It appears very clear that Nigerian politicians now make it a standing practice to marshal out their electioneering campaigns and brand favorable promises before election; but then again coming out as victors at the elections and assuming their various offices; they eventually fail to keep the promises made while canvassing. Some of these politicians come up with great and enticing manifestos; portraying themselves as messiahs that have come to move the poor masses to their promised land.
We see different alluring descriptions on banners depicting hope and vision; still, what happens when they get into the offices they struggled for? They turn out to be visionless and clueless. They no longer listen to the dejected voice of the people, not to talk of walking on streets freely; deprived of guards. The people who even voted them into office no longer have access to them. In fact, it takes forever to see a Nigerian politician, in our present time.
When the masses even try to negotiate a meeting with a Nigerian politician, they end up wasting the entire daytime at the waiting room; sometimes in the scorching sun. Politicians now form this busyness with political responsibilities and how constricted their daily timetable is. Were they having a tight schedule before the elections? No! They become lords and masters after election. What is responsible for the change in the behavior of politicians after they are elected into power?
The masses in Nigeria; have become tired of their unsatisfied aptitudes. Prior to elections, politicians beg the masses to test them and they still fail to deliver. They come up to persuade Nigerians that the practically disappointing status quo in the country would come to a terminus when voted into power, all political lies. There is, by the skin of your teeth; any politician who doesn’t tell lies. But when will our politicians stop telling lies to us? Only they themselves will answer that.
One question that is still begging for answer is, has the country changed for good? I don’t think so. The masses are suffering, there is hunger and starvation everywhere, still; these men and women in the helm of our nation’s political affairs are sleeping in deluxe apartments, eating sumptuous meals on kingly tables and journeying on flamboyant cars with highlighted glasses. Who is fooling who? What do we call this? Politicians go into offices with the solitary determination of elevating their individual and domestic financial reserves. On the other hand, the masses sleep without electricity supply, journey on terrible roads, and have even become preys to kidnappers and hostage takers in the streets. To whom shall we run to?
Because they want the masses’ votes, they promise heaven and earth; nonetheless, end up performing poorly. The philosophies of Nigerian political representatives have turned out to be sheer predictabilities and wide-ranging announcements to which they can’t be held responsible. They just come out to sweet talk the masses as if they are hungry little children crying for biscuits and chocolates to eat. This is a complete drama of discomfiture, tomfoolery and verbal abuses on the common people. What a total disservice on the commonalities. The young and old electorates kill themselves throughout elections and are given peanuts at the end of the day. This is a replay of “Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop” syndrome. What happened to our dividends of democracy?
Not long ago, I took timeout to watch five of the 37 governorship candidates competing to oversee Anambra State for the next four years. The public debate was programmed by binary municipal society assemblages; namely, Enough is Enough Nigeria and National Democratic Institute. At the very moment Seun Akinbaloye, the political pundit with Channels Television blew the opening whistle of the debate, I heard these political actors again, acting a script for the future. The pointers of these political swordfighters were loaded with apiary of activities which were also beleaguered at one goal; which is endearing and gaining the backings of the people entitled to vote in Anambra state. When the public debate ended, Nigerians started making commentaries and annotations on who delivered his script better. I smiled because I knew that Nigerians have been sweet talked once more. Is this not what political campaign means?
The complete ecstasy and joyousness that come with electioneering campaign promises is not what people should base their judgement on. I think promises made during electioneering campaigns had better be termed proposals; nothing more, nothing less. This is hinged on the very fact that these advantaged plunderers come out with what could fundamentally be called marketing process, in which candidates present themselves as products and distinguish themselves from other products and make proposals on how they will achieve or perform better if they get the job. At this point, it becomes an issue of the better bidder. The unfortunate people are fooled, while the politician gets into office. If we continue in this light, all these unsuccessful and failed political campaign promises will undeniably give rise to political lethargy and lassitude. The people, on the other hand, will continuously lose trust in the entire process of election and democracy finds itself in the trash can. Is this not already happening in Nigeria?
How on earth can we have politicians promising to instill law and order in the society if voted into office, create stream of traffic on major road and rail networks with a lot of escorts in many vehicles; disturbing the underprivileged commonalities with sirens here and there? It is very annoying to note that irrespective of how congested and impassable the road is, all a politician’s chaperons or aides are anxious about is how to resound their sirens for people to make way. They are just concerned about themselves alone, for the masses are nonentities before them. Just imagine those awful times in traffics, for instance, the last thing you would want to hear is a politician’s vehicle. Some of these politicians are never bothered about the happiness and welfare of the common people who voted them into office. How would a politician in government office, generate commotion in the streets; when he or she is supposed to implement and put the law of country in praxis?
Nigerians can be very funny at times. Why do we celebrate people who don’t care a bit about us? The election campaigns are around the corner, 2019 is imminent. We will soon start hearing and seeing different songs here and there of how great and mighty these politicians are. It is a time to know whose election clatters and tinkles are the favorites of the people. That is when their praises and acknowledgements are put into tunes and tracks to form songs. A time when we start dancing and jumping our lives away because they have appeased us with N500. That is when we will start hearing and listening to songs about what politicians have done or how excellently they have performed.
Embarrassingly to remark is the fact that some political representatives use voting as a lure and magnet to gratify our hungry bodies and souls. They won’t do any infrastructural enhancement in the first two years but the remaining two years is usually crammed with developmental and progressive gaits. They do this just to leave their achievements fresh in the heads of Nigerians in view of the forthcoming elections at the fourth year in office. If you really want to help the downtrodden in the country, why delay it to their point of collapsing? Even now, Nigerians beg for their basic amenities to be met. The only time Nigerian political bigwigs remember to give back to the social orders is when elections are about to happen. At that time, they will repair our roads, give us water that will run for two years, paint our schools and leave them without credible teachers; so as to entice and induce the sentiments of the people entitled to vote.
As citizens of Nigeria, we must have to take our time to think about those things government officials in Nigeria do that are no longer outlandish to us. All these arrogances and impertinences are not sincerely unfamiliar to us; for they are just like those Shakespearian sonnets we learnt in our kindergarten conservatories that we can’t do away with. We must not forget too, that a chimpanzee or a baboon adores a bunch of bananas for the reason that the abdomen desires to be gratified. This is the case of Nigerian politicians prior to elections. They are only friends to the common people before elections. These politicians have pushed this nation into a warfare region over the past donkey’s years, and if this practice is not checked or crisscrossed, it resulting effect can be catastrophic in nature. Hence, politicians need to consider all these realities and their consequences before altering any promises to the masses.
The future of our darling nation is in the fingers of the masses and we must not give it out for peanuts. The masses have the power to elect in and elect out any administration. So, politicians should learn to respect them by fulfilling the promises they make. For Nigeria to grow, politicians must face the real issues that got them into power. The masses need equipped and fortified security agencies; not those who have turned our roads to places where they collect monthly salaries. The masses need good and qualified teachers in our schools, not those who would come to school to sleep and speak bad English to the students. The people need good and constant power supply, not once in a blue moon kind. The people need a buoyant economy, not a recessed one. The masses don’t need publicities and politics of acrimony. Politicians must stop telling lies to the masses and do the needful. The common people are becoming politically aware of the negligence and are prepared to gauge performance by assessing the heights and weights of execution of campaign promises.
Fr John-Duke ‘Selime Akowe is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Edo state, Nigeria.