National Aphaty: For How Long? By Abubakar Usman
I had on this faithful day decided to send invitations to thirty nine of the contacts in my blackberry messenger asking them to join the #20millionyouthsfor2015 movement so that we can collectively take back governance from our self centered elites who would stop at nothing to milk the nation dry. I tried to explain certain reasons why it is necessary to participate in the process that will bring about the much needed change we desire, but the response I got from those that cared to reply was so shocking that I began to imagine if those responses came from people that are educated and enlightened.
Thirty five of the people I sent the message to do not bother to respond. They were either too busy to digest the content of the message or they simply do not care about my invitation. Well, gladly the other four responded, but only one of them signified interest and soon after joined the movement. The response of the other three was where I got the shock I never expected. The first person told me not to run down his battery with this my 20 million Youths ‘wahala’, while the second person’s response was that we are just wasting our time because we cannot get 20 million youths unless what we mean by twenty million youths are motor park touts, as if there are no Motor Park touts that fall within the age range of a youth, not the PDP kind of youth though.
I had not gotten over the shock of that response when the last person among the four that bothered to respond replied my message. He started by asking if I think it is wise for him to put his life in the hands of this new angel called #20millionyouthsfor2015 that he knows nothing about or remain with the demons (the present crop of leaders) he’s already used to, because as far as he is concerned, this 20millionyouthsfor2015 is more like an initiative of the youths trying to take over what is left of the treasury. His questions lead us into a bbm debate that lasted for about 15 minutes but at the end of it all, he still didn’t see any reason to join the movement because he shares in the pessimism that nothing can be achieved as those who matter in the society will always have their way.
The outcome of our debate left me asking how long we want to remain in this ‘it can’t work’ syndrome. There is this strong fatalistic feeling among citizenry that what will be will be. Sadly, people have become accustomed to accepting the status quo so long as they can take care of their stomach, but how many people in Nigeria can truly and conveniently feed a day. Today, it is about what I can do for myself and not what I can do for the country. I remember how our National day which put an end to the ninety nine years of British rule was always celebrated with pomp and pageantry. Parents, guardian, teachers, school administrators and community leaders looked forward to it. Sometimes new, well ironed clothes were set aside for the National day.
That exemplified the love we had for our dear country Nigeria, but today, national apathy has crept into our thoughts and actions such that we have created the right atmosphere for our leaders to perpetrate their selfish agenda against the collective interest of Nigerians. Even our civic responsibility of participating in the political processes that throws up leaders into public offices has been relegated to the background. The recent governorship elections in states like Adamawa, Sokoto, Bayelsa and Kebbi state are attestation to this. The turnouts of voters to these elections were nothing to write home about.
The consequence of this apathy is the reason why our expectations are downplayed by those we elect to lead us and nothing happens as a result. Apathy is one of the key reasons why one man in the presidential Villa is feeding with 3 million naira per day while his subjects go to bed hungry. It is the reason why the National Assembly members are going home with increased allowance when workers are yet to be paid minimum wage. Apathy is the reasons why justice cannot be obtained from the Judiciary that is supposed to be the last hope of the common man. It is also the key reason why citizens are not armed with the right information as to what happens with the money they pay as tax. Chief among the consequence of citizen’s apathy is our inability to elect credible and corrupt free candidates who have the capacity to deliver good governance at all levels of government.
For how long are we going to be contended with the status quo? For how long are we going to allow corrupt elites enrich their ‘deep holed pockets to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians? How much more? Although, the occupy Nigeria protests which was unprecedented in the history of democracy in Nigeria resulted in putting government on its toes and threw up opportunities for probes into the affair of various government agencies to be initiated, the successes achieved by the protest is a little fraction of the tasks ahead.
What we do and how we participate in the process of governance determines how much we can achieve the Nigeria of our dream. If we must make any meaningful change in this country, then we must embrace citizen participation in politics and governance. The whole concept of democracy is about citizen participation. Without citizen participation, there cannot be genuine democracy. Our leaders know that a politically conscious society is an obstacle to their selfish ambition of corruptly enriching themselves. That is why it has remained their joy that our political consciousness is continuously declining. Plato said “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Therefore, we must get up from the arm chair of criticism to the base of action, because the real action is on the street. We must be united in this struggle. We must seek to be enlightened and educated on what happens around us. We must seize to be on the sideline and get involved in organisations and political parties with which we must achieve the Nigerian dream. “Nigerian deserves better than the epileptic disorder of leadership facing it”, but we can only make it work with our active participation.
Follow @abusidiqu on twitter