Op ed

Which Way Nigeria?

There is an unmistakable air of unease in Nigeria’s political climate at the moment. At last, the eighth year of our latest democratic experiment is here. Constitution stipulates and recommends a reelection of fresh hands into political offices. The actual election is just a few days away. Yet, (and why so?), this air of unease deepens by day. One conversant with the culture of political transition in a genuine democracy would find the air here rather out of sorts. Yes there is normally a feeling of muted expectancy, as in perhaps the American style democracy. There, the actors in the political drama are normally known, and as equally well censored. There, the electoral process is well spelt out and catalyzed by the full weight of a sacrosanct constitution. There, the quality of the political drama is measured by the very composition of the dramatis personae. The politicians flay about, passionately advertising themselves, patiently explaining the reasons for their political interests, hopefully looking upon the electorate for the ultimate mandate.

The air here, in Nigeria, is unfortunately different. And not just different, the air here is suffocating. The feeling one gets is not that sense of expectant exultation, of optimistic curiosity which one sees elsewhere. The air here is sinister in its grim suggestion. There is almost a clear sense of premonition. It is like expecting some sort of invasion; there is a feeling that Nigeria is on the brink of invasion by an enemy whose devilment is accentuated by his invisibility, his lack of known identity. At an election, especially after the incumbent had had two straight terms, one expects a real change of guards. The very national psyche somehow expects the dawn of freshness, some sunlight from the monotony of the preceding system. But right now, looking at the unfolding issues on our table, we might only behold a harried cosmetic surgery. It is about two months to the election and almost all the personalities to the presidential office have been indicted by the EFCC. Remarkably though, these are persons not part of, or who dissented from the PDP. Aside from the scandalous fact that more than thirty persons are seeking the presidential seat, this indictment on the very persons seeking political office represents the worst form of national disgrace a country can suffer. Beyond the hullabaloo about EFCC’S choosy program, there are still very basic moral issues ridiculing our choice of political representatives.

It may be beyond the scope of this submission to delve into dissection of Nigeria’s last eight years, but one dares say that when politics become the subject matter of a discourse, other issues are inevitable drawn equally. Looking at Nigeria now, its politics and economy, as it is today, one is filled with a sense of outrage at the utter irresponsibility exhibited till date. The question that pops in becomes the same hackneyed query of the yesteryears; which way Nigeria?

Which way indeed Nigeria? Where are we going? May be about three years ago, when various reforms were introduced into the system, there was some palpable hope that we were at the brink of historical rescue. But looking at issues today, a sense of deception and rape replaces the hitherto brief optimism. What occurs today is at the best a charade; some mad vampires have convened their periodic ceremony of blood, and we are the unfortunate victims of their unholy feast. Imagine the picture! PDP is the acclaimed biggest party in Africa, constituted ironically of statesmen and professionals drawn from different backgrounds, and yet they have organized and are still organizing the most daring election rigging ever witnessed in a representative democracy. There can neither be a better irony, nor a worst tragedy. It forces a direct recollection of Shakespeare’s rhetoric, ‘And yet, they are all honorable men’. The presidential primaries organized last year was a travesty of due process. A chunk of the most promising players in that drama were scared away with either threat of unconditional probe, or outright elimination. And the worst tragedy of it was the purported collusion of even the president. The president: a man almost at the evening of his life, who owes almost all he has to Nigeria, who came into power with almost unanimous goodwill, who has the vast wealth of this nation at his disposal. But what picture of a President? A parody of that exalted position?

Nigeria gradually crawls towards the precipice. The wonder is that most leaders on this grim march are old men. Does a dog eat a bone hung on its neck? Has the world gone so blind as to allow such hallowed generation to indulge their shameless exhibition? No! There are still voices that dare challenge that unnatural mixture. We are joining voices like Soyinka’s to denounce further rape of our collective heritage. We must save our progeny from the plan of these predators who are sworn to our historical annihilation. We must, as Soyinka once put it ‘repudiate all conspiracies of criminal silence’. Yes that silence becomes criminal when it keeps mum in the face of obvious provocation. The school of elders who still prank about in evident enjoyment of this cacophony must be made to pay. There has to be a unilateral plunge into retrieving this nation from the devilment of this minority. There has to be a total trans-valuation, a concerted dissolution of this hellish berg.

So that is the way. We do not sit and shout ‘aye’ at each pitiless haul of political lashing. We must stop whimpering forthwith and come to the realistic notion that our destiny lies on our hands. We must sever our country from the iron fist of the unfeeling harbinger of death. We are the polity, we are the very body of this political being called Nigeria. Yes they can wave us away as just the masses, the inconsequential hoi-poloi, but we have what it takes to make them pay for their negligence. We are the leviathan, the very nucleus of this political assembly and so let us summon courage and nurture a national camaraderie in order to achieve some positive result. It was once fashionable to be inactively optimistic, let us become active and fight to wrest power from these dogs whose only intention for seeking our mandate is to effect our collective hurt. We cannot afford further waste of time, when the Niger Delta has become second only to the middle east as a place of death, when our nights are passed in darkness and our industries are run with generators, when are roads continue to be death traps, when our education system has taken a downward plunge, when myriads of problems beleaguer our national environment. No, we have had enough and now is the time, and now is also the way.

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