By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
At the beginning of the year, I had promised that for 12 months, In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and sufacracy. This is number ten, and two more to go.
I love Nigeria, the land where everything, anything, all things are possible, it depends only from where you stand and what you can benefit from. From Lagos, our own New York, to Abuja, the expensive London with Beverly Hills homes only for the rich and to urban hellish towns worse than that in slumdog millionaire’s flick, we have own Chicago styled Police, then we have so many Bronx sites where you could get anything from fake passport to late Abacha or Abiola’s signature.
Nigeria…God’s own country in black Africa, how many times have I been told that even God is Nigerian especially when we have goofed and expect a miracle.
It’s old news that it’s the land where we import what we possess in abundance…
So again, we are starting afresh, the promissory notes include free education, same that was promised by some in 1999…They say they will repair the rail system, the one OBJ the all-knowing life czar of Nigeria could not…and the one Jonathan privatised, the one that is now a death trap…
Tomorrow, would we be able to hold them liable, are we really expectant or it’s just the excitement of the times, with expectations as high as believing that heaven in Nigeria is not far away. Some of the promises even sound like the ability to bring back our forefathers to life.
They constitute less than 3% of the population but they are the tiny tin gods we have them situated everywhere, they have been exchanging carrots at our collective expense because they know us, we are Nigerians.
They know most of us only want a measure of salt, rice, and a few yards of cotton materials with their heads on the fabrics. They know us, they know we cannot do without them, some of them feel without their heads, or mischievous smiles on papers no one would buy the morning newspapers. They know we feel humbled when they tell us they care.
They know we are gullible; we love life and cannot resist their Isi Ewu and bottle of Gulder politics in the East, neither can we go far from the amala and obe ewedu welled laced with assorted beef in Ibadan, and for us up north, the more Tuwo Shinkafa the more we nod positively to their lies when religion is added. They tell us that it is about us, and when they get there, they forget us. They tell us that their god told them in a vision, but the Almighty silently watches not just their folly but our collective folly.
We are even in cases contributing from our meagre resources for them to lead us…
The good thing about 2023, is that Nigeria will not break, Nigeria will not fail or fall, because it already has. The campaigns are again highlighting we are not united, but we are one in corruption, one in greed, one in maladministration and misgovernance, we are united in soccer too.
So, the search for purposeful leadership and citizenship with direction will continue in 2023, because we have refused dialogue, I maintain that we need a roundtable, not an election. We need to address the secrets of fowl yansh (the anus of the chick).
50% of every conversation in Nigeria is about religion, it is about our differences, we keep teaching and learning to hate each other, that the Muslims are violent, the Christians want to convert everybody…even with the best attempt, the musketeers are hardly able to distinctly talk about jobs, or about farmers or teachers and doctors; the fact that politicians who want our votes are maligning each other over matters they can get together over a phone call or dinner and solve speaks volumes.
Government is supposed to either provide Nigerians with hospitals, schools, roads, etc or at most facilitate and regulate a framework that sees that all these utilities work, but there’s not a single thing that’s really working well. Even the richest Nigerians today don’t have good roads but we still are clogged with our religion, our ethnic affiliations and primordial thinking.
Children under the age of five are still dying from avoidable diseases, and people are going to bed without food. Yet we are accusing each other, pointing fingers, everyone feels marginalised, some others see the other as dominating.
For example, if one checked the indices, Katsina state is last or amongst the tail, whether in terms of security, education, health, infrastructure, the current system is not working, our federalism is not and will not work with any of these musketeers, I often debated that states need to work, we need regions to work, we need strongmen/women governors, and local government chairmen!
All we hear from the musketeers are promissory notes, we have been here before, a certain cowbell drinking candidate and now another that does not give shishi, these men are not capable of changing the systems and structures that we currently operate, I stand to be corrected, a cursory look at the quality and calibre of individuals in the next National Assembly is already one that gives so much concern.
Look at the current legislative house, it has delivered below par, they have simply contributed nothing, the president has not been made to see why over 20% should go to education, they have not been able to legislate for Nigerians to raise the flag in the east because it is a business hub, we have not solved the herdsmen/farmer dynamics, we could not even agree on women representation.
The campaigns are raising old wounds, the Atiku/Wike/Ayu drama is still fresh and shows that it is still about power sharing and not development indices. Mr. Buhari has proved that we cannot have a super leader, we still have old challenges, and Messrs Obi, Atiku, Tinubu won’t be any different.
The Nigerian state is porous, it is open, it is not about religious affiliations, it is not about ethnic combo, and all the emotional hullabaloos of the same faith ticket. A Muslim-Christian, General-Professor/Pastor presidency has not manifested in many fields and poor showing in very visible areas has dwarfed loads of what ordinarily should have been giant strides.
The best of the current musketeers will still be working with either the worst of the best, or the best of the worse, same raison de etre many a Nigerian do well outside Nigeria and fare poorly at home.
This country has not been governed democratically, equitably, or with a fair sense of justice, nor with competent persons, that are not party and power mongers. All these musketeers have been there since 1999, this country has been fair to them, and until fowl yansh opens we are wasting time.
Spaces will be either won, or negotiated, one must happen. Amongst Obi, Tinubu and Atiku there is no originality, nothing indigenous, the solutions being proffered are not native, we have seen narratives of the anchor borrowers project of the apex bank, the rice pyramids and the magic of increasing cost of grains. As Fela did put it, government magic.
I was once told that the fowl on a journey inside the basket does not know where it will end. In contemporary Nigeria we have continued to exhibit that we have neither history nor heritage apart from all the scattered cultures from Odua to Arewa, Biafra to South-South.
We have very little history of who we are as a country, at every turn in national discourse like the axiom, aki í fi ìyá ẹní dákú ṣeré, we joke that our mother has collapsed, always trifling with serious matters, playing with a loaded and primed gun. Forgetting that one does not hide something in one’s hand and yet swear [that one knows nothing about it]. We know our problems, it’s not the musketeers, it is us, whether we want to solve it, remains to be seen, and until fowl yansh opens—only time will tell.