Governance: My Nation, my Responsibility

(By Afolabi Obasa)

I have wondered why when discussions in the Nigerian political scene arose, phrases like “do or die affair” or “fight to the finish” always came up.  I believed politics was something an average Nigerian should look up to with keen interest whether in playing the role of a voter or a public office holder.  The contrary is however what holds about Nigerian politics today.  You are seen as messy when you engage in it because “only the messy thrive” and most people are reluctant to vote.  They say – “What is the point anyway.

IT’S a shame that Nigerian politicians are fighting over which party or platform to belong. Fact of the matter is no party or platform in the country today is representative of the change we desire as a nation.

  As far as I’m concerned, the Centenary celebrations marked the end of an era in Nigerian polity – an era where those who led either had no vision or foresight or worked with those who didn’t; an era I frankly don’t want to remember.

  Look around today and what do you see – anger and disgust at a system that has failed her people.  But beyond that, I see a people that have chosen to give failure a big unending hug. Where we are today is not the fault of a group of people, it is the fault of a people.  However, I have no intention to dwell on the past.  My chief concern is the future and fellow Nigerians that future is now.

   Growing up, I have always had a disdain for the Nigerian political scene.  Not that there weren’t or haven’t been exceptional individuals, a good example being the Governor of Lagos, Babatunde Fashola. My disdain is predicated on how it has always looked like a chaotic circus filled with nothing but bigotry and neck pulling.  It was so hard seeing beyond the parade of agbadas and babarigas with hats to match.  It amazed me how most political gatherings started with some serious dancing and acrobatic displays by some cultural troupe and then women in uniform dressing chanting party slogans and singing folk songs – how people gathered not necessarily because they believed in the gospel that was being preached, but just in case there were any freebies —they wouldn’t miss out.

   I have wondered why when discussions in the Nigerian political scene arose, phrases like “do or die affair” or “fight to the finish” always came up.  I believed politics was something an average Nigerian should look up to with keen interest whether in playing the role of a voter or a public office holder.  The contrary is however what holds about Nigerian politics today.  You are seen as messy when you engage in it because “only the messy thrive” and most people are reluctant to vote.  They say – “What is the point anyway.”

   We have created a political scene no Nigerian is proud of.  Isn’t it funny how the same issues come up when we have platforms on charting the way forward – how to tackle corruption, infrastructural problems, improving the educational sector and the likes.  Wait a minute!  Doesn’t that mean we are aware of the problems?  Not just that, we are well aware of our problems.

  So what is the problem? Forgive the pun. A good answer will be this: You don’t get to a position of power based on your proven or believed capacity to bringing solutions regarding front-burner issues, you get there based on your proven capacity to add to the problems.  Maybe that’s a bit far-fetched, but then again, is it?

  I think it’s time for Nigerians to wake up.  Let’s call a spade a spade.  If you believe that your party is no longer following its ‘ideals,’ and you no longer want to be a part of that, you really want to show that you are fed up, and it was through that party you came to power, why not terminate your membership of the party and resign from office.

  And then you have public office holders jumping from one party to the other while still in office based on claims that their supposed former party has lost its founding principles.  Who are you fooling?  And then you have their followers who are basically just herd of sheep jumping ship with them.  Politics of self-interest – Isn’t that obvious?

  I think by now we should be driving these guys out of their offices or our offices with canes and whips.  No, really, aren’t you tired of the same things happening over and over again? Am I suggesting a revolution?  Call it whatever you want.  All I know is our destiny is in our hands.  The future of this great nation is in our hands.

  Consequently, we cannot allow anyone who doesn’t see beyond their backyard to run the affairs of this nation at all spheres of government.  We cannot allow individuals who take advantage of a largely unenlightened populace to spread lies just to get to the seat of power and then, make the same mistakes. We cannot allow individuals who place non-issues over issues, who would stand for one ideology today and another, the next.  We cannot allow those who see themselves first along ethnic or tribal lines before seeing themselves as Nigerians. I’m tired. Really!  The world is moving fast, and Nigeria seems to be folding her arms.  Yes there are claims and there is progress on certain fronts.  But progress at this slow pace isn’t going to get us anywhere.

  When I was much younger, I would flip through the pages of magazines looking at beautiful cities round the world and wonder why my country was so different.  People talk about travelling abroad with so much joy because when they look home, they are ashamed.  They talk about foreign products and places excitedly because their nation hasn’t given them a sense of pride.  Those who do are constantly given reasons to have a rethink.  We are people on a journey with great aspirations but a knack for choosing the wrong drivers and then throwing tantrums at them. But we made the choices.

  I believe the country should have one developmental agenda.  Then, no matter who’s in power, the agenda stays the same.  The approaches to achieving the agenda might be different, but fundamentally, the crux of the agenda remains unchanged.  This would be progressive instead of having every new government come with its own agenda while being eager and happy to trash and sideline that of previous governments.

  I believe criticisms across board should be based on facts and not sentiments, on ideologies and not ambition, on passion and not hatred, and on a drive to bring positive change to the nation and not on wanting to be a pain in the neck of the opposition.  As a matter of fact, I believe we should all have a common opposition and that should be anything that stands in the way of progress for Nigeria.

  I believe a desire to hold public office should be backed by a desire to effecting great change in the life of Nigerians for the better; that servant-leadership shouldn’t just be in words but in deeds.  And for those who are thinking ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,’ I say to you, ‘if you can’t beat them, chase them – out that is.’

   When I say the future is now, I mean the future is now.  Every day I wake up, I do so with the belief that Nigeria is that gift to the world yet to be unwrapped, that the future of Nigeria is full of nothing but colour.  But I’m not waiting anymore.  I have waited enough.  It’s time to unwrap that gift and no matter how much dust and cobwebs it has gathered, fellow Nigerians, we shall unwrap the gift, now.

• Obasa is a writer, blogger and public speaker based in Lagos.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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