Come February 25, 2023, Nigerians will troop en masse to the polls to choose their next crop of leaders – President, Governors and Legislators – at the two levels of government – federal and state. For a country currently experiencing excruciating existential challenges that have pushed her to the precipice of implosion, the need for the election of credible, patriotic and altruistic leaders with the sagacity to arrest the country’s dwindling fortunes, cannot be overemphasized. The decisions Nigerians take at the polls on D-Day would be indicative of the direction they want their ship of state to sail in the foreseeable future. History beckons!
Elections have always presented Nigerians with escape routes from the debilitating challenges – grinding poverty, asphyxiating corruption, internecine conflicts, cyclical unemployment, burgeoning insecurity, economic decay etc. – that are traceable to the several years of ham-fisted, villainous leadership at the various levels of government. Sovereign authority, ideally, belongs to the people in any democratic society; that is, real power belongs to the popular sovereigns, not the political sovereigns who owe their privileged stations to the collective will of the people. It is the citizens of a state who, through their collective actions elect their leaders, determine how these elected public servants conduct themselves in office, and decide when there is need to dismiss them from office, especially when they begin to act contrary to their oaths and terms of office. Indeed, the collective power of the people is omnipotent, if well utilized.
Sadly, Nigerians have consistently failed to key into the opportunities presented by past elections to rescue their country from the leprous hands of the impassive incubuses ruining their affairs. Accepted that the country’s electoral processes have traditionally not been open, free and fair, due to the mischievous predispositions of some of the country’s politicians, Nigerians themselves, especially the youths, are partly to blame for the inconsistencies and malpractices that have turned elections into the comic shows they have become in these parts. When you help a politician to rig himself into office, and get paid for your indiscretions, have you not received your dues? Have you any moral grounds to expect any further rewards from him once he succeeds to the position he seeks? When you exchange your votes for cash handouts, bags of rice and other Greek gifts to support candidates without clear-cut plans, are you not deserving of the leaders you ultimately get? When you sell your votes for lucre, and give up healthcare and security for four years, have you not shot yourself in the foot?
As a people, Nigerians must cast off their old ways. They must begin to do what they need to do to cultivate good leaders. Nigerians must begin to elect competent leaders who can rescue them from the deep gorge ensconcing them. It won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But they must keep on trying until they get it right. They must start asking political aspirants questions: What is their vision for Nigeria? Do they have a vision of ONE NIGERIA where citizens can live in peace and harmony with their neighbours? How do they intend to arrest climate change, insecurity, inflation, unemployment, gender inequality etc.? How do they intend to answer the National Questions? Nigeria needs fearless leaders with the savoir-faire to arrest the current decay in the system; leaders who can stimulate the construction of a viable, all-inclusive and just system that works for ALL Nigerians.
There is need to evolve a new political class in Nigeria; a productive, result-oriented and transformative type of leadership; a leadership that is ingrained in the utilitarian approach to governance; a leadership that would strive to provide the basic necessities of life – food, clothing, shelter, security etc. – for the vast majority. Nigerians need patriotic leaders who would be committed to liberating them from several years of asphyxiating underdevelopment and undemocratic rule. There are many Nigerians out there capable of leading their country into a new age of light. But unfortunately, while the best minds in the country remain largely apolitical, the few ones that are interested operate on the fringes. These indifferent dispositions accounts for why the subsisting messy state of affairs still persists. To move forward, the country’s best minds must become more involved in politics by vying for principal political positions. The few noblemen and women, amidst the crooked lot, must stand up to be counted. They must shed their apolitical skins and join the mass movement for progressive change. Nigerians must also be ready to back the best minds in the country who express sincere interests in contesting for key political offices in the future as this is the only way to arrest the current leadership deficits that have turned Nigeria into something akin to George Orwell’s 1945 classic, Animal Farm.
Fellow Nigerians, come February 25, 2023, we must massively vote for fearless leaders with the savoir-faire to arrest the current decay in the system; leaders who can stimulate the construction of a viable, all-inclusive and just system that works for ALL Nigerians. The shameful practices in the past when the we, the electorate, preferred supporting greedy money bags who only needed our votes to gain entrance into the mansions of power, and not to better our lives, must be jettisoned. Elections should no longer serve as avenues for the recycling of deadbeats in government, but for improving the quality of governance. We must move from the traditional practices of routinely “changing governments” to making pragmatic “changes in the processes of governance. It is our duty, as it is our right, to save our country, Nigeria!