Nigeria as a nation has come full circle again and will soon have to make the usual decision in its electoral process; making a choice between two bad choices! It is bewildering, to say the least, how a nation has become entrapped in a vicious cycle and recycling of the same system that has failed time and again. More bewildering is the fact that a good number of the nation’s citizenry seem to be optimistic that between the two dominant parties of the APC and PDP, there is hope for the renewal of a great nation tittering at the edge of total collapse.
Many seem to have been psychologically beaten and battered into submission that accepting the status quo, no matter how abysmally it has failed, to be the only way out.
Yet, facts are staring us all in the face that there is no credibility on the part of these two parties and in most of the candidates they put forward for public offices. This situation should be a cause for concern for the entire nation.
We cannot continue to entrust the future of our nation and the next generations into the hands of incompetent persons who lack integrity, political good will for common good and any form of patriotism.
The entire nation is rotten to its core when intelligent and rational citizens are unable to grasp the profoundness of the reality placed before them of impending doom due to ineptitude of its ruling class.
From the fathers of Greco-Roman philosophy who created the political philosophy named democracy and other political analyst like Rousseau, Kant and Hobbes, including Nyerere, Nkrumah, Mandela, Awolowo, Zik and others; they aver that the democratic system, to be successful must be entrusted into the hand of intellectuals (Philosopher kings.) These are technocrats trained in the art of leadership, service and nation building. They necessarily must be altruistic in their vision for the common good, people who have personal integrity and a selflessness that puts the nation they serve above self.
If at any time, they were found to be negligent in their duties, they bear the burden of immediate resignation from office and will be ready to be prosecuted if their lapse was found to be prosecutable.
Such leaders are more worried about legacies, positive achievements and building social infrastructures that helps to develop the nation they are called to serve, it becomes what drives them over and against personal gain or the accumulation of wealth. Any averagely intelligent Nigerian who does not suffer from amnesia can look back at all our attempts at the democratic process and see clearly that so far, we have not been able to achieve the true ends of a true democratic process.
It is clear that we have juxtaposed positions in what has become our own version of democracy. We have entrusted the governance and leadership of our nation into the hands of oligarchs, feudalists operating their fiefdoms, and theocrats who confuse constitutionalism with divine laws. This is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse, and we all know the cart does not pull the horse!
People never view issues from the same perspective. However, when it is a matter of objective truth, that is self-evident, then there is a moral responsibility that such a people share a common vision.
In Nigeria, this common vision seem impossible to achieve since many are inured by the years of subjugation and oppression so much that they have accepted the current situation to be how things ought to be or presume that we are making ‘progress.’ I have heard some say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, an aphorism which I agree with. But I must not fail to add that Rome had no pattern to learn from in the laying of its polis; but we do. We can learn from many countries where democracies are flourishing. We may not build a successful democratic system right away, but as a nation, we can do much better than where we are today.
Without a shared vision of true democracy, the nation will continue to flounder like a ship battling high waves without a captain at the helm. Nigeria is a deeply polarized nation, as such we approach issues from an already biased position. We argue everything from the point of view of ethnic, religious and political stratifications, mostly based on gain.
For far too long, leaders have been chosen or impose themselves on the nation not because they have the capacity to rule but based on what political block they represent. Their lack of technical and intellectual know how overtime robs off on the people, so everyone operates based on native intelligence and not time tested democratic principles.
This is another election year; the unraveling of Nigeria may very well be looming ahead if the nation continues to elect incapable and inept persons into public offices. It is time to thank the old brigade who have been recycling themselves since the 70s and 80s and politely ask them to go back to their farms or homesteads.
It is time for Nigeria to elect young enlightened minds who are capable of engaging the high speed technologically developing world, world economies and the fast-paced globalization of our time. Now whether the younger generation are able to share one vision that will serve the nation and move our country forward is another troubling question. The future is as bright as long as we can share that vision for greatness. But the nation’s soul is lost if the young borrow only from the mistakes and misdeeds of their older generation.
I am convinced beyond doubt that we have men and women who are intellectually and morally capable of moving the nation forward. There are only two things I am not sure of; will the old brigade stand down and step aside?
Will the younger generation put away pride and greed to share one vision that will take our nation to the next level? The 2019 elections in Nigeria will answer these questions.
I pray the answers will be one that works in favour of a nation that will thrive.
John Segun Odeyemi( PhD) is a Roman Catholic priest based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA