By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze
Despite the pain of the disease, grief and deaths, year 2020 stood out as one full of hope of national rebirth in Nigeria. In the midst of the hardship, confusion and uncertainty occasioned by COVID-19, the nation witnessed another growing consciousness in its demands for better life and good governance. It was evident in the #ENDSARS Protest. When one flips through the pages of the Nigerian chequered history – the history subject our kids were denied knowledge and understanding of in our schools – it dawns on the right thinking individuals that it is either the government, elites and the ruling class own up to their wrong doings, put immediate measures for remediation in place or face the consequences of their actions and inactions in line with the understanding the young ones may have about them. The message reverberated and was well delivered to those concerned. It is their responsibility to process it to the good of all.
The abundant national wealth and resources are plundered and pilfered by those it has blessed and pleased since their youthful ages. Most of those in power now or their parents ate rich three square meals in the Nigerian first generation universities by simply presenting their meal tickets. Their clothes were washed in laundries, well starched and neatly ironed by stewards. Jobs waited for them including official cars before graduation.
Today, our educational system is in shambles with ASSU on strike for the ninth month while children of the well to do and those in government enjoy the best of life and quality education abroad. They have denied the younger generations the perks they once freely enjoyed with the level of impunity, profligacy in governance and wastages on inanities which have remained unplugged. The abnormality has caught the attention of the people who are now strongly demanding for a better deal. It takes no rocket science to have constant power supply, build good schools, roads and hospitals. Human beings did it in other climes. Why is it becoming a herculean task to do same here in Nigeria? After all those in government now and before were voted into power on the premise of providing those amenities. All the states in Nigeria lack basic infrastructures and good indices of development. Regional groups more than ever are in conflict with one another. Some regions are also in conflict with itself. The bars of religion, ethnicity, nepotism and tribalism have been raised beyond normal in all facets of our lives. While social malaise like insecurity and poverty are on the increase, government from all indication has lost its momentum. The nation closed its borders but now borrows to survive. The angst in the land has risen to its tipping point. Nobody is happy. But those in government feel Nigerians are still the same docile people.
State owned media are vigorously deployed to project government policies and shape opinions. Private owned media outfits engaged in what government perceives as fake or offensive news are sanctioned. A bill is in the offing to censor the social media – the only available outlet where citizens ventilate their views on various issues. Frantic effort to put something on nothing is ongoing. The packaging for the world to believe the incredible is pitching the state against international media actors. The era when monkeys were blamed for planting and exploding bombs in Lagos is over. We are in the era of technology driven and data journalism. Nothing is hidden anymore.
Government engages in cosmetic interventions like tradermoni, N-Power etc. as a way of assuaging the angst of the people while children of officials are offered plump jobs in Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and others. Nigeria is a country rated the poverty capital of the world but intends to waste billions of naira on renovating an office called the National Assembly at the cost of N9.2 billion. The senate president Ahmed Lawan was quoted as saying concerning the National Assembly ‘share’ of the budget that; “Nigerians should ignore the ‘jumbo’ pay they receive and focus on the work that the lawmakers do.
Nigerians should demand value for money because what is being allocated to the National Assembly is inadequate. Mr Lawan did not stop there, he also enjoined Nigerians who feel unsatisfied with the service of the current set of lawmakers to vote them (the lawmakers) out in 2023 and replace them with new ones.” Those in positions of authority have for ages succeeded in dividing Nigeria between regional, religious and ethnic lines. At the heart of the desperate action was the quest for them and their families to remain relevant in the scheme of things. Any perceived chain of understanding, consensus building and knowledge sharing amongst the citizens they feel threatens their position and may probably reveal the disgusting skeletons in their cupboards are sharply broken.
The selfishness of man has been the underlining problem of restructuring and evidential good governance in Nigeria. It takes patriotism for a man who is assumed to receive N36m monthly for only sitting down in an airconditioned red or green chamber to support a bill for a unicameral legislation or any move to cut expenses in governance. With the peoples understanding of the enormous power in their voices, the journey of emancipation and true nationhood has just begun. Those benefiting from the old order will do everything within their reach to maintain the status-quo. They have and will continue to deploy the apparatuses of the state to kill resistance. Intimidation of identified change agents will increase to cow peoples resolve for better life and demand for good governance. Government will also rent their paid agents and crowds to arm-twist good intentions.
Those antics have emerged the new normal but they will fizzle out in due course. The people of goodwill should not allow the good intentions and the will of the people to be torpedoed. The vanguards of justice and fairness should strongly abide by the ideals. Intimidation should not be a reason to despair and letting the guards down. When the cash disbursed for the deceptive project is finally spent and the reality dawns on everyone, the crowd will subsume into the real agenda.
Leaders of nations who attempted to forcefully kill peaceful assembly and peoples demand for better services found themselves in worse troubles. Some paid the supreme price for their insubordination, greed and selfishness. Nigeria should not be registered in the infamous book of nations where leaders sit tight in defiance of peoples call for good governance. This year 2020 despite the encumbrances is indeed one of hope for a better Nigeria. That is why there is new paradigm shift and growing demand for good governance.
Eze writes via sunnyeze02 @yahoo.com