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Waiting Until 2023 To Hope Again

Tunde Odediran laments that after 2019 general elections are over, Nigerians would still be confronted with the prevailing problems as neither of the two major candidates in the presidential election has what it takes to usher in the change needed.

Flag-map of Nigeria / Photo credit: Wikimedia
Flag-map of Nigeria / Photo credit: Wikimedia

On February 16, Nigerians will be voting for one or the other, literally. Inarguably, more than 90 per cent of eligible voters will be casting their ballot either for the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the former Vice President, Mr. Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Somewhere in the range of one to 10 per cent will be the territory of the also-ran, the presidential candidates of the less favored political parties.

For most Nigerian voters, this is a two-horse race because the two top political parties have the platform they recognise and support.

The candidates of the other parties, though offering better qualifications and manifestos, are unqualified and irrelevant.

After the election is over and a president empowered, Nigerians will regret missing an opportunity to disrupt the status quo.

The need for change and transformation is written all over Nigeria. Not only has the nation been battered by corruption and a lack of visionary leadership, its people have lost confidence in their own selves to make a good future.

Young people are looking for a way to cheat or seek better opportunities in other countries while the rich are sending their children abroad in droves.

Those left behind are absorbed in hope and prayer, the reason for the growth of predatory commercial religion.

We will look back on this election in history and wish we had made a bold statement to put the nation on a new track.

It is the lack of confidence that causes most Nigerians to put their fate in the hands of the two leading political parties, the APC and PDP.

Both parties have bankrupted Nigeria, liquidated its resources and are repossessing its people through elections.

The two parties that are different in name but not in character, since nearly all notable politicians have passed through both at one time or the other, such that it has become a WhatsApp joke for one party to claim the other had performed badly.

The parties are just two lanes of the same road that ends in the same destination. The fact that one of the parties will rule Nigeria for another four years, with the candidates they presented, takes the shine off this election.

It is why I am pessimistic about Nigeria. I have no reason to rejoice because Buhari and Atiku represent the status quo. They are a chip off the same block.

At times, I feel we lack the appreciation for the magnitude of the damage that the current political class has done, as well as the type and intensity of energy required to repair Nigeria.

The energy has to be full, generated by a charismatic and visionary leader and it should spark an infectious gravitas. That energy is lacking.

After this election, we should not expect change to go as far as our hope. Stable electricity will still be a work in progress. Highways across Nigeria will remain under construction. Armed robbers will continue to terrorise communities and the Nigerian Police will be extorting bribes from citizens. You will still need to know someone to get your children the tertiary education that they have worked hard for. University teachers will continue to shut down classrooms in their fight for better conditions of service. Public employees will be owed months of salaries.

It will be just another election, and the disappointment to follow will be slow but certain. The major political parties want you to believe that in their hands is a magic wand that will transform Nigeria within the next four years, but the reality is that they have no new ideas to try.

In my view, the issues we will not be voting for in this election are so significant that the election itself can be said to be just an exercise in futility. We will look back on this election in history and wish we had made a bold statement to put the nation on a new track.

In this election, we miss the opportunity to pick a new generation of intelligent and sagacious leaders. Among them are those who have acquired education and experience within and outside Nigeria.

They have seen and touched the efficient engine of development in various parts of the world. These new politicians are not struggling to provide their WAEC school certificates or boasting of a mere university diploma; they have studied and seen all there is to see around the world.

In this election, we miss the opportunity to try those who would not be weighed down by the debris from the past.

Bloomberg's Businessweek magazine wrote that this election is about a former dictator and a kleptocrat, concluding that the decision before Nigerians is a brutal one.

Young people are looking for a way to cheat or seek better opportunities in other countries while the rich are sending their children abroad in droves. Those left behind are absorbed in hope and prayer, the reason for the growth of predatory commercial religion.

It is an unforced error when we sell ourselves into the hands of such candidates, none of whom represent the future we crave. In the quest for risk avoidance, we are ensuring the continuity of the problems that we are trying to disown.

In this election, we miss an opportunity to stop political godfathers. Political patronage and composition of candidacy by a few rich politicians is a malignant cancer which will eventually destroy the fabric of democracy in Nigeria.

Godfather politics is now a reality at all levels of politics and the people’s will to choose is under threat. Those who have amassed a vast amount of wealth illegally through politics now lord their handpicked loyalists on the people.

In this election, we miss an opportunity to end corruption. No matter how well President Buhari means, he is incapable of waging a meaningful battle against the scourge.

This much he admitted recently, when he stated that it is extremely difficult to fight corruption in Nigeria. He has had four years to do it and failed. Surrounding him in power are those believed to have stolen from the public treasury.

At times, I feel we lack the appreciation for the magnitude of the damage that the current political class has done, as well as the type and intensity of energy required to repair Nigeria.

And Buhari's opponent may not even care to lift a finger against corruption. No Nigerian politician has been better documented by the United States government for involvement in corruption than Abubakar Atiku.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Maryland home of the Vice President in 2006 in search of bribe money from former US congressman who was seeking to do business in Nigeria.

A US Senate Investigations Hearing on Keeping Foreign Corruption Out of the United States submitted that "Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and a wife of Atiku Abubakar…helped her husband bring more than $40 million in suspect money into the United States through wire transfers from offshore corporations."

After this election, we should not expect change to go as far as our hope. Stable electricity will still be a work in progress. Highways across Nigeria will remain under construction.

Armed robbers will continue to terrorise communities and the Nigerian Police will be extorting bribes from citizens. You will still need to know someone to get your children the tertiary education that they have worked hard for.

And Buhari's opponent may not even care to lift a finger against corruption. No Nigerian politician has been better documented by the United States government for involvement in corruption than Abubakar Atiku.

University teachers will continue to shut down classrooms in their fight for better conditions of service. Public employees will be owed months of salaries.

I have been waiting for a Nigeria illuminated by the fire of technology, where the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit will put development on steroids.

I have been hoping for a Nigeria where high-speed Internet is connected to every home, leading to a spark of creativity for the tireless younger generation who are waiting to showcase their talent to the world.

I have longed for massive infrastructural development - new and wider roads, reliable electricity, pipe-borne water and low-cost housing - that would match what exists in other oil-producing nations.

I thought we could attract the Nigerian Diaspora back to the land of their birth soon.

No, it would not happen now. I have, therefore, decided to wait until 2023 to hope again.

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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