Central Line with West-Idahosa: Patriotic Thoughts - Part 2

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The Nigerian political class is a peculiar one. There are more politicians in the country than industrialists, small business owners and professionals. Many who have failed in other endeavours hurry into the political class, which has no entry qualifications, with little or no preparedness for managing national resources, promoting internal cohesion, guaranteeing citizens' welfare, protecting lives and property or defending our territorial integrity.

The political parties are very preoccupied in their campaign rallies with screaming their slogans, hailing their leaders and showing off the dance steps characteristic of the same young people whose growth they have stifled with mindless incompetence and corrupt practices. Instead of using their rallies as avenues to break down their action plan for the understanding of the Nigerian people and the rest of the world, if voted into power, they prefer to assume that the size of the crowd at such rallies is the yardstick for measuring public acceptability of such political parties. This is a huge fallacy.

West Idahosa, SAN
West Idahosa, SAN

Ironically, many politicians in the country need to become more familiar with their party's constitution and manifesto, not to talk about the nation's constitution. For them, politics is about bringing the mass of poor people prepared to attend any rally for reward together for no discernible reason other than to lure them into voting them to power. We all know what happens after that.

But why is it so easy for politicians to dribble the electorate so frequently? The answer is straightforward. It is functional poverty foisted on most ordinary Nigerians over a period of time.

Over 133 million of our country's men and women, if not more, are living in multidimensional poverty. Hunger is at the boiling point from enormous unemployment, insecurity, food scarcity, inflation and elite exploitation of the situation. The naira has lost a significant value as a medium of exchange, leading people to desire more naira to meet their basic needs.

It is alleged that people get paid about two to three thousand nairas for attending political rallies in some parts of Nigeria. It may be less in other parts where poverty and illiteracy are much higher. These ancient campaign methods merely mean that we are digging deeper while in a hole. We are doing the same thing over again. Deliberate poverty renders the people helpless, using peanuts to attract their presence at these meaningless rallies. The magnitude of the crowd is often used to unscientifically validate claims that people are happy enough to support and vote for candidates of these political parties regardless of who such candidates may be during periodic elections.

The last eight years have arguably witnessed the darkest era of our national life. All sorts of inequities have been foisted on the public. A harsh forex parallel regime with which those at the corridors of government can become billionaires overnight and the actual users of forex are subjected to needless scarcity of same and consequential collapse of businesses; a blatantly nepotistic environment which has opened the floodgates for the unprecedented exodus of citizens of Nigeria; irrational government loans from Central Bank to fund consumption of luxury goods and lifestyle; uncommon leakages in public revenue and over bloated public expenditure profiles; helpless state of insecurity leading to the daily deaths of citizens never before experienced in our country.

Despite all these, our political class has nothing new to offer. They have yet to learn lessons. Some states still appoint sole administrators for local government councils despite the constitution's provisions and several court judgements. Many desire to occupy public offices and further plunder our very lean public purse. This class is simply unrepentant. Nothing more pretentious.

How long will the public realize that only the Nigerian people can check the political class and call them to order with their votes? The public must learn to vote for candidates who are perceived to have the right qualifications and pedigree to hold certain public offices. Similarly, such elected officers must be voted out when they fail to deliver on their promises or meet public expectations.

One major flaw with the Nigerian voting public is that they are too tied to the political parties. They should bother less with the individuals that make up the membership of these political parties and focus on their manifestos and the quality of available manpower. In that way, the voting public would become the masters of the politicians. They would set the game's rules rather than the other way around.

Anyway, February 2023 is very near; let's pray that the public has learnt something new since the politicians hardly do in this clime.

Good luck to all of us this new year.

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