The electorate don’t want to vote because we know votes mean nothing as shown by what happened in Rivers State just last week.
Election times are usually very interesting times for us. Every time elections get near there is always this atmosphere of hyperactivity. Plenty of hysteria is in the air and everybody is moving in a frenzy. The truth is that the destination does not seem to be quite clear to those who are undertaking such moves. Many don’t know the reason they are moving; ask them why they do so, and the answer you get is that everybody seems to be doing the same thing, why must they be the exception. A few would tell you they have to reposition to gain. Ask them what it is they want to gain, they go blank, and they don’t seem to know what exactly they want from their country. Every four years the circle of stupidity continues and at the end of each turn the country is left with many citizens who are dislocated, battered and frustrated.
In the last two months our country has witnessed a gale of political defections with politicians easily leaving their political parties to join another. Many of those who defected were top-notch members in their former political parties. In fact, many of them were founders or co-founders, yet they jumped ship and as we speak none has given credible reasons why they made the moves. What they have told us border on personality clashes and raw personal ambition. Like I observed in the past work on this page few weeks ago, there is nothing wrong about political mobility. In fact it meets a cardinal principle of democracy, the one that touches on freedom of association and an aspect of good governance, the one that relates to participation of all citizens in decisions concerning their welfare. What has made our own kind of moves and defections wrong is the fact that there is nothing principled or ideological about those actions.
The case of the citizens is very pathetic. The nation is rich but the people are very poor. They have been impoverished by the system and by the public officers they “elect.” The system has no definition to it. Shortly after independence we ran a welfare system and government rightly took responsibility for basic issues of existence like water supply, electricity and industrialization. In the 60s and 70s, a citizen could stay in his house and still be happy about life. With constant electricity supply he could operate his fan and play music, money had value; with as little as a shilling he could purchase a lot. Many of us who call ourselves leaders and heads of families today would not have accessed the redeeming nature of education but for the free education policy that was in existence at the time. Most of the public officers tormenting the citizens today by way of reckless political and economic policies and outright massive stealing of public funds were hooked into jobs few weeks after they left school and that was because at some stage of our national development a class of leaders had the good judgment to pursue industrialization as key policy of state.
Everyone conversant with that era agrees things were better. Citizens had a place to stand and extracting honour was not difficult. These days naïve politicians have put a knife to what should hold us together, like the iconic Chinua Achebe would say, we have dealt cruelly with the centre and things have fallen apart. The citizens are dislocated, traumatized and beaten to a stupor, they can hardly reason straight. They are hungry and so very vulnerable. They have become like the wind vane rotating towards any minor breeze of crumbs from the exploiters’ tables. Many of them who have not seen N1000 in two years, don’t mind receiving N500 to cause the greatest havoc on the wheels of national progress. All these have happened because the leadership class is quick to talk about good governance and to use it as an excuse to perpetuate all manner of policies, good and bad without knowing the meaning and the characteristics of the concept.
As good as knowing is, it is important to state that the challenge facing black nations, ours inclusive has gone beyond knowing to understanding the complex structure of the world system. The world order has always been predatory but the truth is, it has since grown into indirect takeover, and some of the ways of doing these include choice of key leaders like the president, strategic ministers, for example, ministers of Finance, Economic and National Planning and the other would be mental slavery. The developed world wants you to see things from their perspective even when where you operate from is not the same as theirs per time. Their concept of good governance today is not the same as what they ran at the nascent stages of their development, they have produced what is suitable for them today and have made it a universal concept using their strong institutions with worldwide reach. When they talk of good governance, they are looking at it from liberty and rule of law, participation, effectiveness and efficiency, freedom of thought and association, accountability and the likes.
When we listen to an average civil rights campaigner, those are the clichés we hear and it has become the yardstick for measuring the performance of government. It is the contradiction inherent in that position that amply explains why we have natural resources yet lack capacity to develop them or why we keep establishing tertiary institutions and the products can hardly build our roads, construct bridges, produce food on the large scale, give efficient medical services, establish and run conglomerate industries and companies. It is the same contradictions that have made it very difficult for successive leaders to sit back and think out a vision for our country and how to develop it. We need to add to the characteristics of good governance as handed to the world by developed nations and reorder the sequence. Our subscriptions must reflect our experience and peculiarities. Our contributions should read like this: vision, making a nation, forging a nation, building a progressive leadership vanguard, productive education, agriculture, and industrialization, all these should come before what the developed world has given to the world recently as features of good governance.
Vision for instance is the cure to misdirection and distractions; if this country had a strategic vision, contentions among politicians won’t be over ambition and nasty backroom gossips, it would be on sound programmes and policies. It is a herculean task for a government to give the citizens housing for all but because there is no vision, Tinubu can occupy the time regaling us with why Saraki left APC or why Saraki would tell us why Tinubu is supporting Buhari for a second term. Sectarian agitations are thriving and causing tension because everybody, leaders inclusive, seem not to know the simple lesson that nations are made and then forged, a people’s constitution would put to rest issues of sectional agitations without our being at each other’s throat. A gainfully engaged citizen would not have enough time on his hands, not to talk of making trouble. Today we talk of more guns instead of more jobs in tackling insecurity. We are talking about cattle ranches and colonies at a time we should be talking of mechanized and integrated farming system. The electorate don’t want to vote because we know votes mean nothing as shown by what happened in Rivers State just last week.