Democracy largely is an ideology of great expectations of leadership by the electorate who elected leaders into power in the hope that promises made during campaigns will be met. When elected leaders meet such expectations or even part of it, the pendulum of satisfaction and fulfillment swings up and down. When expectations are not met at all there is at first indignation, leading to despondency then the anger of betrayal makes the political arena tense and at times violent. It follows therefore that it is better and even safer that elected leaders keep their election promises so that they can gain the confidence and support of the electorate and keep their power and the perquisites of office deservedly instead of attracting the hostility, distrust and contempt of those who elected them by not keeping their election promises. Today I look at the ways and means that some leaders in some nations are using to ensure that they do not lose the confidence of their people because they elected them into office in good faith to keep election promises and make life better and comfortable for them.
It is always better here that charity should start at home in Nigeria where a new cabinet was sworn in this week with fanfare in the capital in Abuja. We shall examine the level of expectations in the land on the new cabinet more so that the government is a re elected one that has a score card already on its performance in office in the first term from 2015 to 2019. That certainly creates a spring board on the quality of expectations or hope of Nigerians on what is in the offing for them in the next four years.
We go to Italy too where a leader of a coalition government has literally broken the coalition and brought the government down because he feels that the electorate is in tune with his kept promises and he thinks it would be propitious for him to call for an election for now so that he can win and do away with his coalition partners. We look at the two leaders of the Western world, namely Britain and the US as they cope with political situations and unique leaders that have divided their stable governments sharply if not wildly in a way that even they are shocked at how and why they got to the messy impasse they have found themselves. Brexit is rocking Britain with Boris Johnson behaving as if he is the Messiah to make Britain great again when EU leaders have told him bluntly that they are ready for the specter of No Deal he has used to get into power as PM. Donald Trump, the maverick US President has boasted always that he has kept his campaign promises but now that the economy is shaky he is not fazed as he even joked that as President of the US in these unusual times, he is the ‘chosen one ‘.
We go back again to Nigeria where a new government is in place with many of the old Ministers still on board. The fresh faces too are not that new as some have been governors before. In terms of expectations the old hands could search their conscience on their last performance and beat their chests if they think they have satisfied Nigerians in terms of expectations or bow their heads in shame if they know they have not. Generally expectations are low of this new cabinet in the nation. There is a saying that you do not change a winning team but this was not one in the last four years and there is no need to mention names or portfolios. The issues of insecurity, terrorism, banditry, herdsmen and farmers are still untouched in terms of their savagery and pervasiveness in Nigeria. The fact that at the time the Ministers were being sworn Nigeria’s borders were closed to check the influx and menace of illegal immigrants threatening our collective security is ominously symbolic. That really is a big challenge for the new Minister of Interior former Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola. Indeed there is a saying that it does not matter how the snake is killed as long as it is killed and its menace removed. Unfortunately the ‘snake’ marauding our citizenry is wildly alive and well. Our hope is that the new government will kill it permanently so that Nigerians can pray and clap for government and its ministers as they go into the government’s second term, hopefully to meet the expectations of the Nigerian nation, this time around.
In Italy the Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who has become popular with the implementation of Italy’s anti Immigrants policy became opportunistic to become PM by precipitating a crisis that forced the PM Guisseppe Conte to resign and for his coalition partner to seek new coalition partners. What interests us here is that Salvini is savouring the joy and strength of living up to the expectations of the electorate and is cashing on that to get even more power. That really is how a democracy should run. The fuel of a vibrant democracy should be the realization of election promises by those elected into office and Salvini is gambling on that right now in Italy and I wish him luck and hope that his huge democratic gambit does not back fire as a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
With regard to Britain and the US and the menace of Brexit and a Trump presidency I see the two leaders as two sides of the same coin. Trump even before Boris Johnson came to power was in favour of Brexit saying loud and clear that the US would make a better trade deal with Britain such that it would never regret leaving the EU. Boris Johnson on the other hand is holding the British electorate by the jugular that it voted to leave the EU referendum and that it cannot change its mind and would leave by October this year deal or no Deal. That too is living up to the expectation of the British people inherent in the referendum result, no matter how close. The fact that the implementation of Brexit is difficult does not invalidate the expectation of the British people in such a way that a second referendum would be required. That again shows that democracy is not always a bed of roses as the British electorate wrestles tirelessly with its own Brexit decision and expectations.
Similarly, the US President Donald Trump should be commended, no matter how grudgingly for living up to his election promises on Immigration and a buoyant economy. He has also brought China to its knees to respect intellectual property and control piracy in its economy and internationally. Trump has been his government’s most vocal trumpet and talking drum of his government’s achievements and he has been helped immensely by the technology of tweeter which has helped him a lot to take on both domestic and foreign enemies and detractors alike. Regardless of his offensive utterances there is something to be admired in a leader like Donald Trump who brags about his fulfillment of the campaign promises he made before coming to power. That really is the essence of leadership in a democracy anywhere in the world. Once again long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.