If you read the nonsense that critics and opinion writers dish out on Nigeria, its unique politricks and exceptional politricians, you would be forgiven for thinking that we are a disillusioned lot. Take it from me you are wrong. The expression – hope never dies – was carved for Nigerians.
Nigerians are like atypical victims of a wicked aggressor that complains about the present discomfort but romances the resilience he’s learning from the experience. Occasionally, you hear of a Nigerian getting tired of life and committing suicide, that’s our share of mental health challenges. Majority of Nigerians are irrepressible lot, reason imported religion take taproots here than in their traditional homestead. Politicians serially tease us with promises of good governance and no matter how many times they fail to deliver, we blindly invest our trust.
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Being months away from another ‘general’ election, our perennial lame-duck legislature passed an election reform bill that the president had to be bullied to assent. We believe that the name we give to something helps it reflect its proper attribute so we have called our electoral umpire, the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission, INEC. It has to lobby and beg the executive for funds to function, often getting the help when it’s too late.
It was barely eight years ago, that we convinced ourselves that we needed to change our ways and live like other nations – through the ballot box. Politicians formed associations among which, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP emerged tops. Its pioneers meant well. They demonised the soldier-midwives of the transition and ganged up to prevent them from ever attempting to run our nation. They advertised to us and we bought into their pipe dreams, pregnant with hopes.
As the umpire signalled the whistle for the race to begin, soldiers and their civilian lackeys went to the market. They found an imprisoned ex-military hero, dusted him up and sold him to the electorate who bought into the charade with nostalgia. The honeymoon phase wore off quick but the experience lasted eight years. It gave birth to a transition that was truncated by inertia, insecurity, cabalism and the death of the leader.
We campaigned for the deputy only to plunge deeper into the abyss. Our second hand extra tyre had apparently passed its best-before date performing worse than our busted hope. While the nation burnt, he sleepwalked. Once we had had enough, we went into the military retirement home and brushed up another dead wood who promised to be the manure on which the vibrant tree of democracy, decency and good governance would grow. We were hoping to reap the fruits of good governance to nourish our famished souls and nurse our gaunt frames back to good health. We dreamt of peace, security and prosperity.
In reverse, we have spent all resources trying to keep this one alive while fighting each other. Unprecedented anarchy, chaos and carnage has unleashed on us and things have more than fallen apart. However, in Nigeria, hope remains the hanging fruit whetting the appetite of starving souls as they walk through the desert of death, destruction and deprivation.
By showing so much interest in what the two dominant parties do either at their gang-ups, we slide into the analogy of foolish builders willing to rehabilitate an old structure for three times the cost of building a new, bigger and better one. Trouble is, even after spending that much we watch half the structure collapsed because we have hired the same architects and engineers. In turn they have employed the same handymen who would use the same substandard materials to prop the structure rather than bring it down. All these while we remain inside it –praying for a miracle.
This is the scenario as the two ‘dominant’ parties have now held their conventions and picked their leaders. Last Saturday as members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) gathered at Eagle Square, Kaduna bandits went a step ahead rehearsing on the runway of the Kaduna airport, preventing planes from taking off or landing. Before this show of bravado, their constant pillages of Southern Kaduna settlements no longer make headlines.
Signals from Eagle Square showed that Nigerians have learnt nothing and are basically not interested in changing anything. Party faithful were bullied into pre-arranged endorsements. Tough candidates standing on principles of letting the votes decide were suddenly dropping their ambitions in the name of party supremacy. This was not a Eureka or Road to Damascus moment as emerging clips have shown why some dropped principles for military style obedience to the last order.
One candidate was told of two ‘legal’ files by which his obstinacy could earn him a term in Kirikiri. That doused his spitfire ambition faster than water quenches a raging brush fire. Another aspirant withdrew after ‘due consultation’; those who insisted were trounced mercilessly.
The convention turned consensus reveals the bumpy road ahead to ‘Selection 2023’. It is neither democracy nor does it pretend to look like one. Its outcome does not jingle the silent bells of hope; rather it opens a window to greater despair and despondency.
This party that claimed to have grown from 11 million members to 40 million ‘consensured’ Abdullahi Adamu, a founding member of the PDP, ex-scribe of its board of trustees, two-term governor under the umbrella and presidential aspirant as new party chairman. Adamu once had a N15 billion corruption charges laid against him by the EFCC. All that is now forgiven in line with the dictum of one of his predecessors Adams Oshiomhole, who invites thieves to come to APC and your sins are forgiven. Nuhu Ribadu, the man who led the ‘witch-hunt’ against Adamu witnessed his coronation over the weekend lending credence to those who call the ruling party an association of pardoned criminals. This is the primary challenge for those who still believe that change is possible with these arrangements.
The consensured exco had saints like Iyiola Omisore, the first Nigerian to win election from a detention cell as the new party scribe. There are 75 others. This is the change that APC promised us for its Next-Level – the difference between six and half a dozen. If you are looking for the PDP men of yore, check the APC register and vice versa.
The constant things in Nigeria are corruption, nepotism, hunger, darkness, insecurity, banditry, mass unemployment, despondency and forlorn hope. There couldn’t be hope for a new broom if APC ‘wins’ in 2023. Even its new chairman believes there’s nothing new to offer when he says the party has fulfilled its promise to Nigerians.
The sayings of our elders that eyes designed to carry one till old age do not begin that journey by oozing rheum is apt here. Any party selling aspiration forms higher than reasonable income has no capacity to deliver Nigeria from its problems. True democracy starts with glasnost of the election process.
Not to worry, Nigerian politricians know how to get there without drawing the ire of the EFCC – they get others to raise the funds. Buhari did and his friends in the PDP Atiku Abubakar and Aminu Tambuwal got their friends to pick the N40 million tab for forms. Where is hope here?