Nigeria’s tragedy going into the 2019 General Election is that the existing political class in the country has systematically created high rates of poverty and illiteracy as weapons that must be unleashed at a time such as this to permanently muffle any counter reactions that may arise from a people whom they have so raped and continue to rape with stupendous impunity. The result is that the people are docile and are therefore unable to hold their thieving political ‘leaders’ accountable for their numerous atrocities. It is for this reason that most Nigerians have resorted to advocate for the presidential aspirations of the catastrophic Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, two individuals who historically participated and continue to participate in the decimation of Nigeria’s development.
However, their reasons for supporting Atiku or Buhari are far from competence and credibility. They are based on the spurious claim that other candidates stand no chance of winning the 2019 Presidential Elections because their political parties are by no means ‘popular’. In fact, a comment made by a young Nigerian on a WhatsApp group on how he arrived at his choice of candidate is particularly significant and lays bare the monumental defect in the Nigerian psychology. Hear him:
“I can't be so daft not to admit that we have been failed severally (sic) by the leaders in whom we had banked our trust. Neither do I intend to argue whether a change of familiar faces is necessary at this point. However, I don't like deceiving myself at all. It is crystal clear that NO OTHER CANDIDATE other than Buhari or Atiku shall be the winner of this February elections. So, as far as I am concerned, there are only two options from which to choose one and I chose (sic) Atiku.
Mind you, I did not say Atiku is a saint or the best option amongst all the candidates contesting. But man, I do not believe any of these other candidates from unpopular (sic) parties stand a good chance of winning the election. That's my stand and it remains.”
Therein lies the reasoning capacity of a young Nigerian in the 21st century. He admits that Atiku Abubakar, his preferred choice for President of Nigeria in the 2019 election, is a criminal and certainly not the best option Nigeria has in the 2019 polls. In the same breath, however, he proceeds to tell us that the other competent choices deserve no vote because they do not stand a good chance of winning the election. Summarily, the young man with the quoted submission is not willing to cast his vote for a competent or credible candidate but for the candidate whose face is more familiar.
Not only is it a herculean task to salvage a people who are strongly in love with their slave masters, it is equally an uphill task to salvage a people who have a thin knowledge about their recent history. Not so long ago, specifically in 2015, Nigerians deprecated the PDP for their dismal performance in office after sixteen years of maladministration. What then has changed between 2015 and 2019?
The ruling elites have mastered their game so well that they can return to power at will, knowing how easy it is to outsmart or bamboozle the Nigerian electorates who have refused to learn a single lesson after two decades of uninterrupted democracy. For instance, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governor of Sokoto State Aminu Tambuwal, former Governor of Kano Sate Rabiu Kwankwaso and Atiku Abubakar, now presidential candidate of the PDP were all at the APC convention held in Lagos in 2014 as party chieftains. The same men seamlessly switched to the PDP in 2018 and were at the party’s convention in Port Harcourt as chieftains. Where then lies the difference between the APC and the PDP? Party names?
Nigeria’s fundamental problem going into the 2019 Presidential Election is not the dearth of a credible alternative, but the pervasive ignorance of the electorates who have been disarmed through the withdrawal of a sound educational system which ought to enhance their thinking capacity such as to understand that an electorate ought to cast his vote based on his conscience and not necessarily on the basis that one of the candidates is more ‘popular’ and should therefore be voted for. Sadly, however, what most Nigerians are saying at this juncture is that: “We are through with the kidnapper, now we want an armed robber!”
Not so long ago, Oxfam International published a report which it titled:
NIGERIA: EXTREME INEQUALITY IN NUMBERS
The report had this to say in part:
“Between 1960 and 2005, about $20 trillion was stolen from the treasury by public office holders in Nigeria. This amount is larger than the GDP of United States in 2012 (about $18 trillion). Poverty and inequality in Nigeria are not due to a lack of resources, but to the ill-use, misallocation and misappropriation of such resources. At the root is a culture of corruption combined with a political elite out of touch with the daily struggles of average Nigerians.”
From the above report by Oxfam, the question to be asked is this: who are the public office holders who stole the $20 trillion from the Nigerian treasury during the period under reference? In which political party (or parties) can they be found? Etc.
Nigeria may remain an underdeveloped nation not because of the nation’s chaotic leadership but because of the docile and imbecilic followership that jumps in defence of their oppressors at the slightest criticism. But like I wrote elsewhere, if the Nigerian electorates for the umpteenth time decide to choose between an armed robber and a kidnapper, they all will be here to reap the bitter reward of their decisions. None will relocate to the sky. Certainly none!
Elias Ozikpu is a professional playwright, novelist, social commentator, activist and polemicist.