By O’Ray Osawe
It is almost a curse; but it sounds more like an uninterrupted statement of fact; a declaration that comes right from within, that nothing, absolutely nothing, can be done to change the situation.
Nigerians have been suffering untold hardship, prompted by unwholesome government policies, manifesting in the sorry socio-political and economic backwaters we have found ourselves.
Social infrastructures, where they exist at all, are in terribly neglected conditions; graduate unemployment continues to yearly quadruple, giving the ludicrous impression that we do not have need of them any long. This is because, as a result of their presence and the nation’s inability to productively engage them, we have had to face all sorts of debilitating criminal activities, including armed-robbery, drug, human trafficking, and only recently kidnapping.
It is a truism that we, as a nation, have a preponderance of almost everything, from human resources to mineral resources. Recently, we have become so divinely blessed with prostitutes that they have become exportable commodities for marketing abroad!
Hope has no meaning to us again because the present conditions that ravage us, without mercy, have promptly beclouded our vision of the future. Those in government, that are supposed to come to our aid, have willingly turned their back on us, regaling themselves in corruption and debasing the sanctity of a national constitution that is believed to have spelt out the way and manner we should have been properly governed.
In essence, government has become an added problem, a vice that continues to assail the consciousness of Nigerians. It has become an intimidating incubus that has continued to oppress and keep us in the enveloping darkness of all manners of criminality against humanity. Government, which is supposed to be the representative of the people in the use of our commonwealth for the progress and happiness of our country and people, has become our number one enemy.
Our roads, especially our highways, have become death traps. Nigerians have lost count of the numerous quality lives that have been lost through road mishaps that ordinarily could have been prevented by putting such roads in order. Our educational and health institutions have continued in their mere existence as government’s negligence has ravaged their very souls. Understandably, children of those in government do not patronize any of these mere institutions that are left to exist as relics of what should have been government’s responsibility.
However, the greatest of all of these problems bisecting us today in this country is we, ourselves. We are our greatest enemies. Someone once said that the problem of man is man himself. Man needs to cure himself; the society, from among which these reckless leaders of today emanate, must sanitize itself, heal itself and chart an endearing course for itself. The sin we have committed against ourselves is that of ignorance and a non-recognition of the potent powers we have in our grip, that sovereign powers reside with the people and not with their leaders, who have clearly missed their political calling.
Whenever it is time for Nigerians to elect their new set of leaders at the different tiers of government, the politicians would begin to cook their poisonous concoctions to dazzle the public with. They then would begin to run, from pillar to post, begging for votes. Funny, and ignorantly enough, Nigerians would be waiting for these politicians to beg them to register to vote. A majority of Nigerians would shun INEC’s Voters’ registration centres, thereby allowing politicians to hijack the process. The politicians would then take it upon themselves to house, feed and fend for INEC registration officials. What do we expect from all of these? Right from day one, INEC would have, by this, compromised its reputation and aloofness. The onus would then be on INEC to do their bidding when the voting and election proper come.
Nigerians are starkly ignorant because we have failed to know our rights, and recognize the fact that our fumbling leaders are, in truth, our servants, who are supposed to be told what we want, and they would be compelled to do our bidding. Should they fail in that regard, we are at liberty to get them kicked out of public office promptly. This is the naked truth we have, so far, failed to realize.
Rather, and most abjectly, we see today’s leaders as masters, instead of the looters and plunderers that they are. We fret when they dehumanize us; we get apathetic where issues and matters of government are concerned, erroneously holding the view that they do not concern us. For this apathy and detachment, we have continued to suffer, and we will continue to suffer more stringent privations, if we continue to refuse to know, and act in consonance with our exclusive rights to sovereign powers and self determination.
It was Fela Anikulapo Kuti, that Late Afrobeat King with caustic lyrics for our oppressive leaders, who once sang: “policeman go slap you, you no go talk. Army man go whip your yansh, you go do like zombie!” This is the reality of our situation, so much so that when a gang of government-backed exploiters, in the name of whatever committee, would harass us unlawfully, we cower in fear and timidity. Absolutely preposterous!
There is the urgent need for us to begin to express the knowledge of our rights. To speak out against the ills perpetrated by an irresponsible government, which we should not allow to stay in office a day longer than when our confidence in them expires! In advanced, more civilized and knowledgeable societies, the people, who know their rights, do not even have the patience to wait for another election time before demanding, and securing, the exit of reckless and irresponsible government functionaries. That aptly demonstrates the possession of the peoples’ sovereign powers. The tenure of government functionaries should be determined by the collective grace of the people, who would gauge the relevance of the public officers with their (the peoples’) collective wellbeing.
It is high time we realized this fact and act in its consonance. Otherwise, this ignorance of ours would continue to cow us, and one day soon, would transform us into dummies. Haven’t you heard it said, that the rich masters once submitted all they had got to their slaves, and the slaves later turned around to chastise them with whips and scorpions? It is the pathetic tale of the Nigerian people in relation to the kind of government we have allowed to preside over us all these years.