BY OGBONNA NNAEMEKA HENRY
The clouds have gathered. The sky is heavy, and darkened by an unseemly weight waiting to be unleashed on the earth. Normally, the mention of clouds should elicit feelings and expectations of showers and refreshing. But in this parlance, it is the clouds that have to do with how far and how well the future of our great country will be determined. It is the cloud that comes with a lot of dramatics and theatrics. A kind of clouds that once again reminds some class of people that they have roots. The kind of cloud that drags in its wake weeping, wheel-barrow pushing, and chewing or roasted corn in the streets, standing stuffed in a kindergarten uniform singing the national anthem and standing at attention, and all of the sad reminders of the people’s relevance which comes once every four years. It is a kind of cloud that gives the people a part of their stolen commonwealth in exchange for their blood. Yes, it is the clouds of the elections which will happen in no distant time.
Like is expected, an avalanche of aspirants have flooded the polity, each jostling over themselves to outdo the other to garner the sympathy and affections of people, who would be induced one way or another, and abandoned for the next four years, as stated by the vicious cycle which has become the sorry lot of Nigerians, and indeed the scenario is not much different in most parts of Africa and the third world.
Without any libelous undertone, it is clear as crystal that the present administration has failed the Nigerian middle and lower class, which boasts of the larger swathe of the populace by the way. There is not a single verifiable index of development that this government has been able to bequeath the nation, and I for one have been one of the very patient ones who was willing to give the government time to acclimatize to the horrendous state of the economy it met, being in the know of the larceny and perfidy that characterized the penultimate administration. But, as it were, it would appear that this administration has wasted every snippet of goodwill on which it rode into power. In the place of the Messianic position it appeared to have occupied, the people have been all the worse for it, receiving death, suffering, tears and blood in exchange for the hope and optimism that gave the administration the mandate to rule.
But be that as it may, the four years which many thought would never end are finally drawing to a close. Those who thought they would not survive the hunger in the land and all of the vices that has pierced the fabric of the country like a lance, can now clink glasses and offer toasts. But the decision to change the narrative of the goings-on in this country rests solely on us, and the length of this celebration will depend on the quality of wine we choose to drink. But, for starters, we can at least jump up and punch the air Drogba-style for scoring this feat-almost surviving the fiery darts of lack and frustration which actually killed some of our compatriots, destroyed marriages, dehumanized people, demeaned the value of the human life, humiliated many, and made patients of many hitherto healthy countrymen.
But in the words of a notable philosopher, where you have been is not as glorious as where you are going. He may have said it in a comparative light, but in the Nigerian sense, nobody wants to even cast a glance at where we have been. The sights are too gory, the memory is acidic, and its vibes too destructively deafening to even desire a retrospect, such that the only tenable option would be to do all in our power to move forward, without as much as a backward glance. That we can do if we collectively decide as a nation to take our fate in our hands and collectively decide that this macabre dance has got to stop.
For starters, there has to be a mechanism in place that holds leaders accountable to the populace. This is not the usual recourse to an already infiltrated arm of the law devoid of bite and drive. You can’t just come up, make promises you know you will not keep, do what you like during your term, and come back cap in hand after four years. This is too much of a sodomization, and it is worse in our case because it is done with piece of dry wood. This system has to be verifiable, effective, and efficient. Secondly, there has to be a way of decentralizing power, and making it more of an avenue for service than a means of moving several steps up the wealth ladder. A collolary of this also is the fact that public office has become a means of compensating political associates and party faithful, instead of an avenue of effecting the much-needed change and development that was promised. A doctor has no business being the Minister of Labour, for example. The nation suffers more from this kind of political stance. It kills the commonwealth and reduces all that have should have meant anything to mere cash and contracts. The main expertise and know-how that should have been brought to bear becomes practically non-existent. To effectively do this, there needs to be an extent to which the party can prevail on the administration to do certain things. What we have seen in the past is a party system fraught with loads of godfatherism and excessive control by people whose only understanding of governance is how much will flow to their private pockets just because they finance a particular brand of candidature.
Again, we should strive to usher into power people who have a proven track record of integrity, knowledge, skill, administrative prowess, standing in the society, mettle, people with a robust understanding and appreciation of the complex and peculiar structuring of Nigeria and the Nigerian people, not just someone who has bags of salt and soap and lean cash to throw around. When we are ready to collectively call the bluff of any such people who have nothing but a stolen piece of our collective heritage to offer us, we can then say that uhuru is by the corner.
The general argument to the call to come out en masse to exercise our franchise is that however much and vigorously we vote, what will eventually happen will happen. But that is not completely true, even though it can happen to an extent. It only takes a collective will to do the right thing, and the things and people that seem powerful will not be as powerful as they threatened to be.
A lot of the time, the solutions to complex problems are not complex. It only took a simple Word from God to give life and form to a chaotic earth. This submission may seem simplistic and pedestrian, but a holistic application will see us miles away from where we are now. Let us use this opportunity wisely.
2019: Our Fate, Our Choice, Our Victory
BY OGBONNA NNAEMEKA HENRY