By Ken Tadaferua
The most important question Nigerians must ask at this time is: WHAT ARE THE AGENDA THAT WILL DEFINE WHO TO VOTE FOR IN 2019?
I say this because for too long Nigerians have allowed politicians to define the agenda for electing political leadership at all levels. At the most crass level, politicians shamelessly exploit “stomach infrastructure”.
This is a strange Nigerian political nomenclature for taking advantage and preying on the gnawing hunger and desperate needs of the majority poor to offer cheap, ridiculous and humiliating gifts of a few ‘Murtala’ notes or cellophane bags of rice, or even tie-and-dye wrappers.
It gets even more irritating when the bellyful, JohnBulls of Nigerian politics engage in poverty mocking identification photo ops, with activities as frying ‘akara’, swallowing ‘amala’ and ‘ewedu’, in ‘bukas’. These seeming agenda of support or identifying with the poor, may garner votes from unsuspecting victims of exploitation but they are empty, wicked and a mockery of poverty.
They are devoid of clear, measurable, time bound, executable strategies to support businesses, attract investment, provide jobs, water, health facilities and schools, etc., to lift the masses from the horrors of poverty. Once elected on the empty populism of frying ‘akara’ or donating cellophane bags of rice, the elected official and his cohorts, proceed to plunder billions of naira of taxpayer’s money, leaving the electorate worse, for wear.
At the more sophisticated level, the politicians, being specialists in sensing emotional and mostly uninformed expectations of the masses, even the intelligentsia, also take advantage to regurgitate and the expectations as electoral agenda. For the politician, it is a smart move to win an election. For the people, they end up choking on their own emotional drool. For, once elected, the politicians only deliver huge, unproductive populist noise about meeting the peoples’ expectations while they binge greedily on the national cake.
One such fake agendum, very populist and a sure-bet emotional firecracker with Nigerians, is anti-corruption. The politician promises anti-corruption war and voila!, the masses’ response is a thunderous: Yaaaaah!!! The politician has given no clear definition of corruption, no clear knowledge, why it is so structurally widespread. No strategy on how to make corruption unattractive from family units, schools to offices.
There are no comprehensive and enforceable deterrence plans at all levels of life. Neither any scientific and core values-driven methodologies, but just the same, decades-old, useless, old police-driven, populist, media circus of elites’ arrests, with huge mountains of looted currencies. While this bizarre show is going on, the elites of the government in power continue to pulverize the treasury. Also, all public/private services are only gotten by massive bribery schemes that fleece citizens of billions of naira. The produce is, corruption waxing stronger, as evident over the decades, in Nigeria, up until today.
Where the anti-corruption agendum is not enough to win the vote, the politician pulls out other agenda, like rabbits from his magician’s hat. The most enduring of such agenda are, religious hatred, north versus south divisiveness; ethnic loathing, executed with blood curdling rhetoric and organised mass murder, led by thugs, crooks, cutthroats and serial killers. It is a jungle out here, in Nigeria.
These negative, destructive agenda, unrelated to the crushing challenges of mass poverty, poor infrastructure, joblessness and hopelessness, become the grist of foolish political punditry and dumb analytical intellectualism. The politicians set the agenda for their own personal pockets, fool the pundits and analysts to rage, in the media; throw bones to the masses beneath their tables and return to their parties to rig their primaries and foist their crooked choices on gatekeepers, who manipulate the general elections results to produce straw men, as our leaders.
This has to stop. There are only three ways to change this system of desolation. They are: One, enter politics and join parties to change the system. Two, enter politics and join parties to change the system. Three, enter politics and join parties to change the system. I do not just mean you, the individual, but as many large numbers of people you can get, to enter politics and join parties. Politics is a game of numbers. A large number of politicians, today, are crooks. So we must infuse the system with huge numbers of people who think differently and for who core values are important, in order to reduce the crooks to a minority, in the parties.
Only then will the agenda of the greater majority of Nigerians stand a chance. It is pertinent at this point to ask: what are the agenda of the people of Nigeria? Are they the short-term needs of the desperate poor – the cellophane bag of rice, or a few naira notes, on election eve – or, could they be the emotional expectations of an anti-corruption war, not thought through, or the senseless divisiveness of regional, ethnic and religious blood feuds? We must note that the typical colouration of these agenda is selfish greed, lack of mental rigour, zero vision for general growth and prosperity and thuggish disdain for ethical values, human blood and lives.
Therefore, if we must change politics and political parties for the good of the country, we must define the political agenda we will pursue as we enter politics and join political parties. The imperative is: how do we define the agenda?
Simple! We must list what we consider the most pressing challenges to prosperity and development of the country. The more widespread the impact of the challenge among Nigerians, the more it ought to top the list of the agenda. If you ask me, I would say, top of my list is eliminating grinding poverty.
But merely making a list without deep knowledge, with the facts and figures of how endemic and damaging the challenge is, is wishful thinking. Neither, will it be helpful if you do not come up with a rational, informed and well thought-out solution, with a clear strategy, tactics, milestones, projects and funding execution timelines, among others, for the agenda. This will be basis to engage in fruitful political debates for a new Nigeria.
What then tops your agenda for election 2019? Is it dealing with corruption? Electric power? Poverty? Education? Infrastructure? Restructuring? Shared core values? Investments? How much do you know of the agenda you believe can save this country? How much facts and knowledge do you have? What educated solutions and strategies do you proffer and how can they be delivered on measurable timeline and milestone basis? What benefits will your agenda deliver to the greater majority of Nigerians, not to your pocket, or ethnic group?
With deep facts, understanding and knowledge, you can easily spot the selfish and uninformed agenda, which our current politicians deceive us with. We can take politicians to task about their knowledge, strategies, projects and funding plans, of their promises. We can hold them to measurable execution of development and prosperity.
Unless we engage in mental rigour and know what we want, we will, as we have done over the decades, allow selfish politicians and elders define and divide our lives. We will continue to shout ourselves hoarse in ignominy, on empty issues and slogans. For instance, Nigerians are, today, raging over inanities as age for president, young candidature and ethnic choice for president. But we do need ask, just how these deal with poverty or corruption, or lack of electric power, infrastructure, or with restructuring, or living together in peace as one people, blessed and beloved by God Almighty? How?
So permit me to repeat that most important question Nigerians must ask at this time: What Are The Agenda That Will Define Who To Vote For In 2019? So, what are your agenda? Study them and let’s get prepared for an informed, issue/agenda-based election 2019, not the personality cults and empty, vicious agenda that make no sense.
Also, remember to enter politics and join a political party. Let us, like thunderous herds of hundreds of trumpeting elephants, overrun the greedy, political hippopotamuses, ruining our lives and our country. Thank you.