By JEROME-MARIO UTOMI
To understand more fully, the current wave of political re-alignments in the country and be able to make objective projections, it is important that we first cap ourselves with the words of Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American Jewish professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winning author of more than 50 books, who among other remarks noted that as a people,‘ we must take sides as neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented’.
Taken objectively, the above opinion is considered important to Nigerians who are in this period of change and uncertainty, particularly as the nation prepares for 2019 general faced with freedom to make choices but traditionally manipulated- a development that may at the end of the day push many to stand-by and helplessly accept the future that may be forced on them. On the other hands, Elie Wiesel’s wisdom, in the estimation of the vast majority of Nigerian political leader, is nothing but a false proposition that should be discarded.
And it hardly needs to be said that the above state of affairs adopted by our ‘leaders’ has visibly weakened the masses ability to determine how their political office holders emerge, led to a gross failure to achieving effective leadership in the country and promoted general disinterest in the masses participation in the nation’s political life.
As we focus on the enormous crisis above, it is important to renew emphasis that political alignment/realignment in Nigeria, as we know is not a creature from outer space as the country has in the last 58 years of independence undergone ‘’life-changing’’ political metamorphosis where Jeers have without end deafened the cheers.
What has however caused concern is that after watching the recent manipulation of power and ambition, demonstration of the art of compromise, and the rise and fall of political desire to conquer during the just concluded party primaries, the masses still appear not to allow the wisdom from that experience to be their teacher.
Looking at the nation’s electoral arrangement, the onus to setting the political agenda for public office seekers lies on the masses but what we have seen instead is that majority of Nigerians have abandoned this crucial responsibility and become fixated by the emergence of Mohammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and other candidates without asking about who truly love Nigerians or who among them can truly say he is not merely pretending to love Nigeria?
In the same breadth, Nigerians have not also shown enough concern about the quality of those going into the various chambers of the legislature even when it is factually backed that the country will never have a good president without good lawmakers.
This fundamental failure of the masses to proactively probe the obligation of power, and possibly seek reasons as to why the democracy we practice has neither guaranteed social justice nor promoted social mobility is responsible for the agonizing national crises Nigeria is currently facing.
Without a shadow of a doubt, ours is a nation laden by poor leadership. Our country Nigeria is awash with captivating development visions, policies and plans, but impoverished leadership and corruption-induced failure of implementation of development projects on the part of the political leaders is responsible for the underdevelopment of the country; this appalling situation should be enough reason to set our imaginative prowess to task as we race towards 2019 general election.
Like Bishop Mathew Kukah, of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese recently asked; ‘imagine what Ajaokuta could have been like if Nigerian leaders had any sense of continuity and patriotism? Can you imagine the impact on our economy if the refineries had been working efficiently? Can you imagine what our railway systems could have been like if those saddled with the project had the presence of mind to carry on with these projects? Can you imagine what our situation would have been like with the Aviation industry functioning prominently?
Obviously, the inability of an average Nigerian to act in this direction is a barefaced proof that the greatest problem confronting us today as a nation is that the vast majority of us have lost, or had never equipped ourselves with the philosophy to challenge the nation’s economic logic and capacity to pursue the theory of development or governance.
Very instructive, Nigerians are not reaping the electoral/democratic dividends and may continue with this burden of the familiar tactics because they have allowed the means they currently live to outdistance the civility they should seek. This situation is even made worse in the writer’s views by the over-reliance/bootstrapping of our obligations/rights to the ‘leaders’ who unfortunately are in the habit of being ‘compassionate by proxy’.
Sadly, this challenge when closely examined has its foundation rooted in the successive administration’s criminal neglect and reduction of the nation’s educational quality baseline as bequeathed to us by the colonial masters. And which like an unchained torrent of water has submerged our pragmatic intelligence and democratized poverty while leaving Nigerians incapacitated to arrange an order of priorities that promises solutions which are decent for the present political situation.
And, it will amount to a higher level of self-deceit on the part of Nigerians to believe that the present combination leading the nation will bring the needed structural and socioeconomic changes in the country as they did not come for such programme and will not reassemble for it.
Coming out of this sorry circle as a nation particularly as we approach the entrance doors of the 2019 general election will apart from developing imaginative reintegration to ask solution-oriented questions, demand from Nigerians ‘electing intelligent citizens that will unite Nigeria, those that knows the history of Nigeria very well and has the charisma, skills, and networks to attract and bring educated and knowledgeable people together without ethnic or religious learning’, and avoid nepotism, those that are honest, transparent, and are not greedy.
Apart from the above demand, it may also be politically advantageous if Nigerians increasingly either by choice or by accident stand with greater determination to support candidates embodied with virtues that the world can respect, those with the moral and ethical principle that all can applaud – such support must be confident and trust based and instant gratification propelled as currently practiced. This is the little beginning that will ensure the emergence of a new Nigeria that we shall all be proud of.
Jerome-Mario, A Journalist/Researcher Wrote In Via; firstname.lastname@example.org