These are not the best times for some policitians who in the last two decades exuded brazen arrogance and shameless brigandage. The words of some politicians are weightier than the laws of the land. Many make their residences the secretariats of their political parties. They function as governors, party chairmen and chief electoral officers at the same fime. They have both the knife and the yam. And at times they drop the yam hot on your bare palm, warning that it must not be dropped on a casserole. With pervading hunger confronting you from all directions, you are forced to swallow the indignation thus shoving aside any iota of integrity left. This is the dilemma of a typical politician without a strong godfather. He consoles himself that the era won’t last beyond eight years when a new pharaoh takes over. Wrong he is because the retiring pharaoh decides for the new one.
This sad narrative was nurtured by Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, the self-styled evil genius who ran Nigeria amok between 1985 and 1993 using his toothy smiles to woo even the best brains to stand sheepishly behind him. The retired soldier who is almost senile and isolated on mountain tops in Minna feeding on poisoned kebabs he prepared for Nigerians.
It was IBB who through his devilish disqualifications of genuine Nigerians that introduced fraudsters and bloated capitalists with dodgy academic credentials into partisan politics. The General swimming in the euphoria of infinite powers at the time, reportedly said he knew those that won’t succeed him though he does not know who his successor was. When the dark-goggled Sani Abacha took over, the politicians with near impeccable disposition were further subjected to worse degradation. All but one of the military sponsored political parties endorsed General Abacha as their sole candidate. After his celebrated death, many credible politicians didn’t see the need to enrol for the next democratic exercise under General Abdulsami Abubakar, the aledged luckiest treasury looter in Nigerian history. Above is our infamous political history that gave birth to the second coming of General Matthew Olusegun Obasanjo, the cat with nine lives, in 1999
From 1999 till date, the political leadership has being a rollercoaster. The characters of the dramatis personae didn’t change as thieving competition as become a cherished pastime. The decay in the process remains vigorous and steady. The system became very closed with little or no chance of new recruits outside their nuclear family members and trusted lackeys. Our votes hardly reflect results announced. The judicial system on several occasions, were reportedly auctioning judgements.
With votes not counting, meeting campaigns promises becomes optional and a rarity. There is however a few exceptions. In Lagos State, there are verifiable signs of delivery of democracy dividends. Otherwise would not be expected considering the quantum of revenue inflows in that state that kisses lagoon. The era of Peter Obi in Anambra State brought so much succour to that commercial hub. In Delta State, Gov Ifeanyi Okowa expectedly renewed the hopes of Deltans with his enormous investment in physical infrastructure especially roads. No wonder he is referred to as the “Roadmaster”. non violent fraudulent tendencies found attraction. It comes in the form of cyber crimes which only require computer ingenuity as prerequisite. The youths were no longer worried about absence of white-collar jobs so long as their nefarious cyber activities didn’t falter. The politicians were happy. And the criminals too. It was a kind of the replay of crime deal in “The Last Don” by Mario Puzzo where two notorious families amicably shared drug business and gambling Enterprise between them.
Nigeria Police without a clear understanding of the unwritten deal between the political class and the cyber crooks, intervened through the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). The police outfit relishes human rights abuses on Nigerians without justifications. It became worse with the introduction of informal banking outlets by the CBN such Post Of Sale portfolio. These criminal gangs referred to SARS operatives deploy electronic banking to force their victims to wire money to their dedicated accounts. It became too easy for the cyber criminals to join the #ENDSARS protests.
Though there is no clear cut leadership, the protesters were able to churn out five demands that government accepted in a jiffy. As soon as the demands were accepted, the list was expanded to include several fragile issues that will affect the unity of the country. Without a known leadership structure, government was unable to break the protests easily with petrol dollars.
The next option was to infiltrate the protests which eventually led to the Lekki shootings with a reprisal violence spreading to various cities and towns. The series of vandalism and arson remain unfortunate and with collateral consequences on our economic future. It won’t take long before these negative consequences begin to manifest. There are fallouts that will tarry a while before it comes home. One of such is the political dimension of the protests by the people President Buhari called lazy youths few years ago.
The protests spontaneously brought the need for urgent discussion on the relationship amongst the federating units of Nigeria. We must put all political machineries in motion to ensure true federalism. There is no better time to introduce electoral reforms than now. The political leaders no longer have the power to delay these talks as the youths will force the talks on them soon. And when this is allowed to happen, there will be a threat to our national unity. We must avoid it. Religion, ethnicity and party leanings did not find space during the protests. The youths have a common grievance. The gains of good governance cannot be traded off. Provide good governance and have peace. There is no alternative.
Finally, while commiserating with the families of those that paid the supreme price, it is important that the reason for which these heroes and heroines laid down their lives should not be trivialised.
Nigeria will be great again.
Eghebi Williams Lince