To a typical mean Nigerian politician, the electorate, have a price at election time. Part of the usual trick for votes is the mouth-watering promises of transforming the area into an El Dorado, gainful employment to the youth and economic empowerment to others if elected. These promises to a typical Nigerian politician are ingredients of deceit for cheap votes. But in reality, a typical Nigerian politician is into politics for the juicy part of it not for the service expected. Of the 1000 promises made at campaign period, hardly 10 may be fulfilled. Those that make deceitful promises are those that surfaced at the scene wretched, malnourished and in desperate need of salvation but on accessing office, transform themselves to tin-gods of those that tend to ‘worship’ them for crumbs from sleaze funds and diverted and abandoned constituency projects meant for the good of the federal constituency.
Such thieving and criminally-minded representatives are usually protected from public court by a coterie of jesters, hangers-on and other unclassified rogues masquerading as aides or political associates while hooligans and village attack dogs are stationed at the home base for dirty jobs to confuse and threaten those radicals that may throw genuine attacks against underdevelopment and other vices.
We belabor the ‘Nigerian dream’. We abuse the idea that life will get better, that progress is assured if we keep faith, obey the rules and work hard, that prosperity is guaranteed if we continue to tread the slow, steady path to progress and a prosperous future.
And in pursuit of those lofty ideals, we pervert the steady, measured, impartial course of the universe; hacking plaint paths to our dreams, from the crossroads where gluttony fosters depravity.
Eventually, we awaken to a cold, bitter truth: We are being sacrificed by those we elected. The Nigerian dream we are sold by our tormentors and short changers isn’t worth our sacrifice. And the individual dreams we pursue, aren’t worth a smidgen of what we make them out to be. By the time we all struggle to achieve our dreams; Nigeria will be finished. Given that each tribe may finally achieve its dreams of nationhood via secession.
Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Efik, Kalabari, Anang, Bachama, Jahr, Aten, Ngas, Tarok, Berom, Mupun, Pyem, Ibibio, Ekwerre, Ilaje, Gwari, Jukun, Alago, Kanakuru, Burra, Migili, Ijaw, Mumuye to mention a few may establish their new nations.
When we do, the swollen belly of our idiocy and pride shall become clearly visible to us. When it does, it shall suddenly dawn on us that, all along, we had been blindly acting to a script prepared by career predators from other nations and our ruling class.
The truth shall become clearer to us in intensity and impact and we shall hopelessly realize that we are being sacrificed by those mistakenly and foolishly elected to develop us as leaders.
We are all being sacrificed including those sycophants, blackmailers and wailers; some of us on the other divide much quicker than others. As it is now, so shall it be in our new nations, the Biafran youth, Ijaw youth, Oodua youth, and Arewa youth to mention a few, shall become disposable indices in the scheme of things.
But until then, we will continue to have today to squander it on the altar of racism and greed. Today, it’s impossible to see any off-spring of our ruling class engage or become embroiled in the familiar tragedies that mar our lives including wailing and praise singing. Adults and children of the wretched on planet earth are those that master the art of tragedies and deployment of vulgar language in defence of cluelessness and absurdities for survival.
It’s always the children from the breadlines, struggling middle class and backwaters that are directly or indirectly involved in vandalism, hooliganism and electoral malpractice including ballot box snatching etc. We are the youth divide traditionally expected and required to function and serve as unquestioning muscles and ordinary cannon fodder in the ruling class’ blueprint of pillage and destruction supported by adult surrogates.
The decline of Nigeria is a story of gross injustices by the ruling class to the citizenry. But that is only an aspect of it, the greatest injustice is that meted out by individual citizen to self-the youth particularly.
And this predominant malaise often plays out in our corruptibility and disinclination to foster a more humane leadership and society. We may get it right in 2023 if we so desire.
Today, we suffer declining standards of living, collapse of the economy, stagnant and falling wages to civil servants that are hardly paid at due time; we suffer curtailment and absolute denial of basic wages, long term unemployment, slave labour, escalating crime wave, among other ills.
Together, we perpetuate gruesome realities of the weakest being crushed decisively and maniacally by the affluent and strong elected ruling class. Together, we perpetuate a story of unbridled sectarian, ethnic and corporate power that has taken our government hostage, overseen the dismantling of our cultural heritage, societal and entrepreneurial values.
But if the ruling class, in connivance with predatory nations and institutions from the so-called ‘first world’ is responsible for plundering our natural resources and bankrupting the nation, adults and youth in desperation for survival at all cost, are responsible for even worse atrocities.
We serve as the tools by which the ruling political class and its cohorts overseas plunder and destroy our nation. The virus of political corruption, the perverted belief that only political and material profit matters, has spread to distort our thoughts and understanding of right and wrong.
Today, it manifests in endemic proportions plaguing our communities with religious and political terrorism, economic and cyber-terrorism, monetizing constituency projects for self-aggrandizement, denying the electorates the benefit of budget inserted constituency projects and misuse of constituency given palliatives to mention a few.
Today, the Nigerian society dies a gruesome death basically because we lay to waste, our youths and we, the latter, by our suicidal actions and foolish thoughts, submit ourselves as hopeless prey to the Nigerian ruling class and their demonic cohorts garbed in political and religious attire.
Every day encounters with gluttonous gangs of struggling adults and youth reveals among other things, that many of us are the same social products as our peer from the aristocratic divide. Conditioned by life’s harshest vicissitudes to survive at all cost, we lay in wait, striving and bidding our time until we are ably positioned and strong enough to serve or rob the rich whose life we earnestly covet and decry.
A visit to any eatery, night club, relaxation spot, party, religious organization or office still attests to this fact. Ambitious and upwardly mobile adults and youth from the breadlines or struggling working class families engage in a variety of excesses to the applause of mates yearning to be in their shoes.
Either as advance fee fraudsters, bankers, journalists, accountants, secretaries, factory hands or ordinary clerks, youths from the breadlines daily engages in a bitter, desperate struggle to chance on the shortest possible cut to sudden and stupendous wealth without laboring.
We seem beset by a greater and unexplainable fear beyond the fear of poverty amongst other harsh realities of their lives. Fear plays a greater part than hope,; we are infinitely buoyed and obsessed with thoughts of the money that we could make or the possessions that might be taken from us or elude us, than of the joy and value that we might add to our own lives and to the future of our fatherland.
Most of us, like our more privileged peer crave the best of everything without actually sweating for it. And when we do sweat for it, our industry is tainted by vigorous dashes of impatience and duplicity.
In our work, we are haunted by jealousy of competitors and a fleeting interest to the actual work that has to be done. We spend greater time and passion defending unjust privileges dangled by the thieves in public offices with electoral mandate or by appointment that we are desperate to enjoy.
Such appalling youth constitute a greater segment of the human element expected to salvage Nigeria from eternal ruin and bloodbath. What a pity!
Consequently, our society becomes more rudderless and unstable and vulnerable, on our collective watch. Now that Nigeria as our elders and fathers, ‘the wasted generation’ made it, and the youth, aggravate it, have begun to collapse, we withdraw from the possibility of rebirth, and instead choose to exploit the infinite possibilities in our fragility and predicted collapse.
It’s about time the Nigerian youth started postponing immediate gratification and endure hard sacrifices, spurred by conviction that the future can be better than the past. Beyond the politics and inanities of our existing ruling class and political parties, we face far more difficult questions at our moment in history: How do we reconcile reality with promises that have been made to us by our thieving leaders garbed in political attire? How do we make the best of our circumstances at the backdrop of indefensible leadership failure and disillusionment of the people?
How do we evolve and nurture to fruition, a new vision to help us deal with our gruesome realities, even as we chart a promising story of the future? How do we divorce ourselves from the pains and disappointments of the past, particularly those that many amongst us had no stake in but yet internalize and perpetuate unexplainable miseries thereby?
How, do we redefine “Peace, Unity and Progress” with our lust for “Life, Ostentatious Living, Liberty and Happiness?”
How do we become more humane than what we are today? How do we fight our deceivers and short changers on the corridors of power if not through the ballot box or bloody revolution? How do we retrieve our stolen patrimony if not through the legal process or jungle justice? And, how do we flush out those leaders and their hangers-on that filter our commonwealth with impunity if not through the ballot box in 2023?
How do we rent the sleep of our tormentors if not through rejection at the poll? How do we stop the deceitful habit of praise singing an ATM machine (our leaders) for dispensing our lodged money (projects with our funds)? I Rest My Case in Peace for the Good of Nigeria!
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues