WEDNESDAY COLUMN BY USSIJU MEDANER
Last week, I began a random view of a couple of issues and persons as they affect and contribute to the rot of the Nigeria nation and the unwellness of the state systems; the target being the unholy acts and dispositions of many citizens, at all levels of operations that has maimed the nation and impair its capacity to grow and develop. This week, I will continue along the same line of my roving thoughts.
There are so many friendly enemies engaged in the Nigeria project; so many who serve for personal gains and would literally turn against the system if at any time, if the need to attain their selfish ends demands the same. And very unfortunately, those in this category seem to outnumber the rest that seek the wellness of the country.
Else I forget, before I get into the beat for the weak, my take on the ongoing Arab-Africa summit in Saudi Arabia should set the tone for my work this week. The summit to me has proven to be more beneficial, productive and profitable to Nigeria in all ramifications. In comparison to others Nigeria has participated in, in recent times, we have seen specific commitments to actions on bilateral agreements with set timelines of implementation of trade and investment. A great plus coming to Nigeria from the summit, but then, I am worried and concerned about the Governor Bala Mohammed’s continuous presence around Mr. President; it begins to appear to me like a man playing a set political game in the manner of most Nigerian politicians. Always wrapped as a Greek gift. The presidency should be aware.
Now, to my take for the week. When exactly are we going to learn as Nigerians and realise that some of these people called politicians are taking us for a ride. Without these set of politicians and their selfishness and commitments to setting the people against one another, and the system against the people, Nigeria would have been a haven for Nigerians. We have no problems but the ones created by the men and women who are literally bent on self perpetuation in the corridors of power; both at the centre and across the states and local government areas.
Corruption was manufactured and tended to maturity by the same people, and today, it has become a norm and practice for people to clamour for political positions and government offices but for the primary purpose to steal. It is as pathetic as having more than 70 percent of the national wealth under direct control of less than 1 percent of our population and yet unable to do anything about it successfully. Efforts to arrest and address corruption are again and again met by another corruption and squarely being disarmed.
Cut across political parties, the states in the federation, and as vocal as they come, these set of politicians take the stage, flow seamlessly on the media, mirroring fake innocence and commitments to national survival, growth and development, but spend the day and night parlaying with all government in power political contractors to usurp all chances at national emancipation.
And you would think Nigerians would wake up to know what exactly they are up against and contending with; unfortunately, rather than see who the enemies are, we line up behind them to disintegrate the power of the true leaders and believers in Nigeria project. We would rather organise to make the states or the country ungovernable just to destroy a single man’s chances at future polls, while we fail to realise we are indirectly destroying ourselves and our country.
When some politicians ganged up with clerics, most especially the Christian clerics, to set the Christian population against certain candidates, little did they know that regardless of the outcome of the election, they would be creating an eternal barricade between the adherents of the two major religions in the country and setting up the country for a nearly irreparable religious intolerance and all its associated vices in the country. When they turned the pulpits into campaign platforms and were steaming the church to take back their country, rather than recognising their game and stood for the unity and sanctity of the country, we were enjoying the narrative and became their street loudspeakers. Here we are now dealing with religious baggage, depriving the nation of working as a united people.
In the build up to the 2023 presidential election, contestants explored all dark means to turn Nigerians against the systems of the state, all in the bid to discredit a particular candidate and limit his chances in the election. After the election, days to the delivery of the tribunal judgment on the presidential petitions, we saw another aberration against the country by the politicians as the National Labour Congress was drafted into a nationwide protest and threat of a strike action; the system was boiled up all on the bid to force the hands of the judiciary to dispense favourable judgment towards their preferred candidates.
Nigerians were taken for a ride as the labour leaders became an instrument in the hands of the politicians and the citizens, the toys, yet, we did not see anything wrong. We followed blindly, joined in heating up the country to achieve their goals ignorantly and unconsciously. Luckily, the draft failed. But it would remain a reality that Nigerians are so susceptible to manipulations.
Now, we just had the off-cycle elections in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states. And what did we see again, the NLC President suddenly pulling together a protest against accumulated unpaid workers’ salaries in a state where government workers have been up in praise of the state government. Yet, Nigerians would not recognise the bottom line, and the real intent of the protest. It has become a recurring decimal that is obvious to all sane citizens: the NLC leadership is an appendage of one of the opposition parties, and would always be drafted to do its part in campaigning for some particular candidates. And that is possible only because we, keep allowing our emotion to get over us as a people, keep patterning our thinking and responses as premeditated by the elements who are enemies but present themselves as friends of Nigeria and Nigerians.
While the NLC outing that led to the suspected attack on its national President was clearly a political move to steer the people of Imo state against the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma in the election, many failed to see the truth and flow with the painted lies.
Another worrisome outcomes coming from the conducts of the three off-cycle elections are the people’s responses to INEC performance and the credibility of the elections. Simultaneously, we had elections in three states; as witnessed, we saw the provision of adequate security across the states where the elections were held and a deep commitment from INEC to conduct free, fair and transparent polls. Reports of early release of election materials, early take off of the exercise, effective deployment of the iRev and quick responses to reported incidents of anomalies. Yet, despite these, we have gone to record distorted versions of events to meet our biases and political emotional alignments. Because APC won in Kogi state and Imo state, attempts to paint the elections in the two states black have been on the rise in all the media. It was normal for PDP to win in Bayelsa without rigging, but APC can only have won by rigging.
Some people, and quite many, have created a strange notion of a ruling party that should not win election because of underperformance; yet, the party has continued to win elections because eventually, it is the people that vote, not the roadside theorists, the projectionists and the political speculators. How on earth would a governor rigged to win the entire 27 LGAs of a state? Does it even make sense that the people do not want you and yet vote massively for you? In Kogi state, they were not there when APC was creating political alliances among the Okuns and Ebira people that resulted in mass turnout and support to crush the other side number. They were not there when PDP gave its banner to an unsellable candidate, but they would wonder why the ruling party would overwhelmingly defeat a non existing PDP candidate, who was roundly unaccepted across the state, even in his own LGA, where all he does is flaunt his wealth in the face of biting general hardship.
For these elections, INEC deserves real commendation and, we must give the agency. The Nigeria Police rose to the occasion and provided all-around security as promised during the elections; we cannot afford to overlook it. Rather than consciously forcing the people to see rigging that did not take place, we should be pointing at the gains from the elections and how to carry them forward into all future polls.
Until that time comes, when Nigerians begin to independently and objectively make decisions on issues of national implications, without subjecting themselves to emotional acceptance of pass-down rhetoric from these enemies of our commonwealth, we will continue to make the wrong decisions and keep upholding the wrong course of actions that negatively affect the country and our togetherness.
While they would not change or stop projecting their self-serving messages, like the population that has repeatedly heard them but still chooses to do the right thing and standby the country, it is high time the rest of us heard them, but stop following their leads.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA!