In January 2008, President Barack Obama during an interview with the Reno Gazette Journal noted his admiration of former U.S. President Reagan's ability to tap into the American people's desire for optimism, clarity and dynamism during the 1980 U.S. elections. It was this strategic intuition that President Obama channelled too when he tapped into the American people's need for change and a new type of politics in the November 2008 U.S. elections. Now that we have an acting president in the person of Goodluck Jonathan, and some semblance of sanity (no matter how trivial) restored to the polity, we need a candidate for 2011 that can tap into the confusion, frustration and angst that engulf us.
The timing appears right. Limping out of the PR nightmare from the misadventures of young Mutallab, we stand naked to the scrutiny of the whole world as their touch lights beam laser straight into the bizarreness of our chaotic political landscape. We have been referred to as a failed state more times than can be laughed off and have become the subject of late night jokes in the foreign media. Our “national brand” is in shambles and has been a ready target for distasteful references in TV commercials. We seem to leap from crisis to crisis and the bruising our national ego has suffered in the past months has been unbearable. Can it get any worse?
What I sense is a window of opportunity. Right now, we need someone, who can translate our collective frustrations into a vision for a sensational upset come May, next year. Yes. We currently have candidates. But to be honest, the authority of their barks of dissent is reminiscent of the whimpers of fearful puppies. We need someone bold, articulate and fearless enough to march even when he or she is warned about the dangers, that is ready to speak the truth even when it is politically inexpedient, and that is determined not to sell his or her soul for a mess of pottage to any party, godfather or cabal. When President Obama set out on his missionary journey to change America, he appeared to be a lunatic; a young rookie with a thin resume, a funny name and a ridiculously audacious chutzpah worthy of death by firing squad. But he marched on because he saw an opportunity, a certain quality of the times and a yearning among the people for a better country.
Don't get me wrong.
This is not a naïve invocation of change and lofty rhetoric with no grounding in the realities of the political jungle we live in. After all, only last month, we lost Dipo Dina, a testament to the might and power of the axis of terror. Until last week, a clique of soulless figures guarding the halls of power with their pitchforks and kobokos,
held the entire nation hostage for 78 days. But there is something unique about the times that calls for a figure Nkrumah-esque in courage. Dora Akunyili's lone dissent in a cabinet of recalcitrant opportunists and the resultant success should ring home to upright 2011 candidates that it is okay to be bold and different. Yes, there may be repercussions. In fact, you very well might die. But it seems like this time, you may succeed and you owe it to Nigerians to seize the moment and respond to history's call.
Opportunity knocks and it is crucial that we open the door, even if we have to yank it open and break down its knobs and hinges. 150 million is a lot of people; enough to shame the thieving clique and transport them to a new era where there are ready lashes for those who choose to pilfer from the nation's cookie jar. Democracy was invented to give power to the people and not to a group of self-interested elites with selfish agendas and bloated bank accounts. Opportunity knocks. The question is, who will open the door?