The political environment is getting to a dead heat stage ahead of the 2023 general election, a situation political analysts and observers consider very premature considering the preponderance of other matters relevant to the lives and wellbeing of the populace. These essentials, to most Nigerians, include but not limited to, insecurity, inflation, unemployment, hunger, disease such as COVID-19 and cholera. They are competing for space in the society, threatening the quality of lives of the people, yet they are swept under the carpet as if they don’t matter. These important issues, in the opinion of this newspaper, raise questions about the essence of politics and, in particular, the inherent characteristics of the political actors, their understanding of governance and the deciding factors that underpin their participation in politics generally.
These matters, in our considered opinion, are serious enough because they not only make demands on the quality of lives of the present generation of Nigerians but also on posterity itself. They are, in our view, the kind of issues that ordinarily would have attracted the attention of statesmen who will, in turn, find solutions to them.
It is often said that statesmen think about the next generation while politicians think about the next election. That aphorism is stark in the consciousness of the citizens who have continued to yearn for purposeful leadership capable of handling some of the issues that beset their daily existence. The challenge is that Nigeria has a surfeit of politicians who cannot lay claim whatsoever to statesmanship but who still manage to find themselves in positions of power and authority.
It is imperative to point out that elsewhere, like what is presently going on in Germany, politicians are offering themselves to be considered on the basis of their positions on certain issues that are germane to the day to day living of the people which also have impact on the future of the country. They place themselves at the bar of public opinion on most issues of state without recourse to mundane considerations regarding place of origin or ethno-religious affiliations. On the other hand, those leaving office offer themselves to be assessed on the basis of what they were able to achieve while in office, the impact of their policies not just on the people now but on the next generation.
A look around the country will arouse in the mind of most discerning Nigerians the abject lack of statesmanlike leaders imbued with the qualities needed to position a country like Nigeria, with her enormous resources, for greatness. To cite an instance, for several weeks now, doctors have been on strike. Nobody in government is making any serious effort to resolve whatever issues that are at stake. The reason is simple, they don’t need their services not when Europe and the United States of America are open to them at state expense.
Instead, the nation is daily inundated with political squabbles that are of no relevance to the life of the average Nigerian engaged in a daily struggle to eke out a living. About two years to the end of the tenure of the present administration, political actors are already over-reaching themselves in the clamour for positions. When it is not which zone to produce candidates for a particular office, it is the viability of one candidate or the other. As the hustling and bustling in the political arena go on, the real issues of state are placed in the back burner of national discourse.
Sadly, in our view, all indices of human development indicate that Nigeria is perceived, even by international observers, as lacking in the requirements, the factors that ought to recommend her as a nation on the part of real growth and progress.
A state governor recently stated that the country, in terms of development, is competing favourably with Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country on the brink of collapse. Unfortunate and damning as that comparison is, it brings to the fore the failure of governance since 1999 and which got worse in the last six years, an era that commenced with high hopes and tremendous goodwill. Another governor is worried that banditry and kidnapping are wasting the country as if that in itself will solve the problem. Despite the severity of the dangers these anti-social tendencies pose to the citizenry, they are receiving very little, if any, attention at all from the politicians already consumed by their inordinate quest for political power.
What is worrisome, in our opinion, is that politicians gloss over these matters in the mistaken hope that eventually they will resolve themselves. But they will not. And that is where the statesmen are needed. The electorate must take time to look for them. They are few, but they are certainly available. These select men and women must stand to be counted in these trying times. However, it is also pertinent to point out that out of ignorance, the people themselves allow themselves to be pushed around. Otherwise, this is the time for the populace to stand up for themselves, call the bluff of the no-good political class and search for statesmen who can raise the bar of governance and meet the people at the very point of their needs.