Sitting on the fence like sitting ducks

Nigerian elections

The common experience of man has often  shown that  those who sit and wait eventually  receive something but  only that which was discarded by the more active as they grasped and  grabbed  during the most frenetic stages of life`s bazaar.

It has always been man`s experience that pressure births change as surely as heat in a furnace breathes refinement into gold. Thus, even when the passage of time, which wears out men and matters as surely as a gentle stream flowing over rocks slowly take their toll, yields change, it usually takes an inordinate amount of time which can only be shortened by active participation.

Even the blind now know that the change promised unsuspecting   Nigerians by Mr. Muhammadu Buhari and the broom-wielding All Progressives Congress in 2015 was a change for the worse. If sixteen years of the ruinous excursion of the Peoples Democratic Party into the corridors of power which were so triumphantly terminated in 2015 were spent in the skillet, the last seven years of the All Progressives Congress have been spent in  searing flames.

If from 1999-2015, Nigerians used to quietly sip from the dregs of deprivation and depredations while inundated with tales of outrageous corruption, from 2015 until now, while nothing has changed in the menu of maladies set before Nigerians, they now also have to eat with their hearts in the mouths. This is a fallout of the brutal insecurity sweeping through the country like a hurricane, turning many lives upside down.

In these trying times, Nigerias democracy has somehow survived and even miraculously grown fresh shoots which give Nigerians options they could only dream of in the days when military uniforms cast grotesque shadows over Nigerias national flag.

The conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria, long seen as the crowning jewel of democracy, has continued to witness incremental changes even as INEC has continued to show the improving tendency to discard its nauseating allegiance to the powers that be while pledging its fidelity to the Nigerian people.

But perhaps, more than anything, what has grown in leaps and bounds in Nigeria since 1999 is the political awareness of the everyday Nigerian who more than any other has borne witness to just how deleterious bad governance has been.

A time there was when Nigerian arms folded by apathy only unfolded to extend hands which received rice, wrappers and paltry sums in exchange for votes. Today, the growth of the Nigerian voter is such that pelted by the putrefying winds of bad governance, they now know to outrightly reject the sums peddled or to receive same only while thoroughly checking to ensure that their conscience remain free of any price tags. During the November 6, 2021 elections in Anambra State last year, a woman who rejected the peanuts offered for her votes   showed Nigerians just how to keep the political stoats at bay.

The Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan, recently warned Nigerian civil servants to stay away from partisan politics. Citing the legal opinion of the Attorney General of the Federation Mr. Abubakar Malami, the HoS reminded civil servants that participation in partisan politics was against Public Service Rules. According to the HoS, the Supreme Court in INEC v Musa did not say   civil servants could participate in partisan politics. It is certainly a curious position to take.

How much political education do civil servants get in the country? How much encouragement do they get to participate in the political processes of the country? With everything happening in the country now, is it not self-delusional for anyone to convince themselves that neutrality is an option?

Nigeria has come to a point where participation in politics should be talked up at every given opportunity. If the prevailing mentality is that politics is a dirty game, it is because many people choose to stay away and do nothing to experience things for themselves firsthand. It is because people do not participate enough, it is precisely because people are not vigilant enough, that charlatans and clowns who perpetuate bad governance continue to rule the roost in Nigerian politics.

Although the awareness has been growing for a number of years now, more still need to be done. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom and with the 2023 elections very close, to sit on the fence will be to make sitting duck out of oneself.

Kene Obiezu,



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