24 September 2018

Nigeria: Victory So Fleeting


If politicians put as much energy into good governance as they deploy in electoral engineering, our society would have been the better for it. What we have at the moment is so much bluster, so much hype, so many lies and so many imaginary achievements, all of which combine to make the very existence of the generality of our people miserable.

We chased out the military because they did not have our mandate to lord it over us. These civilian replacements are our own representatives - or so they claim to be. But see how we virtually live and die for elections! The only time our politicians consciously cultivate the people is when elections are around the corner. Now we have so debased our people that in the Southwest, the catchphrase for vote buying is "Dibo ko sebe" (trade your vote for a pot of soup). How much lower can a society descend before something gives?

As the collation of results for last weekend's Osun State governorship elections were ongoing, I was saddened by live threads of youths posting their bank details in a group chat in response to a promise by one political jobber to credit their accounts. I shudder to think of the implication of this development for the future of the country.

I was in Oyo town over the weekend. The road from Ibadan airport all the way to Oyo was a lesson in hop-step-and-jump. How do our people carry out their commerce in these horrendous circumstances? What manner of democracy is this jungle variant that repeatedly dogs the progress of the people at every turn? Since when did highway maintenance become rocket science? Who exactly is looking out for the people?

It is in the midst of these broken infrastructure that our politicians go round the deprived people hunting for votes. Everything comes to a halt just so another oppressor could mount the saddle to perpetuate his people's trial by ordeal. The security votes that governors use as their gravy tray could fix many of the broken highways but who is to compel them to do something right for once?

Go round the country. Can we say we have fared better under this democratic dispensation than under the military usurpers? In a clime where the opportunities available for the younger generation to actualise their aspirations is getting thinner and thinner, are we not sentencing our collective future to unborn years of directionlessness?

Was the Osun election really about the people? Did we need 48 political parties to contend for the soul of the state? Was there any altruistic dream behind the individual aspirations?

Listening to the INEC officials announcing the results of the election, you could see that it was all about political parties, personalities, and narrow partisan ploys.

PDP candidate Adeleke and Oyetola of APC may have been sponsored by the two leading political parties but is there any ideological difference between them? Indeed, in terms of socio-economic ideas, what distinguishes any of the 48 odd contestants from their rivals? Peoples Democratic Party's Senator Isiaka Adeleke polled 254, 698 votes ahead of Gboyega Isiaka Oyetola of the All Progressive Congress who garnered 254, 345 votes.

At times like this I always remember the good book where it says God uses the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Adeleke and Oyetola may have wrestled each other to inconclusiveness, but what is conclusive is that the people of Osun, as with the electorate all over the country, are the primary victims of a conspiracy by the elite to acquire power for the sake of power thereby leaving the people empty handed.

It is that conspiracy that accounts for the low quality of aspirants in many elections. Good, competent people don't want their reputations soiled by partisan politics. The carpetbaggers on the other hand are always ready and willing.

All said and done, the politicians are always the winners and the people the eventual losers.

The 26th US President, Theodore Roosevelt, enjoins us to quit our armchair analysis and join the fray: "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never tasted victory or defeat."

The ball then, dear compatriot, is in your court. If things must change, we must be more involved in the process in as many ways as we are opportune to. If the Osun election with an incumbent APC government could be that close with a narrow margin of defeat, who is there to tell what the 2019 presidential election portends? Who can decode right now what secrets are jealously concealed in the womb of time?

Whether the Osun case is resolved in a rerun or not, it is a signpost to the fleeting nature of everything about life, including electoral victory. Yes, somebody won, but not quite. The other person did not actually lose but he lost. The people don't know whether to laugh or cry.


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