Behind every act of nicety or activism from any Nigerian politician these days, watch out for a veiled intent to secure your soul for the 2015 general elections. Suddenly, we are inundated with schemes and designs on how individual politician and political party will get their own piece of the mighty Nigerian cake come 2015. The volume of acrimony following this blatant scramble is totally unbelievable; it is actually ungodly, if you permit me!
Two clear years away from the next general elections, politicians are employing every possible method toward recruiting as many a pawn as possible for their upcoming war. Their tactics are not entirely different from what we are used to, but if we are not wary, they will con us, leaving us to lick our wounds after being terribly used once again! That is if we are left with a country by the time they get done with us.
There are frightening signs that Nigeria may not survive the 2015 elections. I am not talking about the alarm raised by the United States of America here; I am talking about present and continuous tendencies which our leaders exhibit daily. Vituperations which portend baleful consequences for the polity. I will give two worrisome examples.
Not too long ago, the Northern Elders Forum issued a warning that unless the North got back the Presidency in 2015, Nigeria would not survive. At the same time, kinsmen of the current President are threatening to bring down the roof on all of us if he is not retained in office. Well, one of these must happen to the exclusion of the other and God help us if the other side does not take all of us down. And I do not doubt their ability to do it, after all someone promised to make Nigeria ungovernable in 2011 and that is exactly what has happened. Before they recruit us, common Nigerians into their war however, I think we must pause to ask ourselves whose interests these people are after in all this grandstanding as facts lend credence to the position that the origin of a Nigerian President has never made an impact on his kinsmen.
In Nigeria’s 53 years of independent nationhood, the North has governed for 37 years yet the common man in the North has nothing to show for it except for grinding poverty and abject lack of opportunities. Courtesy of Northern Nigeria, this country has the highest number of out of school children in the world! This means that the North is not just lagging behind, it is not preparing for the future. Poverty is highest in the north-west and north-east of the country with rates put at 77.7% and 76.3% respectively; these are people who live on less than 150 naira, the equivalent of one United States Dollar per day. The condition of the woman in Northern Nigeria is one of the worst in the world. It starts with lack of education, followed by early marriage cum pregnancy and the lack of adequate medical attention which could lead to anything from lifelong deformation to maternal and infant death. Women and children are subjected to incredible traditional practices which detract from the quality of life. That is not to talk about the hardship which the Boko Haram insurgency, to which these war mongers have no answer, has inflicted on the common man.
And what did former President Obasanjo’s two-time leadership bring to his people in the South-West. The current state of the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way and the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway which leads to his Otta home tells the tale of the state of things in the South West when he left office. Obasanjo’s presidency did not change the fortune of that 70 year old farmer whose weak legs trek for hours to get to his farm daily; neither did it better the lot of that vulnerable orphan child on the streets of Lagos or Ibadan.
And has President Jonathan’s current occupation of Aso Rock brought phenomenal improvement to his people in the South-South? Absolutely not! Has the environmental degradation stopped? Have more schools been provided for children. Has the incidence of maternal, newborn and child death decreased or has malaria stopped killing people in the Niger Delta?? Do people in the Niger-Delta now have world class roads, simply because a son of the soil has become president for the first time? So this talk about the part of the country which should take the next turn is just to feather the nest of the political class. This hustle and jostle on behalf of some primordial interests is totally about the interest of the elite, the common man is not their concern.
At the moment, Nigeria remains one of four countries where Polio ravages children. Our elite embark on medical tourism to the United Kingdom, the United States and India for the most basic of ailments while the majority of our people become rudderless and uncared for. From Yenogoa to Abeokuta down to Enugu and Kafancha, poverty has become a robe in which our people sleep, wake, walk the streets and sleep again. Lack of opportunities have killed the dreams and ingenuity of the average Nigerian, yet our leaders bicker over things that have no bearing on our lives.
Were we their concern, members of the political class would currently focus on accomplishing some other objectives than electoral victory in 2015? Rather than set the country on fire in advance with their verbal virulence, attention would be on the goals which world leaders set as benchmark for the development of nations in the year 2000?
Known as Millennium Development Goals, the eight point agenda aims at the advancement of humankind through the attainment of peace and security, reduction of poverty and the sustenance of environmental and human rights. By 2015, nation states are expected to have taken significant steps to reduce extreme poverty, attain universal primary education, reduce the newborn and child mortality, reduce maternal death, reduce the incidence of malaria, HIV/AID, Tuberculosis and all such ailments, ensure environmental sustainability and form global partnerships for development.
A dedicated political class would coalesce in the interest of the nation and strategise on moving close to attaining some of these goals since our country’s total attainment is manifestly impossible. But that is not the priority list of our leaders. If they collectively make moves that would save us from poverty, hunger and disease, how would they ever be able to taunt us with crumbs and manipulate us to do their biddings during the 2015 elections?
Would it not serve their interest better to drum divisive beats into our ears and create mutual hatred, getting us to fight and kill each other even when we do not know why we are doing so?
In every democratic society, politics takes the back seat immediately after elections; those who are elected into office, no matter what their party affiliations are, face the serious business of governance, leaving politics in the background, but that is not Nigeria, our leaders play politics with our lives all round the clock.
This is why I think no Nigerian, where ever you come from should allow himself to be used in the entrenchment of the selfish interest of those who do not love us. In spite of the difference in our tongues, the challenges of poverty, growing insecurity, lack of adequate healthcare as well as hunger affect us all. The questions that we should ask them in 2015 should revolve around specific plans to alleviate these burdens that we bear and not in the language which we speak. Out future are in our own hands!
Adedokun, a Lagos based PR consultant, wrote in via [email protected] You can follow him on twitter @niranadedokun