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!