It’s election season and I have found this period particularly fascinating compared to previous times we have inched towards choosing our next set of leaders in a democratic process. There are a number of factors that make this point in time different. For the first time in a while, we will have frontline presidential candidates from Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups. Personalities who possess the stature and clout to win in their own right. Aside from this, the surge of interest from Nigerian youths who were hitherto apathetic or indifferent to politics evokes excitement and renewed hope.
The permutations and projections regarding the 2023 general elections may not be in full swing yet, but there’s no doubt that they have kicked off. And as new presidential candidates emerge, the dynamics will change gears and reach a crescendo. It will be an encore—we have seen it happen every time an election season approaches—especially one where a sitting president will be ineligible to contest. A common denominator we can expect as a response from these presidential hopefuls on why they aspire to the apex post in the land is love for the country. They will swear they love and are passionate about the Nigerian project and their hearts bleed for the giant that is content with living as a dwarf.
I have since learnt not to expect anything impressive from the current government, and it’s not because I am an incurable pessimist. Save for the initial body language that had many of us fooled, the prognosis has never looked good. One only needs to monitor the trend of events to come to terms with reality, but even I was shocked that the death of the very top dog of the Nigerian army, and in such heart-rending circumstances, wasn’t enough to extract a personal showing from his employer.
The viral song “Egungun be careful na express you dey go” evokes laughter many years after its release by maverick Fuji music artiste, Abass Akande Obesere. Its follow up lyrics, “…motor go jam you” is a warning cloaked in humour amid the energetic dancing that accompanies the song. To the more discerning audience, the advice embedded in the musical expression is not lost. In fact, it could pass for a proverb: one that can be employed by a parent to admonish a recalcitrant child or a teacher to a student towing the wrong path.
Without boundaries, nothing is sacred. I could repeat this simple sentence throughout this piece in the hope that it would sink and I would have passed a cogent message across, but I would be breaking a basic essay rule if I did so. However, the unsettling news concerning the incessant spate of kidnapping, especially in secondary schools domiciled in the northern part of the country is not only worrisome, but also a clear case of playing Russian Roulette with the lives of those who form a part of the most vulnerable in our society—our children.
Old-time values of empathy, kindness, compassion, and emotional intelligence still reign supreme as evidenced in the results of the 2020 US Presidential Elections, and it’s a huge relief. I couldn’t have dared to bet that Trump would lose. Scratch that. I expected Trump to win. I had been jolted by the outcome of the 2016 elections because I had been certain Hilary Clinton would take the day. As far as I was concerned, the odds were stacked against her rival. Donald Trump was supposed to be the long-shot candidate whose braggadocio and xenophobia irked Americans enough to shun him, let alone the allegations of sexual abuse and gross disregard for decorum. I thought these were more foreboding than the exaggerated sins of leaked emails. But I was wrong.
Image: Channels TV
The awakening is in effect. There’s a tidal wave of renaissance coursing through the socio-economic landscape of Nigeria right now, and those who are at the helm of affairs need to read the room for their own benefit. The #EndSARS protests brought many issues to the fore, one of which is the conduct of politicians and the role they continue to play in the precarious state of the nation. The days of docile youths who are only concerned about reality TV shows and the latest hip hop album belongs in the past and any public officer who desires to court the goodwill of the electorate will do well to accept the new status quo.
We allude to the existence of a category of people who are working overtime to ensure we never quite reach those heights we are capable of reaching. In our mind’s eye, they are relatives; the bad guys who don the toga of blood to inflict pain as only they know how. Everyone has “village people”. It’s a staple banter on the streets of social media. When things are not going well or gaining the required traction, we are quick to attribute it to the wiles of village people.
I watch a lot of Crime and Investigation. I have always found the motivation behind crime fascinating—how an individual goes from happy-go-lucky or the regular guy next door—to a criminal mastermind. I am even more drawn to the painstaking effort detectives apply in uncovering who this villain is.
19-year old Daniel Usman is dead. He was shot dead by gunmen while trying to exercise his civic duty. Daniel is only one of the many victims of the just concluded presidential elections. At the last count, about 37 people have been reported killed and many others, injured as an aftermath of the unrest in different parts of the country during the voting exercise. Even as I write this, there’s tension in Oshodi, a suburb of Lagos, as thugs look to disrupt normal trading activities; it leaves one wondering if we’ll ever get to the point where politics will be practised without rancour.