Change Will Come But We Must All Be Patient
“God will not change the condition of a people unless they change what is their hearts.” – Holy Qur'an
In the run up to the 2015 election, Nigeria found itself at a boiling point. Not only were prophets of doom waiting to see the outcome of their prediction on Nigeria's disintegration, following that election but also the massive humanitarian crisis that would follow such impending doom. Nigeria has always been full of surprises. Not many had thought we would survive the 1967-1970 fratricidal war, one which cost us beyond monetary terms the lives of young men and women who would have contributed immensely to our developmental progress. While other countries had faced similar wars in the past, they are yet to get over it till date. The Sudan is a case in point here. Even as we recognise that the civil war has failed to answer wide ranging questions till date, it reminds us of the resilient spirit of the Nigerian. This is a country whose complexities have been rather a challenge to its development such that even if Jesus Christ were to conduct elections in this country, he would have failed woefully (apologies to Baba Iyabo). Ours is a country which has survived one crisis or the other. We have maimed ourselves in several coup d'états, hacked ourselves to death in ethno-religious crisis (Maitatsine and Boko Haram), burned our properties (Operation Wetie), cheated our people (subsidy removals), promoted anti-people policies, made our people poorer, stolen from ourselves, assassinated our best hands, killed innocent lives (Aluu five), embarrassed our people outside and made mockery of our existence. For so long, Nigeria did not have it good. Not many in this writer's generation have anything good to say about the Nigerian state. What this presupposes is that the Nigerian state has been under bondage and can only take Nigerians to free itself from that bondage. We are our own worst enemies, we seek to destroy ourselves, fight ourselves and take pride in seeing others suffer. It is an irony really in a country that prides itself as one of the most religious. There is something fundamentally wrong with the Nigerian state and its people which we are yet to discover. Until we do this, we may never get to Eldorado.
The 2015 election gave rise to a number of contentious issues which sadly have not been looked into today. As one of the most politically charged election in the history of this country, it is quite surprising that the electoral body and the government of the day have failed in their responsibilities to begin a massive enlightenment and campaign against all forms of electoral malfeasance that characterised that election. This is a period Nigerians need an everyday orientation on what constitutes a viable electoral process. We are still to understand that elections are not worth the blood of any politician, yet find voters in armed contest against one another to get politicians into power. The recent gubernatorial election in Kogi and Bayelsa states and in Rivers are a sad commentary in electioneering in Nigeria. If elections are becoming inconclusive today, it means the electoral body and the Nigerian state have not gotten it right as far as viable elections are concerned in this country. It in fact, leaves a sour taste in the mouth, one which we must begin to cure as what happened in 2015 and recently in some of these states may be a child's play come 2019.
Having said this, it is trite to say that the current government at the centre has really not started on a good footing. A lot of things seem to have gone haywire, with disappointments hovering over the faces of expectant Nigerians who voted for Change. Yes, it is true that politicians are great liars who promise to build castles in space but in Nigeria, we do not expect any less. It was in the 2015 election that the now rested largest political party in Africa swore to gullible voters that it would speed up its Transformation Agenda if voted for a second term. Today, we all know what that 'transformation agenda' would have done had an extra 5 million voted for that party. Similarly, the current government in power had told us that it was going to pay 5000 Naira to millions of jobless youths in the country if voted into power. Some of us who are still jobless have been waiting endlessly for this policy not to summersault after one year in office. The APC government had promised what they summed up as Change even when this meant changing our economy from bad to worse as we see it today. But the question: have we really seen the effect of change as promised by the APC led government? Have we been hoodwinked into voting for solutions politicians never had in the first place? With the current realities in Nigeria, is it not glaring that we have been double-crossed by the very change-agents who promised us a good life after 4 years of ineptitude? A lot of questions have been popping up since the emergence of the Buhari led government, many of which we are yet to get viable answers from especially when you have a Ministry of Information and Media Team in the Presidency that have shown incompetence and lack of coordination in information dissemination.
There is no doubt that in the first year of President Buhari's administration, things have looked bad but not gloomy. Why we assume so is because no government is judged in one year! While we hope to see a silver lining soon, what we have seen in the last couple of months has not been encouraging. At a time the economy remains downbeat with further pressures stemming from the fall and instability in crude oil prices, nothing can be more depressing than this. While we are trying to recover from an economy strangulated by fiscal indiscipline of the past, we cannot be hit by fuel and power shortages at the same time. Nigerians have suffered enough not to have fuel and power which are two basic needs of the poor. It is unacceptable! Not many Nigerians want to earn a fat salary like those in the National Assembly or Pension Office but a life where basic amenities and needs are available. It is therefore, understandable why many Nigerians today, most of whom voted for change and those who were pretenders to change, now appear disappointed.
It is however, noteworthy to state that of all the challenges we face today as a nation under the current government, we must give kudos to them for two major feats. While the economy remains troubled and the battle to restore power and fuel rages, it is exciting to note the success recorded in the fight against Boko Haram and corruption. Indeed, the fight against Boko Haram has been 'technically' won (apologies to Lai Muhammed) and we are no more troubled by the various 'tactical manoeuvres' taken by our gallant soldiers in the past. The once timid Nigerian army have today gotten their confidence back and without doubt, reduced insurgency in that part of Nigeria to the barest minimum. We no longer hear of massive bomb attacks in private and public spaces. The victory recorded in the last few months cannot be quantified. It is certain with the pace at which the army is going on routing Boko Haram; this evil will surely become a thing of the past in the intervening months. This for keen observers is 'Change' as exemplified by President Buhari during his campaign. It was a cardinal point raised at the time which today has seen the light of the day. Never in our history have we had it so bad where a few misguided elements would hold us in ransom. Never in our history should such occur again! The North East has suffered enough!
The fight against corruption today has remained contentious. Contentious as it may seem, it is worthy to note that we are on the verge of new era in Nigeria as far as fighting corruption is concerned. Truly, we are yet to get convictions, nobody has been sentenced or hanged but in a long time, no leader has shown total repugnance to corruption as President Buhari has done. We may not have gotten to that level of prosecuting everyone who stole from the Nigerian people but with the pace at which corruption cases come up daily, it is evident we will get to a time when corruption will be killed before it kills us. At no time have we heard those who misappropriated funds willingly coming out to return such. The revelations coming out from the massive looting of funds meant for security is enough to say change is here. That is even one aspect. By the time others in the pension office, customs, NNPC and other government agencies come up, we will realise how much a few have stolen from many and why this government have done enough to begin a process of cleansing our country of the hydra-headed monster called corruption.
Those who claim change is the only constant thing in life didn't mince words. But change itself does not occur in a day. The Chinese did not come this far in one day; neither did Botswana achieve greatness in one night. Nigeria is a complex nation and it will take years before we achieve uhuru. No matter the divide we fall into, we must give kudos to the government on these two notable achievements despite its imperfections. Nigeria is in critical times. The political class must learn to live humbly and show much restraint. They must begin to account to the people because times have changed. Nigerians today are more than ready to take politicians to the gutters if they fail in their responsibilities to protect and lead well. Nigerians too must change themselves. It is not enough to blame the political class when we too promote impunity and support subversion. Not wanting to appear immodest, it is certain Change is here, it will take time but we must all be patient to enjoy it together.
Written by Raheem Oluwafunminiyi