In the face of many stories of flagrant abuse of office, massive corruption at all levels of government, and rampant cases of gross indiscipline among members of the political class, many Nigerians are earnestly awaiting a Messiah who will ascend to Aso Rock, wave a magic wand, and completely rid Nigeria of all our ills, especially corruption. Unfortunately, this will never happen. A super human leader is the stuff of science fiction and Greek mythology – not a part of contemporary political leadership.
Addressing the ills of contemporary Nigeria, which is the object of our programs in VISIONigeria, requires individual Nigerians to take individual initiatives and make personal changes that will culminate in a demand -by the electorate- for a change at all levels. This is our strategy in VISIONigeria
We are convinced that having a Messiah in Aso Rock is an untenable proposition. Not only is none forthcoming – but even if one came, Nigerians will be too eager to break ranks with him/her. Having been denied true leadership in recent times, many Nigerians will not be able to recognize one if they saw it. Any critical analysis of successive civilian and military Nigerian governments will show that we have not been lucky. Not even the Buhari-Idiagbon regime or the short-lived government of Murtala Mohammed can provide comfort to our aching souls in our desire for good government.
No Hope For a Messiah
The political process -as it is set up today makes it impossible for well meaning Nigerians to get to positions of leadership. The soap opera in Anambra State is a classic example of the Nigerian political process. Such a fetid and corrupt process cannot beget a saint. Hence, we are tempted to say that the Messiah will never get to Aso Rock. The electoral process is so debased it will corrupt almost every aspiring politician – even before the voting starts.
Even if a Messiah happens to slip through the political process with his/her integrity still intact, it would be difficult for such a politician to bring about any messianic change to the status quo. Niccolo Machiavelli reminds us in The Prince that those who benefit from extant order usually try to frustrate a new way of thinking. Think about all the fat cats in the parastatals, universities, Police and Armed Forces, and all other facets of Nigeria’s public service who are used to getting by with indiscipline. How do we expect our Messiah to face up to all these principalities and powers alone?
To make matters worse, Nigerians have become averse to exercising their franchise. Those who still vote, choose not to get involved in the political process until four years later when its time to vote again. It is almost as if we cast our votes and feel that there is nothing else for us to do until the next elections. In spite of this, the worst group is still the 31%* of registered voters who choose not to vote, because they claim that the votes are rigged. We join Louis L’Amour in affirming that ‘to make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain’. If you do not vote, please refrain from complaining or hoping for a Messiah.
YOU are the Messiah
The time has come for us to rise and demand accountability from our representatives. This should start from the Ward levels through the local council offices to the States and up to Aso Rock. Instead of passively waiting for Messiahs, it is time for active individual initiative. Every person must take an active interest in the work of our representatives – at all levels. In addition to individually watching our Reps, we need to set up or join watchdog organizations to constantly monitor the conduct of every representative and make this widely known to the electorate even before the next elections. The organized private sector should provide leadership in this regard. Government is not a body above us all, but rather ourselves. As American President Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded the people, we should “never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country”. Each voter is the Messiah. Our destiny is in our votes. If we accept this, then we will never allow others to invalidate our votes, our destiny.
Siblings, let us stop this lazy practice of hoping for a messiah. Hope is not a strategy. If we want a messiah we have to make it happen. One messiah will not heal the land. We need 130 million messiahs. We are all messiahs. So let’s stop waiting for the messiah. Let’s start being messiahs.
From “The VISION” Vol.1 Issue 3. To access other essays, please visit “The VISION”