By Guest Writer: Lisandro Jnr.
Last year, we watched and waited as power switched hands. One president died and after some gratuitous delay, another was installed. We observed as a pre-stated doubtful government agenda mirrored the critique-predicted end it would have. We stared as statesmen became amateur comedians riding on party caravans and playing around the streets where we live. Safe for the watching of cooked news and the chanting of prayers, we could do nothing. And in heralding a new year, many dry politicking bones arose again. More of our forgotten politicians appeared at late hour, showing their deep-rooted interest in the merry-go-round of press interviews. As paper chase and underground blackmails made some lose their eagerness to contest in party primaries, the hidden past of the attack perpetrators still lie beyond the reach of local libelists. So, we see them in unbefitting attires, smiling inevitably at us on highway bill boards. And here’s where the IT trick helps the wicked ones. Even the devil looks good on billboards after a session of good photo shoot and picture editing. We live on streets that lack the amenities they should provide and suffer from the actual precision of their poor administration. Yet, they smile at us on billboards, taking us for granted. We are the innocent victims of their lack of conscience while they remain our facebook friends and billboard celebrities. We suffer because they do not see. But partly, they are blind because we hardly scream at the veils covering their eyes!
Over the last decade, since democracy took a stable turn in Nigeria, we have had a mixture of wonderful times and hellish seasons. We have benefited from debt cancellations, advanced telephony system, gradual resurrection of dead amenities, increment of salaries, participation in world sports, and slightly accountable leadership among a few others. Distinct from the military era, is the comfort we enjoy when querying our leaders on issues symptomatic of preconceived malpractice. But more recently, our egalitarianism has added a mix of kleptomaniacal leaders, unwarranted bomb blasting, high tolerance for abductors, etc to its peculiarities. Democracy or what the late Abraham Lincoln referred to as government of the people, by the people, for the people in our own land, has been viewed by developed countries as a practice that is slightly different from a formal circus party. The trusted righteous obtain power and become deaf loot-addicted monkeys while the poor sit around them like hungry baboons, waiting for a golden chance to have their go at the so-called national cake too. No one can be trusted in this system of ours, not even our fat and dicey lawmakers. The system seems cursed, running a cycle that makes leadership critics wonder if anything other than the death of chief corrupt leaders can influence a consistent change. The situation in Nigeria has persistently remained an unending case of kleptomaniac undertakers sustaining their famished gravedigger employees.
Notwithstanding, the school of thought we should follow is not a justification for eliminating other lives but that which supports the continuity of life while influencing the betterment of each individual. The politicians and those who, by virtue of accrued benefits, have become stakeholders in the politics of Nigeria are easily transformed into undertakers at election periods. These usually white-collared politicians are experienced and loot-rich, providing funds for their sycophantic gravediggers, who remain faithful instruments for implementing electoral malpractices. The gravediggers are usually illiterates, half-literates or unemployed graduates who for the want of quick wealth or lack of gainful employment, slave for the undertakers. Sometimes, they suddenly appear in political scenes to garner a fraction of the usually abundant financial resources flowing in the parties during campaigns and as such, may be forced to participate in electoral malpractices. Technically, the undertakers know they cannot implement their unfair agenda by themselves so, they employ the gravediggers and the gravediggers’ children, enticing them with temporal goodies and false philanthropy. They even know more; they know that for vagabonds, thugs and unemployed youths to remain, good jobs must be scarce, social amenities which enhance entrepreneurship must be faulty and pensions of retired citizens must be delayed. The best way an undertaker knows to make a living is to occupy a government office forcefully or by election, and embezzle public funds. That is why they are less concerned about solving problems that will consequently instil a sense of independence into their circumstantial sycophants. The day their sycophants acquire self-respect is the day they gain freedom and the moment bad politicians lack sycophants, they lose the power to rig elections, embezzle funds and influence others forcefully.
Yet, things have changed and are still changing. Last year, we merely prepared to change status (see The Two Thousand and Eleven Traffic). But this year, we moved on. Though some cowards chose to herald this year with bomb explosions rather than fireworks, we still had to move on. And, as the foremost political parties in Nigeria concluded their primaries, our country moved from the old street to change crescent. The decision time is approaching. A time when if we truly know our rights like we claim to do, justice will be our possession. I say this because ordinarily, at elections, people vote and get voted for- though we know that in Nigeria, certain illegal gymnastics make people who have minor votes win elections majorly. Let’s just hope that this year’s election will know a few differences. And here’s a personal testimony in that direction. Normally, I do not burden myself with party activities because I fan potential transformers rather than their political parties. But, in the bid to avoid dangerous surprises, I let the umbrella party take sleep away from my eyes during their consensus vigil. I closely followed the journalistic and commentary updates on twitter, fighting the temptation to sleep off. But the next day, when the broom party announced their results, I smelled a rat. Who else would the political sweepers elect to oppose GEJ if not the man who has been proclaimed innocent by his own enemies? Well, in politics, I learnt that your enemies are your friends- the ones with whom you are yet to find a common ground. So, there was no need for excess victory celebrations after the announcements.
But talking JEGA issues, INEC’s has not performed badly. Not at all! They are only making a mess of the mess we gave them. Though we’ve heard some very bad news about them, we know they have critics too and that only evidenced claims are worth charging. However, trust me, Prof Jega, people have not a few things against you. One, your comment about “your corpers” being ineffective shows that your recruitment process was precisely faulty. Secondly, your machines are quite slow and there were no efficient protection plans for NYSC members working for you in conflict regions and culture sensitive areas. Thirdly, we hear allegations of misdeeds and malpractices in remote centres. There are reported complaints of the successful but forced registration of underage citizens, at the expense of your workers’ safety. Threats and menace have been said to be part of their untold job descriptions. We hear also of speculations regarding unjust and preferential registration of some citizens in favour of certain aspirants; how that some political aspirants, in persons or via their representatives, bribe and pressure some of your workers to register only their own supporters. But we understand that these are hard times and your job is a tough one so, we will not ask for answers yet. Besides, none of the reporters have summoned adequate courage to make a public declaration of these allegations hence, we are simply stating these hypothetical facts for the sake of information.
Noteworthy is the behaviour of educated elders towards the INEC electoral registrations. Sincerely, I love it when senior citizens alight from their retirement automobiles and wait to register. I love it more when busy workers take a day off work to participate in the registration process. It shows that more Nigerians are personally taking responsibility for a better nation. We cannot complain and should be spanked if we do, when we withdraw from our civil obligations today and complain of bad governance tomorrow. The question that comes up is; who are those that actually elected or watched others vote in the many bad eggs of leadership spoiling the few good ones we have today? None voters are aliens when it comes to answering that question. Good leadership is partly a function of good citizenship. And, good citizenship speaks of committed, responsible and active citizens. Therefore, when I see old folks demonstrate this youth-ignored practice, I say to myself, that’s real commitment! That’s true patriotism! That’s the spirit of a better Naija! It tells me that though our senior citizens know that some of their mates are busy looting public funds and jeopardizing our national future, they must not sit back and have their own children’s children suffer for it. The least they can do is register to vote in April. That is a lesson we must learn from the elders, if we will not one day, become diligent gravediggers of selfish undertakers who are not better than us. That is a lesson for the youths. Let’s take responsibility and prove wrong what a political comic once said, “…the Nigerian youths are too inexperienced to lead.” In response to that quote, I recommend a response which takes the form of statistical joke here, Average Age Disparity between African rulers and Leaders of Developed Countries. Please click the link to laugh and think. At least, one good turn deserves another.
James Lisandro Jr. describes himself as a no-nonsense transformational writer who hails from the deep west of Nigeria. James is very tired of what he sees in Africa today and wants to see a better Nigeria someday- on a day not too far away from now.