The only constant thing in life, as the age old aphorism goes, is change. Implied in this is the feeling that life is not static; it changes as it goes on. The most contentious word in Nigeria's political lexicon today is change. It is contentious because while many yearn, yell and demand for it, some others stuff their ears to it and if possible, will not mind carrying out an exorcism to ensure that the word is permanently shut off from wherever they are. How one takes the change that is wildly trumped in Nigeria today depends on one's positioning in the roiling political sphere in the country. While those favored by the farcical running of the country's affairs do everything to stultify change, those at the other end-and they are legions- want change so badly. While those that immensely benefit from the gargantuan corruption that has been made an integral component of governance in Nigeria, especially in the last six years will do everything to frustrate change, those that have been so badly assailed by the vicissitudes of a mismanaged state see in change, their opportunity to get their just recompense from a state they feel has treated them so awfully. So it is different strokes for different people hut change still remains the only constant in life so the big question remains; with the present state of Nigeria at present, who doesn't want change?
Who wants the status quo to remain as it is today! Who stands to lose should we change the dawdy way our nation is ran? Who believes that we have hit out optimum best with the crumbled and wrecked country we have today? These questions are germane for us to calibrate the Nigerian citizenry on two clearly distinct lines and take stock as a way of rightly approaching the multifarious problems of statehood we are grappling today. It is apt for us to separate the sheep from the goats and reach a conclusion of what may likely be the outcome of the March 28 presidential election.
Who doesn't want a change from the state of acute corruption where the pestilence is made to assume a domineering role in the governance of the country? Who doesn't want a change from the recurrent stories of trillions of Naira and billions of dollars that get stolen by itchy fingered government officials on a daily basis? Who doesn't want a change from a seedy contract culture that deigns government contracts as settlements for various political jobs done for those in government? Who doesn't want a change from a situation where we have allegedly spent over $35 billion on power for the past sixteen years and today, we are suffering from a near total national blackout, with exorbitant tariffs even after a failed privatization of public power supply?
Who in Nigeria today, doesn't want a change from a situation where millions of unemployed graduates were extorted N1,000 each, packed into all available stadia like sardines and some trampled to death for nonexistent 3,000 immigration jobs? Who doesn't want a change from such ravaging poverty that has placed an oil rich country as having the second largest population of poor people in the world while our so called leaders lead a mind boggling life in obscene opulence? Who doesn't want a change from a country riddled with unbridled impunity where the rich and powerful is encouraged to prey on the weak and the poor for their survival? Who doesn't want a change from a country where the health sector has died irretrievably while the citizenry are allowed to procure death in the glorified mortuaries that pass as clinics and hospitals? Who doesn't want a change from a country where our educational sector is so poorly rated such that our schools cannot even compete in the West African sub region! Who doesn't want a change from a country where a shoeless president measures prosperity by the number of parasites that live off stealing the commonwealth and buying private jets?
Who doesn't want a change in a country where a convoluted petroleum sector has ensured that even at one of the highest prices of fuel per liter in the world, we are today struck down by fuel crisis and petrol is sold at over N150 a liter where you see it? Who doesn't want a change in a country where a sitting government cannot maintain refineries built by former military rulers but still appropriate billions of dollars as maintenance cost while leaving the country to fully depending on over priced imported petroleum products? Pray, who doesn't want a change from a country where kerosene is over priced at over N160 per liter but where government fools itself that kerosene is sold at N50 a liter so that the N110 difference is multiplied by the trillions of liters they say we consume and shared out to cronies and party men as kerosene subsidy?
Who doesn’t want a change in a country where the country is fast becoming tissue paper, where inflation has made mincemeat of the citizens and where standard of life is so unreachable that free and healthy citizens improvise every crooked means to survive? Who doesn’t want a change in country where able bodied citizens engage in every desperate effort to escape to our less endowed neighbours, a country whose citizens are deported in droves by war torn Sudan?
Who doesn't want a change from a country where life expectancy has plummeted from 56 to 39 in the six years of the present government even as an unprecedented oil boom has ensured that the same government makes more money that four preceding regimes combined? Who doesn't want a change from a system where rouges, criminals, fake pastors, scoundrels are freely shared the national patrimony when hundreds of millions cannot afford one decent meal a day? Who doesn't want a change in a country where state resources are treated as free fund by rampaging party chieftains when mass poverty makes unimpeded rounds among the famished Nigerian citizenry? Who doesn’t want a change from a system where the hefty increment in petrol prices three years ago has become a SURE-P slush fund freely raided by overfed party leaders while millions die of want each week? Who doesn't want a change from a situation where the Works Ministry was allocated a paltry N11 billion in the 2015 budget yet a private television station that does hatchet jobs for the PDP was allegedly given N10 billion to manufacture and run smear hate propaganda against the opponents of the PDP?
Who doesn't want a change in a situation where, as former CBN Governor, Charles Soludo alleged, a sitting government has not added any kobo to the foreign reserve left by its predecessor but has rather depleted it in questionable circumstances even as oil was selling at more than double the price when this foreign reserve was built up? Who doesn't want a change from a country where the former CBN Governor, Emir Sanusi Lamido alleged that $20 billion was unremitted to the country's treasury by a shady NNPC but the issue was deliberately ignored? Who doesn't want a change in a country where the same Soludo alleged and insists strongly that a whopping N30 trillion was stolen under this regime?
Who doesn't want a change from a state hobbled by a despicable show of lack of clue and incompetence by a sitting government; a state where infrastructures have decayed proportionally, where the fangs of the state of nature are so unfurled that life totters on the Hobbesian fringe? Who doesn't want a change from a country where roads are perpetually bad and government gloat about poor patch works on few roads? Who doesn't want a change from a country where graduate unemployment is a norm? Who doesn't want a change from a country where party men and enablers live a life of sybaritic pleasure; at the expense of the over 140 million others who have no idea where the next meal will come from? Who doesn’t want a change from a country where over 400,000 barrels of oil are stolen daily by God-knows-whom while many are paid trillions every year to guard oil pipelines? Who doesn’t want a change in a country where rehabilitated criminals are empowered with such tremendous resources to make them trillionaire owners of choice jets, properties and proprietors of universities?
Who doesn't want a change in a country where a sitting government desperate to continue in power, has deployed extensive state fund solely to run a campaign of hate, lies, propaganda, untruth, forgeries, smear bricks, abuses, insults and blackmail when it should be advertising what it did with the enormous resources that accrued to it these past six years? Who doesn’t want a change from a party which had been in power for sixteen years but today runs ragged, confused and tattered behind the looming silhouette of the opposition candidate?
Who doesn't want a change in a country riffled thoroughly by insecurity, intentionally promoted ethnic and sectarian hatred? Who doesn't want a change from a country where a sitting government had invested so heavily in dividing Nigerians along tribal, ethnic and religious lines for its own selfish interests? Who doesn't want a change from a country where criminals rule as unchallenged warlords while trillions of Naira voted yearly as security budget disappear into the ubiquitous pockets of party henchmen? Who doesn’t want a change from a country where citizens depend on I-pass-my-neighbour generators to power their houses, where they improvise their security, where they beg for drinkable water from those that are blessed to sink boreholes, pave their roads, etc?
I may go on and on but for brevity and space but the imperatives for change in Nigeria today are so overwhelming that it is not difficult to discern why the word Change has assumed a life of its own. I know why Nigerians want change, so do majority of Nigerians but I don’t know why those that are fighting change are doing so. I will be glad to be so educated. Meanwhile, I and my family have chosen to vote for change. So choose for yourself what to vote for.
Peter Claver Oparah
E-mail: [email protected]