By Sunny Ikhioya
AFTER the postponement of the 2019 presidential and national assembly elections from February 16 to 23, there was a strong rumour that the postponement had the unseen hands of foreign bodies.
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Remarkably, we always want to eat our cake and still have it in our hands. We want true democracy to flourish in the land but we do not want to make the necessary sacrifices for it to be actualised.
We all travel to Europe and other developed parts of the world; we enjoy what they have there and crave it, but as soon as we assume power, we allow our personal and selfish interests to over ride the common goal. That is the way we are. With all the inherent potentials to make us a great nation, our unique way of doing things has made this dream utopian; not realisable.
What are the basic needs of a people in a nation? Food, shelter, security and education. Are these achievable? Yes. Why is Nigeria finding it difficult to achieve this? Greed of the elites and poor leadership. For example, a Senator Godswill Akpabio will, from every indication, sacrifice Akwa Ibom State for his personal ambition. Same with Rochas Okorocha in Imo State. That is our way: me first and last, and let the nation go to hell.
If you doubt this scenario, why are people being needlessly massacred even before an election takes place. Why must our elections be a do-or-die affair? This is what we want our leaders to provide answers to. Hypocrisy has so eaten deep into us that we shamelessly carry it like a badge.
What do you say about an El Rufai who ran to Europe and the USA for refuge during the Umaru Yar’adua reign? Now the same man is threatening foreign observers, while forgetting that President Muhammadu Buhari has announced almost all of his major policies abroad, even before the Nigerian press gets a whiff of it.
It is also curious that Lai Mohammed who is noted for granting world press conferences at every opportunity will see the activities of foreign observers as interference. That is our way; everything is all about self interest. You want to practice democracy and you do not want to open your process to scrutiny, you want democracy and you are regularly feeding the populace with untruth; you want democracy and you can’t stand criticism from the opposition; you want democracy and you cannot allow free and fair election to hold.
The worst of it is that you came to power under the popular wave of a free and fair election and you cannot sustain this tempo as a democratic government. Now the international community is asking you to give account, and like Esau in the Bible, you want to run into hiding; you do not want to be accountable. How then will your democracy work when the bedrock of democracy is accountability to the people?
The US and other countries with democratic culture are asking questions through their representatives and you are issuing threats. Do you have the capacity to stand them if they decide to bite? I believe we should learn from the experience of Venezuela. You cannot fight these super powers, especially for a country that does not produce anything. Yes, even the oil in our land are being produced by foreigners; they fully in control of all aspects of the production process. So, how can you be totally dependent on foreigners for your countries sustenance and you say they cannot have an opinion in your democratic process! That is the dilemma we face as a nation as we go through another election cycle. Suffice to mention here that the people in government today were once friends of the foreigners they have threatened. Buhari, El Rufai, Tinubu and the rest were at the forefront of the international observers activities during the run-up to the 2015 elections. When, how and why this partnership fell apart is a matter for further analysis. It is safe for us to assume that things are no longer the same. But how do you put away these foreigners when you are still dependent on them for almost everything.
Our President is totally dependent on them for his medical care, his children are having their education abroad, same for all top government functionaries in the country. You run to them, cap in hand, at the slightest problem; you depend on them for weapons to fight the insurgency in our land; you are totally dependent on them for everything and you feel they do not have a right to comment on how you operate your government, when their business interests are involved? The only time we can claim independence from these foreign powers is only when we have sufficiently developed our own capacity to handle our problems or challenges on our own.
Can it be done? Yes, but not with the present crop of leadership and the way we are going about it. In fact, we have gone further to compound our problem with the present romance with China, given the unfavorable balance of trade relationships with them. We must go into relationships as equal partners and at terms that will be of utmost benefit to all parties.
But how do you achieve this when you have nothing of substance as collateral to give in place for what we are getting? That is what is presently lacking with those ruling us. The solutions are there but they will prefer the lazy man’s approach; the lazy, sweet-talking and all is well approach and using the past as excuses.
What will happen to our health institutions if the government decides that all medical challenges, irrespective of the personnel involved, must be handled in Nigeria? What will happen if individual use of generators is banned across board, including the Presidency? What will happen if we take our destinies in our own hands in our productive sectors- oil, manufacturing, agric and others?
What about education. All these are possible because we have been in such situation in the past when the country could feed itself. It is then we can talk to the super powers as equals. Unfortunately, that is not the case now. It is possible but our orientation and common ways of doing things must change. It will require sacrifice but the sacrifice must be matched by sincerity of purpose and direction, coupled with a dynamic leadership that will drive it.