of a collective dream. Actors in lesser democracies have something to learn from the American norms.
As we prepare for 2023 elections in Nigeria, we can change the cause of our nation for good. If we grow our democracy adequately, good governance is capable of taking care of the nation’s challenges such as insecurity, corruption, poverty and social developments.
Hon Segun Olulade was former Lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly and President/Founder Eleniyancares foundation.