It would have been an amusing arrogance, had the All Progressives Congress’ failure not been a sad reality, that in the midst of this apparent doom, the Peoples Democratic Party shamelessly views the collective suffering of the people as signalling a ray of hope; an opportunity to come back in 2019. Again, we are being treated to the deliberate and convenient myopia which narrows our ultimate choices down to the “devil” and the “deep blue sea”. The narrowness of our usual options is the reason the electability of our politicians is based largely, not on their credibility, track record or intellectual capacity but on their ethnic configuration and religious affiliation. It is this politics of division which preys on our worst insecurities and makes the effortless exploitation of our mutual suspicion of one another all too easy. That exploitation, the deliberative balkanisation of the corporate togetherness of the Nigerian people, which does not only sustain their kleptocratic tendencies, but also perpetually retains them as the “sole beneficiaries” and “administrators” of this almost insolvent estate, is the enduring thread holding the fabric of their parasitic alliance together. The time to break it is now!
We must break the hold of those for whom Nigeria’s dysfunction translates to economic and political profit; we must take the wheel from the “drivers” who are too drunk under the narcotic influence of ineptitude to take the passengers to a comfortable destination where every Nigerian feels emboldened to maximise their potential. Most importantly, we must break the hold of these recycled politicians now because 2019 presents us with a unique-once-in-a-generation opportunity. For once, we can see clearly that the narrative that there are no better alternatives than the current ones has been deflated by the sheer scale of monumental failures recorded as both parties held sway. Never again can we subject the all-too important future of Nigeria to the unlikely happenstance that somehow good governance will be wrought by the same tired hands of those who have consistently demonstrated nothing but crass incompetence. There has never been a more urgent time than now.
It is an urgency necessitated by the manifest magnitude of the fatal failures of our politicians since 1999. When we analyse the exorbitant costs of their dangerous indifference, we will realise that the incalculable money they have stolen, however consequential, is the very least crime out of their treasonous offences. Money can be recovered but what about life? What about time? What about the lives lost daily on account of Nigeria’s dysfunction? What about the vast majority of despaired young Nigerians growing up without hope? Who will calculate the effects of the actions – of these kids growing up with the belief that impunity is the only effective resort – on the future economy of our country? The greatest crime of the political class is the wilful extermination of hope and a fraudulent profiteering from the resulting helplessness. Hope is the single greatest asset of any nation; the enduring belief that if you play your part and do your best, your country will do right by you. It is the faith which steadies your mind as you go about your lawful aspirations, that whoever you are, whichever God you worship, as long as you do your part, you will get a fair share of the national prosperity. That’s the core of the American Dream; it is the very force spinning the wheel of British progress and Singaporean prosperity. No nation makes an appreciable progress without it, none!
It is the irredeemability of time and life which now behoves this sense of urgency and places an unshakable obligation upon us act with efficacious immediacy. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said during the civil rights movement in the United States in the 60s: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action”. When you critically think about what is at stake and realise that the consistent progression of this downward spiral has always been the case for as long as you can remember, even though you, on the other hand, are not getting any younger, then you will see that the time for that “vigorous and positive action” is now.
Although we are not so naive as to dismiss the task as an easy ride, it will not be easy to dislodge those who have perfected the craft of benefiting from decades of systemic failure and whose economic hydration derives from occupying a strategic spot directly under the funnelled leak of Nigeria’s financial waters, however, we must neither resign to despair nor “go quietly into the night” of helplessness. Social change is a costly enterprise, its price and sacrifice must be duly paid if we are ever to contemplate its dividends.
We must therefore go beyond the #NotTooYoungToRun efforts, though a momentous victory, and encourage visionaries among us to run to win and their religion or what part of the country they are from should not, must not matter. It is okay if they do not possess a political war chest, we must identify the tested leaders around us who are interested, have a plan and a strategy and actively lend them our helping hands. It is okay if you do not have millions to donate; if you are superb at social media marketing, volunteer to train their campaign staff on how to leverage the power of the social media to reach the grassroots. If you are good at mobilising locally, by all means volunteer to help the candidate who, in your intellectual estimation, fits the bill. Volunteer your car, donate your time, lend your voice, talk to someone and most importantly, get your PVC!
Let us convert this collective frustration into a positive force and channel that energy into making 2019 the year we took our future into our hands. Let us aggregate this rare consensus and build a movement of organised resistance as we charge united towards a survivalist-reclamation. Let us start now the process of pushing back against the mental enslavement which falsely stresses the mythical invincibility of the political class over and above the ultimate power of a united people to abruptly end extractive political and economic institutions. Let us start now so that the next elections will not foist on us the dilemma of choosing either of the evils. Let us make 2019 the year of our national epiphany; when Nigeria walked into the great prosperity of her limitless potential. The past generations saw what was and asked why, let us be the generation that saw the things that never were and asked why not!
Ojo, a lawyer and business analyst, wrote in from Lagos via firstname.lastname@example.org