Many issues agitate my mind. I am weighed down by events in Nigeria since the beginning of this year. I concede that the portrait of a writer as a moral gadfly is constantly blurred by negative forces in the country. The position of a writer as a public affairs analyst is continually threatened. Indeed, the path of a writer, which compels him to consistently engage issues in his country, is strewn with thorns and thistles. It is pure mental torture to critically interrogate the hydra-headed realities in our country on a weekly basis. It benumbs the mind. It dazes the intellect and confounds the sensibilities.
However, having committed to raising effective voices to challenge the power mechanism, one must identify deteriorating aspects of the polity and also stir up the populace out of their lethargy. This is a no mean task for a writer.
The most discussed topic in Nigeria since this year is politics. As the elections approached, there was a palpable angst in the land. There was an ominous air which delicately hung in the air.
Election and politics dominated national discourse, friendly discussions, classroom lectures, church sermons, beer parlour exchanges, and many other platforms. Social media, that miscellaneous outlet that accommodates the indiscriminate deluge of information, became the battleground. Some people portrayed an innate hatred for particular candidates while others demonstrated unreasonable followership for some other candidates. Insults and curses flew without regard to any form of decorum, both the educated and the half-educated claimed to know the solutions to Nigeria’s problems. The politicians cajoled, preached, lied and manufactured falsehood in the guise of election promises. During the elections proper, many parts of the country were turned into battlefields with the kind of sophisticated weaponry only imagined in a full-blown war situation.
The elections have come and gone. We have seen losers and winners. In some places around the country, we witnessed a caricature of the electoral process, people died, people got missing and are still missing. Some of the results insulted our intelligence and made a mockery of our claim to democracy. Unfortunately, the elections have destroyed some relationships. Some friends have parted company because of political differences. Some business associates have also gone their separate ways. The above scenario captures Nigeria’s election experiences in 2019.
Now that the elections are over, what happens next? I want every Nigerian to ask this question going forward. Regrettably, the voting pattern of the concluded elections shows that millions of people who voted are not literate, they can neither read nor write, they do not understand the grammar and all the intricate expositions on the pages of newspapers or the insightful analysis on radio or television. That is the nauseating tragedy of the Nigerian situation. But for the few who are literate, the question must be asked, after the elections, what happens next?
Nigerians have become immune to suffering, poverty, backwardness and a retrogressive lifestyle. This is because, immediately after each election, the people move on, they don’t ask questions of those they have given their mandate. They accept, without squawk whatever the government throws at them. Thus, the people become complicit in the neglect they suffer in the hands of politicians who take them for granted. I would want Nigerians to take away APC or PDP from the equation. Let us divest ourselves of all elements that have impaired our understanding and become objective in the evaluation of our realities. It is an insult on our collective humanity when those we elected live in lavish splendour while the people wallow in a labyrinth of penury, lack, and denial.
Starting from the presidency, what happens in the next four years? What needs to be done to address the multifaceted problems that confront the country? What is the economic blueprint that will provide answers to excruciating poverty in the lives of Nigerians? What is the remedy to Nigeria’s polity polarised by ethnic hate and sectionalism? What must be done to checkmate the spate of killings and insecurity across the country? Nigerians must ask these questions constantly and asking them does not in any way amount to dislike for the presidency. Anyone who does not ask these questions is an enemy of this country.
Anyone who is ready to give excuses for this government for numerous failings is self-deluded. President Mohammadu Buhari has won the election and has the mandate of the people for another four years. Nigerians have the right to ask his government questions and he should, in humility, the kind of humility he demonstrated during the campaign, relate to Nigerians and offer explanations to various issues of governance. Political authority is not conspiratorial, rather it is collaborative.
The governors and the legislators must be put to task concerning all their electoral promises. It is a shame that some of the legislators both at the state and national levels are only seen once every four years when an election is approaching. They remember the people and court them for votes. It is unpardonable that while our legislators live in opulence and grandeur, the people they represent live in abject poverty. Whatever happened to the funds meant for constituency projects? What bills do they pass to ameliorate the level of poverty and improve the living conditions of those they represent? The level of infrastructural decay, especially poor road networks, both major roads, and feeder roads, is enough to indict all lawmakers in Nigeria. Nigerians must ask questions. It is not enough to turn elections into a four-year jamboree where we troop out to empower fellow country in spite of our own challenges. Now that the elections are over, what should the people do? Should we in docile stupidity fold our arms and wait for another four years when the same politicians will file out, asking for votes as if political office is their birthright.
I want literate Nigerians, no matter the number, to begin to ask questions and make demands of those we have elected. We must stand up for the truth and support what is right. If anyone who has lost in the last elections feels aggrieved, he should use every legal means to seek redress. That is the proper and reasonable thing to do. Such actions should not warrant insults or abuses. We are living in a civilized society and we must behave like civilized people.
If Atiku Abubakar feels that the election results do not reflect the wishes of the people, let him go to court and seek redress. To dissuade him from going to court betrays our own mind’s unease and shows us a people who are established in double standards. When President Buhari lost elections in the past, he went to court on all occasions. If the courts throw Atiku and his petition out, so be it, unless we admit that our judicial structures have collapsed abysmally and therefore should be ignored. The elections are over, but Nigerians are not over.
Dr.. Adiele writes from Lagos via [email protected]