Saturday, 9th December 2023

Now or never

By Sonnie Ekwowusi
01 October 2022   |   2:40 am
As Nigeria marks her 62nd Independence anniversary amid the same regretful mood that the country has consistently failed to make the optimum use of its abundant human and natural resources

As Nigeria marks her 62nd Independence anniversary amid the same regretful mood that the country has consistently failed to make the optimum use of its abundant human and natural resources since independence in 1960, let us truthfully and realistically sit back and reflect on the quality of life we live in Nigeria.

This anniversary is the auspicious time to once again come to terms with the fact that we are living perilously in Nigeria and might perish if care is not taken.

Every time I step out of this country, my friends look at me in the face and regret the failed political followership in Nigeria. They ascribed the failed political leadership in Nigeria to failed political followership. They wonder why a country like Nigeria is so richly endowed with precious human capital, which is piloting the affairs of the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries, is ruled by “imbeciles, kakistocrats, nincompoops, idiots and never-do-wells.”

At independence in 1960, Nigeria had the potential of a great nation. The geographical spread of cash crops such as palm produce, cocoa, groundnut and other vital export earnings in different regions of the country led many observers to be optimistic about the country’s economic growth. But after the oil boom in the 70s, all the efforts at boosting food production were abandoned. Nigeria became a mono-economy whose fortunes only revolved around oil. Small wonder the oil boom soon became oil doom.

This misfortune, coupled with the dangerous incursion of the military into politics, and the attendant problems of corruption, greed, lust for power and election rigging have kept Nigeria in this backward state. The successive civilian administrations in Nigeria, unfortunately, could not consolidate the gains of the oil boom era.

The current Buhari administration has gone down in the annals of Nigerian political history as the worst government in Nigeria. The government, unpardonably, cannot distinguish between its left and its right.

Consequently, a great ruin has overtaken Nigeria. In the last seven years, Nigerians have been witnessing a steady and progressive deterioration of those cherished values, which form the superstructures for the building of our national ethos.

The old image of Nigeria as a going country of peacefulness, fraternity, and cultural and moral renaissance seems blurred. Amid the complete collapse of state machinery for the protection of lives and property, anarchy has been let loose upon Nigeria.

The Hobbesian Bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) characterized by barbaric abductions, assassinations, arsons, bloodletting, communal bloody feuds, kidnaps, banditries, gun-running and so forth now reigns supreme in different parts of Nigeria Uncertainty, confusion, fear and apprehension rule the lives of many. We now live in a free-for-all country where nobody seems to be in charge of anything or anybody. We go to bed and wake up itching to hear the sad news of another abduction or murder. If the abductors are not on the prowl trying to abduct their victims, some bandits and kidnappers are lurking in the corner to capture their next victims and assassinate them.

Therefore, as we mark another Independence anniversary amid political chest thumping and arrogant self-assertion, let us examine our consciences and ask ourselves the following questions: What do we live for in Nigeria? What is the meaning of human existence? Where do we go from here? How do we get to our destination? What do the future hold for us and our children? The answers to the above questions may provide the role we shall play in the 2023 democratic process. So, beyond the usual independence rhetoric, prayer, toast and good wishes and lamentations about our failed dreams, dashed hopes and missed opportunities, let us make up our minds once and for all to take the destiny of our country Nigeria in our hands. The time is now.

Look, I would like to tell you one thing, which you may find interesting: character is the core of human beings. Only politicians with character can change Nigeria for good. There is this adage, which states that if you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; if you lose your health, you’ve lost something; but if you lose your character, you’ve lost everything. So if we lose the opportunity of voting for a character in the 2023 general elections we would have lost everything as a country.

As they say in local parlance, Nigerians are the architects of their own destruction. The Nigerian crisis is a crisis of failed followership. For example, at the threshold of the 2015 presidential election campaigns, we were warned that candidate Mohammadu Buhari would make a disaster President. You will recall that in March 2015, the American ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, warned Nigeria not to elect Buhari because, according to him, Buhari would make a disaster President.

In his article published in Washington Times in the same March 2015, Grenell wrote that electing Buhari as President would be a disaster for Africa and would trigger off Islamic terrorist attacks to capture Nigeria because Buhari has often spoken sympathetically about members of Boko Haram and had cautioned against the rush to pass judgment on Boko Haram and has personally been selected by Boko Haram to lead negotiations with the Nigerian government.

Despite this clear warning, some Nigerians still proceeded to vote for Buhari in 2015. After the effusion of four years, President Buhari was returned as a disaster President. Despite this tragedy, some Nigerians still went ahead and conspired in 2019 to pave the way for the same Buhari to return to power.

Painfully, over the last seven and half years, we have seen how the poor economic development of our country has not only threatened political harmony and peaceful co-existence in the country but has increasingly fueled so many ills and crises in the country.

As if the foregoing afflictions are not enough, some Nigerian voters want to multiply our afflictions by voting for politicians who have vowed to continue Buhari’s legacy if voted into power next year. What is wrong with some of us? Why are we going back to our vomit? Why go back to continue suffering under the ruinous pre-existing legal order?

Unexamined life, writes Socrates, is not worth living. I challenge you to examine the life you are living in Nigeria. Barely a week after independence in 1960, Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa declared on the floor of the United Nations that political independence without concomitant economic security is completely useless. He was right.

We must come to terms with the home truth that the first development process is to fix the primary infrastructure-in education, health, energy, transport, communication and so forth- which is indeed the fulcrum around which other development possesses rotate in Nigeria.

For example, an electricity supply is the engine of economic growth. Without fixing the primary infrastructure Nigeria will remain perpetually underdeveloped. So, vote for the political candidate who can do this. Don’t vote for a particular politician simply because he comes from your part of the country or because he speaks your language or because he is of the same religion as you or because he gives you a plate of porridge or gold or silver.

Vote for the character. So much is at stake in 2023. It is either we get it right this time or we perish forever. Money, that tainted thing, will not buy you and your children happy. Reject their money. Embrace character. Character is the home in which you want to live for the rest of your life. Character is the home in which you would want your children and your grandchildren and great-grandchildren to dwell in. Vote wisely next year. Seek the wisdom of the wise and let it reflect in the choices you make in the 2023 general elections. The time is now. Now or never.