Posts Tagged ‘politics’

2019 Nigerian Presidential Election: The Agony of Choice

Every four years the presidential election confronts Nigerians like a table set with unsavory dishes and citizens must hold their noses to partake. This year’s presidential election is no different. Most Nigerians are anguished at the choice before them: Should they choose a candidate under whom nepotism, corruption and herdsmen killings have blossomed over one whose candidacy is rife with seemingly tenacious accusations of stealing and who may steal with fresh vigor or should they take a chance on one of the several unknowns? Oh the agony of choice!

Looking at the different candidates—the anguish is real. 

On the one hand President Buhari received the people’s mandate four years ago because he promised to fight corruption and improve the lives of Nigerians, but his general attitude towards corruption among his close associates has been anything but encouraging. Many of his appointees have shown uncommon avarice. But even as Nigerians waited with bated breath to see the president wage a just war against this blatant corruption under his watch, he met their expectations with an odd tepidity and indolence. Add to that the unsettling fact that in a country with so many qualified candidates he has chosen most of his appointees from his hometown and friends, with some of them evidently lacking the requisite qualification. But the worst part of the last four years, in addition to worsening poverty and non-payment of salaries, is the massive loss of life from the herdsmen killing which has received a perturbing silence from the president.

And then there is the candidacy of Atiku. It is only in Nigeria, or at least the rest of Africa, that a government official will be found with riches beyond what they could have justly earned in their government post and they expect people to accept it as legitimate. Do the citizens not realize that such money was taken illicitly from the country, from them the citizens? In Nigeria, past presidents start multi-million dollar businesses after their tenure, without other obvious source of income, and no one seems to question where they got such massive wealth from. Does the cart go before the horse? Does the accumulation of wealth occur before enterprise or does wealth accumulate from enterprise? In the developed countries the former would be called money laundering which is actually a crime. That correct assessment of wealth and proper terminology in referring to it is why the developed countries are developed: They use the money that belongs to their country to develop their country. So, with this candidacy, unfortunately, it is unclear what the situation is. We Nigerians must use our brains!

And then, enter the numerous candidates most of whom do not have name recognition or a record to run on. Are they a safe haven? A nail biting decision indeed!

But above all, what we as Nigerians do not seem to realize is that the governance does not end with the election. Governance starts after the elections and—to be successful—consists of two parties: the governing and the governed—each with their responsibility. As long as Nigerians are still expecting a savior that will come in and do them good of his own accord, then they have not yet understood the insatiable greed of the typical Nigerian public office aspirant nor learned the necessary lesson from our 58 years of stunted growth.  

And so? What is the governed to do in the face of the governing who wields power as a lethal weapon?

Some of us are old enough to remember the struggle of the black South Africans against apartheid. It was not easy but today apartheid is no more. When it became obvious the black South Africans would not give up the right to be treated as the equal human beings they are, the world finally joined them. What is going on in Nigeria (and most African countries) today defies nomenclature: it is not apartheid neither is it slavery yet it has possibly cost more lives than either of those—through insecurity, non-payment of salaries, dangerous roads, curable disease. And when the presidents and other government officials can go to Europe, U.S, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere for their healthcare but ask their fellow countrymen to die in poorly equipped hospitals—the situation cries out for a new name.

In the past few weeks we have seen the French citizens demand their right, demand livable conditions—the yellow jacket protest is now in its 11th consecutive week (even after their initial demands have been met). Good governance must be demanded to be obtained! Nigerians both at home and abroad, let’s stop letting the political elite loot the land. In whatever foreign country you are, when your president visits that country for medical care, organize, and carry placards to the front of the hospital to demand he build hospitals back home that both he and others can use. When they buy mansions in the foreign land where you are, organize and march to the city hall of that town with placard and demand that the source of the money be ascertained. And also on Nigerian soil, protest peacefully until your voice is heard! Let us demand accountability and hold thieves in government accountable. Let us demand that incoming officials declare their assets before and after their tenure as stipulated in the constitution. And that includes the judiciary! When they refuse to listen, let us continue to raise our voices until we achieve a government that works for the benefit of one and all.

It’s That Time Again!

The 2019 presidential election in Nigeria is around the corner! The array of choices seems endless—the old, the young, the have-been, the new-comer, the corrupt, the “honest”, the males and the females. It would have been quite entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. Since independence, not one president has left a legacy of good governance. Instead, they go into office as near-paupers and come out mega-rich. The same goes for the other politicians. They have no regard for their fellow Nigerians. In every country, people’s lives ride on the performance of their leaders. Poor governance is costing us lives in Nigeria.

This feels like 2015 all over again. At that time, frustration with corruption drove people to the polls in search of change. Some of us aren’t sure if we jumped from frying pan to fire. Almost four years later we are still in dire need of change. We are plagued not only with worsening corruption but also killings, nepotism, hunger, non-payment of salaries and so on. We find ourselves still roaming about in the wilderness—still far from our Promised Land.

There is no doubt that we were not prepared for the form of government the colonial masters left us. It was one that required a certain level of civic awareness, education, high expectation of government and decent livelihood of the public. These are qualities we didn’t have then and still lag way behind in even to this today. Additionally our legion of tribes are stuck in their own identity, becoming a recipe for disaster.

But this need not be. It is true that our colonial masters forced our many diverse tribes and cultures into  one country, but we can use that to our advantage. It takes a lot of tolerance, generosity and foresight. It takes a spirit of cooperation. We must see ourselves as one people: one nation with one destiny. Our diversity can be strength rather than a weakness. We need to see that we will succeed together or fail together. There is one Nigeria or no Nigeria. It is only when we come together as a people and stop seeing tribe in our fellow Nigerians, that we can fight our common enemy: corruption.

As long as corrupt politicians can enjoy their loot in peace, and gain clout through the possession of it, Nigeria will not be able to make progress. It is obvious that our country is lacking in virtually everything it needs for our people to live well: health care, jobs, security, safe roads, safe water, adequate schools, electricity and regular payment of salaries. Our money should be working for us. Instead, it is exported and works to the benefits of our corrupt politicians and foreign lands.

So, as we prepare to go to the polls, we must remember that it is not enough to vote leaders in; we must demand accountability from them. We must develop a culture of sustained peaceful protest against all forms of corruption in our elected officials until they have no hiding place for their loot. We must no longer be accommodating of corruption. It is only when the wealth of Nigeria is used for the benefit of all Nigerians that the country will move in the direction of definite and sustained progress. Courage, fellow Nigerians, as we pursue a prosperous future for all!

Nigerian Independence Day

Another year, another birthday and Nigeria is 58. Hooray for our beloved homeland! But wait. On looking back over the past 58 years how much have we achieved? What do we have to celebrate?

While one must not focus only on keeping up with the Jones, sometimes though, one has to check one’s self. It is not about unhealthy competition, it is about self-evaluation.

Some comparisons may be enlightening. Consider just two other countries similar to Nigeria in preexisting poverty, age since independence, and possession of crude oil.

Singapore gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and was expelled from Malaysia in 1965. A small country one may say, but still. Singapore had oil but it took time to develop the country in order to attract foreign investors. It is now a highly developed free-market economy, and has taken its people from abject poverty to good living or at least middle class. Is it any wonder when Singapore is the 7th least corrupt countries in the world?

Then there is the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—it gained independence from Great Britain in 1971. Crude oil was discovered in the early 1960s before its independence. As of today, the UAE has judiciously managed its oil wealth and become a top tourist destination. They diversified their revenue source and built infrastructure which is now among the wonders of the world. They have wiped out poverty for their people.

Nigeria’s crude oil was first discovered in 1956 in Oloibiri in Niger delta. Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain in 1960. Today, hunger is more than it has ever been in Nigerian history.

So as we leave our 58 years behind and embark on the journey to our 59th, let us take stock and ask ourselves: are our leaders leading us up into a good place of prosperity or down into a dungeonof poverty, in the path of betterment for all or in the path of depravity and perpetual lack? Our politicians live in wanton wealth and the governed in abject poverty.

Arise O compatriots, make your voices heard!