I must confess to the subscribers of this piece that I’m currently confused about where to start. I am bombarded with infuriation of thought as regards the failure of Nigerian state. All we see in Nigerian political space at the moment are bunch of blithe homopoliticus running governance like secret cult whose activities are done in secrecy. Hitherto, Nigeria government has successfully disposed the position of media as fourth estate of the realm in every democratic setting.
What government has done is a filtration of both printed and electronic media to synchronize the agenda setting in political communication. The essence of governance has been defiled and the relationship between the governed and the governors is synonymous to that of bondsman and his lord. Political gladiators have completely swapped the position of the citizenry and taken away their popular sovereignty.
This is a quick rejoinder to the current political menace and an introspective of the past political scenes. After many years of unprepossessing political space and self-abnegation of political engagement due to venomous attack of political elites and their acolytes, my snail has been struck out of its shell by the hunger activation package distributed by politicians.
This was given to quench hunger and wave off the display of destitution exposed by the total lock down in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state. What seems to be hypothetical about the relativism in conduct of the duo predominant political parties has been subjected to verification through the irregular distribution of palliative package and conditional transfer of cash by federal government with self-complacency.
This is nothing but creating more acerbity in the encephalon of the poor. It is not only heinous but also ignominious to distribute four loaves of bread per household and 3kg of rice for community of about 200 residents and domesticate them for weeks. For the vast majority of citizens thinking people are ingrate for not showing good gesture to the little given to them, it is worthy to note that the procurement of this relief materials was catered for directly from public purse with the exemption of philanthropists who in their kind-hearted donated to the needy.
What is the essence of people’s obsessional urge and unquenchable interest for politics when you can’t take up the responsibilities attached to the office where you demonstrate your political arrogance and flout the rule of law, then you are nothing but object of ridicule. This is the time to be more impolitic in our approach to collectively fight against pandemic. This form the intellect of average Nigerians and students of politics as they indulge in perpetual criticism against bad government.
It may interest one to ask the way out of the mess we found ourselves. Though, this article sounds truculent especially in diction but I feel this is the right pattern to address this abnormality. We don’t need to be episodic in writing in order not to have longer view in an attempt to know the genesis of our problem and in search for solution. Whatever problem that comes to our mind should be restricted to those arise in the course of electoral process and how do we have election that the outcome truly reflects the will of the people. Though the later part of this work will address the driving force and machinery behind never to be achieved free and fair election from 1999 till date.
Our plight starts from an ideologically weak political parties that handle the responsibility of political recruitment. It will be difficult to solve calculus without a detailed formula and so it is in every polity. There is a general agreement that an organization requires the following in order to qualify as a political party: continuity in organization, manifest and permanent organization at the local level, self-conscious determination of leaders at both local and national levels to capture and to hold the power of decision making alone or in coalition with others, in other words the exercise of power is not enough as we witnessed in the merger of different elements that formed All Progressive Congress in 2015 and lastly the organization is expected to seek followers at polls or in some manner striving for popular support( Lapalombara and Weiner, 1986).
Public perceptions have it that we deserve the kind of leaders we get. This is just truth insulated with lies. Despite uneven participation in political activities, what will be the benefit of those that are highly political conscious but cohabiting under the government voted by the less conscious ones. Education plays a key role in having good sense of leadership section. We are facing the warrant of democratic flaw on the principle of one man, one vote and one value. Since majority of Nigerians cast their vote based on the immediate economic gain, how do we have Nigeria of our choice? It may interest us to look at uneven political participation among ethnics that form Nigeria.
Let’s pick our historical lens to view the level of engagement of different ethic nationalities prior to independence. The British Colonial power decided to administer the north in Isolation from the south through what was called rule of proclamation and at all events to prevent Northerners from being contaminated politically by the educated Southerners. Educated Northerners who had visited the south had done so under the supervision of the white officials. The first and perhaps the only Northerner ever to enroll as a member of Nationalist movement was Mallam Jumare, a teacher in a middle school in the North who later lost his job for his political affiliation.
It could be recalled that one of the key exponents in Nigeria once posited that there are two countries in Nigeria; the healthy and well educated South and the unhealthy and less educated North. How do you understand the essence of governance without at least little knowledge of western education? This could be justified by empirical data from autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo where he opined that there were different standards of civilization as well as uneven stages in the adoption of western education and the emulation of western civilization. This shouldn’t be seen as ethnocentric self-perception but a show of reality.
What is the essence of jockeying for leadership when the idea is not to legitimize the power through humanitarian approach and human capital development? The essence of primitive accumulation of wealth and stocking of dollars inside Abariga and bullion van is useless if it can’t alleviate poverty and take Alimajiri off streets of Kano and Lagos.
There are thousands of Patriotic Nigerians well-grounded in human quality approach to development but humiliated by the political elites just because their calling is to edify the vulnerable and gullible ones who are potential tools in the hand of politicians. The instrumentality of government used in the course of political recruitment are just three and these are religion, ethnicity and poverty. The last seems to be the strongest but all are used to create delusional disorder and deviate masses from touch of reality and cease them from recognizing matter of peculiar interest.
The outbreak of this pandemic is enough to show deterrent examples to the conservatists amidst us and for them to demonstrate their disinclination towards politics of belly. No country has ever succeeded in over stretching their mental capacity with low political interest in gravitating their economy mainly through agriculture. When you premise the existence of your economy on the supply of raw materials, the only result you get is underdevelopment because the asymmetric relationship in the economic value of goods exchanged will keep the other party at the path of development.
Nigeria needs to improve its processing and production capacity looking at the potentials inherently installed in youths. The economic prowess of Ibo nation at all stages of human history has enabled them not only to demonstrate merchandise but also replicate the possibility of revitalizing the manufacturing sector. This prosperity has been relegated and spare only Aba market and Onitsha but the inability of government to insulate the market with economic mercantilism has completely reduced the value of their products.
The demand of our bowel to consume what we don’t produce will contribute nothing to the advancement of the country but sell out the value of our market. Since, the need for new market was one of the reasons for African colonization, Nigeria is not far from another phase of colonialism which may not necessary come from Europe.
The will of Innoson automobile company to produce ventilators for Federal government is another confirmation that we can boost our economy with technological advancement. Ethnic jingoism could denied every technological innovation and relegate them to the background. This reflected in a statement released by President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aid, Bashir Ahmed where he dissuaded the only indigenous automobile company from producing ventilator and supported a mere rhetoric released by Ahmadu Bello University on production of same health equipment. We need to do all in our power to infuse solidarity into the disjointed tribes that constitute nation-states within the larger society of Nigeria, raise their morale to rehabilitate their self-respect.
The next question that comes to mind is if Nigerian youths can move the state. The youths in Nigeria have been lacerated into unequal parts in which very few of them marked by doggedness, ideologically guided and working assiduously to hijack the structure away from the pudden-heads in whom the state suffered over decades. Many are engaged by politicians with cheap price and worthless value to implement their profane political agenda.
Reflecting on the words of S. Olufeso, from inception, Nigeria wasn’t carved to lift the poor and downtrodden out of penury and broken fortunes. Instead, the country is configured to keep the poor in perpetual misery. Even when one tries to jettison this foundational deformities, the environment is hostile for fresh idea to thrive and those that are naturally blessed to standstill will be unabashedly crushed by public policy. The system has been mesmerized by the corrupt masters of economy with their head abroad and anus at home. Umeh called them patriots in reverse order, determined merchants of loots who boost the economy of their colonial order but I call them looters without conscience.
The only source of greatness to Nigeria has been extensively discussed by experts in public affairs. The only remedy is total reformation of the system which could roughly be termed revolution for those that have not lost their literal sense. The reason why this might not occur peacefully is because none of the political entrepreneurs and political barons who never submitted job application throughout their existence will never relinquish the system for men of ideas.
What also seems to be a way forward but has been misconceived by many is for every Nigerian visualizing a Nigeria in which the various linguistic units will federate to form a single nation and adopt a true federal system. Though, it is intriguing and treasonable in the sight of political moguls who are beneficiaries of the moribund system.
AFEEZ ADIATU is a graduate of Political Science, University of Ibadan. He is the Coordinator of Human Rights and Democratic Development, Liberty Watchtower (www.libertywatchtower.org.ng)