Believers in God, especially Christians of the Pentecostal persuasion, of which yours truly is an apologetic member, would consider this headline near heretic and that is understandable.
For this class of faithful, thoughts and confessions are the life to the attainment of desire or even the promises of God for the individual or nation. A part of the Scriptures says that without faith, it is impossible to obtain anything from God and in the contemplation of knowledgeable Christians, when thoughts and the utterances that they breed suggest doubt, they become a negation of faith and detract from the adherent’s prospects for accomplishment.
But Scriptures also talk about the importance of backing up the promises of God or your own grand desires with work. Even though there are explicit instructions to this end, a lot of Nigerians conveniently ignore this caveat but hang on to the benefit of contemplation, like that was by itself enough to change the fortune of persons and their nations. Unfortunately, faith without work is futile. Nigerians are willing to pray forever on behalf of their country but are unwilling to make the appropriate investments that put the wind in the sail of their prayers.
For instance, the deliberate pursuit of excellence is a pre-requisite to the development of nations. And the spirit of excellence does not just come on a society unless the citizens are deliberate about imbibing and entrenching the same. Someone said that excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Nigerians desire a country that they can be proud of but are hardly ever willing to sow the required seeds.
This is the sense you get with some of the reactions to last week’s disgraceful postponement of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The first attitude which is detrimental to national development and integration is the total lack of trust that exists in Nigeria. For a country of Nigeria’s size and diversity, development would continue to be alien until the various segments of society are able to repose a level of confidence in each.
INEC, which put the nation to ridicule, at least by waiting until the time it announced the postponement, had hardly concluded the press conference addressed by its chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, than partisans go on a conspiracy theory trip. The ruling All Progressive Congress, suggested that the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, was responsible for the postponement to get some advantage in the elections. The APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, would even go ahead to suggest that the INEC indeed consulted with the PDP making references with some unholy alliance to which he is able to swear by the Holy Quran in Akwa Ibom State. There was even an allegation that some humongous amount of money was paid to some INEC officials by the PDP to obtain the deferment of the elections.
Before the APC could finish putting its thoughts together, the PDP itself fired its own salvo. Its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said the postponement was the hand of Esau and voice of Jacob; some euphemistic suggestion that the APC must have instigated the postponement.
Now, the combative postures of these parties must worry right-thinking Nigerians. While the move by INEC is a slight on Nigerians, its occurrence should have inspired sober reflection and easy collaborations among political parties such that the new date fixed by INEC would pass without any untoward incident. Political parties in countries that truly crave development would come together, identify the challenges that INEC might be encountering and collaborate towards finding sustainable solutions in the interest of the nation, but with Nigerian politicians’ selfish and personal interests trounce the national interest; that is if the latter is ever in their consideration. No one trusts anyone in Nigeria. Election materials are guarded with guns and a President is almost blatantly pronouncing extrajudicial consequences on anyone who engages in trying to snatch ballot boxes. This order, he gave without regard to the fact that these people are encouraged by the nation’s own lack of care for its citizen and the desperation of politicians to engage in.
So, there is no end to the volume of conspiracy theories that both parties churn out daily and every normal Nigerian must indeed be dizzied.
What is however more frightening is the sense of patriotism of the common Nigerian himself. Of course, every Nigerian would swear to their commitment to the emancipation of the country but then, talk is cheap. The actions of people are always louder testimonies of their disposition.
Even common Nigerians have been infested with the malaise of selfishness that afflicts leaders. So, when Nigerians are not feathering their own personal nests, they are pandering to the wishes and desires of vested political interests without giving any care as to the utility of their arguments and the positions they hold.
Therefore, in defending partisan territories on Saturday’s rescheduled elections, a sizeable number of compatriots justified the action by the fact that it had happened in 2011 and 2015! Now, there is no doubt that Nigeria has this unenviable history of not being able to organise elections within the four years’ period that the constitution allows, but it is even more disheartening that citizens flaunt this disgraceful trend like it was some national ornament. How would a country fail to learn anything from the same wobbling experience over an eight-year period and rather than introspect, use the failure of the past as an excuse for the present failure?
That however exposes another sad reality about Nigeria; the lack of capacity for rigorous intellectual interrogation of issues. Were Nigeria a serious country, there would be loads of literature on the immediate and remote factors leading to the previous postponements providing ample theoretical and practical guidance to generations of election administrators such that the country would not have to travel down that road of ignominy over three consecutive elections. A former United States Secretary of State, Colin Powel, said that achieving excellence, without which any nation can prosper, starts with developing the habit in little matters. Sadly, Nigerians gloss over the very little things that form the whole and hold the curious hope that things will turn for the better!
And then so much has been said about how well, the INEC is treating its ad hoc staff most of whom are members of the National Youth Service Corp, (NYSC) undergoing the mandatory one- year national service. Without any debate, these young ladies and men are what you would call the future of Nigeria, the generation that would take the troubled country to its promised land. But then, you ask yourself the honest question of how much has the country invested in these people to earn their loyalty and confidence?
For participating in the two legs of elections for this year, INEC is said to be offering them less than N30,000. This does not come with any decent accommodation as images that went viral over the weekend showed loads of these “future leaders” sleeping in buses and on bare floors while they waited for last week’s botched election in different places across the country. Yet leaders will expect that these people will be faithful during these elections and go on to become patriotic nationals who put their country first?
Unfortunately, that is not likely to be so. It would indeed be shocking if the motivation for these young ones for going through the inhuman treatment they will be exposed to this weekend and later in March. Politicians have of course employed the services of these youths to circumvent the electoral process for years, so many youth corps members look forward to this opportunity and the dividend of compromises that it bears.
So even as they sleep on the floors and slap their own bare bodies in reaction to mosquito bites, there is the alluring consolation that when day breaks, some politicians would offer some juicy deal in exchange for a ballot paper here and a ballot box there. So, at the end of it all, being at the mercy of the natural elements for two months would have been worth the while.
Which is a very sad thing for the country which has surrendered its children and youths to machinations of evil people. Nigeria has failed to train its youth and it has failed to care for them, show them love and inculcate the virtues of love for fatherland in them. But because nature abhors a vacuum, Nigeria’s failure to fill the minds of its children with knowledge and virtues that would enhance their future, has endued them with an appetite from desires beyond their reach, wealth not worked for and disloyalty to noble causes. And when these form the foundation of a society, bleak is the only way to describe it.
Adedokun tweets @niranadedokun