I have, with some level of dismay, watched the dates on my calendar flick by, week by week, leading us inexorably towards the forthcoming general elections to be held next year. Unarguably, Nigeria is in the grip of what is the singularly most corrupt and anti-people government it has ever had, with a profligate disregard for human life that the years of military rule, bad as they were, cannot match.
I can honestly not recall when the life of the citizenry counted for so little. With insurgency, communal clashes, and the dreaded Fulani herdsmen claiming lives like ticks on a scoresheet, it is beyond sad that people are dying like flies, from events that need not have happened, and as consequence of easily avoidable actions.
But these are not my biggest worries, no far from it.
My biggest worry is that, in a country like Nigeria that has no natural disasters, we still record deaths in such fantastic numbers, and yet treat them as mere statistics, almost as if Nigerians have become inured to death and destruction, and we wake up to news of vast numbers dead or dying and still go about our various lives, as though the people who died were flies swatted by a broom or insects smashed against a wall. This new indifference is, perhaps, a consequence of the economic hardship that is our present reality, that has been our lot for the past few years now.
What is saddening is that we seem to lack the political will to effect any changes in the sociopolitical system. In 2015, when the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was voted out, certain acclaimed political analysts and activists claimed that there was no media blitz orchestrated to turn the people against the Goodluck Jonathan led PDP government, that it was simply a case of the Nigerian populace voting overwhelmingly to oust an inept government, that the people had awakened, and that if the incoming government did not perform up to expectation, it would be voted out, similarly and overwhelmingly.
Ideally, the task of at least calling out the government for perceived excesses should have fallen to the opposition, in this case, the freshly ousted PDP government. But it seems they listened to the spin doctors of the opposition a bit too much. The peoples’ democratic party has neither been particularly active in the role of opposition nor kept the APC government on its toes, and this is where I really begin to worry.
The truth is that politics in Nigeria have never really been about the people, or about ideologies. Nigerian politics is largely self-serving, every man to himself, a mad race to stuff pockets and feed fat from the bounty of salaries and a plethora of allowances that is (present facts and arguments to the contrary if you will) the main lure of any Nigerian seeking public office.
Since (if the misinformation specialists of the APC are to be believed) we voted in this government, things have steadily gone from bad to worse. There is perhaps no better or more accurate index to measure this than the price of foodstuffs and the ease of transportation, two of the sectors that have the most effect on the common man. Food has grown more and more expensive, transport, while essential for economic activity, has not fared much better in itself. Flashback to fuel price hikes in the guise of subsidy removal.
Where the man on the street was able to stand and debate politics and policy with his neighbor, post 2015 and until now, it has been replaced by an eagerness to just get through the day, to tick one more mark on the calendar, to inch one step closer to a payday, and a take-home pay that falls far short of the mark of its intended purpose.
The PDP has gone to sleep, trusting in the political consciousness of the people. While this consciousness that they trusted it may have been in existence, since 2013 or thereabouts, the sad fact is that has gradually been squeezed out of the common man, and replaced by a weary despair that masquerades as hope.
The PDP should have been more active, they should have been more up-and-doing in their dealings. They should have been quick, calculated, relentless, in calling out the government of the day for any misbehaviours and inconsistencies. They should have organized a media blitzkrieg, a ceaseless barrage of attacks to keep the government harried and restless.
Instead, they sat on their fat haunches and hoped in the will of the people. Now, due to gross economic mismanagement, the people’s will is channelled more towards mere survival than actual living, and it has become obvious that something has to be done. PDP’s failure to retain Ekiti state is proof of this slumber, but this is not the day we talk of Ekiti elections. That day will come.
For now, we mourn our nation.