2019: Options, smart choices before us, By Abdulmalik Yahaya

Posted by News Express | 23 May 2018 | 1,472 times

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It is less than one year to the next general election. And for obvious reasons, that is one of the most-talked-about items on the news today. Everything being done in the country is directly and remotely linked to who occupies the Presidential Villa as from May 29, 2019. We have seen and read letters. We have witnessed increasing clashes and invasions. We have seen accusation of clannishness and nepotism, some contrived, but most real. We have seen corruption being fought, corruption fighting back, and corruption being rewarded with indifference. That is what makes the space called Nigeria effervescent and intriguing for some, but disappointing for a whole lot of us, who feel that things must not continue like this.

Although Nigeria, as a nation, prefers to reduce her age, by claiming she came into being in 1960, rather than 1914, some children born 58 years ago, going by the 1960 claims, are already great-grandparents, which is why it should be a source of concern for those who love the country that things are still the way they are.

Must we continue like this? Many will say no! But the truth is that if we do not take the necessary actions, I am afraid we would slip into worse situations. And the most we can do is go to mosques and churches for messages of hope, which often guarantee us of reward without hard work, in the name of miracle.

As we count down to 2019, the reality today is that opinions are divided about the continuation of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is rightly so, if you ask me. As an active youth in my mid-30’s, I was enthusiastic about the emergence of President Buhari, and had mobilised everyone I could, to tap into the new vision called CHANGE. To be honest, I believed that a lot was going to change. I believed that public schools would get better, so that the poor can afford good education for their children. I believed our hospitals would seize to be consulting clinics, while the rich patronised foreign hospitals. I believed that food, yes food, would be cheaper. Although electricity has been a problematic issue in the country, I believed that Nigeria would possibly be doing at least 12 hours a day. Corruption?  I had every reason to believe it would be stamped out completely. In fact, I thought ‘body language’ would do it!

But what am I seeing in present day Nigeria? The initial fear that pervaded the system shortly after May 29, 2015, has gone with the wind. It reminds me of a relapse after trying to eliminate bacteria with insufficient antibiotic. Corruption has become invasive and the perpetrators, evasive. So much that snakes are now ‘swallowing’ as much as N36 million; so much that people hitherto on the run for charges of corruption are sneaking back to continue the damage. I had hoped that importation of PMS would be history, but today, almost half of the national budget is still being sunk in petrol importation. I had hoped there would be solace for the average worker, who is burdened with soaring inflation against his minimum wage that never ever increases. I still see people in the three arms of government consuming a substantial portion of the national budget in the form of recurrent, with little left for capital expenditure and the remaining 85 per cent of the population.

And I ask, what has changed?

From all indications, we need to think out of the box in order to rescue our country. It is not about age, like I tell my friends. It is about the age of the ideology. This is a digital age, and we need digital approach to solve our myriads of problems. We must not restrict ourselves to the usual names and people who, all their lives have been the problems. We do not need to limit our options to people whose aspirations are driven by reasons of self-actualisation, people who want to die with the appellation ‘ex-president’, ‘ex-governor’, ex-this or ex-that, like most of our politicians. We need people who will genuinely mount the saddle to bring the aspirations of the Nigerian people to fruition.

We do have them. Yes, we do, but the system has shielded them from emerging because of the highly-monetised system of our elections. This has put a price on the average voters, and every election cycle, such monies are stolen from the system to buy them up after making them vulnerable with mis-governance. Truth is that these citizens who attended school on scholarships in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s are the ones who got to power and deflated the system; so much that less than 5 per cent (mostly children of the elite) of our graduates get employment after school. Parents would borrow to put their children through schools, and continue to fend for them for upwards of 10 years after they are done schooling.

I think it is time we Nigerians support candidates that can deliver. There are a number of them like I said. Engr Martin Onovo, is obviously one of them. Of the crop of young men, like the Fela Durotoyes, Adamu Garbas, and Sowoles, he only, has been on this route twice. I stumbled on his blueprint of how the glory of Nigeria could be restored and marvelled at why the Jonathans and Buharis, never bothered to look at such documents to borrow ideas on how to move the country forward.  At barely 50 years of age or so, he has paid his dues in the oil sector after being educated at universities in Nigeria and United States. In between gunning for the post of the president, he has been indulging in researches on how to lift the Nigerian people out of frustration and misery. But he has two disadvantages or three. He does not belong to the ruling class who has been in power since 1960; he is not rich enough to buy votes, and the enemies of our country will mischievously use tribalism to black-paint him. But what matters to me is who will fix the economy and restore my dignity as a Nigerian.

What should matter to all of us voters is who has the mental capacity to contrive policies that will end our misery. For those who do not know, good governance does not just happen. It is plotted the way one plots a graph in mathematics. It is a product of some variables that are discernible by great minds. It takes mental alertness. It requires men who have the thirst to bring about changes. That was how Lee Kuan Yew was able to transform Singapore for the good of all the tribes, all the religious groupings, and everyone in that country. It is possible in Nigeria, and now is the time. But we must remove our destinies from the hands of our tormentors who have been bestriding the power apparatus since 1960s.

•Comrade Abdulmalik Yahaya is a rights activist and public affairs analyst.

Source: News Express

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