Before another general elections come
In less than a year and half, another round of general elections will be conducted across the nation. Surely, 2010 is a crucial year to test our political maturity and electoral prudence. Anambra State is going to be the beginning. As this write-up is being composed, several hundreds of politicians have already begun covert consultations, realignments with old political allies and perfected strategies to at least make a successful outing without losing out completely.
It must be bore in the mind that settling by the political bulldozers and yielding to accept whatever compensations by those who cannot withstand the pressure or the spoilers is part and parcel of the political joker.
However, it is not out of gumption the assertion that politics in Nigeria is a very hard task and that to be able to overcome the inherent hurdles and meet up with the hardship therein as well as withstand the hardship it inflicts on the electorate, the politician and the informed electorate are left to either toe the path of morality and its resultant failure or follow suit with the politimania of do or die to succeed.
Those who feel optimistic that there is a way out for our political logjam are not fairly out of the line. As philosophers would postulate, no man is hundred percent evil or hundred percent good. This is true with politicians. Every human being is a political animal at different levels. Even a baby plays its own politics. So it is quite unfair to classify all Nigeria politicians as evil, inhuman or even traditionally uncultured. There is atom of goodness in every man.
State governors, members of the national and state assemblies, local government chairmen and councilors and others are gearing up to the election. Or do we say selection again? Those who have been in the positions cannot, in Nigeria a typical Nigerian setup, have a second thought not to seek reelection. We so much believe in continuity for stability, even as events have shown that continuity has yielded not much for us. We know that some will continue by do or die means while others will win at the courts.
But before the voting begins, let us examine certain areas of general interest for Nigerians as citizens in any part of the country they choose to live. What is security of live and property like in each state? Human rights organizations should do a holistic review state by state of those who have lost their lives and properties to man-created disasters under whatever disguise and the measures taken by the state leadership to curb it. Some states have really witnessed huge losses of Nigerian citizens and their hard-earned belongings to no immediate cause of theirs and without much effective attention.
One who has human feelings cannot withstand the eyesores at our schools and learning environments. Many of the state governments pay lip services to our children. All of them made good promises to look into the affairs of our children and the youths. The best way to look after our children is by giving them qualitative education in good learning environments. Who can sincerely admit that anything like that exists in some states? Children still learn under trees. They are still being taught by incompetent teachers who are uncompromisingly underpaid. Many of our children in public schools learn without text books and other learning materials. Some of the states proclaim free education but extortion by the public school authorities excel.
This issue of education is very fundamental to our growth but seem to be the least sector that receives real attention by the governments. One funny thing in Nigeria is that if we seek for a law that would mandate high budgetary allocations to education, the evil minded people will struggle to become teachers and school administrators. But no amount put in education can be regarded wasted. The problem mostly lies in the public school administrations. What can one expect from a class of more than one hundred students? What magic can the teacher perform to reach out to all of them? Qualitative education demands a cordial relation between the teacher and the student. In such over-populated classes, not much could be taught or learnt.
Some of our schools with very scanty number of buildings harbour nursery, primary and secondary sections for both morning and afternoon sections. This is laughable and it depicts the level of our unpreparedness to make education a compulsory rudiment to our future development. In this regard, WAEC and NECO can tell how far our education has gone. It is a reality that our fathers who obtained a standard six certificate before independence are better than many university graduates of today. These days, certificates are sold because they matters so much in employment. Civil engineers are cashiers in banks; graduates of criminology and law are teachers in primary schools; impostors and charlatans abound because we value and overemphasize on certificate acquisition.
Can the Federal and State assemblies make laws on these: that education receives the highest allocations in every budget; that studying abroad be banned for the children and wards of elective and occupants of sensitive positions in the country; and that states implement free and compulsory education to secondary school level?. Although education is expensive as the private school proprietors would maintain, it should be a primary concern to the government which is often brought to being by the people.
Another thing that we must check before voting is to assess the level of gender sensitivity by the leaderships. In some areas where women have very strong politicians and qualified citizens to man elective positions, the incumbent leaderships do not give the opportunities. Who can tell of a state in Nigeria where the number of women in the state government is up to 40 percent? Or where the youth occupy 40 percent of the elective and selective positions?
The youths are always at the receiving end. They are used and dumped. Our politicians know when to call and use them and they – many of them, jobless, untrained, hungry, thirsty and angry misused their potentials by inflicting their wrath on the wrong persons. They forget, because of the peanuts they are baited with, that the same people who earnestly seek their cooperation to rig elections and impose the improper and questionable characters are the greatest problem facing the entire nation.
Children abuse is on the rise in some states. Prostitution has become a beloved business by our youths and even some married people, not for mere pleasure seeking but in an effort to keep body and soul together. Even as armed robbery has drastically reduced on our high ways – kudos to our security agencies – extortion by those for whom we pay different taxes are on the increase especially in the Southeast and South-South.
It is time for our youths to shine their eyes and know what belongs to them. They must hold their representatives at the federal government, state governments, local government chairmen, councilors of their wards, their parents, uncles and aunts responsible for their woes. It is not enough to sink few boreholes, grant few selective scholarships and carry out other minor and insignificant projects in communities. It is not enough to assemble people and make empty promises; it is not enough to fight the leadership when you know you have nothing better to offer than seeking your own cake; it is not proper to fail all times. Let 2011 be a decisive year for the Nigeria electorate. Let it be the year God has written for a positive change in our political and government system. The die will soon be cast. But it is the electorate that will decide.
Muhammad Ajah, a writer and author, is an advocate of humanity, the rule of law and good governance. ([email protected])