(By Japheth Omojuwa)
“As for we the people, we are the reason our country is the mess it is. We have allowed politicians set for us the bar of mediocrity, which we now wallow in as a collective. We are quick to praise governors for building roads, we don’t even mind dancing to their songs of shame when they cut tapes for the launch of transformers that are likely to see more days of darkness than light“.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, may appear to be two different entities but they definitely drink from the same river of delusion. The PDP on its part sees every dissenting voice against its misrule as sounds produced by the APC. The APC assumes that dissent against the PDP is assent to it. They are two entities blinded by privilege and power, corrupted by their distance from modern reality and seemingly permanently deluded by their assumption that Nigeria is a sum of their collective lack of vision and depressing combination of their lack of ideas for national development. How both parties cannot see what average Nigerians see is not only depressing, it comes at a huge cost for our country. While what both parties suffer from does not essentially affect all the members of the parties, the most powerful people in both parties are the worst affected. Take President Goodluck Jonathan who, obviously under the daze of the paranoia that comes with power immediately, sees dissent as nothing but sponsored by his political enemies. The President unashamedly summed up Occupy Nigeria as a movement sponsored by the opposition. As if that was not awkward enough, there is nothing to say the opposition on its part hasn’t been seeing popular dissent against the ruling government as some form of support for itself. Both parties need to smell the coffee.
Of the two, the APC is easily the most disappointing; only a person who is capable of being disappointed by an entity s/he has no expectations in will today feel disappointed by the PDP. It is like a wife saying she is disappointed in a man who has consistently cheated on her for the last 15 years of a 15-year marriage. That they are not divorced must definitely have been because she somehow could not do it, certainly not because she expects the man to change. Nigerians can no longer be disappointed in the PDP, the party has consistently been a disaster, a destroyer of our common hope in what our country can be and the greatest locust to have ever descended on our people. When it comes to the PDP, our people know that as a collective, it is the worst thing to have happened to our country. You’d find Nigerians scream, “PDP!” when a referee takes the wrong decision. The PDP is our national synonym for cheating, corruption and failure. There is nothing to say this will not change sometime in the future but the past 15 years, the PDP has been as much a disaster to our country as Boko Haram has been the last few years. Nigerians are disappointed in the APC for the same reason they had given up on the PDP.
Virtually everyone who cared about Nigeria agreed there was a need for a credible alternative that’d challenge the PDP’s hegemonic hold on power. The PDP’s arrogance was by now sky high. They knew that irrespective of performance, they’d always win elections. This explained the people’s desperation for another party of a different kind. The APC appeared on the scene under this atmosphere last year. It had taken years to form but it had finally formed. At the beginning, the Heavens seemed to put everything right for it. The PDP was soon in disarray as Bamanga Tukur, the then national chairman, was doing his best to help it implode. The PDP has since survived that storm but it didn’t without the APC gaining from its losses. Idealistic citizens frowned upon the APC taking in these disgruntled PDP members but it was what it had to do to not only continue to get strong but to weaken the PDP. What cost the APC’s the people’s goodwill was not as much about what the party did as it is about what it did not do. As its big players went on a tour of the country meeting up with old power brokers like Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (who later joined), Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and the rest, it appeared to the people the APC was not about them after all, it was about the same old gang. There was a people-movement waiting to be roused, a movement that had been bred by the current administration’s nonchalant attitude to corruption and the people’s welfare. That harvest was left to rot as the APC looked away. In the end, the APC, at least in the eyes of the people, had become the new PDP. Whether or not the perception is right or wrong does not matter because elections in Nigeria are based on perception more than anything else anyway. Logic is not a popular candidate in these climes.
As for we the people, we are the reason our country is the mess it is. We have allowed politicians set for us the bar of mediocrity, which we now wallow in as a collective. We are quick to praise governors for building roads, we don’t even mind dancing to their songs of shame when they cut tapes for the launch of transformers that are likely to see more days of darkness than light. We have had our brains transformed by TV ads that compare one of our worst leaders ever, Goodluck Jonathan, to some of the best leaders the world has ever produced. Only in Nigeria can such an insanity pass. We claim we want corruption to stop but we will not vote for those who don’t share bags of rice. We have now turned the two main political parties into some of West Africa’s major distributors of rice. Pretending we haven’t been part of the problems of our country is to deceive ourselves. Not only have we been part of the problems, we are essentially the problem. We have valued money over character, we have valued rice over competence. Our low threshold for leadership has now meant that men who should be rotting in jail are not only campaigning to be governors, some have even won. Even in the historically enlightened South-West, we have men who if they dare enter the United States will be arrested and jailed. Men who have had crime movies made just for them. If in doubt, just Google “Orange is the new Black” to see how one of such men is now a kingmaker here in Nigeria.
It is easy to say poverty is responsible for why we no longer care about anything but money, but no one has scientifically proved that poverty erodes the human sense of value. There are poor people who will not compromise their values for cash let alone cooked or uncooked rice. That is not to say some people who collected bags of rice chose their candidates based on who gave the bigger bag or who didn’t give at all. Ekiti State, for instance, has had ‘stomach infrastructure’ debated against conventional infrastructure. No one seems to speak about human development.
There will be no Peoples Political Party, at least not one that’d be started, funded by and run for the Nigerian masses. Expectations for a Youth Party are over-ambitious but were that to even happen, youth has not been proved to mean the same thing as sound character or competence. In fact, we have seen young people replay the songs of ethnicity and some of the young people pretending to want to run for office have themselves been seen defending corruption openly. If being a young person is one’s argument for political power, that argument will not stand against the fact that leadership is about capacity, ability and antecedence. In the end, there is nothing to say we Nigerians want good governance anyway. We just want to ‘hammer.’ Prosperity is the gospel!
Simply put, between the PDP and the APC, the difference is not clear. This is the sad reality confronting us as a nation.
Omojuwa, a political commentator and social media entrepreneur.
“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.”