THE CHANGE WE LONG FOR: Nigeria Politics


THE CHANGE WE LONG FOR: Nigeria Politics

Nigerian politics is a very complicated topic, but, it is not entirely different from world politics, which is often plagued by partisanship and sectionalism. Nigerian politics is unique, however, because it brings into play so many factors, a few of which includes individual interests, geographic factors, religion and a host of other trivial issues.

It would have been an easy task if these wrongs were in a sector and you can see that efforts are being made to tackle them. Unfortunately, all identifiable sectors seem to have identical stories to tell. I know this may seem an unfair and general statement, but one struggles most times to point out a particular sector as doing better than the other.

Comparing developments in, for instance, the economic sector with happenings on the political scene would seem as comparing apple with orange. So for the sake of argument let us class politics as a standalone sector that needs special indices to measure its development.

Politics is an integral part of democracy, and in order for us to achieve sustainable development, we need to redefine politics in Nigeria. Up till this moment, true democracy has remained elusive to us, and we must do something about it. We cannot continue to play the electoral game according to the present rules

It is easy to conclude that the assemblage of individuals in political settings have been the greatest undoing of Nigeria. While in other climes, when individuals of similar ideas and persuasions come together, it is to find common platforms to advocate for the development of their countries, nations or regions. This is how they are able to achieve the dividends of democracy.

Going by experiences, the coming together of individuals on political platforms in Nigeria is not usually for national development. It is beyond reasonable doubt that political groupings in the country are for selfish interest, hence the reason why it has become a do-or-die affair.

By extension, rather than reap the dividends, Nigerians carry the burden of democracy. Most of the activities destroying the past, the present and the future of the country are happening in the political “sector”. In effect, the efforts of other sectors to bump the country up are rubbished on the political front.

Nowadays the awkwardness of discussing the many wrongs of the country is painful. Everyone struggles to explain the abnormalities that play out in the political scene in the country. Even the political analysts that are permanent features on our televisions screens are losing their voices.

Some of them are beginning to sound like broken records while they explain the absurdities. We still hear arguments such that no one should blame the present political players, as Nigeria’s democracy is still in infancy.

You can sympathize with the analysts. The rate at which these events are unfolding nowadays is unbelievable and very hard to keep up. It is impossible to form opinions, talk less of putting them out in the public sphere. You will agree that when “things” happen in Nigeria, they do fast and you may need more than human efforts to keep up.

This has always been my dilemma because while trying to get my head around some, others are developing at frenetic pace. At this point, I am always in need of refreshers courses to recollect what happened the previous week.

If you had thought after a few years of the “Change Revolution”, politics would have evolved in the country; you are in for a surprise. The game is still the same, if not worse than it used to be.

With the 2019 General Elections around the corner, the craziness is now taken up the notch. The stakes are higher now while the players on all sides are back to their old selves, as they throw their weights around. Give it to them though; the polity is not as worked up as it was in the pre-2015 General Elections.

A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress and former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy, told SUNDAY PUNCH in a telephone interview that the anti-corruption war remained an important project that every Nigerian needed to buy into and uphold.

He said, “I do believe that the government, in spite of the apparent challenges, has done a lot more than often appears on the matter.

If you realize that the fundamental thing that has bound those who have run Nigeria for more than a generation is the democratization of corruption, you will realize how deep-rooted the problem is.

“So, one must pay tribute to people who recognize that it is cancer and want to excise it before metastasis consumes all of us. However, in dealing with this problem, it would be short-sighted to assume that it would be easy sailing. As they say in the cliché, when you fight in corruption, corruption fights back.

Utomi explained that in critical moments, one of the first things companies around did was try to institute a change of the best-admired ways of changing a system, according to the economist, is to change its culture.

“In change management, culture change initiatives are called programmatic change efforts. The truth of the matter is that less than 30 percent of the major programmatic change efforts in corporations around the world truly succeed. Yet, it’s still powerful that 30 percent is worth the efforts at culture change.

“I can think of a number of additional approaches we could throw into what the government has deployed. However, I think it is not fair by looking at what seems to be institutional pushback and therefore conclude that the effort is not worth it. It was and is still worth it because, if we don’t, corruption will kill Nigeria.

“Everything is affected; that we have bad leaders in our country is partly corruption because the political party process is a corrupt process. Because it’s corrupt, people who are natural leaders or have the capacity to lead don’t emerge from the process, and because they don’t emerge, the kinds of people who come out ensure that we’re going through this vicious cycle, back and forth, a lot of motion with no movement or progress,” he added.

We can recall the dramas, the promises, the lies, the gang ups and the various crisscrossing of political landscapes to install the “chosen one”. It might not be intense now as it was then; yet, we are witnessing more ridiculousness and desperation where one would never have imagined.
Change is a loosely used word in Nigeria’s political climate. So the meaning and perception of change are mainly on what side of the political divide you belong to. To some, Nigeria has never had it as good as it is right now.

They believed a lot has changed since the All Progressive Congress (APC)-led government of President Muhammad Buhari came into power. I also believe the country has seen some changes in some sectors since 2015, compared with what was obtainable as at that date.

It is somewhat distressing for me that we continue to measure these changes against standards that we agreed pre-2015 were very low. Because as a nation we have been unfortunate to have selfish, greedy and unpatriotic leaders who have set low standards for us through the years, we have continued to measure our progress by these.

The supporters of change are always quick to let us know that we enjoy more hours of electricity than before, corruption has become a thing of the past, and the economy is booming.

While these changes are taking place in other sectors, the politicians have forgotten to change their primary constituency. It is still politics, as usual, as politicians are winning elections, not by manifestos, but by how much money they throw around.

Deals are being done right, left and center to stay in power, to grab power or to stay relevant. Kingpins, godfathers, “cabals” are showing their hands, not faces, but we know they are controlling the affairs.

To achieve “common” goals of “nationhood”, once celebrated “criminals” are now de-criminalized, pardoned, dusted and made brides. These are attempts to keep the masses in line. Yet, I keep hearing the well-beaten word “change”.

Where is the change? These politicians should remember the words of former US President Barrack Obama who said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

How many of our politicians are acting the change and not just mouthing it?

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