Will Nigerians rise to the occasion and redesign Nigeria with their votes? I know that surviving has been difficult for many and better for a few. Democracy is a game of number and this is why Nigerian voters should understand their situations and identify individuals who best fit the Nigeria of their dreams. They should not do this only because of religion, region or political party. Since the return of democracy in 1999, poverty, criminal victimisation and unemployment and the effects of poor leadership have not spared any person because he or she comes from the North or South, Muslim or Christian. If a society deserves the type of leadership they get, it means a lot rest on the finger of eligible voters. In your hands lie the future of Nigeria and you should be ready to bear the consequences of your voting decisions. Before voting, it is important that you review where we are coming from as a country to understand why we arrived at our present situation. The combination of the past and present conditions should inform and guide you to make right choices for the future that you desire.
We are where we are partly because we have always elected bad or misfit people into government. A few people lie to us and turn one ethnic group against another to enslave their people and after that, the same tribesman who had painted one political party as evil goes back to the evil party to make money for himself and his family. In 2014, we know how our economy was and how it is today. We know that Goodluck Jonathan was to be voted out because of infirmity of control over his government and the endemic corruption. Candidate ‘Saint’ Muhammadu Buhari was repackaged by those who had expressed reservations about his person but that was the only route to the realization of their dreams. Almost eight years after the emergence of the prince of Daura, corruption is deep-rooted in low and high places in audacious dimensions. Policies of government are poorly conceived or wholesale imported without domestication. Today, 133million Nigerians, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) experience multi-dimensional poverty. According to NBS, 70% of Nigerians live in the rural areas. Out of these, 80% of them are poor. The intensity of poverty in the rural areas is 41.9% compared to 36.9% in urban areas. Furthermore, seven out of 10 persons living in rural areas of Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor while four out of every 10 persons in urban areas experience the same. Unfortunately, most political campaigns leading to the 2023 polls have been urban-based and those who visited rural areas did so to patronize them for votes and may never return there until another election season. I remember when Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo was patronizing rural communities with trader-moni in 2019. When last did you see him pursue such scheme? It was to bring people in with their treasured votes just as Nigerians were asked their old naira in banks and after that, they have to beg to withdraw out of it.
Budgetary allocation to education and health have not been encouraging. The nosediving fortunes in the education and health sectors contributed to the Japa syndrome which now puts the lives of many Nigerians at risk because of shortage of skilled physicians and specialists. Those still at home are hibernating for opportunities. Nigerians in homeland who cannot afford to consult in the United Kingdom or United Arab Emirates like the outgoing president Muhammadu Buhari and some of those aspiring to become the President, need to think when casting who to vote for on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
Monetary poverty is across the nation but not above fifty percent. The price of Premium Motor Spirit hovers around N257.12 according to NBS. Still, fuel is scarce and depositors cannot get their money from banks. Their money has been kidnapped by the Emefieleistic naira redesign policy and its faulty implementation. As I write this piece, people were under the sun and locked outside the banking premises observed from University of Ibadan through Dugbe in Ibadan. Yet, this Buhari-led government asked people to exercise patience. The same government turned the people against the banks by blaming it for sabotaging the policy. But who are the major shareholders of these banks? Are they not the politicians and their cronies who need naira ahead of elections and for money laundering? Will the banks not do the bidding of their financiers to save their jobs? While saboteurs within the banking system contributed to the sufferings of Nigerians, the government of the day cannot absolve itself of shallow thought on how to properly implement a policy of this nature without afflicting the people with pains, violence, dehumanization and death.
From naked protests within the banking hall to the violence and arson on the streets, the socio-economic landscape of Nigeria speaks of pressure that Nigerians endure under this outgoing government. Someone reportedly died in Lagos while queueing up to withdraw cash while many died in the hospital because they cannot access money to pay for healthcare services. While so much has been spent to equip the security systems, the Northeast is still afflicted with insurgency and banditry, Northcentral with pastoral-herder conflict, militancy and insurgency while South-south is battling militancy, secessionists’ movement, banditry and cultism leading to deaths, and displacements. The victims of armed robbery and kidnapping on Nigeria’s hellish highways won’t forget in a hurry. Some people have left the country on account of insecurity; others due to perceived hopelessness for their future in Nigeria. While many variables account for crime occurrence, the failure of government to tackle the causative factors contributed to its pervasiveness. It should now be obvious to Nigerians that it is not enough to be a General, a civilian who understands what the problem is and has the will to do it will perform more than the outgoing President of Nigeria. Notwithstanding the bad economy, accumulation of foreign debts and security setbacks, the Muhammadu Buhari government recorded successes in infrastructures, train rejuvenation and signing the electoral act among others.
Presidential and National Assembly elections hold in few hours. This is the only opportunity that democracy has given to you to determine who governs and impact your life chances for another four years. You may decide to vote along ethnic line but remember that poverty, insecurity and unemployment do not isolate one ethnic group. You may decide to vote based on religion but remember that all religious groups are now facing reduction in church and mosque attendance as well as reduction in offerings because of one poorly implemented policy. Are you planning to vote along party line? Remember that the People’s Democratic party ruled for 16 years and you replaced them with the All-Progressives Congress which has not been a better substitute. Are you voting for personality? Check out how many times those contesting have had to jump from one political party platform to another including forming and switching alliances. The point here is that one variable is not sufficient to elect somebody into political office and certainly, not on primordial sentiments. If we elect bad people, it is because we are bad ourselves. We elect people who represent our views about life and about how public offices should be run. Ahead of voting, try to honestly answer these questions: what kind of Nigeria do I desire? Is it a Nigeria in which the majority enthrones the minority for the enjoyment of the minority and the punishment of the majority for their foolishness? Or a Nigeria in which the majority elect people who think and act in the best interest of the majority? Or a Nigeria in which the majority elect those interested in holding political offices to fulfill personal ambitions without any readiness for the demands of those offices? Finally, if Nigeria were to be your company and it is facing what Nigeria is experiencing, which of the candidates would you employ to rescue your company? Now that you have answered the questions, you may now go ahead, cast your vote and live with the intended and unintended consequences of your voting decision.
Dr Tade, a sociologist wrote via email@example.com