It is human nature to desire and try out new things. It is not unusual for people to become dissatisfied with a system, a person, a government or even a spouse especially when expectations are no longer met. The reason why we have new inventions and innovations springing up every minute is because humans become easily tired with old things. It is in the light of that context that I wasn’t surprised when building up to the 2015 elections, an over whelming Nigerians wanted the PDP kicked out from the holding the number position in the country- the presidency. PDP no longer met desired expectations. They had become too familiar and full of questionable vices.
Nigerians had become grossly dissatisfied with the 16-year rule of the PDP. There was valid reason for that dissatisfaction though. Wide scale corruption as public officials luxuriated themselves and their families and allies with public funds at the expense of majority of Nigerians who were suffering to an abominable degree. Millions of unemployed graduates remained stuck. Electricity was still poorly generated as it was in the 80s even with a 180 million growing population. People were dying daily from treacherous pot holed roads and poorly equipped hospitals where ordinary drip is always not available.
Tertiary institutions were not only lacking development facilities but also embarked on strike very often due to unfulfilled agreement on the part of FG while the elite sent their children for oversees education. Crude oil was still being exported and petrol imported. Now the big one-security. In the north-east region, our brothers and sisters were being killed by terrorist group, Boko Haram. Those who survived the terror were rendered homeless and unproductive and kept at IDP camps. Even though millions of dollars were being expended to curb out the insurgence, it looked more like nothing was been done. Boko Haram continued to unleash acerbic venom extending it to the federal capital, Abuja. I think that was a major deal breaker for Nigerians. Couldn’t we even have peace to ‘enjoy’ our suffering?
Nigerians were desperately tired of PDP. A 16-year leadership that cannot not boast of reforming at least one public service system to be effective and efficient. Nigerians shopped for a new party, new people, new ideology, new leadership. It didn’t matter whether this new party and the people in it were of the same character as the old party. It didn’t make sense that they were the same people with the same mindset only that they changed the clothe (PDP) they were wearing and now adorned a new cloth (APC). What really mattered to Nigerians was that they had a new name and chanted a new slogan “Change”. Thus 2015 elections saw the sacking of the “old” and bringing in of the “new”. We elected a “new” government. We ushered in a “new” leadership that would lead us to the promise land.
But let us stop here and do some reality and fact check. When we resorted to divorce the PDP led government to marry the APC, what was the logical reason? What was the extraordinary difference between the PDP and the APC? Was it in the symbol? PDP had the umbrella and the APC had the broom. Or that the former chanted “Transformation Agenda” and the latter chanted “change”? Two years on into the administration of APC, can we honestly say that the “new” we sorted for has met our desired expectations? As they clock two years on May 29, we know that unarguably, they have not made any tangible difference in our lives. There is no change whatsoever. This is the truth.
The reality check is for us to critically examine our motives and the rationale behind our decisions in voting in the APC government. I am not making a case for the PDP. They were in fact without any doubt a colossal disaster and worth every tinge of regret. And I have always maintained that if we had allowed the PDP to continue, what we would have seen is a tiny shred of Nigeria grasping for breath of survival.
But, here is critical point that is worth reflection. A good number of people who were members of the PDP were the same ones who joined the APC. Except for Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a few others who have maintained the opposition front, the rest that formed the APC were the same people who rocked the boat of the PDP. Even for those who had never been party members of PDP, all we needed to do was look at the states that they were in control of to tell us what sort of leadership we were going to experience. So, when we wanted “change” what exactly did we expect from the same people who had led us badly and terribly shameful in the past?
For me, the old and the new (as we assumed) are the same. It is a recycled leadership. Nothing new. They are the same elite who hold a common fraternity to selfishly satisfy their interest at our detriment. It was more of emotional sensation other than logical reasoning that made us part our votes for APC in 2016. But we can deviate from the norm- 2019 is near and we will have to determine who we let into governance. Politicking has started already. What we see in the news these days are former PDP folks dumping the party and crossing over to APC. It is not unusual. Nigerian politicians are not exactly people of honor and loyalty to party. They go where the big chunk of the meat is. Anything goes as long as the interest is mutual.
As 2019 approaches, we can learn from the French voters and the recent elections that produced Emmanuel Macron as their President. Macron as a 39-year-old president of France had never not held any elective office but won a majority of French votes owing to the fact that the French electorates saw a revolutionist. A new person and leader indeed. Macron left the Socialist party and in April 2016 founded an independent political party known as En Marche! A party rooted in the centrist and liberal progressive ideology. As Nigerian voters, a key lesson we can draw from the French voters who voted in Macron is that they wanted a new leadership and they got it. In considering their choice, they took account of the antecedents of the parties, the profile of the candidates and their values.
Nigeria is not a two-party state. We had other parties that fielded candidates in 2016 and will still do the same come 2019. In aspiring for a developed Nigeria, we need to go beyond the familiar in electing our leaders during 2019 elections. The idea of independent candidates is in its second reading in the senate and I hope it becomes law before 2019 elections. If that happens, we are going to have a bulge of options. Here is my two cents advice, in making our choice in 2019 as to who leads us, let us be guided by individual merit, character, credibility, purpose, antecedents, vision and the spirit that drives them before we yield power to them. What I am saying is that, we can get a new leadership, when we go beyond ethnic attachments, religious sentiments and party mood swings and do a deliberate critical unbiased and conscientious assessment of individuals before parting our votes.
Paul can be reached @Ogoxcel