We currently live in the moments of what could be a drastic turning point in the history of the country that some would say is falsely regarded as the giant of West Africa. A mindless behemoth may be a better metaphor to describe the most populated nation on the continent because the power in numbers ceases to be a strength when those numbers are divided.
Nigeria, unfortunately has not been united for a long time, as people are either religious, tribal or socially stratified first and ‘Nigerian’ second.
In my first week at my NYSC camp, I helped with the monologue writing for the platoon’s drama presentation. It was during one of our rehearsal meetings that I spoke with a girl from the southern region, who was shocked when I told her that I was from Gombe state.
“Ahan, Hausa boys are not usually this fine,” she said, and I responded with a smile and a variety of mixed emotions. I was flattered, because that is what happens to fine boys like us, but I was also distraught, because my Hausa brothers are indeed handsome, though I am not Hausa by tribe. I actually speak more Italian than Hausa, but we are in Nigeria so that gets me no extra points with anyone but the ladies. After a conversation on me being Tangale, and not everyone in the North necessarily being Hausa, her response made me realize that my words had fallen to the deafest of ears. She hissed and said, “My friend, you are Hausa,” as apparently, I had no say in the issue.
Politics is as inescapable as a wildfire in Nigeria, because everyone here happens to be a political savant, in the same way that everyone also happens to be a football coach. I personally have no inclination towards politics, but I am a writer and the need to be informed on various disciplines, especially one which directly affects the people of the nation, overrides my personal dispositions. We have our two leading candidates from Nigeria’s two major parties, though till this day, I remain unaware of the agendas, values, or positions that either party takes when it comes to the state of things in the country. I do however get the impression that many politicians have an agenda to themselves, to be in the best position to succeed, regardless of how many parties they have to run through. In that being the case, everyone knows what the right things are to be said when campaigning.
The major points are always safety, economic growth and power supply although there are no debates to get a better understanding of the process by which our problems will get solved, as things are easier said than done most of the time. Contrary to popular belief, choosing based on religion is also not the answer, because electricity is not going to miraculously come down from heaven on angelic wings. I however do understand the need for one’s religious choices to be protected and considered in a country where Islam and Christianity are split almost evenly.
If we have no way of better understanding the candidates and their intentions, and we keep resorting only to blind party loyalties, religious ties or fellow kin exaltations, then I believe we may be playing a dangerous game with dire consequences. The only thing worse than being uninformed, is being gravely misinformed.
That previous sentence is more or less the thesis of this entire column, as this is not some political monologue on why I think a specific candidate is better than the other. I believe making that decision, whatever it’s answer may be, is up to you. However, it is a personal responsibility to get educated as I believe that many people in this country are being gravely misled. For instance, I made it a necessity to look into the other candidates that are not under PDP and APC, and I was speechlessly impressed not only by their accomplishments, their relative youth and their plans for the country but also due to the fact that I noticed that many of them think outside the box. Nigeria certainly needs outside of the box thinkers.
I’m well aware that I’m no expert on politics as I still have a lot to learn, as my father who never shies away from being morbid once told me that learning never ends until we meet our deaths. We all owe it to ourselves and to the Nation we love to do our due diligence in choosing who gets to lead it next.
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