Lest We Lose Sight of the Real Enemy

No matter where one stands on political issues in Nigeria, everyone agrees that this present government has failed to live up to the expectations that were raised in the hearts of Nigerians prior to the 2015 general elections. When General Muhammadu Buhari, as he then was, was declared winner of the 2015 presidential elections, most people had high hopes, that there was going to be “change.” But right now, all that hope has been dashed by failed promises and the ascendance of the status quo. Nigerians have been taken for a ride once again.

Yes, there were those who supported Buhari because of what they stood to gain. They willfully lied and obfuscated facts to achieve their aim. However, most Nigerians who supported Buhari did so in good faith. They just wanted “change.” Change was what Buhari and the APC preached, and Nigerians believed them. In Buhari and the APC, they saw a way out of the hard life that Nigeria has become; a chance to better their lot. You cannot begrudge people for wanting to change their appalling situation. The problem was that the other side was not sincere.

We must not forget that prior to the elections, Nigeria was in a mess. Maybe not in this hellish mess we find ourselves today, but a mess nonetheless. In fact, since 1960, Nigeria has always been a mess. In the build up to the 2015 elections, the profligacy of politicians really came into sharp focus with the aid of social media, although it can also be argued that a lot of lies were also propagated through it. Nigerians saw politicians sharing money when workers in most states were being owed salaries. Such insensitivity and many more got Nigerians angry. So when the APC presented themselves as the messiahs who could fix the rot in the system, some Nigerians gave them a chance. However, right now, from the look of things, it seems to have been a leap from the frying pan into the fire. Things have become worse, due to the criminal ineptitude of those who were elected to solve the problem. The worst part is, there is a sort of hypocrisy about them that stinks worse than an open sewer.

Consequently, this has caused a division among Nigerians between those who voted for this government, and those who did not. There is even a trend on twitter with the hashtag, “I Told You So,” against those who voted for this government. This has led to the emergence of different groups.Firstly, there are those who have come out to say that voting for this government was a mistake, a very courageous thing to do; secondly, there are those who see the hypocrisies of this government, but still support it out of stubbornness. They can’t accept the shame of fallibility;and thirdly, there are those who (ignorantly or otherwise) still see this government as the best thing to have happened to this country after Agege bread. If you said this third group is “seeing things” the rest of us can’t see, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Of course there is a fourth group, those paid to paint the government in good light, the BMC guys if you know what I mean.

As a result of this division, it is not uncommon to find Nigerians attacking each other, especially on social media. They see and treat those who don’t support their opinion about the government as enemies. It can be easily observed on twitter that when some people make posts criticizing this government, others are quick to point out how they had supported this government in 2015. This could be part of the reasons why some still stubbornly refuse to accept the reality of the situation in Nigeria right now.

This government has rightly received knocks from Nigerians on their handling of several issues, especially the president’s health, a simple thing which they have managed to complicate so amazingly. The way they handle issues makes those supporting them look stupid. While it is good that people are taking the government to task, I do wonder sometimes, whether those administering the knocks would have done so if the government had been the one they supported during the 2015 elections. That is because, sometimes, it feels as if it is a battle between PDP supporters and APC supporters; which is misleading, as one is lumped into either group, depending on one’s opinion. It’s a distraction.

The consequence of that distraction is that Nigerians become focused on the wrong fight, and hence, the wrong enemy. The truth is, the fight is not between the APC and the PDP, and until we change that mindset, we will continue to fight each other, which is basically what the politicians want. The fight, rather, is between Nigerians and the political elite. The political elites, irrespective of party affiliation, ethnicity, or religion, have the same ideology, loot the commonwealth and share it among themselves. They only play the ethnic and religious cards so they can gain access into the sharing chamber.

It is a mistake to think that our politicians hate each other, or are enemies. They are not. For instance, the pension package enjoyed by former governors in Nigeria is widely reported. The largess is not only exorbitant, but also depicts the insensitivity of our leaders. Most of these former governors are now senators or ministers, which means they are collecting double salaries, at a time when Nigerians are reeling from the devastating effect of the economic recession foisted on them by these same politicians. And the most annoying part is that the laws stipulating the pension package were usually sponsored by these former governors, through a State Assembly that they controlled.

So, let’s take Rivers State for example. On May 31, 2012, Rotimi Amaechi, a present minister in the federal government, as governor of the state, signed into law, The Rivers State Governor and Deputy Governor Pensions and Fringe Benefits Bill 2012, which ensured that he would continue to enjoy the perks of the governor’s office, even after leaving office. Amaechi who is a former member of the PDP, is now a member of the APC; while the present governor, Nyesom Wike, is a member of the PDP. It is widely reported that both men are sworn enemies. In fact, elections in the state have become bloodier since 2015 as a result of the supposedly acrimonious relationship between the two.Almost every election is turned into a theatre of violence by supporters of both men.

Now, the question I have is this, if Amaechi and Wike are enemies, and they hate each other as strongly as we are told, why hasn’t Wike done anything about the exorbitant pension bonanza that Amaechi is enjoying from Rivers State? This is the same trend you’d find all over Nigeria.

What’s my point? My point is this, there is a place our politicians meet, and in that place, they don’t discuss ethnicity, religion, or party affiliation; what they discuss is how to share the money. They only use ethnicity, religion, and party affiliation to incite the people to grant them access, or when what they are getting is less than what they consider to be their rightful share. All that their plenty talk and show of anger? Na wash!

Why do you think it is so easy for them to cross from one political party to the other? Haven’t you notice how many PDP National Assembly members have crossed to the APC at a time when the APC’s popularity is so low? Then they’d tell us how “in politics, there are no permanent enemies.” What nonsense!

The way the system is structured, our politicians do not suffer any real loss; the only loss they suffer is the loss of life of their supporters. Just look at the fight against corruption, and you will understand what I mean. It’s why you’d find two politicians who are supposedly at loggerheads, who would incite their supporters to clash and kill each other. Then a few years later, the politicians would cross to the same political party, and become friends, wining and dining together. Those who died fighting their fight effectively would have died as fools!

Our politicians would have us fight each other, and while we are at it, they’d be laughing at our stupidity while they loot everything. It’s a ploy to keep us distracted. We must never lose sight of this. It’s not APC versus PDP; it’s Nigerians versus the political elite. We must not forget who the real enemies are.

Our enemies are not those who supported and voted for the government in 2015; they did so in good faith. They wanted a change. You cannot begrudge people for trying to change their lot by trying out an alternative. Our enemies are the political elite bent on keeping us perpetually poor and subservient. If there’s one thing the APC has taught us, it is that they are all the same. The politicians can sell this country, if it were possible.

This is not a time to fight each other, but a time to come together and prepare for the next elections. Those who are enlightened should be willing to gently educate those who are not. This will encourage those who persist in their stubborn support for the government to stop doing so. We must hold government officials at all levels accountable, irrespective of their political party.And we cannot hold government officials accountable if the people do not know what their rights as voters.

This cannot be achieved on twitter alone. In Nigeria, elections are not won in cities, and definitely not on twitter; they are won in the villages.That is where the politicians rig the elections. We must educate those in rural areas about their rights from government, and about the power of their votes. The people can only make demands from their leaders when they know that they have the power to remove them from office; and politicians will only take them seriously when they realize that the people are willing to use that power.

If we remain divided during the next elections, it will be easy for the politicians, through their paid social media mercenaries, to change the narrative to favour them, denying the roles they played in the past. We must not let that happen, else, we will be sold another messiah, and then repeat the cycle all over again.

Image Credit: http://www.nadinepost.blogspot.com.ng


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