NIGERIANS: NOW YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
The other day I wrote about Nigeria being a repairable country if only we as a people are ready to be lead by men and women who can sacrifice their all for our dream, we will get there by far faster than we can think. Those in this mould can only be tested Nigerians in their various endevours, people who in some ways have ventured to put their lives on the line for the survival of this country. Why so? The example we have has confirmed that since those we have in authority did not lift a pin to be where they are now, they fell good to think that we must consider them first before the nation. If our leader in the senate think that they are sacrificial (and l have not seen any sacrifice I any of them), what would cause them to increase their allocation despite the out cry world wide only last year when the Central Bank Governor challenged them to prove that they are not the consumers of the nations one third income. The worse they have done has been to threaten the ready man with termination of appointment.
By the end of next month only few days from now, some few variables now will be as sure as certain. One the general election would have been held and concluded – l pray God. Winners would have emerged among all the parties and losers would be counting their losses as well as tinkering the next option usually the courts as the last alternative and why not? After all, some governors and legislators today won their election from the court rooms. Some of those who would prefer the court option are those who would have been cheated outright. Finally, it will be a field day for the lawyers a defining moment for them to take their turn in the “Chop I chop” syndrome which is synonymous with Nigerian politics. For them, it will be another call to duty and validly so too.
Since political campaigns kicked off nationwide, we have seen the big players and the pretenders as well as those who are not there at all. Or didn't we register more than 50 political parties in Nigeria? How many of them have candidates from the presidency down the line in all the states of the federation? Before now, politicians had handled the issues of election with kid globing. Most political Parties never had corporate offices even in Abuja how much less state and local government head quarters. Yet they collected the subventions due all parties, were never audited nor were their national officers and offices ever known. What has happened to the parties? Were they an organization of people put together only to milk the Federal Government? We can only confirm from the loud silence of the other parties that they never had all it takes to be called a party in the first place. While agreeing that not all the parties can produce presidential candidates, can we also be forced to agree that they parties never had any political base? From where did they spring up? By their fruits we have known them, and that also goes for all the existing parties, their candidates and representatives through whom we can mirror the performance of both the parties, leaders and representatives given the last 12 years of their presence.
In 1999 when the election trumpet was blown, I reviewed the presidential candidates and without fear of favour, lined up with the Obasanjo's PDP and I had expectations and justifiably so. First, I looked at Obasanjo's pedigrees, as a past senior military officer and head of state and thought that he would stabilize the polity which at the time was in dare need of repair. Besides, the gap between the military and the politicians then was very wide after more than 30 years of military leadership and with Obasanjo being able to tackle the Babangida's régime with boldness ala leadership with human face. Second, I thought that with political stability, we would have purposeful leadership which would pursue definite directions, developmental yet measurable goals, which would finally lead us not really to the destination, but a definite road map. Again, I thought that having been so privileged to get out of the lions den without even a scratch, he could be the man who will be as selfless as should be. We are 12 years, on and compared with our colleagues in comity of nations, we have moved at best 20 years backwards! At what cost? Which of these variables are correct? That we have inept leaders or followers; that we have been beaten to pulp such that we have become so complacent that we cannot even see the specks falling into our eyes? The volume of articles written by so many in their attempt to proffer solutions to the Nigerian problems/question, if put together would fill and over flow the National Assembly buildings. Yet I am doubtful if 1% of the suggestions ever reached or was ever read by the desired publics. It is a shame. Obasanjo as president in and out of office once said that he does not read Nigerian Newspapers. So where does his inspiration for good governance come from? The same man is known to be unstable in his love for his wives and children. What are his values? Though his wealth in any currency can better be imagined, but were will he put everything he has been busy gathering ever since even at his age?
As I write, now, news has it that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has increased their budget from N111.23billion to N233billion a colossal 111 percent. The question to ask is what manner of representatives do we have in Nigeria? The same crops of people were confirmed to earn more than the President of the United States of America just months back. Now with impunity, they raised the bars as if to mean who can challenge us? Nigerians are we there? Are we still free to choose our next representatives? Or are these the crop of men and women we deem fit to hold forth for us? A people get the type of leadership they desire or deserve. The question is before all of us and what we make of it shall be determined by how we resist the status quo next month in a free and fare election. But how ready are we? How sensitized are we? What are the informed doing to help salvage the situation? This is the million dollar question.
In the past, elections have been said to be very expensive. Why not so, because usually a long list is passed from bottom up and with all forms of bogus add on? But Nigeria is in a different planet? In Naira and kobo terms, how much did it cost Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Bambo Mbeiki, Attah Mill and other leader's world wide to conduct their elections? Compared with Nigeria also, which of these elections were ever successful or a failure and why? How much did Adams Oshomole, Drs Fayemi and Aregbesola expend on their elections compared with that of their counterpart? In Lagos state, how much did the Fashola use compared with that of the PDP candidate?
It is near election in Nigeria and to date INEC itself has not flooded the streets with posters. How can the candidates be imprinted in the heart and minds of the electorate? With Power Holding Company dishing our electricity the way it has, how many are being reached with the TV and Radio adverts? What is the percentage of our newspaper readership in Nigeria? Finally what percentage of the country's 67 million registered voters are really ready to go and vote based on their awareness? In nearby Ghana, nearly every one know their candidates upfront and usually advance reason in healthy debates even in drinking joints why the opponents must be swayed. Can we safely preach Ribadu in joints in Bayelsa State?
The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God is not a politician. But concerned about the leadership of Nigeria, he has prayed his heart out in the belief that God would give us our desired leaders. Today his prayers form part of the Ring tones of all the Net work providers. Christians all over have joined the crusade for right leadership, but can we achieve it with the hawks ever ready for a spoil?
It was late Lucky Dube who sang in the Choice I Made. He wanted to get married and without consultations picked a girl for her beauty. When he informed his mother, she asked about the character but Lucky replied that she was so beautiful. The Priest asked if she was as beautiful inside as she was outside, mum was the word. Months after, Lucky was to put another call to his mother to the effect that he wanted a divorce! He announced that the choice he made didn't work out as he thought it would.
Lucky Dube is no more; if the experience was real it's a thing of the past now. But we are a willing people being lead by unwilling fellows. Can we keep mump as if nothing is happening any longer? This is the big question and our answers will be revealed in the choice we make next month with our votes.
NIGERIANS BE WISE. VOTE WISE!
Mike O. Akpati
0803-675-7067 (sms only)