You see what is happening between PDP and APC in Cross River State is exactly what I have always prayed for. Boisterous opposition is a real threat to the people in charge. Essentially not because one is better or best than the other, but because there is a formidable contest. Best men are only found in weddings not in politics. This contest has been missing in the State since after the 1999-2003 cycle after the APP became nearly emasculated by Governor Duke.
The APP had a majority in the House of Assembly and also produced the Speaker while Duke from PDP was Governor and that was when Cross River saw what we still refer to as development today. That is the way democracy grows. By fierce competition of opposing views. That uncertainty about where the balance will tilt because of the muscle of the contenders is what propels performance.
Since the language changed to “we are one political family” in Cross River, a healthy and nutritious democratic supplement like dissent was not only suffocated, it became stigmatized as rebellion and disloyalty. Those who hold dissent became targeted and ostracized from participation and gradually, the measurement for quality leadership shifted from performance base to loyalty base. The fear of losing everything without a formidable alternative “political family” to swim into, nourished and entrenched fear and trepidation in the hearts of otherwise, brave people who could have staked their necks.
This anomaly also became the acceptable standard even for the younger leaders. Because they have been buffeted with the one-way experience only, they have also been made to think and believe that dissent is not good or that people hold dissenting views only because they hate and they are growing up with that notion, yet hoping to dominate an environment where dissent is the catalyst for growth.
This mix-up has detracted so much from our progress for over two decades of democracy. It has also stolen from us the opportunity to grow and nurture leaders with tested ability to negotiate consensus and make healthy compromises for the public good. Democracy’s beauty is its plurality. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is not yet a democrat. If holding an opposing view from your own or the dominant one still makes you agitated, you should be living somewhere else and not among democrats.
Plurality is the life wire of democracy. If there is no strong plural to the prevalent idea, it is something else and not democracy. The plural idea must not just be a walkover. It must also have the near equal strength of character, ideology, economic power, and the balance of force to be able to constantly pitch the other side to their best and we must seek to grow the plural consciously for the good of democracy.
The role of the online media in the exponential sensitization and mobilization of public opinion in this regard cannot also be over-emphasized. There are 3.9million internet-enabled devices in Cross River State from official records of NBS. The promptness and speed with which the online news vendors have latched on this to drive the conversation in the State have not only relegated the mainstream media to a second place, it has also kept those in power more vulnerable and on their toes.
We must continue to build on these little planks that we have nailed and consistently fuel the embers of fierce debate and contestation between the dominant parties to make them realize that serving the people is the only means to sustain their relevance or the plural will suffice.
Before now, the upcoming by-elections will come and go and not many will notice apart from the gladiators and their supporters. Today, election in only two LGAs in Northern Cross River is springing so many developments both within and outside our State. That’s a healthy development and I can only continue to be happy.
My further admonition again is that, in all we do as the elections approach, we must eschew violence. Violence is a crime and must be avoided and reported.