2023: Season of deceit that brings suffering
Once upon a time, the tortoise summoned all his children and asked them how many times something would happen to them before they learn their lesson. Some said five times; some said three times, others said two times. But one of them named Nwaeveleako (the wise one) said once. Papa, said Nwaeveleako, if something happens to me once, I will learn my lesson. One is enough.
The tortoise praised Nwaeveleako for his wise answer. He counseled his children that once anything happens to them once, they should learn your lesson. That is wisdom. You don’t allow something to keep happening to you and you don’t learn any lesson. That is foolishness. First fool, they say, is not fool; but second fool is proper foolish. The person has himself to blame.
The tortoise’s interaction with his children is relevant in Nigeria. It is pertinent to ask Nigerians how many times they would be deceived, cheated and ravaged in the name of politics before they learn their lesson. This question is pertinent because we are once again in the season of elections when politicians roll out their deceptive machinery to hoodwink Nigerians with empty promises.
We are back to the season of deceit when the horizon portrays doom as if the end is coming for Nigeria. We have seen this contrived doom atmosphere many times in the past and got nothing but poverty, suffering and pain at the end. Tension is deliberately created to instill fear in Nigerians to accept falsehood and deceit as truth. How many times would these things happen before Nigerians learn their lesson?
The historic Change mantra of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2015 general elections to which Nigerians clung unto but which turned out to be, perhaps, the worst deception in the history of Nigeria, is a classic case in point. The atmosphere in 2015 was so daunting and scary that the APC capitalised on it to float Change and dressed it in colours as the only redeeming force to pull Nigeria out of the precipice.
But contrary to expectation, since 2015, Nigeria has never been the same again. The country has been bastardised in all ramifications, and this has dragged it back to a more horrific precipice. Consequently, we are once again talking about how to pull Nigeria back from the same precipice.
Earlier in 1999, during the transition from military to democratic rule, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that adopted Olusegun Obasanjo as its flag bearer promised to resolve the endemic epileptic electricity problem within eighteen months of the administration. The eighteen months passed and nothing happened. One, two, three and four years passed, electricity didn’t improve any bit.
The PDP and its Obasanjo held power for another four years; at the end of eight years, the electricity situation moved from bad to worse. Rather than see improvement, Nigerians were told that $16 billion had been expended on bogus independent power projects (IPP) with nothing to show.
Thereafter, the PDP came up again with another policy to unbundle the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. By 2013, PHCN was unbundled with privatization of the power sector. The Presidential Taskforce on Power played a key role in accomplishing the new policy thrust.
After all the fanfare and noise that accompanied the privatization exercise, today, the whole thing looks like a colossal waste of time and resources. Nigerians were deceived that privatization would usher in a regime of improved power supply, which has turned out to be farce. The worsened electricity supply situation is instrumental to fresh calls to the Federal Government to reconsider the privatization with a view to reversing it. But what of all the billions sunk into the sector? The catalogue of deceit that politicians have visited on Nigerians since 1999 is lengthy and they are the reasons why the country is in a sordid and pitiable state.
As it were, we are once again in the season of deceit when politicians play on the intelligence of Nigerians using strategies that are not new. The onus is on people to be more critical this time around.
The commonest strategy used by politicians to deceive people is monetary inducement. It is not uncommon to hear Nigerians talk about politicians with deep pocket who could dole out money in exchange for votes.
Monetary inducement is commonplace in Nigerian politics. The same politicians have impoverished Nigerians and rendered them penniless. By using money as bait, some people fall victim and vote against their wish.
Interestingly, things are changing; Nigerians are wiser now. As such, it is no longer easy to buy people’s conscience with money. The general understanding now is that the money being shared to buy votes is stolen public funds that belong to all of us. That is to say, no one could use what belongs to us to buy us over. The tenet now is, collect any money given to you and vote your mind; meaning that money can no longer influence whom to vote for.
The other strategy is to roll out empty promises that can never be fulfilled, as highlighted above. For instance, when a politician says he will provide millions of jobs, he needs to be asked how that is possible with epileptic power supply. It is tantamount to empty promise for anyone to promise to provide jobs without first addressing the power supply issue.
The same thing goes with any promise to strengthen the naira, the question is how? All over the world, the strength of national currencies is a function of productivity level of the economy. A productive economy has strong currency while an unproductive economy has weak currency.
Nigeria is an unproductive economy. There is more of consumerism than productivity. That explains the free fall of the naira. To strengthen the naira would require addressing the fundamentals of economic productivity in relation to agriculture, industrialization, exportation of manufactured goods, etc.
The foregoing highlights the recurrent gang up by politicians every four years to deceive Nigerians, get their votes and abandon them in poverty for the next four years. How many times would politicians manipulate the suffering masses to achieve their selfish desires before the lessons are learnt? Enough is enough for the mass deceit and cheating. Nigerians should ‘shine’ their eyes this time around and refuse to be deceived.