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Macron’s emergence in France: Lessons for Nigeria

By News Express on 11/05/2017

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A political phenomenon which is compared to the French Revolution – headed by the irrepressible General Napoleon Bonaparte – has just happened in France, thus reinforcing the strong doubts I entertain about the expression that lightening doesn’t strike twice in one place.

This phenomenal political revolution devoid of violence or rancour that I'm talking about is the 2017 French presidential election, which culminated in the emergence of the 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron as the winner, by a decisive margin. 

The independent centrist Macron reportedly scored 60.3 per cent of the votes, while his rival, Marine Le Pen got 39.7 per cent. 

In the emergence of this young but upwardly mobile politician, political lightning has struck twice and, in-fact, the symbolism of his election after such a tensed political atmospherics  has wider ramifications not just for France, but the European Union and the global community. 

Just before the second round of the Presidential poll took place, the electoral commission of France alerted the World of frenetic effort made by some hackers with suspicious links to Kremlin in Russia, to hack into the campaign systems of Mr Macron, with the overall objective of interfering, to influence the outcomes of the election. The hackers succeeded, but the quick intervention of the electoral umpires – to stop the French media from circulating the private and campaign e-mails hacked from the party office of Emmanuel Macron – contributed in no small measure to ensure that there was level-playing field for both candidates. 

Macron, who is a strong supporter of European Union (EU), is an opponent of Russian President Putin; who had invaded Ukraine and annexed a large chunk of that sovereign state in an attempt to stop the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) from gaining in-road to the Russian federation, through Ukraine.  European Union is on the side of Ukraine in the ongoing civil war with Russia. 

On the other hand, Ms Marine Le Pen is opposed to EU and, therefore, is seen as the favourite of Mr Putin, who will be pleased to see EU disintegrate. 

The victory of Emmanuel Macron is viewed as victory for a united Europe and, indeed, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is soon to undergo political baptism of fire in the soon-to-be conducted German election, heaved a sigh of relief upon learning that French voters have rejected the far right candidate, who hates European Union passionately. In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, who has called for a snap national poll in June, is happy with the outcome because she anchored her Conservative party’s campaign on seeking a strong mandate to be able to negotiate fairly with the European Union over the Brexit. If Le Pen had won, negotiations between UK and EU wouldn't have been easy, because the whole of Europe would have heaped the blame for the eventual exit of France from EU on the British voters. Thankfully, French voters have decided to remain in the European Union. Theresa May has already congratulated both Emmanuel Macron and the French voters, for their choice.

 Before analysing the implicit import of this French electoral revolution of 2017, it would be nice to refresh our minds with the fascinating story of the much-talked-about Napoleon Bonaparte, so as to more appropriately position this emerging world leader -  Emmanuel Macron - in his right place of historical honour. It will equally help to clearly underscore the implied significance, especially to Nigerians and Africans where by sit-tight rulership has destroyed the economic and democratic credentials of our continent, and has made Africa a laughing-stock in the comity of nations. 

Countries such as Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon; Chad, Congo-Kinshasha and Uganda still have political dictators who seized power while Macron was a two-year-old. 

But let’s review just a few historical events that characterised the Napoleonic era, so as to reassert the co-relationship with the contemporary French political tsunami that has just brought in the young Emmanuel Macron, who only formed his Centrist Socialist Party last year.

 In seeking verifiable information about this great French political statesman of all times, we have to consult the authoritative website known as www.biography.com. In this great work of scholarship, we learnt that the military general and first Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, France. These writers stated that Bonaparte remains one of the most celebrated leaders in the history of the West, and that he revolutionised military organisation and training, sponsored Napoleonic Code, re-organised education and established the long-lived Concordat with the papacy. 

He died on May 5, 1821, on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. Before his emergence, France had witnessed tumultuous times and high profile executions. But the comparison of Bonaparte and Macron ends, not only with the historical significance that he is the youngest president-elect since after Bonaparte. The contemporary challenges posed by mass poverty of the urban youthful population, and the incursions into France of extreme Islamic fundamentalism, can be situated side-by-side with the internal political crisis and schisms that unleashed themselves which resulted in the military take-over of political power by the ambitious Gen Bonaparte.  

As stated, the other existential nexus with the era of Bonaparte and Macron's epoch is that whereas France faced internal political squabbles and instability leading to the emergence of the military General Napoleon Bonaparte to the coveted political office as the Leader of France; France, right now, is awash with situations of near- anarchy created by the fear of terrorists. 

 For some few years now, France has witnessed major terror attacks from Islamists loyal to the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq led by Al-Bagdadi. Several law enforcement agents and journalists have met their violent deaths in the hands of these armed Islamic terrorists, made up largely of home-grown terror agents, who became radicalised from the decrepit prison walls of France or through the world- wide websites of radical Islamic terror masterminds.  

A newspaper house in Paris, which carried a cartoon of the founder of the Moslem religion and its holiest Prophet, was bombed even as dozens of journalists were killed.

 A Catholic priest was attacked by a lone-wolf and slaughtered at the altar, while distributing Holy C ommunion to congregants somewhere in France. A night-club was bombed in France by Islamists, resulting in the mass genocide of nearly 200 people clubbing at the centre of social life in Paris. 

 Francois Hollande, the outgoing French President, was almost killed in one of these high-profile terror attacks when some suicide bombers nearly invaded the National Stadium in Paris, France during an international friendly between France and another European national team. 

Again, France, just like other European nations, is witnessing a serious pressure to get the EU disintegrate since after the United Kingdom voted to exit the Union. 

Ms Le Pen, the other opponent in the second and last round of the presidential election, had played actively on the growing agitation for the dissolution of the European Union. She secured over 30 per cent of the votes in the final poll, showing that France is gravely divided ideologically and that millions of citizens still believe in exiting European Union, as campaigned by Marine Le Pen. 

But the far-right La Pen, who had since congratulated the president-elect, expressed appreciation to her supporters and promised to “lead the fight” in the France’s parliamentary elections next month. Le Pen also pledged a “profound reform” of her Front National party to create ‘a new political force.’

The media reported that although it was not clear what she meant by this, rumours are rife that the defeated presidential candidate may be planning to disband the party and build a new movement, aiming to organise “a major political re-organisation around the divide between patriots and globalists.”

 But the media analysis of the French election also shows that the winner of this epochal election doesn't have any politically-elected-office background. This is how the media presented the emergence of Emmanuel Macron: “With his victory, Macron becomes France’s youngest President and has pulled off a remarkable feat. He has never held elected office, and just over a year ago his political movement, En Marche, did not even exist.”

“His rival, the far right leader Le Pen, has brought her France-first, anti-EU Front National Party a long way. According to information from French state TV and radio monitored by The Guardian, the turnout projection of 74 per cent is the lowest in the second round of a French presidential election since 1969.

“This is not unexpected in a contest as unique as that between the independent centrist Macron and far-right Le Pen, neither of whom have the formal backing of a mainstream political group, say analysts. Supporters of Le Pen, however, interpreted the election victory of Macron as a vote for continuity.” 

Media observers say the outcome matters, not just because France is the world’s sixth biggest economy and a key member of the EU, NATO and the UN Security Council, but also because the two candidates’ worldviews could not be more different. Pollsters have predicted since the first round on April 23 that Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, former banker and economy minister, would win comfortably, possibly by more than 20 percentage points, and at 39 become France’s youngest-ever leader. He is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and – on the whole – optimistic. Le Pen, of the far-right Front National, is a nation-first protectionist, who wants to close France’s borders and abandon the euro and EU.

For us in Nigeria, and the African continent, the emergence of Macron should teach us a lesson to mainstream the active participation of young persons in politics in the electoral legal frameworks, so our nations can benefit from the academic prowess of thousands of Nigerian youngsters scattered all over the planet. Same with most African nations. For instance, some scholars have already factored in the issue of academic sophistication of France and the French people as the fundamental reason for the actualisation of this kind of political revolution,  whereby a young man with no previous electoral experience was able to form his political party and galvanize supports of mostly the young, which has in less than a year displaced all the entrenched political camps and dynasties, including the defeat of Marine Le Pen, whose father was an ideologue in the French far-right. 

“To get the import of Macron’s victory at the polls, you must understand the socio-political, social formation that made the victory possible in the first place. France is the bedrock of the Enlightenment Movement that spread through Western Europe. The Enlightenment inspired intellectual, philosophical, cultural and social movements across the globe. The ideas and principles of the Enlightenment have continued to affect French politics, culture and social lives. Thus, Macron’s victory too has strong root in the Enlightenment.”

 The above was the scholarly position of Dr Felix Akpan, a former university teacher in Nigeria who is now an academic in Massachusetts, USA. 

Macron has promised to rebuild the economy of France and give hope to the millions of young persons who feel alienated. He has also pledged to continue to extend the support of his nation to the global war on terror. 

As a youngster, Africans expect him to help the continent to recover billions of stolen money stashed in France and other European nations by political dictators of Africa. Because, by so doing, African nations will stabilise and the youth who are migrating to Europe, due to war and economic collapse of their nations, would remain in Africa and rebuild the battered continent.

As for Nigeria, the coming of this fresh politician in France should motivate the youth to pick the gauntlet and seek elective positions to reposition Nigeria to become a haven of good governance.

Nigerians are bereft of the qualities identified as good governance standards, by scholars in the book, entitled: Globalisation, National Development and the Law, jointly edited by Professors DA Guobadia and Epiphany Azinge (SAN).  

These qualities are: high living standards, access to justice and equity efficiently dispensed, access to basic amenities of life-food, clothing and shelter, guarantee of security of life and property, adequate and equal opportunities for all, good qualitative and uninterrupted education system, gainful employment, good and functional social welfare programme, listening heart, freedom of speech and guarantee of other fundamental human rights, provision of infrastructure and clement environment for economic growth and development, good and properly maintained road-networks, affordable and efficient transport system, uninterrupted power supply, atmosphere devoid of corruption and good health delivery system.  

In fact, as I write, the over 74-year-old Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has just been flown to the United Kingdom for a second round of emergency medical treatment by a team of British doctors, who had earlier in the year treated him for undisclosed ailments for 50 days in London at public expense; even as our public health-care is criminally neglected and public fund for health frittered and stolen and hidden in the Western world, including France, by politicians in the  previous and current administrations. 

The way to achieve all these milestones listed above by the duo of Guobadia and Azinge is for patriotic young Nigerians to drop ethnic and religious sentiments aside and embrace active politics, to change the current evil status quo, whereby those in position of political authority deploy these privileges to appoint only persons from their ethno-religious backgrounds into strategic offices. 

Buhari’s administration has taken nepotism to a sinister height, by alienating the South-east of Nigeria totally from holding any strategic defence portfolio, against the constitutional principles of federal character. 

 The extreme divisiveness present in Nigeria now manifesting in the uncontrolled violence on farmers by Fulani pastoralists can only be checked when the youngsters can embrace positive patriotic politics with globalised ideology, patterned after the manifesto of service to our sovereign state and the promotion of world peace, such as are in the manifesto encapsulated by the newly-elected French President, Emmanuel Macron. Nigerians who are now fascinated about how such a young man emerged as the President of one of the world's strongest nuclear powers should remember too that in Canada, there is another young man by name Mr Justin Trudeau, who is the political leader of that strong democracy. Trudeau was born on December 25, 1971. 

He was a little boy when in the early 70's Nigeria's military ruler, General Yakubu Gowon, visited Canada and the father of Trudeau headed the delegation that received Gowon, and the little Justin was with his dad. But till date, the contemporary of Gowon are still in charge of Nigeria with Gowon himself frequently visiting the Nigerian seat of power. 

Let us work hard at the enthronement of genuine democracy whereby we would think Nigeria first; and like former US President Barak Obama, who became the first-ever African American President of the strongest nation in the world, let's sing: Yes We Can and, ensure that come 2019, we witness the arrival of genuine young democrats into strategic national and sub-national elective offices, so as to register the name of Nigeria as a genuine global power. 

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via doziebiko@yahoo.com

Source News Express

Posted 11/05/2017 5:01:12 PM

 

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