It was Edmund Burke who said that all it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing. To keep silent while our nation is led down a dangerous path of destruction will be irresponsible. To think that our leaders know what they are doing is naïve. History will condemn us all if we refuse to speak up now at this critical time of transition in the history of our great nation.
On the 31st of March 2015, the world watched with bated breath the completion of the electoral process and the emergence of Nigeria’s President elect. The election was a plus for every Nigerian because the process was quite peaceful contrary to the expectations of our detractors. But what was troubling, what was of grave concern to me is that in a country of over 180 million people, the best person we could find to represent our wishes, hopes and aspirations, the best person we could vote for to be our leader for the next four years of our democratic journey is a retired, 72 year old man. What we must ask ourselves is: does this represent true change for our nation?
On a personal level, even if you don’t agree with the political leanings of General Muhammadu Buhari, you cannot but admire his bulldog tenacity, his laser focus and his ethical and ideological values. In spite of being a former ruler, he has not falsely enriched himself in any way, neither did he plunder the government treasury when he had the opportunity to do so. In all his years of service to the nation, all he has to show for it are 5 houses. Although commendable, this is an anomaly for a civil servant in Nigeria. Many civil servants own ‘estates’ which were built from stolen public funds. But General Buhari, remains untainted by corruption and this is highly commendable.
But no matter how well meaning Muhammadu Buhari may be, no matter how morally upright he is, no matter his almost Buddhist detachment from materialism and his greed-free-lifestyle, he cannot run the affairs of our country on his own. No matter the great ideas he wants to effect in our polity, he still has to depend on the contributions of other politicians who may not be as honest, altruistic and patriotic as he is. Our President elect and his political configuration is like a dolphin leading a shiver of blood thirsty sharks.
Voting out an incumbent President shows that we the Nigerian people are dissatisfied and want something better for ourselves, and we truly deserve better. For the past 16 years, our national affairs have been mis-managed by politicians who have launched our nation into a downward spiral, leading to an abyss of economic darkness and total social chaos. We watched with dread as our national coffers were plundered by civil servants. The power sector failed in spite of the millions of dollars allegedly invested in it.
Our economy which is largely dependent on revenues from crude oil was crashing, due to the failure of the government to diversify and invest heavily in other sectors of the economy. The gains from crude oil have been misappropriated and stolen since our independence. Billions of dollars of oil revenue have entered our national coffers but we haven’t seen a commensurate change in the economic fortunes of our people. Why is this so? The reason is simple. We have been plagued by systemic corruption which has eaten deep into the government since our independence and especially the return to democratic rule in 1999. Our sad condition as a nation has been brought upon us by the politicians we elected to lead us and those who imposed themselves on us by the manipulation of the ballot box.
We must understand that our political parties are the product of a cross pollination of the same old politicians who have ruled for decades and collectively grounded the fortunes of our great nation. Majority of these politicians, like shameless whores ready to sell their wares at the right price, have no enduring loyalty to any political party, no deeply held ideological beliefs and no discernible plans to change the economic fortunes of our nation.
The incoming government led by General Muhammad Buhari will consist of this same old politicians whose sole mission in life is to enrich themselves at the expense of the exploited, subjugated, oppressed masses of our nation, with over 70% of our people living under the poverty line. What we have is not true change but a very costly illusion which will condemn our nation to backwardness, chronic under development and a perpetual struggle with an anaemic economy.
The change we need in this nation is the complete sanitisation of the political class. Because politicians keep re-inventing themselves like a cat with nine lives and jump from one political party to another, like the wild spread of a venereal disease among the patrons of a brothel, the only way to bring about real change in our polity is to encourage men and women who have not been initiated into or contaminated by the cult of corruption, to engage in the political process. We have to search for and choose from among ourselves men and women of character and integrity who will serve selflessly, placing the interest of the masses and the nation above all else. Such people will inject new ideas, new vision, new direction and lead us into the glorious destiny of our nation.
Until we find such people who are ready to serve our nation selflessly and with integrity, until we sanitize this corrupt political order which has brought nothing but economic woes and social chaos on our people, until there is a rebirth of our leadership at all levels starting from the grassroots, reaching to the very top of the socio-economic ladder, we shall make do with the leaders we have chosen for ourselves through a peaceful electoral process and manage our expectations accordingly, not hoping for something extra-ordinary to happen in our national affairs and not in any way deceived or misdirected by this illusion of change.
© Praise George 2015