It’s less than four weeks to the commencement of the general elections and the atmosphere is becoming so thick with intrigues and controversies. In the coming weeks, just as it is in the present, nothing may be considered too outlandish as long as it will lead to victory at the polls. In the game of power, the end justifies the means. Defections and fake news are all part of the game to swing votes. The best of relationships among brothers and sisters in the days ahead may be severed in an attempt to score political points. These intrigues are not strange; they do happen, especially in election years. However, this year comes with a foreboding danger and frightening prognosis reeled out by informed analysts that Nigerians must be careful not to cascade beyond the precipice it has always occupied to the consternation of the outside world in both the past and present.
For those conversant with the type of politics played in Nigeria, extreme caution should be our watchword. Being the new capital of world’s poverty, the level of frustration and anger in the land is almost over sweeping. The increasing spate of criminal activities in the country is tied to economic hardship that has made life a tale of excruciating miseries. Some form of justice for the poor and a deliberate policies by the leaders for development are needed to revert the nation to the path of sanity. The youth in Zamfara are into banditry because there is absence of economic empowerment and job opportunities. Even when parents see through their wards and children’s long rigours in education, the expected light at the end of the tunnel often turns out to be a mirage. Those who eventually get employed often end up incapable of making a meaning out of life.
When remunerations for jobs in the public sector are poor, the resort to gaming the system becomes an only option to stay afloat. That is why there is humungous corruption in the civil service that an indifferent executive arm has never shown any form of willingness to confront. When public sector workers go without salaries for several months, are we not amazed that these same workers still go to work and perform their functions? The government of the United States of America has been shut down due to raging disagreement between President Donald Trump and the Congress. Less than three weeks into the shutdown quagmire, federal workers that have been affected by the shutdown are resorting to food banks to feed their families. That tells a lot of the system that we operate. When a system is distorted and cannot be trusted to deliver, workers are allowed to act outside the rules in order to survive.
The fight against insurgency in the North-east is being lost not because we do not possess the military might to crush the insurgents, but those who are supposed to cooperate and give vital information to security bodies are more comfortable collaborating and cooperating with the invaders. Under the authorities of the government, oppressed Nigerian citizens have seen the other side of hell, while a momentary life under the militants has given them an opportunity of understanding the evils of the home-bred system that has denied them justice for many years. Prevailing insecurity and other vices bedevilling the nation are tied to failure of the nation to evolve a mechanism for societal justice.
Yes, in the nearly four years of the APC-led government, the citizens have been witnesses of efforts to salvage what remains of the wreckage the PDP turned the country into. However, with the level of miseries assuming an epic proportion, not a few are convinced that these promises of changes in critical sectors of the economy can be realised to improve the lives of the masses. The expected dawn is far from being achieved within the shortest time. The footprints of APC in the corridors of power have not driven away the image of PDP in the last 16 years. Though touted as a party founded on corruption, many Nigerians still believe that life under the PDP was bearable.
A friend last week tried to convince me why Nigerians should not expect hitch-free polls in February and March. My friend, who is familiar with dealers in the power game, advised me to perish any thought of the opposition defeating the incumbent. According to him, 2015 is not 2019; as the dynamics that resulted into the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari are different. Political power in Nigeria, my friend said, is akin to having an amorous relationship with a beautiful woman in the world.
He adds: “The PDP enjoyed this woman with all the good things of life for about 16 years and allowed his rivals to drive him away from the power throne despite military prowess at his motion. Now, it is difficult to ease out the APC which is the new husband, just after spending only four years. The battle to defeat the APC will be nothing less than epic.’’
As simple as my friend’s analogy sounds, there is seed of reality that cannot be dismissed. However, the days ahead may prove potent in deciding where the pendulum swings to. Though the power of incumbency cannot be wished away, certain unexpected occurrences may throw spanners in the works, just as it did for President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. But these possibilities also pose a forlorn hope in a country where people are willing to sell their parents to maintain the status quo. Certainly, defeating an incumbent is certainly not a walk in the park; it requires a rainbow coalition that is ready to forget its many differences that have stultified the nation’s march to greatness.
We saw that in 2015 as an incumbent government was swept into the dustbin. Can it happen in 2019? Yes, it may, but the present rancour in the polity and emergence of mushroom candidates claiming to be grooms for the beautiful queen called Nigeria casts a gloom. Beyond doubt, it is obvious that the man in power has an enormous power that is almost unchecked in Nigeria. Nothing has changed in the country regarding the awesome powers of the President. The eventual winner of the Nigerian presidency is hinged on those actions done outside the rules than those stipulated by the books.
As Nigerians prepare for the polls, no lesson has been learnt, apart from the urge to crush opponent and remain in power. It is the same story for both the state and federal politicians. On the eve of the general polls, violence is threatening the peace of the upcoming polls. In Taraba State, alleged PDP members have been accused of setting ablaze vehicles belonging to the APC.
In Kaduna state, campaign posters of the PDP candidates have been shredded by alleged APC members. Where there is peace, it is a peace of the graveyard as all actors in the political contest are not willing to kiss the dust. In all these, we must not lose sight of the fact that though we must insist on our right for votes to count, we must not allow anything to threaten our corporate existence. As partners in the Nigerian project, we should not allow politicians to turn us into cannon fodder to realise their inordinate ambitions.
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