NOW THAT THE CHANGE HAS COME

On the 29th of May, 2015, Nigeria made history. A fifth democratically-elected President was sworn into office, in an Former military ruler and presidential aspirant of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) Muhammadu Buhari speaks during the presidential primary of the party in Lagos on December 11, 2014. Members of Nigeria's main opposition party voted through the night to choose a candidate to challenge President Goodluck Jonathan at next year's elections, with a result expected later on December 11. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI        (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images) Global attention was focused on Nigeria as a result of the imminent change in the country’s political landscape. The day  was welcomed with no less enthusiasm by Nigerians alike. For the new ruling party ,APC, had at long last gotten its wish which it has been clamouring from the rooftops. It was a tremendous and world-shaking event.  Indeed thank God that foreboding portended nothing in particular. Rather, it was a great relief to see that the conduct of the whole exercise was more peaceful than imagined; nothing else untoward occurred but for the few blips recorded here and there. Against this tapestry of light the jagged contours of our previous experience stood out in dark outline, and as any thoughtful individual might be inclined to do, I mused upon the great task ahead of the new administration. The dawn of a new leadership in the country must induce in any thoughtful person the most serious reflections of doubt, inquiry and wonder. Need one add the footnote that not a few people thought the erstwhile ruling party, PDP will ever be booted out of power after their horrendous sixteen years of rulership. However, some like Nnamdi, my very good friend share the skepticism that no obvious difference will be seen between the leadership of the PDP and their successors, APC. “What, indeed is the type of change we are even rejoicing about?” He asked. Without waiting for an answer he added: “Mind you there is positive change and things can also change negatively.” He stood straight as a lance, his stalwart figure limned black against the firey sky, and his voice and manner carried a conviction that assured me he, at least, believed what he had said. But let me play the devil’s advocate for a while. Now that the change from status quo is finally here, I  have the reassurance that it must be a positive one; for negative changes do occur too. We deserve that much, to say the least. The agitations of our yester-years will never be in vain. We have so yearned for it, and I believe we deserve as much. One can only hope for such. Yet every possible precaution has been taken to prevent a reoccurrence of the disastrous immediate past, has it not? As usual with incoming governments, many promises were made by President Muhammadu Buhari at his inauguration. He promised to tackle the endemic gross corruption at all levels which has sunk the country very deep. A more disciplined and committed army was promised. The Boko Haram menace would soon be a thing remembered only in our previous dreams he said by the immediate relocation of the military command centre to Maiduguri. The civil service was  going to be revamped, he promised. Promises, promises, promises. So much promises that before the end of it all, one already has a pretty fair idea where President Buhari was going: he wants his own leadership story to be distinctly different from previous ones. Such promises as might even hypnotize a most unkeen observer. Of all the political promises made, nothing as much caught my fancy and thinking as the widely-circulated promise made by  President Buhari that three (3) million jobs were going to be created annually for the youths. It actually formed a part of his manifesto and political propaganda before the elections, and he still doggedly clung to it upon taking the oath of office of Presidency. A gesture which is greatly moving (in the ordinary sense of the word, move), and surprising, too, if one must be candid. Now why will I be perturbed by just that singular promise? For one thing, as an undergraduate currently, my anxiety over the future is not to be reckoned with. Would I fit into any job category upon graduating, now that jobs were solely reserved for the highest bidders (grabbers)? The current high unemployment rate in the country is disturbingly overwhelming that many an undergraduate would rather risk sleepless nights thinking of a way out than momentarily heave a sigh of relief because of some promised jobs waiting for him, somewhere; somehow. We all know of the stratagems of our own politicians. The average political office aspirant is more of a political prostitute; he’s only interested in what might secure that office for him, notwithstanding the costs of the lies he would tell to secure such office. If feelers are anything to go by, the immediate decision to relocate the army command centre to Maiduguri is a welcome news. The news which thus far had emanated from Maiduguri is unpleasing to the ears. The carnage and bloodbath embarked upon by the devious Boko Haram sect leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The time has finally reached when a once and for all stop ought to be put against the Boko Haram sect. Thus the presence of the military, strategically- in Maiduguri and environs would no doubt reduce, if not crush, the evil Boko Haram ministrations. Those remaining in the Northern part of the country where the grim news of the evil machinations of the Boko sect was rife; those who are bold enough to withstand the campaign of bloodbath by the Boko Haram will certainly heave a sigh of relief. Likewise, the President’s move to oust the title of “General” before his name was certainly a step in the right direction. For one, the decision to drop the title shows that he has finally shed off that military-junta hangover which if left unchecked might threaten the continuance of democracy. One can only hope that the change was internal, as well as external. For another, his staunch stance to distance himself from the leadership of the National Assembly and abstaining from interfering in the other two arms -the legislature and the judiciary, is another add-on to his cap. These show that the President has indeed finally embraced the full tenets of democracy and its attendant accountability actuated by freedom of choices which makes a democratic government wholly acceptable at anytime. Nnamdi (earlier quoted), and as earlier established, is not alone in the school of thought that no remarkable difference will be achieved by the current leadership – most especially since the bulk of the present leadership is majorly constituted by the same ilk of the previous ruling party. And if so, one cannot begin to imagine how much the country might deteriorate further if only sixteen years of one arm of the two-pronged leadership has nothing but decay to show for their rule. The misgivings are understandable and explicable. But for want of any logical and credible answer to give for entertaining the hope that things will indeed change in the country, one can take solace in the fact that in the event that the APC turns out to be an ignis fatuus, we, the electorates will not hesistate to show them the way as was shown their predecessors. This singular fact has strengthened my belief that the new country’s leadership will stand on its full toes to ensure that they indeed changed the whole concept and perception of failed leadership. After all, one might safely conclude, that is what democracy is about; that is what makes it wholly acceptable and recommended. These are the times in which one can lay claim – with considerable pride – of being a Nigerian. Any number of causes might have delayed the heightened expectations fore and aft the general elections, but for Providence. Conclusively, then, one can consider what has been said with a short story: On the fateful morning of the 1st day of October 1960, Nigeria left the clutches of British imperialism, drawn out into independence by the recent success of Ghana in 1957, as if by a magnet. It was an occasion to pray and hope for the greatness of the emergent nation. The harsh deterioration which soon followed was a travesty of what was ordinarily expected. Few years into the nascent independent life of the nation, a tragic and violent internal unrest shook her.  A rescue expedition by some Super powers (vested interests) would be folly, for had not the tremulous effects of neo-colonialism proved fatal sister African nations? The nation, in a steady stride, rose to become a sorry state. A further thirty years down the line, things had gone from bad to worse. The worst of it was that the nation never knew its fate even after achieving independence. The brilliant rays of greatness hoped for the country at independence faded – not only because the country was sinking but because some were helping it to sink farther down. This decay was hastened by the authoritarian khakistocracy experienced by the country. Suddenly the nation found itself as a prisoner of some personal interests. The citizens only living in the merciful oblivion of approaching death. But even the height of grostesqueness has its limits. That much was said to our colonial masters on the 1st of October., 1960. Thus a change was emphatically needed in the life of the nation. Let me pack it in here, but not without leaving this message: I will admit in confidence that I never realized Nigeria could get it right in any electoral process. The excitement that had set my heart pounding before the elections was nothing to the thrill I felt at the end of the polls, for the success of the whole polls meant that change in the country was more than mere idle fantasy. The Nigerian electorates have shown that sovereignty indeed belongs to the people. And where sovereignty rests with the people, one can be rest assured of a formidable country. This is a sign of good things to come.

WRITTEN BY ARIKOR COLLINS

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