Political parties in Nigeria have drawn their curtain on who becomes their flag bearers for offices in the coming 2023 election. Once again, the media space is awash with conversations, campaigns, attacks, counter-attacks and propaganda.
The #Obedients seem to be taking over social media daily with endorsements from strong individuals and personalities; the #BATists have continued to spread the “Lagos-magic prototype” to Nigerians; the #AtikuWarriors are strongly building the “8 years misery under APC” campaign strategy.
Of course, actors in civil society and activists are working hard to make strong efforts to strengthen our democracy and increase voter registration and awareness, especially among youths. More than ever before, Aisha Yesufu now frequently publishes articles, produces videos and makes an average of 15 tweets in a day educating the Nigerians on why they need to be active citizens; YIAGA Africa has continued to increase the capacity of youths to be community organisers and even organised a historic mega-concert where they registered thousands of youths in Lagos, Nigeria; Eromz has moved his PVC registration beyond Lagos communities, far into northern and southern Nigeria; Dr Oby Ezekwesili is not staying mute on the need to fix Nigeria and get things to work out well. There are a plethora of activities going on amidst the thick political space in Nigeria.
Amid these noble efforts to make Nigeria better, it’s sad that a population of Nigerians are yet to get a complete grasp of the reality of this nation. Some young Nigerians are yet to understand what it means for Nigeria’s total debt stock to rise to $100.1 billion in the first quarter of 2022. They seem unable to comprehend what it means for the number of deaths caused by insecurity in Nigeria to surge year-on-year by 47% to 10,366 in 2021, according to data compiled by SBM Intelligence. They don’t understand the danger of paying over N10 billion ($19.96 million as of June 30, 2021) as kidnap ransom to gangs. They don’t know what it means to be the 154 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries. They don’t know what it means for Nigeria to have the number of international migrants increasing from around 450,000 in 1990 to 1.4 million in 2019.
I was taken aback when an unknown Kwara youth called me out for taking pictures with prominent young female members of APC despite my criticism of the party. For one, I couldn’t comprehend how it’s an offence to have conversations on national development with young politicians. Shouldn’t we be worried that at this time when Nigeria is this divided, a supposedly educated youth thinks it’s a crime for youths of different political orientations to converge and hobnob? Shouldn’t we be concerned with the need to get our enlightenment on Politics Without Bitterness far and wide?
At this point, every Nigerian should be more concerned about voting for persons with competence, character and capacity across all levels. Party sentiments have undoubtedly failed us in Nigeria, and until we focus on personalities, we may be driving into another long ditch of uncertainties and failures. I doubt if we can afford another 4 years of incompetence.
Again, I must reiterate the call for a focus on the legislative arm of government across all levels. We can’t afford to undermine the influential roles and responsibilities of the legislature in our democracy; hence we must also be interested in who we elect into our State Assemblies and National Assembly. Legislators make the laws that the judiciary interprets. Legislators confirm the appointments of judges and carry out substantial oversight functions. We can’t afford to exclude this critical aspect by focusing only on who becomes governor or president.
I come from a state where the legislature sponsored only one new bill in 3 years. Please take a moment to imagine how the government in my state works if 20 out of 24 lawmakers in the Kwara State Assembly did not sponsor a single bill in 3 years.
Never again should a nation as blessed as Nigeria produce the worst of its own to govern its people!
Never again should we allow politicians to take us for a ride.
Fellow Nigerians, now is the time to change the narrative.