Bitterness and anger is all over the faces of Nigerians. They have suffered untold hardship for decades, this you cannot contest. Everyone is virtually crying out for help in the midst of plenty.
All they hear is billions has been spent without seeing or feeling the effect or trillions stolen. Roads are in bad state. Air travel is not safe.
Rails are in comatose. Schools are declining in both quality of teaching and infrastructure. Hospitals are nothing to write home about. Inflation is high and economic hardship in at its peak. Your wealth is now measured by the size of your power generating set. There is frustration on the faces of University and Polytechnic graduates who roam our streets in their millions without jobs. Not everybody can be an entrepreneur so do not start with the rhetoric of “become job creators and not job seekers”. Some people need the experience from paid employment to get the push.
Crime is on the increase and bombs now go off at will. They say over 60% or about 112 million are living below the poverty line in a country of almost 170 million people. The anger is against the ruling party. Afterall, our deceptive federal republic is unitary with almost all the economic and military power concentrated at the centre. Therefore, those under performing state governors and local government chairpersons are having a nice time with little or no criticism while sitting on billions they get monthly from the federation account.
There was a debate on Twitter in the recent past about the fiery Lawyer and Serving Overseer of Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, Pastor Tunde Bakare.
The motive of this article is not to question his actions. However, worthy of note is that he is speaking out against bad governance and thus exercising his constitutional right as a Nigerian. Yes! We need more of our religious leaders to emulate this. At least, some of our ruthless politicians still give them some respect. Religious faithfuls are their members. If they genuinely care about the wellbeing of their members, why not speak out against those making life unbearable for them?
My problem however is what I consider a shortsighted or biased approach to saving Nigeria from the claws of the wicked. Yes! I call it looking beyond the PDP.
PDP stands for Peoples Democratic Party, the self-styled largest political party in Africa. They have been at the helm of affairs of our great but incapacitated nation since 1999 when we welcomed the fourth republic after many years of very inhumane military rule. Politicians all over the world will always join a political party to advance their political careers or ambition and Nigeria has never been different (the 1999 military-imposed constitution does not allow for independent candidacy). Some politicians were members of PDP before leaving for other political parties for reasons best known to them. They are exercising their rights and freedom of association.
A lot of us are now critics, social and political analysts or even activists especially on social media and just recently, Senate President, David Mark called for the “regulation” of social media because it is used to demean our leaders. I wonder the kind of planet the number three man in Nigeria lives. Evidently, Nigerians who have embraced social media in order to engage government are increasing by the day and they (government) are feeling the heat. It is as simple as accessing the internet, create a Twitter or Facebook account and nowadays blogs, just like mine. We are exercising our freedom of speech to its peak. Some individuals take it further, by walking the talk and creating platforms for change. That is good for our democracy, even though it ought to be constructive and not all about spreading falsehoods and advancing self interest by covering with being vocal and fighting for social justice.
Notwithstanding, our leaders need both the good and bad criticism because it is our way of expressing this wound of anger, frustration and bitterness that gets bigger daily. To some, freedom of speech does not restrict them from expressing their opinion in whichever way they want to. While some are doing this for the love of their country and humanity, others are opportunists looking to profit by ranting and attract attention for individual favours.
We have seen vocal individuals who end up in government and speak from both sides of their mouth without remorse. Many people are after getting rid of PDP come 2015 general elections, including me. Our problem however as a nation needs remedy beyond taking PDP out of the picture. Our problem are those individuals who are so short sighted that they dwell in vanity. Their style of public leadership is to enrich themselves, families, friends and associates at the expense of all of us.
The fact is, they are not only in the PDP, and as we are eliminating PDP, we should do away with those looters who may leave the PDP or are already out to come woo us in the garments of other political parties.
Bad eggs are everywhere. Selfish leaders exist in all political parties. Opposition parties have been in control of some states of the federation. Appraise them and see what they have offered their respective states since 1999. The tag of ‘opposition parties’ cannot cajole a large number of Nigerians. We have been fooled for so long that we can hardly trust our leaders, be it PDP or not. We want a better Nigeria and care less about your party even though a democratic and prosperous Nigeria will thrive with truly democratic and policy driven political parties. The barber down my street or the woman selling tomatoes at the nearest market to you wants a society, which offers dividends of democracy regardless of the political party.
On a lighter note, those who think politics is a dirty game are not aware that they are throwing the future of their children, grand children and generations yet unborn away and should have a re-think. Politics affects OUR LIVES. If you believe you have the vision, passion and competence to move Nigeria forward, do not stay in your closet and keep lamenting about how you can proffer solutions. Come out!
Offer yourself for service and sell your brand. The people will decide if they want you or not. Not everyone will contest in elections to serve their nation. There are those who exhibit excellent traits of good followership and those ready to express themselves through their votes. The best you can do as a citizen is to exercise your franchise (vote or be voted for). YOU CANNOT STAY ON THE FENCE! Stand up to defend your votes to ensure it counts and demand good governance from whoever emerges the winner regardless of their political party as far as it is the people’s vote who brought them in.
Do not just fight the PDP but battle bad leadership perpetuated by individuals, groups of persons or political parties who sing the song and dance to the tune of wickedness, greed and calamity.
God bless Nigeria.
Anthony Ebitimi Owei