By Obiaraeri, Nnamdi Ph.D. FHRI
Nigeria needs to be fixed real quick and real good. It is frustrating that from 1960 till date, the political manifesto and campaign promises had always been on, around and within three things- road, light and water. In most developed and serious minded developing climes, these three basic things are a given as they no longer form core political campaign issues. Other nations of the world have moved on to other greater or elevated things like economy and globalization, social security and security, science and technology, industrialization, fundamental freedoms and human rights, going to the moon etc. It is regrettable that in the beginning and at independence in 1960, Nigeria’s founding fathers Zik, Awo and company campaigned on “We will give you road, light and water”. Fifty five years after, nothing has changed as GMB and GEJ are still campaigning on the same three things- road, light and water. Hunger, poverty, disease and underdevelopment have been and pathetically remain key features of the Nigerian polity. Nigerians paradoxically remain poor nationals of a rich country. This makes change imperative.
Coincidentally, these two gentlemen GMB and GEJ have all been “Oga at the Top” and have all had a bite at the cherry…GMB some thirty years ago as a military jackboot and GEJ still in the saddle since four years and counting. Hmmm…What a world? How on earth do any of these two leaders represent change? This then makes the agitation for or mantra for change very complex and difficult to surmise or fathom. Much as change is the only thing that is constant, we dare say that change is good if it is forward looking and not in the reverse or regression. Change from bad to worse is no good or positive change for any nation or society. It is antithetical and anachronistic to change from good to bad. From all the six geopolitical divides, thirty six states and Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, the common ground is that looking at the socio- economic living conditions of Nigerians, things are really bad and we therefore unarguably need change from our bad to a good, better or best situation. Change from our parlous bad situation to a good situation that guarantees road, light and water is the irreducible minimum positive change we want as Nigerians in 2015 and beyond. You don’t have to be a World Bank boss or Central Bank Governor, Harvard IMSU trained economist, member of any political party, religious bigot or atheist, ethnic or linguistic group warlord to agree on this. Poverty, insecurity, unemployment, anti-social and aberrant behaviours, squalor, rural urban migration, poor health facilities are here with us and we cannot pretend about them. What do we want as change and who among these present gladiators can offer change in the dynamic and functional prism that we truly and honestly deserve here in the sleeping giant of Africa?
Please change is not about GEJ and PDP or GMB and APC as a few of us are ignorantly arguing. Change is about the wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerian nationals including our neighbours in the global village. Whether the Presidential debate holds or not, (but we think it should hold), the world already knows the real issues bedeviling us in Nigeria. Change must happen and we must reject our old and evilous ways. This is the irreducible minimum.
On 14 February 2015, some few days from now, the chance for Nigerians to choose change will arrive via our PVCs. Whoever wins between GMB and GEJ, since the election appears clearly to be a two horse race, must guarantee that he will change our story from the usual “I will give you road, light and water” and move us into other important things confronting other nations in a rapidly globalizing world. Whoever wins must know ahead and in good time that it will not be business as usual. Nigerians are now more than ever ready to drive that positive change during and immediately after the elections. From what is on ground, Nigerians will use mass protest and civil action to change the post-2015 “Oga at The Top” who is unable or unwilling to change their sad story to a happy one. By the 2019 round of elections, and with visually accessible improved wellbeing and living conditions, Nigerians will be happy to understand that elections campaigns and party promises are not all about we will give you road, light and water. A new normal is possible.