The Prevalence of Political Polarization in Nigeria By Muhammed Yakubu
Polarization in the political concept simply captures a division or divergence on the basis of ideological extremes amongst a group of people which makes them opposing sides. This concept has recently been intensified in the Nigerian polity; this narrative takes a glimpse at our 15 years of unhindered democracy and its effects on the average Nigerian whom is oblivious of where this democracy leads.
In retrospection, to aptly capture this overview, its worthy to do a review on how we came about our democracy briefly. After gaining independence and becoming a Republic afterwards in 1963, The NPC (Popular in northern Nigeria) and the NCNC (Popular in the eastern Nigeria) synergized as political parties and won the presidential election which made Dr Nnamdi azikiwe our first democratic President, while the AG (Action Group) political party headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo became the official Opposition, which wasn’t seen as a foe or detractor to the Central government, but as an Alternative government which enjoyed the privilege of dishing out constructive criticisms on how certain decisions and actions should be undertaken by the govt.
Hence making public their preferred strategy and blueprint as the case may be, worthy of note is that even with this, the opposition party was still invited to join government functions and discourse. This was how our pro-independence democrats conducted themselves, with a high level of national consciousness, dignity and patriotism, as they knew and worked towards the great nation they all craved for as leaders.
In our present day democracy, our leaders seem to have drifted away from these precious virtues with which our foundation was built upon. The APC and PDP now treat themselves with disgust and animosity all in their quest to acquire and stay in power with all vigor and desperation at the expense of the abject Nigerian living on his hand to mouth destitution waiting for the gov’t to provide him or her a job to help salvage their family. Less we forget the APC comprises of a large chunk of PDP members so where is the sudden hatred and distrust brewing from.
Permit me to chip in a little preamble here of my personal experience I had in a cab about 2 weeks back, sat in my long overall mostly worn by muslims ”Jalabiya” pondering how to go about my days schedule. A co-passenger joined on transit and I guess my dressing had thrown him into default apprehension, uneasily he beckoned for a conversation and asked me my name which I replied “ Yaqubu” and he exclaimed ,ahh Gowon and gave a handshake and told me his name was Obinna. Mildly irritated, I forced a smile unknown to him; I wasn’t a fan of Gowon. I told him if a Leader decides to venture into and have a lavish wedding when lives were been annihilated in his country going through a Civil war. I wasn’t a fan of him.
His anxiety and misgivings became obvious; on that tone I decided to be amiable and began to speak about the ills of the Nigerian society, basically the Insecurity. As was trending at that time I spoke about the incarcerated northerners in Abia State and the resultant effect of been tagged and profiled with the negative sect called ‘Boko Haram’ like he had evidently done when he boarded the taxi. I told him about how Illiteracy and Social injustice had perversely affected a large chunk of northern Nigeria and how it could break a person, hence a rebel and an enemy of the state is created, and how this fault basically lies at the threshold of the northern leaders.
But then, on a holistic view, our leaders would not buy these ideas and tackle it pragmatically. They prefer to politicize and trade blames while the vulnerable populace are still exposed to trauma and carnage of this unrepentant blood letters, so they can use this point to gain cheap political edge during campaigns in the forthcoming general elections. I must say at this point that no political party, ethnic group or religion is excused from this menace, as this pertinent issues are only be brought into the fold when it’s time for another election so they can dish out fanciful intents and illusive make beliefs to the electorate, As many conspiracy theories have indicted them all and the inadvertent pestilence that looms. Thus affirms the recently released US documents that says ‘The Nigerian government should be blamed if the missing chibok girls aren’t found’.
My focal point here is this, if our leaders at all level are so callous and their fixation for power and pecuniary gains allows them to condone or perpetuate these crimes at the expense of our dissipating future to terrorism, the Nigerian youths still join in treading these religious, political and ethnic lines for our own sake and posterity. It is mind boggling when one sees the abrasive and taunting tone used by youths especially on social media. It’s pathetic to note that we can’t even have an honest and objective discourse without bringing in prejudice or playing these sensitive cards for which we all belong to as aforementioned.
More so, humanity and our innate senses should serve as a guarding light to us instead of succumbing to these sensitivities and partisan politics; instead of fashioning out ways to end this scourge that has bedeviled our dear nation, we prefer to play the wrong cards of our forbearers, and if this is allowed to stay aloof just like our differences, the implosion will come forth as envisaged and no one would be left to tell the tales of war. I became exasperated when hearsays and opinions had it that ‘the Emab/banex plaza bombing lately was targeted at only the Christians and igbo’s’, how delusional and misguided can someone be? Is a shopping mall selective of customers?
Conclusively, if we must right our past and face the present, we have to fight our leaders together as none deserves our sympathy and support. Whilst everyone thinks they are saying the truth by taking sides. Alas! The truth is keeping our opinions aside and reaching out for peace before this encroaching menace engulfs us all as we are the ones losing our future to terror. Like Gani Fawehinmi aptly said, “After we lost our Pro-independence leaders, the devil crept into Nigeria and hasn’t left since then”. I hope these upheavals can be mitigated by the incumbent Govt or new Govt after the 2015 elections as that would be the real test of their Competence. God bless Nigeria!!
Muhammed Yakubu writes from Minna
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