BY GOKE BUTIKA
EVERYWHERE you go, words on the lips of Nigerians are: “things are very hard”, “this inflation is spiraling out of control”, “our leaders are not concerned about our conditions”, et al. And these are genuine complaints from the masses, and this is the real situations on ground. As a matter of fact, the aggregate conditions of economic deterioration have compelled the adult into sickness, the youth into crime and the poor into ritual. In situation like this, there can be only two vents for the people craving for genuine changes to their socio-political order: recruitment of a visionary leaders who can get things done aside from sweet rhetorics, and the collective resolve of the people who are hellbent in doing things differently or what can be simply called “change of mindset of the populace”.
However, it is belabouring the obvious to say that, Nigerians are only fond of whining over their socio-economic disorder, but when the time for the recruitment of leadership comes, they would offer their God-given right to vote for paltry sum, they would collect money before they vote; only to be whining aftermath. It is a sorry case, because that has become a perennial attitudinal disposition of the people to the political system, and it is settled that in a civil rule, political system is the matrix that asserts influence on all other spheres of influence in the body politic.
Let it be known that I am not out to place blame on the political class alone, but to appeal to the soul of the people who keep on doing the same thing, but are yearning for different results. It is convenient to hold the feet of politicians to the fire for the socio-economic topsy-turvy, but the high road suggests I should check on all edges, because there is enough blame to go round. So, let’s skip the blame game in order to address the elephant in the room.
On the issue of national interest, it is noteworthy that it took President Muhammadu Buhari close to a year to assemble his lieutenants who would help him with decision to change the mess he met on ground, and that implied that his leadership did not hit the ground running, but can we blame the then new President for taking his time to select the best hands to work with him? Yes, because he had all the time to select his team while waiting for the inauguration. No, because in a country where we have a short supply of men of integrity, little time could not be enough for vetting. However, it was quite disappointing that the men that were eventually selected turned out to be the old guards in their various states. Can there be better human resources to use? Yes, because this country called Nigeria is blessed with abundant human resources full of talents and potentials.
In another view, can the President select fresh people who have the wherewithal? Yes, he is not restrained by the constitution, but if the nature of Nigerian politics does not accommodate decent, talented and highly resourceful people, the President is technically, not morally, constraint to select from his party men who worked for his victory, and that tells us how the political result would be skewed now and in the future. In one place, it appears that good and decent men had abandoned politics, and the resultant effects are upon us all.
Meanwhile, it should be given to President Buhari that he performs averagely on the delivery of infrastructure, at least, better than any administration and regimes that had reigned on this nation for over three decades. Though critics may be arguing about the accumulation of public debt, the fact is that debt incurred for infrastructural development is a good debt. After all, we were here when the previous administrations took loans in the name of infrastructure, but the funds later disappeared into the wallets of individuals in government. And some of the guys who were caught red-handed were given a slap in the wrist. So, in my opinion, Buhari has made a difference, the fecundity of its significance is a subject of debate in the future.
However, there are still a lot of issues to be resolved by this administration, and the economic team seems to be losing the grip, because people are suffering, and microeconomic and macroeconomic dynamics appear to have pushed the inflation to all time high. Though the economic uncertainty seems global, nations of single export would feel the impact deeper and painful. It is a legitimate demand to call for an unusual approach to alleviate the suffering of the masses, if not, the gains of Buhari’s administration would be eroded on the narrative of hardship and untold recession.
Politics at the local level, now is the time of political carnival, because some states are preparing to have leadership change, and the political parties are gearing towards the presidential election next year. So, politicians have started their schemes, some of their strategists have started pushing out narratives on how their candidates will fit into acceptability. In all, the ball would be in the net of the common voters who would be manipulated or blindfolded to vote for the politicians who have no plan except to acquire fancy titles and access public funds for their private use.
In Osun state, parties had conducted primaries, but the two major political parties are nothing but a joke. In the sight of everyone, parties primaries were manipulated to showcase predetermined results, and in the cause of fostering rigmarole, one of the parties came up with two candidates, while the other party’s candidate is being threatened by suit. In a saner clime, that is enough to reject the two parties, because it shows that those political parties are behaving like drunken sailors, but because people have been seriously impoverished, they would still have to choose between two devils. In July, money would be given to the voters by the two parties, and people would certainly sell their rights; the same mistake would be made, and the same result would be recorded in the long run.
Juxtapose it to the national elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party would again square up, dark money would be flowing around like rain, the competition for the soul of the country would begin in earnest, and the highest bidder would likely emerge, and the result would be the continuation of suffering, because those who mismanaged the country would be recycled, and the ruin of a nation would be magnified. Is there any way out of this vicious cycle? Yes, people should be organised and sensitised on the implications of the sales of vote, but who would do that? In a saner clime, that is the job of civil societies and community organisers. But in Nigeria, the so called civil societies are byproduct of corrupt politicians who just want to justify their iniquities. Besides, the so called activists of nowadays are a group of jobbers who are in activism for personal gain, not selfless service. That is the bane of development, and the country is getting worse for it.
If you ask me, if there would be a change with some of the politicians who are showcasing their ambitions to contest for offices in this country, I will tell you that the country is in dire straits. But genuine people must continue with the struggle, because doing nothing is the worst answer anyone could get.