Seek Ye First Political Reform (1) By Jude Feranmi
A lot of people want CHANGE to happen in a jiffy. A lot more are expecting an overnight change while a lot more are not even expectant of CHANGE no matter what form it presents itself. I am optimistic about the future even though up till now, it appears very bleak. It however seems to me only reasonable to be pragmatic about the state of the country as it will really help in charting a course on the way to the Nigeria of our dreams. This piece is a reflection of many episodes of observation, researching and trying to really pin point a place to start the unwinding of the many web of woes that we find ourselves. Chinua Achebe once said we need to find the place where the rain started to beat us if we would ever get it right as a country. The question, where should we start from as a country is one of the questions that its answers, no matter how logically presented would be subjected to many criticisms and many counter arguments. I only want to use this piece to state my perspective to effecting CHANGE and improving our lives as a nation, as a people and as a country.
It is pertinent for me to quote a wise man of war at this point, He said: “Those who start the process of change are seldom times the people who live to see it”. I can start mentioning names but that wouldn’t be necessary. Martin Luther’s I have a dream happens to be one of such that deserves honourable mentions. The point however is, nations that have emerged as successful and prosperous nations today have at one time in the past had people who were not satisfied with the status quo and then took steps to CHANGE the status quo. One primary thing that is common however about their exploits which we take pride in reading in the pages of history is that they sought to reform the one thing determines every other thing, The Political System, From the German Martin Luther of the sixteenth century to the black Martin Luther King of the 19th century, From India’s Mahatma Gandhi to South Africa’s Madiba, From Japan’s Toshimichi to Botswana’s Seyetse Khatma.
One thing they all seek was a reform of the Polity.
The history of every prosperous nation today has in its pages a fundamental spirit of reforming the polity. It was what started the Industrial Revolution in England, The French Revolution had political reform as one of its primary unwavering ideologies, Botswana would be like every other African country if they had not seek to reform their political system. Every other country that has transited from the poverty list of countries to the list of prospering countries have reformed their political system. North Korea is a world apart from South Korea because of their political system. It took South Korea a little less than a century to be totally different from their once upon a time “fellow citizens” after they changed their political system. Those who would love to see CHANGE manifest would commit to reforming the political system while those who would love to exploit the system would conceptualize change as entirely different from Political Reform.
Reforming Nigeria’s political system does not seem an easy job either as compared with other facades of CHANGE. In fact, reforming the polity is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish in the society, if only for the fact that the elite who control and exploit the polity to their own benefit are at a risk of extinction at the mention of political reform and they know it. Not only are they aware of this fact, they will do all within their power, which they have in monetary terms, to stop political reform wherever they suspect such. Have we ever wondered why our politicians, whether opposition or not have raised no brows on the Petroleum Industry Bill which benefits mostly the masses, Have we ever wondered why our politicians no matter the party have refused to raise issues concerning cost of governance and how it negatively affects the country and creates disincentives for the citizenry? Have we ever wondered why it is difficult for our politicians to agree on simple bills and laws, to make policies that encourages entrepreneurship spirits, to make laws and enforce such that improves security, to provide infrastructure that alleviates corruption, crime and other vices? Have we ever stopped to ask why there is so much power being controlled at the centre while the populace is deprived of checks and balances to curb the abuse of these “powers”? The answer is simple. These things benefit a microscopic few elite who control the polity – The Irony of Democracy.
What we are experiencing in this part of the world is the other extreme of democracy. It is said that no democracy is perfect which means even the better extreme is yet to be achieved, but here in this part of the world, the worse extreme plays itself out naturally. The sad part of this scenario is that we have refused to recognize the situation for what it is. We all are busy trying to make a difference in a world where we are suffering and smiling and anyone who is able to cross from the lower class into the middle class has achieved a great feat and is given a title. The class struggle is ever deepening and that has served as our standard measure for who a success is and who a success is not. A lot of the “rich” people we have around are people who have used other people’s inventions and discoveries to make their lives better than the others. In this part of the world, we have no discoveries, no findings, no technology of our own, no creation, nothing original to us except the proverbs and the wise sayings handed to us by our forefathers. We have transited into the class of animals that only live to survive, the class of animals that live to make a living, form social groups and pass on the survival legacy. I then ask, of what difference are we to the social, a little more developed animals?
Our society does not give room for ideas to thrive, so the more privileged ones who have ideas migrate to other societies that encourage inventions, entrepreneurship and the innovative spirits. I bet if you make a list of the ten richest men you know personally in your lifetime, they made their money and fame from the popular “buy and sell” model of business. I’ll wager a thousand dollars ( which I do not have yet) that 99% of them do not have patents for anything whatsoever, not even a quote. What am I saying? These things do not happen in a jiffy, societal change does not happen overnight, the government will not wake up tomorrow morning and decide to encourage pharmaceutical manufacturing backed with policies because they found out that we have more than enough chemical components and ingredients in “our” crude oil that we can even afford to export these chemicals when we are done with the ones for our own use. It will NEVER happen. The fact that we starve in the midst of plenty is not a mistake or a problem of ignorance or lack of knowledge of what to do, it is intentional. Until we realize that the power needed to make these things happen for the benefit of the majority lies not in the monetary power and we decide to reform the political system, we are then “destined” to remain as one of the countries where the irony of life plays out effectively, which is better explained in the Yoruba adage, one of the few original things we can refer to, that says, “He who does not have a cap has a head and he who does not have a head has a cap”.
POLITICAL REFORM!!! I think we should really ask what exactly we mean by this term.
. . .TO BE CONTINUED
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