Of Nigeria’s Ailments: Evaluating The Elixir At The Electorate's Disposal
It cannot be gainsaid that when our heroes past fought the fight for freedom, this was not the nation they envisaged. Between the 1st of October, 1960, when we were weaned off the colonialists till today, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The administrative scene has been dominated by jackboots, militaro-civilians, pure-breed civilians and others I cannot classify.
Of a truth, corruption is the jagaban in Nigeria; hunger is towering high like the tower of Babel; Nigeria has been declared ‘out of recession', yet, recession has not receded in terrorizing Nigerians like SARS;unfulfilled individuals are being made ministers for Couples' fulfillment; leaders are gourmandizing with the national commonwealth; for the past 17 years, we have been gyrating back-and-forth between moribund brains like a simple pendulum; monies meant for arms procurement have vanished into the deep pockets of a select few as quickly as the goat milk goes through the strainer.In all of this, one question that stands out outstandingly is: for all the woes of Nigeria, whither the electorate?
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
This is the question which must have puzzled the mind of the literary icon, Chinua Achebe, when he wrote his book: The trouble with Nigeria, in 1983. In this book, Achebe declared that: “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” As much as he was right, he was wrong in saying the right thing. I guess the only reason as to why Achebe should be absolved of any blame is that he made this assertion more than 30 years ago. Had he made that assertion today, he would discover that everything is wrong in Nigeria, including the electorate. He would discover that the tsunami of docility has swept the electorate so much so that the polithiefians now use them as footmats with which they tread on while they navigate through their bumpy road to power.
We got here the day we preferred rice to our rights; we got here the day we traded our future for stomach infrastructure;we got here the day we determined to let our emotions and parochial proclivities to think faster than our brain. We got here that day we decided to let Good luck turn Nigeria into a nation of ill-luck. That was how we as a nation got here.
It is often said that while anyone can discover a problem, it takes only a genius to proffer solutions. Restructuring, fight against corruption, technological advancement and law reform have all been pencilled down as the panacea for Nigeria's endless problems.Howecccccccccver, if the Key to the door of Nigeria’s solution are good leaders,then a sound-thinking electorate is the master key. The electorate give the leaders the powers: without a key, a keyholder alone (in this case the politicians) cannot open a door.
Everything boils down to the electorate: if Nigeria is restructured and the bad leaders are kept, we shall still stagnate in stagnation; If corruption is fought, we will still remain in the handcuffs of backwardness if we have bad leaders; if our laws are better, bad leaders will still cling to their diplomatic immunity like one corner.
Having mentioned the foregoing, here are some weird-yet-necessary ways in which we the citizenry can put Nigeria on the right track:
NEVER VOTE ANY POLITICIAN IN FOR A SECOND TERM
Surprising as this may sound, this is a way forward for the nation. The Nigerian political setting is set up in such a set that a politician is ‘your boy and steward' before his first election, gets elected, spends about a year and a half carrying out white-elephant projects, spends the remaining two-and-a-half setting up the machinery to seal his re-election with the ‘power of incumbency', gets reelected and becomes a mad man.A quintessential example of this madness is Okorocha Rochas. Rochas was arguably the most loved Imo state indigene of all time as at 2011. He went on to get reelected and all hell was let loose in his brain. He began building statues that contributed little or nothing to the life of the average Imo indigene. Worst still, he embarked on the embarrassing venture of creating a useless ministry, placing a conspicuously-unqualified woman to head that ministry. What’s more, Mr. Rochas has so much undermined Nigeria that he now claims to: ‘have something in this my head that can change Nigeria'. Mr. Rochas, I dare say that on the left side of your brain, there is nothing right and on the right sound of your brain, there is nothing left.
This is the chicanery of politicians that we must end. We must begin to ‘sly' politicians. After their first term gra-gra, we send them packing. Thank God, the electoral system is now better.
STOMACH INFRASTRUCTURE HAS NO STANDING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Let us now compare two Governors: Governor Fayose of Ekiti and Governor Baguda of Kebbi State. Fayose got into office in 2014 while Baguda did in 2015. According to the Renaissance online newspaper in an article titled: Fayose vs. Baguda…Rice Pyramid vs Stomach Infrastructure,Baguda approached the Bank of Industry with about 4 billion, securedcounter funding and got about 78,000 people employed in rice cultivation. Ayo Fayose on the other hand needed 4.7 billion to construct the first flyover in Ekiti State. While Mr. Fayose deemed it fit to distribute bags of rice;approve the construction of a new governor's office, and construct the road to his village, Mr. Baguda saw the benefits of processing, went into a partnership with theWest African Cotton Company (WACOT) to build a standard rice mill that has a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes annually; silos for storing 18,000 tonnes of paddy and a warehouse for storing additional 12,000 tonnes of paddy. When operational, it is expected to generate direct and indirect employment for 3,500 people. While Ekiti continues to be impoverished, Kebbi has experienced some form of progress. This goes to show that politicians who have stomach infrastructure as their main plan should have not even a single vote to brag of.
OMOWANISM MUST BE ESCHEWED FROMOUR CREDO
God bless the soul of a sage andco-student, Mr. Omoyajowo Yinka Simult for coining the coinage: Omowanism. Omowanism is gotten from a yoruba phrase which reads: ‘Omo wa ni’, meaning ‘he is our child’. In this system, tribal marks are the currency with which people trade and people agree only to the extent to which their names agree. Because Kolade is a Yorubaman, he deserves all the votes of Yorubamen. Shehu should vote for Atiku because they’re both from Borno.This is one of the reasons why Nigeria issuccessful in failure. There is practically no country in which this trade is bought and sold more than Nigeria, and the bitter truth is that for us to move forward, it has to stop. In a sane clime like Britain, just last year, four Nigerians were elected to make laws. I can bet on anything that a white man cannot win a councillorship election in Nigeria.The 21stcentury has brought its own music, and to be relevant, we must be ready to dance to its tune.
WE MUST TURN THE SAME PEOPLE WE ELECT TO OUR ENEMIES
When I say enemy, I mean enemy. The time eludes my memory now, but some time ago, Mr. James Ibori came back from serving his prison term in the UK. Ibori returned to such an ovation that one would think that he had just gained us independence from the colonialists. In a sane clime, such a man would have been greeted with a severe hurling of stones and bags of sachet water but no, we preferred to give him a hero's welcome. We should let these guys know that even if Nigeria is a jungle, we are still the lions and hence, cannot be taken for granted.More recently, the atikulators have flooded the city of social media with beautiful paintings of their lord and personal saviour — Atiku Abubakar. The difference between a 71-year-old and a 75-year-old is what I cannot understand. How a man who allegedly cannot enter the US is the best man for the job eludes my understanding. The moment the electorate begin to view these polithiefiansfrom an objective lens, they will cease to take us for a ride.
VOTE FOR THE PERSON, NOT THE PARTY; GO FOR SUITABILITY, NOT POPULARITY
Sadly so, in the minds of many a Nigerian, even if the devil himself decides to run for a position flagging the flags of the PDP, he has their vote. For some others, it’s the APC. Sadly enough, in Anambra, it happens to be APGA and in Lagos, it is whatever party that Bola Tinubu happens to belong to. While streaming the election debate for the Anambra gubernatorial candidates, I noticed with special attention how Osita Chidoka was able to outline his points with gusto. He looked like a man who was ready for the job. Although debates are no ground to determine the readiness of a candidate, Mr. Chidoka deserved a chance. Like every Anambrarian would predict however, APGA won. Several other cases abound of better candidates, but unfamiliar parties. Pat Utomi (Presidential, 2011), Dora Akunyili (Senatorial, 2011 ) are very good examples to mention a few.
END THIS CORPSOCRACY ONCE AND FOR ALL
In 1998, the tyrant of Niger kissed mother earth goodbye. Some said it was a prostitute, others felt it was a heart attack. In 2010, it was déjà vu. Another Head of State embraced the sullen warmth of death while in office. In 2015, a septuagenarian found his way with Aso Rock. Due to the heftiness of the job, Sai Baba crumbled and was frequenting the UK like it was the other room, yet, another septuagenarian has come again and we embrace him with both arms in our gullibilty. Make no mistake about this: I am not against a certain aspirant emerging, I am only against the voting in of old men to paddle the canoe of our country. There are a lot of young, vibrant and intelligent technocrats who can get the job done. Moribund brains are not needed at this time.We have had enough of them.
Finally, it is not time to despair, rather, we can only hope for a better future, for the words of Lyndon Johnson: “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”gives me hope. Forget about the politician,if the electorate can get it right, there is only one way for Nigeria: the way forward.
Anushiem Chidera is a s.tudent of pharmacy at the University of Ibadan and can be reached via his e-mail: [email protected] or his mobile: +2348124280821.