Mobilising for Political Change By Eze Onyekpere
There is no limit to the potential of Nigeria and what we can achieve as a nation if and only if we could become more meticulous, hold our leaders to account and play a politics of ideas. Our achievements will know no bounds if we play the politics of development and service delivery. With the events in the last couple of months leading to the registration of All Progressives Congress and Saturday’s splintering of the Peoples Democratic Party, one had expected to hear and learn of some new ideas of governance emerging from these groups who apparently are not happy with the old order. But it appears that the dominating motivation for all these grouping and re-alignment is the raw quest for power without a higher articulation of new and workable ideas of governance.
Essentially, this is a manifestation of elite squabbles for positions without any positive transformational agenda that will lift millions out of poverty, stop the infrastructure deficit or bridge the gaps in the social sectors of education and health. In every sense, it appears that the Nigerian has become a human being left behind in time and space and has been subdued by a leadership that fails to understand its historical mission to liberate not just Nigerians from underdevelopment, but the black race as a whole. What we are witnessing is that issues relating to the economy, poverty, unemployment are taking a back seat and in their place emerges the expression of raw desire for power not backed by any noble intentions but motivated by primitives sentiments of power returning to the North, remaining in the South-South, power moving between the dominant religions, etc.
It is the central focus of this discourse that as the politicians are mobilising, strategising and re-aligning to capture power for the sake of power, it is also imperative for the civil society, the private sector and all non-state actors to start their own mobilisation and alignment which will be fixated on the public good. One should notice that such political alignments in previous election cycles happened very close to presidential primaries and the elections. But the politicians have learnt from their experiences including failures and successes to start the election dance very early. They are taking nothing for granted and planning early so that nothing is left to chance. However, they are planning to overcome their contending counterparts in other parties or political alignments and how they can beat them. They do not take the people – the ultimate sovereigns, into reckoning. We are just there and after their elite manipulations, they believe we will fall in line. But wait a minute, if we organise properly, we would be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and refuse to give our mandate to fake progressives with a track record of mismanagement and corruption. We will be able to find the right candidates for the positions on offer. Do you know that the political elite’s agents of oppression who are assigned to deceive the people and assume power with the intent to continue with “business as usual” can be converted and made to serve the people? This can be done when appropriate sections of civil society make it impossible for fraudulent governance to continue. If the official refuses to bow to the people, he will be shown the door.
Considering the number of unemployed young men and women who roam the streets in search of non-existent jobs and the number of persons who have been victimised by the system, it is imperative that we review our ideas of being stakeholders in the Nigerian project after ascertaining some fundamental truths. The unemployed and the victimised need to know that the jobs and life opportunities are not available and they are not available because resources voted for the creation of the enabling environment have been mismanaged. They should therefore stop wasting time in looking for elusive jobs and dedicate more time to change the political status quo. The students who are currently at home should be told that ASUU is on strike because we have a leadership that fails to honour basic agreements. The relatives of the woman who dies during childbirth because of poor quality maternal health services should be told that the resources for her survival were available but mismanaged by those in authority who believe that their personal greed should trump her right to life. The average Nigerian who hardly gets electricity for three hours a day should be told that we elected a president who despite appointing a plethora of security and intelligence chiefs could not stop the country from losing 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day. 500,000 barrels of crude oil at the current price of over $100 per barrel amounts to $50million per day. This is N800million at the exchange rate of N160 to1USD. For a 30 day month, this is N24billion while for 365 days in 2013; this will come up to N2.920trillion, which approximates 72.5% of the federal budget figure of N4.9trillion. If this leakage is plugged, the saved resources will meet ASUU’s demands in twelve days but the money is currently going into individual pockets.
Throughout history, no set of human beings who have lorded it over others have voluntarily relinquished power and its perks and come to graze in commons. It is part of human nature which is reinforced by social experiences to exploit loopholes in laws and policies to their favour. So the Nigerian society and leadership are not going to change through our doing nothing. Neither will they change through our sermonising. It will change through our doing something by organising and mobilising for change and taking practical actions that result in change. We must also refuse to be deceived that the reason for our current hardship can be explained in the fact that an occupier of a prominent office is Christian or Muslim, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ijaw, etc. We have to assess everyone on the strength of his qualifications and character without any of this unnecessary baggage.
It is in this context that the plethora of non-governmental and civil society organisations, the army of unemployed, the victims of various government policies in education, health, housing, etc should sincerely and earnestly begin a process of mobilizing and organising for change. We should not wait for any sponsors and donors to engage in this task because on our own, we can afford to pick these bills if we are sincere.
Yes the political class started early, we should also start early. Our message should be clear. We are not satisfied with the life we are living; we need change and those responsible for our current situation are not deserving of being allowed to continue at both the federal, state and local government levels. We are also tired of pseudo progressives who as governors and leaders prefer to mismanage and steal local government money and refuse to hold free and fair local government elections. Enough of their deceit! Those who want to lead us must be meticulously interrogated and if found worthy, given a mandate based on an agreed social agenda.
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