By Jerome-Mario Utomi –
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all – John F. Kennedy
With the prevailing harsh economic situation in the country, a state of depression that has been designed by yet to be established architects, the countdown to the next general elections appears to be comical, yet laced with trepidation. Many young Nigerians who were not of age in 2015/2019 will get the chance to vote for the first time, while those who voted last time out will want to activate their dreams in another call for change/Next Level; this time for the better.
After four years of unfulfilled change and another two years of complicated ‘Next Level”, the electorate should be excused if they enter 2023, with a new dream on their minds, and head to the polls with a different mentality from what they had in 2015/2019. The new orientation would be shaped by recent fiscal, sociological, political and communal happenings in the country; coupled with the pockets of ethno-religious upheavals and misgivings from one region against another or powerful personalities against each other.
It can, therefore, also be safely deduced that many different strata, sectors, and sections of the country will be looking up to 2023 as a year to settle various scores – both idealistically and holistically. Of recent, the talk has been about making a point and calling for a change to the current dispensation through mild aggression, in the form of protests, rallies, sit-at-home and heated public comments.
Though 2019 will again accord Nigerians the chance to make a change through a legitimate and democratic means, tension is already up and has again heightened by the realisation that the nation is still being governed by people who do not feel the pinch the common man is made to endure, or that the leaders have simply chosen to be compassionate by proxy.
Consequently, the political leaders have fractured our nation’s geography into polarised ethnosyncrasies and idiosyncrasies, all of which have led to agitations of different sorts and capacities. These have disjointed the amalgams of the country and made the nation that was once called The Giant of Africa now be referred to by friends and foes as a wobbling tripod.
Also, these developments have made 2023 a year with history in that it’s a year of elections, a year for another session of politicking when elections into various offices from the Presidency down to the state Houses of Assembly are billed to hold. Most importantly, 2023 is bound to be a year in which the people’s action and decisions will shape their political destiny and determine their socioeconomic future.
Obviously, that year will be pregnant with high hopes and has equally necessitated the need for electorates to develop an objectified oneness as well as an action plan that will aid them in taking whole. It’s a year for the masses and youths, in particular, to team up and fight the common enemy called bad leadership and its proponents. If the masses can achieve these, every other thing including restructuring shall be added unto it.
This role is pivotal because the strength of a nation is a direct result of the strength of her leaders. Everything rise and falls on leadership. This remark is visibly evident in the qualities of leaders the nation have unfortunately blessed her selves with since May 1999. The result of these political miscalculations led us to rhizomes of excuses thereby turning the country into a nation of narrative than action. The score cards of the present crop of leaders have visibly advertised them as being clueless, lacking in creativity and outright lack of propensity to perform.
To exit this vicious circle of mal-performance, the people need reprogramming of their mind- set as once the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. To make the reorientation work, early preparation is key as once remarked he that arrives first and take a position is at ease while he that arrives late labours.
Conventionally, 2023 may be far but viewed from political pragmatism, it is just a stone throw. So, this is the time for the citizens to start asking solution-providing questions as well as perform the agenda setting roles. This is not the time to start waiting for the visitors called politicians whose visits occur once in four years and that is the electioneering period. Also, the masses have in recent elections voted based on vanity without recourse to their consciences.
The worrying side of this narrative is that this is a nation filled with a people that predominantly practice religiosity signposted with symbolism but completely bankrupt in spirituality. This attribute has always given them away without resistance to their nefarious politicians who know how to buy their consciences with paltry sum and at the end leave them to suffer protracted neglect for four years.
This has played out for close to two decades. But to arrive at the Nigeria of our dreams, it is time to say no to this illicit incentivizing by these politicians now that the nation prepares for another round of political ultimate search come 2023. Voting based on pecuniary inducement or stomach infrastructure should be discouraged.
To make 2023 bear the anticipated political result as proposed, the people need the moral force to activate a shift in paradigm. Part of this needed strategy is the admission of the youths into their political school and calculations. The youths have watched for too long the political drama involving their nation from the political gallery.
It is time for political apprenticeship for our youths. Supporting the constitutional amendment which we hope will open the window of opportunities with the not too young to run bill waiting before our parliament should be considered as the right step in the right direction as their involvement will help soak up the mal-performance flood created by cluelessness. We have to brace up with trends as it unfolds on the world stage.
Again, enthroning upright personalities as our leaders is important as leadership is about vision and is also about creating a climate where the truth is heard and brutal force confronted. My imagination tells me that all we have been having were not leaders but sets of opportunists that appear from the political moon, fed us with what we want to hear, win the election and that ends the political oratory and relationship till the next electioneering year.
We obviously need to take this step as we have previously seen some of our elected officers become the reality to worry about as they became visibly determined to work across purpose with us while some of them consumed by the vertical pursuit of self-aggrandizement. Allowing this trend and expecting a different result is tantamount to insanity. For us, as a people to break out from this vicious circle of worries and poverty, the time to cause a real change is now.
- Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via;firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.