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Of Nigeria and deserved leadership

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Former American president, Barack Obama once said that “people have a tendency to blame politicians when things don’t work, meanwhile, you get the politicians you deserve, and if you don’t vote and you don’t pay attention, you’ll get policies that don’t reflect your interest.” The point he is making here really is that, in a democracy, ordinarily no politician takes office without the ‘consent’ of the voters — that is, as well as their indulgences. This is to state that both the informed, engaged electorate that turn out to vote and the uninformed, apathetic electorate that stay at home deserves what they get as leaders in the society at the end.  Although It is sometimes said or acknowledged, perhaps to deviate from making an absolute case for the position above, that voters could make mistakes, and politicians could trick the voters with their fine avowals coupled with void, directionless campaigns, but this should be easily fixed or fixable in the subsequent elections so to speak as the electorate get ahead of the chicanery and obtuse games of the politicians.  But if a country is once and again choosing bad politicians, it would simply mean that it does not deserve anything better.

With that in mind, Nigeria’s 2019 general election have come and there’s no gainsaying that Nigerians do not only deserve the kind of leaders they’ve had overtime, they also do not see election as a tool to transform a society from backwardness to a more developed state via their choices— as we saw candidates with obvious character flaws and moral handicaps elected to important positions across various states. To put it differently, a disproportionately large number of politicians who are power hungry, greedy, dishonest as well as boast no meaningful contributions to the general welfare of humanity were elected and in most cases, re-elected, largely because majority voted based on who was able to spend more money on the election day or in the pre- election days.

In any case, the excuse has always been that we are all born into a system, set up by our forefathers, which is flawed and extremely hard to change, especially as it is the political parties which decide who will be on our list of choices, and the small list that we have had to choose from by voting has hardly been impressive. Though this is valid in a somewhat limited sense, the point often overlooked is that it is also our responsibility as a society to understand this phenomenon and engage in the movement that would be geared toward challenging the status quo via our choices. But no, majority would instead express disapproval and still support the flawed system, leaving us with questions like:  why aren’t we rebelling every single day considering the fact that about ninety-eight percent of Nigerians cannot adequately feed and decently live under the present system? Why aren’t we looking beyond immediate gratification by resisting the token we’re given at every election to vote against our own interest? Why aren’t we fighting for a better way of life? Do Nigerians really not want a squeaky clean government? Do they prefer the harsh condition of living they’ve been made to endure over the years? Are we that psychologically oppressed and traumatized and have come to internalize the present ignoble oppression as the norm?

Yet, one widely held proposition is that Nigeria suffers from lack of a “few good men” in politics. While this view is not completely true as there are many upright people in politics, it has to be said that we have also seen the emergence of upright people with the interest of the masses at heart, who wanted to clean up our politics over the years. But each time these good people stand up for election, they tend to lose to the corrupt politicians who would throw chairs at each other in the chambers over unprincipled issues of national shame, the very ones that clamp the young into hopelessness with joblessness, loot the general treasury, make education and healthcare services unattainable and make constant power and water supply almost unattainable for the millions of the populace. In fact, granted that Nigerian politicians have done everything to oppress and fill the lives and consciousness of Nigerians with both moral and physical darkness, it would seem that a large section of Nigerians now seem to sympathize with their oppressors, having been too long encapsulated with them in a common donjon of unrestrained brainwashing, as seen in the just concluded elections.

By and large, a nation’s worth is not determined by its size or the resources it could boast of, but by the choices it makes through the actions of its people. And having consistently made choices that durably maroon and mar its own hope, Nigeria is a failure in all that she has the possibility of turning into success for now. Perhaps when the deterioration of the lifestyles of enough people exceeds some critical point, if that is not the case already, enough people will be jolted into rethinking their political views, recognize what they’ve done at the polls, and start acting to turn things around. We can only hope that such a process begins before irreparable damage is done to the environment or to our social structure, and that the reversal takes place nonviolently. In the present circumstances, however, it would seem that we are taking our cue from Toyota’s slogan in the 1970s, “You asked for. You got it. Toyota.”; such  that  as we journey the next four years together basking in the euphoria of our choices, we would  be reminded at all critical points that we asked for these leaders, and we got them!

  • Yakubu is with the Department of Mass Communication, Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria.

The post Of Nigeria and deserved leadership appeared first on Tribune Online.

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