"THEY'RE ALL THE SAME" IS NOT A POLITICAL PARTY IN NIGERIA! - Lauretta Onochie
I cannot count how many times I have been told, "This is Nigeria, not UK". It's usually in response to my democratic nonsense. I am a democrat. I also live in a democratic society. I was born in Nigeria. I grew up in Nigeria too. So I have a fairly good understanding of how we do things in Nigeria. I also have an understanding of what governance means in Nigeria. It's meaning and style are a far cry from what they mean, even in Ghana.
Then I stumbled on a word, an English word. "Change". So many of us' Nigerians, began to dream. We began to imagine how this word, "Change", could transform the lives of all Nigerians. We dreamed of heights hitherto unattained by Nigerians that we could now attain as individuals and as a nation because of "Change"! We dreamed of reclaiming our position as the giant of Africa that roared in the days of apartheid and the world listened. We dreamed of our leaders standing shoulder to shoulder with world leaders and other lesser nations, queening to have audience or even a glance at our leaders.
We began to imagine that the 6-3-3-4 system of education, one of the best in the world would now be properly implemented in its original form, fulfilling the aspirations of many young Nigerians who have been shoved into higher academic institutions when apprenticeship schemes in technical education for requisite skills acquisition would have sufficed.
We also began to dream that change would revamp and resuscitate our comatose health sector that has sent the few remaining middle class Nigerians to Indian hospitals and our elites, including our political captors, to the United Kingdom, America and Germany. The same sector that has not met the needs of ordinary Nigerians who die daily from common ailments and manageable health conditions.
We thought "change" would repair our dilapidated roads that have become death traps for thousands of road users around our nation. We believed strongly that change would finally, bring about an end to the incessant power failure that Nigerians have become accustomed to, that has crippled small business and left all Nigerians with the burden of generating their own electricity, noise and environmental pollution.
Yes we hoped that change would reverse the state of lawlessness that has overwhelmed our nation where the law descends heavily on small time criminals while our elected and appointed political office holders, their spouses and friends, commit every known crime, including mass murder of immigration jobseekers and yes, they go free. Sometimes with a pat on the back.
We hoped that "change" would usher in accountability, efficiency and restore some sanity in the way we view public service. We also believed in the ability of change to put an end to vices such as corruption, tribalism, nepotism, discrimination of all kinds and high level impunity.
Religion is good but when it becomes the only focus of a people, it's an indication that such a people have lost hope in all else. They begin to have their vision clouded as they can no longer decipher between normal occurrences and miracles. We became a nation where giving birth to babies, securing a jobs, waking up to a new day, a new week and a new month are now miracles that have to be celebrated. So we began to hope too that change would support the refocusing of Nigerians on themselves with a view to rediscovering their God-given potentials to do great things. We had hoped too that religion would return to being a medium of doing good and fostering peaceful coexistence among the multi ethnic people of Nigeria.
Those were some of the hopes we had that "change" would usher in. But everywhere I turned, there was someone reminding me that this is Nigeria, not the United Kingdom. Even those I thought would understand democracy would say to me, "Yes we understand what you are saying, but that's not how we do it in Nigeria". Those in government see those of us who insist on democratic principles as enemies. Anyone or anything that is inimical to anything should be eliminated. That you are reading this piece is a clear evidence that our people do not mean it or do not understand the meaning of "Enemy". Finally I decided to examine how it is done in Nigeria.
I have put in so much effort but have found nothing. I have not found out how it is done in Nigeria. What I have discovered is that those in the political arena make it up as they go along. They change their own rules to favour them. When opponents or the competitions catch up with then, they change the rules again and again.
You see, Nigerians, in 2014, are still at the stage where we are clamouring for a chance to choose our own leaders. What happens is that political party godfathers would chose their political sons or daughters and then they were foisted on the people. Ballot boxes were stuffed and/or snatched in favour of the selected one. Later on, church thanks giving services would be organised and that act of electoral fraud and treachery, would be dedicated to the glory of God!
Today, it's no longer called selection, its called "Anointing". Once one has been anointed, all the other aspirants are expected to close shop and queue behind the anointed one. This anointing is also now followed by a gale of endorsements from various groups, known and previously unknown. Many of these endorsements are quite damaging to the endorsee as they are badly written in poor English language with no substance to the endorsement of mostly people that have not even declared their intention to stand in the election. But it's not just at the state level as President Jonathan, who has still not declared his intention to stand in the election, is receiving endorsements too.
At this stage, I do not know what name to call the system of government we practice in Nigeria. I would opine that it's closer to traditional rulership than it is to democracy. So I would say that it's more like a mixture traditional rulership and a bad military regime. I will mention two facts about our government, or is it an empire which should add to how I would arrive at a name for our peculiar kind of government. The first is that it's a government run by old men and their women. This is known as gerontocracy. Secondly, It also has a massive dose of religion as the leaders attribute everything to God or evil spirits. It is known as theocracy.
Since the system has no known name, I will try to fashion one. So what do we call the system of Government in Nigeria seeing it's not democracy?
Gerontocracy + Theocracy = GeronTheocracy
GeronTheocracy is the government of Nigerians by Nigerian Elders and for Nigerian Elders, their friends and families. I have already established that candidates are usually selected and then anointed. After many years of burying my head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich that Nigeria is a democratic nation, I have now come to the realisation that democracy is not a word many of our people understand.
Many Nigerians would come out openly to defend Old men who impose their stooges on us claiming its God's doing. "It's God that gives power", they would say. But just as I decided to shut my mouth about democracy and swallow what Nigerians believe work for them, those who have been defending imposition as God's handwork are now screaming that imposition is undemocratic! The reason being that their own aspirants have had another aspirant superimposed on them.
What! How can imposition be undemocratic? When did we return to democracy to become a democratic nation? When last did we elect many of our leaders on merit? When did INEC recognise majority votes as the voice of the people?
This is the reason we are now all saying, "They are all the same". This is nothing but pure and undiluted cop-out! Nigerians, he who stand for nothing gets nothing. Thirteen years of Labour government in the UK, brought the economy on its knees, in the worst recession in modern and peace times.
The British people voted Labour Party out and the Coalition government under a Conservative leadership emerged. They are now taking very difficult decisions and the economy is recovering faster than predicted. But If the British people are no longer happy with the Coalition, they will vote them out and Labour will be back......
That is democratic politics. It's not church. It's politics. We must choose one of the parties. "They're all the same", is a statement that confronts us as we go knocking on many doors in the UK. But they also know they must choose one or be stuck with one chosen by others.
"They're all the same", is now a common saying amongst Nigerians too. But what then do we do? "They're all the same" is not a registered political party in Nigeria so can never win any election.
It's through the process of voting the Parties, in and out of power, that change will happen. We cannot afford to stick to one party. Parties may have great ideas but at some point, they run out of steam and ideas.
We must make a choice. We cannot have nothing. It has to be people in PDP or APC etc. These are the only choices we have been presented. We must hold our noses and support individuals we consider straight enough in this messy political environment. To stand aloof would pertuate, forever, the mess that is our nation today!
Would it be a return to democracy or would we continue with Gerontheocracy? The choice is ours.
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