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Saturday, July 23, 2022

Nigeria 2023 - The Choice we must make today by Chidi Abajue - ITREALMS

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I got up this morning feeling nostalgic about the good old days. The days I had to pay Twenty (N20.00) Naira only as boarding fee per term in the secondary school. Ten (N10.00) Naira only was for tuition. Meals served were above average both in quality and quantity. I finished my West African School Certificate Examination and got employed shortly after as an Auxiliary Teacher in another secondary school. Life was safe. You could travel to anywhere by any means, day or night without fear of being robbed, kidnapped or killed. Things were predictable - school calendar, employment, commodity prices, etc. All one needed was to plan, and then work towards your goal.
Chidi Abajue

It all ended with the emergence of General Muhammadu Buhari through a military coup. Yes, the same Buhari that is here again with us like Soyinka's Abiku - coming and going these several times, leaving behind tears, woes and wailings as never before ever seen or heard.


How, you may ask, did we get to this sorry state of life as a nation? Sir Pharm. Ifeanyi Atueyi in one of his life series books has an answer: Life is a Choice - making you responsible for yourself. In other words, we are where we are today as a result of the choice we made. Strategic Managerial Psychology has volumes of empirical research studies on subjective and rational decision making processes.


Using a rational decision making model requires a good understanding of the problem at hand, and brainstorming on possible solutions. It calls for setting standards for, and pointers to success as well as choosing the best solution. Finally, you track and analyse the result and make decision based on the outcome of the chosen solution. You now have a choice to either continue or change.


So what is the single problem with Nigeria, or Nigerians? People have identified the problem(s) as either divergent ethnicity, religious differences or corruption. To these answers, one would quickly ask : "are they applicable to Nigeria and Nigerians alone?" I guess it is difficult to find any country in the world that is wholly mono ethnic, mono religious and incorruptible. Not one can be found even among the most culturally and technologically advanced nations of Europe, Africa, America, Asia, etc. These are the places where privileged Nigerians escape to enjoy the good life they can't find, or refuse to put in place in Nigeria.


So to me, the problem with Nigeria is neither tribe, creed nor corruption par se. The problem with Nigeria is neither material nor human resources. Our problem is that of human behaviour, and requires attitudinal revolution.
We have a choice of attitudinal change to be able to have a liveable nation; a country where equity, justice and fair play becomes national ethos. We need a country where the golden rule becomes our collective mantra.


In the words of Attorney Kerry Randall, "contrary to popular opinion, life does does not get better by chance. It gets better by change. This change always takes place inside us. It is the change of thought that creates a better life".


We need to change our attitude towards the concept of peace. Peace is indivisible. You cannot be peaceful when your neighbours are irritating.
We need to change our attitude towards leadership. Leadership is not so much by brawn as it is by brain. Leadership is neither turn by turn, nor an inheritance. It is a trait that can be found even in unexpected places. And wherever it is found, it is employed in the service of humanity.


We must change our attitude towards material possessions. Those who would not give public account of their wealth certainly obtained it by fraud. Those who morbidly crave for personal possessions are enemies of common wealth. And it is common wealth that grows a nation.


We must focus more on morality than religiosity. Religion is a personal concept; morality is a public concern. Honesty and truthfulness are integral parts of morality. People without moral scruples should not be entrusted with public welfare. They indeed endanger the health and wealth of a nation.


As the race for 2023 general elections draw near, we need to ask ourselves what kind of leadership we desire for Nigeria and Nigerians. There is a general consensus among Nigerians about what we need - security of life and property, robust and productive economy that guarantees food security, employment and total well-being; then a socio-culturally harmonious and technologically advanced society that can proudly maintain a pride of place in the comity of global nations.
Unfortunately there seems to be no consensus among Nigerians about who, among the coterie of politicians seeking to be the number one servant-leader that can take us to the desired haven.


How can this be explained? The answer seems to be rooted in the events and circumstances leading to, and arising from the 1967 - 1970 civil war. That war appears to have turned some Nigerians to tribesmen. Unfortunately again, this 'tribesmanism' has, by both omission and commission been transmitted to generations down the line. Nigerians now perceive national dialogue from the prism lense of self interest under the veil of ethnic cum religious group interest. We have degenerated to the level of appointing carpenters as dental surgeons just to satisfy ethnic/religious idiosyncrasies. This is why we can acknowledge that Mr A is the best candidate for an office but insist he would not occupy that office because he belongs to a certain religion or tribe. That is why Nigeria has almost degenerated to a failed state. This is the choice we made, and no one is free from its consequences.


Year 2023 presents us with yet another opportunity for self appraisal and evaluation of our choice. Fortunately for the first time since after the aforementioned civil war, there seems to be an internal compulsion within Nigerians for a change. This compulsion for radical turn around is very intense among the youths whose future are being destroyed by the ethno-religious bigotry planted into every fabric of our national life. These are the youths writhing under the pains of police brutality, ASUU strike, unemployment, persistent power failure, insecurity, stagflation, and what have you. These maladies do not respect ethnic or religious cleavages. They spare neither the rich nor the poor, neither the strong nor the weak.


The choice before Nigerians today is to elect one out of the coterie of presidential contenders and pretenders as president come 2023. Among the contenders, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi stand out for different reasons. The first two are old time players in our political space. They belong to the order of mercantile politicians bent on protecting their hegemonic grip on the public tilt. They operate on the machivellian principles. They have tracks of dark pages in their biography. Above all, senility is taking its toll on both their physical and mental acuity.


The third contender is a product of renaissant order. He represents a mass movement for the restoration of ideal democracy that places power in the hands of the citizens. The operational philosophy here is that government must be responsive and accountable to the needs and well-being of the electorate. He has a record of trustworthiness and transparent biography.


The choice of who leads Nigeria come 2023 is already made today. It was made with the unexpected disengagement of Mr Peter Obi from the contraption better reffered to as People Deceiving People (PDP), and his subsequent emergence as the Presidential candidate of the hitherto unknown Labour Party. That choice was sealed when the Ancient People's Congress (APC) presented disdainful characters as their flag bearer and running mate respectively.


That choice was made manifest by the changed narrative of exponential voter registration increase ever in Nigeria's political history. Peter Obi's transformational and charismatic leadership qualities endears him to the masses as a bridge builder between the old and the young, the rich and the poor, and among all tribes, tongues and creeds. He is the first ever Nigerian whose political campaign costs and activities are gratuitously hijacked by his fans. Imagine an eighteen year-old lady gifting Peter Obi all her savings as part of her contribution to his campaign expenses.


Currently Peter Obi is the most trended personality on both social media and on the streets across Nigeria and beyond. As I write this piece now, his 61st birthday is being marked across all states in Nigeria by his teaming fans who prefer to be known as Obidients. To the mass movement for Peter Obi's presidency, his 61st birthday celebrations is an occasion to enthrone him as the most popularly endorsed presidential candidate come 2023. By so doing, Nigerians of all tribes, tongues and creeds have taken back their country by choosing His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi as their transformational president ahead of the 2023 elections.


CHIDI ABAJUE, a Public Affairs Analyst, Media Consultant, Managerial Psychologist, and Publicity Secretary, Association of Anambra State Development Unions - AASDU, writes from Lagos.

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