[Comment] By Tony Abolo
Countries are not and should not be trapped by their pasts and hence we must confront our very weak and failed state, Nigeria. We must begin to attempt to unravel the primordial tendencies that has kept us in the near dark ages of state capture, the roulettes of swinging leaders on the same chair for 63 years and still counting, still held on to bonds that are only meaningful by kit and kin, instead of shared values. We must be intentional as a collective to forge a nation far out of our constant descent into a four yearly chaos, called elections and seeming love for disorder and political decay.
We have to break the cycle of disorder, descent and barbarism. Now in my eighties and I am almost but giving up on Nigeria. I have shared with others my fainting hope of a possible working Nigeria; a more united and articulate Nigeria. I have lived through the cycles – part World War I and World War II as a Nigerian, a colonial subject, an “Independent” Nigeria, a military rule experience Nigerian, a swinging state military – Civilian and back to Military Nigerian, a pseudo Democratic, but immersed into a militarized democratic Nigeria and into a high hope three horse race election cycle of 2023 Nigerian. Now, I no longer hope, nor bother what may happen to Nigeria as the conditions for a meaningful change do not seem at all present.
Nothing proves it better than the debased condition of today Nigeria politics. The north through subterfuge, despite giving Tinubu a Presidential ‘win’, is holding on to its claim of “fake numbers” and the right to choose who leads the country. The North by aligning with the West has no thought for the East ever being in the saddle of the premium and plum position of being a President of Nigeria, nor does it care much for the feelings and sensibilities of the South, or South-South. There is the rabid feeling of xenophobia and hate against the Igbos in Lagos around the emergence of Gadebo Rhodes Vivour of the Labour party. On that score, it is that unbelievable of stories that are swirling around the possibility of an Igbo take over of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti States, an utterly ridiculous theory, all because this is the season of politics and ethnic diatribes to get you the votes of the clan and exclude your “enemies”. All of these leave the Igbos at askance and the South and Middle Belt in utter disbelief and looking on as bystanders. I do not blame those Yorubas who are raking up ethnic sentiments in the hope of holding on to Tinubu’s stranglehold on Lagos, and not what is being touted as “Yoruba legacies”.
lnstead, we are reaping the legacies of the Fulani supremacist agenda which created some centrifugal forces in the polity. And thus, the Peter Obi bounce in the election fervor and the End Sars anger, all evaporated and became of no effect. Worse, Peter Obi, who we thought could make it as a “remaking of a new Nigeria”, apparently, at least the votes tally via the brought down servers of INEC, showed Obi was not loved in the core North, nor was Nigeria uniting and headed in a new direction. I ask myself, any hope then, with the recalcitrance of the Igbo haters in the Core North, and their adamancy on claiming fictitious numbers at censuses and at elections and refusal at any form of restructuring, no matter how minute a shift to the Southern or Middle belt view points? Could this be the way other nations battled at cohesion and national integration; working and walking at cross purposes and seeking self-interest above a so called “national interest”?
May be we at our old age, having no real agitated interest in the immediate and further future of Nigeria one could weigh in, considering that we could be seen, hopefully as non-partisan. Now that the centre cannot hold, and Peter Obi who was looked at to renew us and became the real RENEWED HOPE and not the jejune “renewed hope” of Tinubu and Shettima, can we look beyond the 2023 elections debacle?
The first line of action is to build back the shattered faith, hope and trust of the youths. These youths believed in the touted statements of INEC, to “get registered, vote and trust on BIVAS and IREV as the seed of new beginnings”. It turned out to be a big hoax.
The northerners who claim to hold the levers of power were at the usual game of “taqia”; deceit as a decoy in communication which is all “fair in war”. The deception worked and now the BIVAS is a story that has no explanation and the SERVERS, served other interests. The world looked on and their editorials and descriptive verbiage reveals the world in a shell shock at the perfidy that was INEC. That after 63 years, we cannot have an electoral body that can deliver a credible, free and fair elections, free from political manipulations!!! It is not that we have to start again. The INEC cannot be trusted to organize anything that is credible and hence, it needs to be deconstructed and a new national philosophy must resurrect a new body.
All the efforts, after President Yardua and his Justice Uwais reform proposals are all down the drains. And painfully, like every reform efforts in Nigeria, there is never any implementations, rather, all reform documents are kept in the attic to collect dusts and those who worked on the documents and the larger society develop amnesia around the issues. It serves the political class well, that, that is how things are in Nigeria.
The Obedient Movement like a chimera in a biological alteration in the Nigerian atrophied and decayed system, seems to have been the natural occurrence in our political ecology; in a cause, effect, consequence and resurgence manner. Contrary to the pooh poohed picture, that the old established politicians made of Peter Obi, that of four persons typing and tweeting in a room and organized as a social media political platform, we now see that it was a radical and necessary idea whose time had come.
Nigerians who were on the opposite side of the greedy, consumptive and thieving political elites, said to themselves, that they had had enough of the shenanigans. And that they wanted to take back their country and reshape it in their desire – a country that works for all. This new push, must be sustained, by a new energy of the youth who must not only reclaim their country, but reshape it to be a competitive country in the comity of nations.
The Obedient Movement is a readily available platform, given the latitude Peter Obi has expanded it, going forward; it is the philosophy and ideology that can reform Nigeria and enable new entrants into the political space to reshape the narrative of our lives, which has been seized by antediluvian feudalists, who rather than enthroning excellence and high national standards, believe in recycling mediocrity. This is symptomatic of the ‘Emilokan’ outburst; it is my turn to go and chop. All that hope of a recreation of what made Lagos a 5th largest economy in Africa in the next four or eight years is merely a will-of-the-wisp.
Lagos has long been coming and Tinubu merely gave a little push. The real more modern Lagos has been the outcomes of Fashola, Ambode and the new kid in the block, Babajide Sanwo Olu. However, be that as it may, Lagos is not the whole of Nigeria. A Country cannot be built from the sides, it needs a wholesale scaling up.
Therefore, to build a working country, giving the fulcrum of an Obedient ideology, the youths must first begin a network that breaks down the ethnic walls. This has been the hindrance, which the selfish and greedy shaped politicians, have used in separating all of the country and creating chasms. There is nothing the young man or woman in Potiskum or Kaura Namoda is envisioning for Nigeria that is far different from what those in Ilaro, Ikom, Ogulagha, Obudu, or Perotorogbene are also wanting to create in Nigeria.
Poverty has been used to keep the minds vacuous and young people depressed and idle. Therefore, the work requires an active engagement of the youth, who should see and seize the future and not succumb to the lies of the feudalists and the present political class, for whom State capture is a necessary end in order to retain their privileges and keep driving the wedge between the peoples of Nigeria. This is so evident in the 2023 political messaging across the land and which made Lagos an unnecessary hot bed where APC ensured ethnicity, xenophobia and Igbophobia was the only way to retain power. A thorough disgrace, if you ask me.
What has made the journey cantacarous, has been the northern power bloc refusing to go off their religious politics which though giving them the fake numbers with which they retain political power and keeps them saying that they dictate Nigerian politics- a lie that must be debunked sometimes. Power without responsibility is nothing.
It seems it is in their northern interest to keep their people down and permanently impoverished and lying to them, that it is the South that is cheating them, facts that have strangled the North and distorted the national economy. The consequence is that it has made national cohesion utterly impossible. To them restructuring of any kind is anathema and devolving powers to the sub-nationals in the form of a six regional structure, for a start seems not pleasant nor ideal to the Northern interest, as the burden of running a disfigured Nigeria does not seem any concern of theirs. It behoves the young Nigerians who are concerned about a Nigeria that they can be proud of, hoping everyone wants Nigeria of course, because, it appears the Northern Cabal prefers a Muslim Fulani North, rather than a Nigeria, to forge economic and political alliances which can cross the long historic cleavages and begin the process of cleaning off the suspicious and unwarranted hatred of the years.
It all requires a new mode of “National thinking”. The thoughts for now have been atomized into – North/South; Christian/Muslim; North East, North Central, Middle belt, Eastern, South/South, South West. It is those thought patterns and tendencies that do not let a Nigeria thought process to arise. So the resurgence must start at the thought desired level.
Helpfully, the young tech savvy ones are bandying together in a newer direction to see how digitally they can salvage Nigeria and its electoral malfeasance. The array of skills and applications are enough to offer a willing nation that wants faith restored in the youth to accept and implement the digital ideas. And if rejected, as the rapacious current political class would likely do, in the next round of elections, the young tech Turks, in another 8 years would be middle aged and would insist that the right thing be done through technically enabled advanced polling systems.
The age of Federal Legislators and Presidential candidates are dropping and the lines of resistance will drop. The backward looking geroncrats of today would mercifully age or be dead such that the bulk of no sayers would have diminished. That is when electionwatchng.com built by Enough is Enough, an NGO, Dataphyte, a parallel INEC “Result viewing portal (IREV), forensic.nigeria2.com, a website portal where voters can upload results as well as pictures they took at polling sites, ARVO, a platform used for tracking electoral incidents – all would help reform the politics of decay and electoral brigandage such as we have seen in 2023 and help to produce technical evidence that would be incontrovertible and admissible as the real electoral game changers in another 8 years election cycle.
At that point, the full Obi effect, the End Sars anger and the revulsion and apathy in the 2023 elections would spring to bring back the country and with it, what looks like the real beginnings of a democratic life and culture in Nigeria – where votes count and the people choose their favoured leaders would begin.
However it is hoped that within the next two election cycle time frame given the chimaric dislocations in 2023, when we moved into a three horse race, a national movement that produced a re-awaking in which the mass opted to move beyond politics, ethnicity and religion, through the Obedient ideology, the reform of Aminu Kano’s philosophy for a talakawa salvation through the Kwankwasiya movement, we might nudge some progressive attitudes in the Cabal of the North and the laid back Fulani supremacist agenda to reform its political thrust by keying into a national consensus and thus stop using its youth as political canon fodders; merely good for a false census numbers and higher electoral numbers. I have said it elsewhere, the North is not more Muslim that Saudi Arabia, UAE or Indonesia who pursue progressive and developmental policies, rather than being struck in 15th century Islamic script which is atavistic, regressive and only lives for power and nothing else.
It is this crude rebellion which Bishop Kukah has observed in his book “Power, Politics and Religion in the North”, that has made the North, the real poverty capital of the world, and the Cabal to drive a potentially great nation into a tail spin, that swings it, first like a yoyo and then hurtles Nigeria 50 years back with each decision the Northern political class takes, decisions which always as they say are in the ‘Northern interest’, a euphemism for power grab and greed.
Who then can tell the Cabal in the North, and their Southern allies that not only are they holding themselves under the water, and in the dark, but the entire black hope which is Nigeria, that as long as they reject restructuring the Country, giving the Igbos a fair chance, and making the Federal character principle in the constitution an enabling clause to bring about competency and the flowering of the energies of all the ethnic nations in Nigeria, that is when we can get back to truly addressing the national question, reforming the hitherto an reformable and unworking Nigeria; a country that is fair, just and working for all.
The world is waiting for Nigeria to produce its fair share into the global pool of energy, ideas, talent, wealth and growth. That is when our youths can fully re-awaken into the joys of an election that truly frees the pent up anger and frustrations and enable the youth to give fully of their very best to a nation they can truly call their own, holding hands, networking and unbounded by the ethnic shibboleths that has imprisoned their minds for ages. Time is the healer of all things. In the fullness of time, this sickening old un-needed animosities will fade and hope for a better tomorrow, will rise in the minds of the new Genz generation. About the only way to have a new Nigeria.