Nigeria’s democrats and republicans

January 27, 2021
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I start my admonition with a story of a certain legislator, representing one constituency. On getting to the assembly he was made an opposition leader. He was so good at his task that he criticised everything, opposed anything to the delight of his admirers and those that cheered him on. The height of it was when a bridge was to be constructed in his community which had a dire need for it; he opposed it with such venom that the government had no choice but to leave the community without a bridge.

Now, inn Nigeria, they have changed the trend in our usual habit, dissecting everything along party lines and bias, they say Mr. Trump is for Christ and Mr. Biden is anti-Christ, Mr. Trump is from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Biden is from the All Progressives Congress, of all our problems, we are bothered that a President has hit the ground running and appointed gay persons while we are here still blaming each other on why we are where we are; America has rejected Christ, Biden and Democrats are evil; really, these experts who have never entered a plane to Port Novo are now international analysts on American affairs. There are prevailing views, mob mentality and what we call unipolar intellectual environment or the dance of populist opinion.

For me, one simple and honest truth is that whenever I see a person drawing a parallel line between the Nigerian political landscape and American political landscape, I automatically switch off from engaging in any discussion because it immediately becomes clearly evident that the person is not well grounded on the subject of politics and societies which he or she is attempting to delve into.

For crying out loud, any inferences drawn by making such comparisons between Nigerian sociopolitical landscape and that of America is like someone drawing their inferences and conclusions on similarities by comparing mangoes and tomatoes, or someone comparing a crocodile and a chicken because both lay eggs.

As Nigerians become more American than the Americans, I ask, do we understand the basic foundation of American democracy and politics? In Nigeria, “I am in PDP today under Jonathan; then I follow the breakaway PDP to jump into APC in order to help bring Buhari to power. Then by the next cycle when I am tired of APC and somewhat disenfranchised within the party, I am running to jump back again into that PDP that I had left during the last cycle in order to help remove the Buhari that we helped put into power in APC.”

Now tell me, have you ever seen or heard of such rubbish happening in the history of American politics? If your answer is “No”, let us go further.

So in Nigerian politics, anything goes. Consequently, you have chameleons everywhere that change political views and dispositions like the weather during the rainy season. While in American politics, your word and loyalty to your party affiliation is your bond or else you’re politically doomed. Biden is exactly what he was 40 years ago, so was he eight years ago under Barrack Obama and so is he now.

He is not an ex-military man being sold to Americans as someone with strong democratic values. So what is he going to change to? What he was 40 years ago is still who/what he is now. America is not Nigeria; despite all the similarities we are very well and far different.

So my dear Trumpists, and Bidenees, let us chat heart to heart, while I do agree that the world is a global village, let me agree that if the United States sneezes, a sizable number of nations will grapple with cold. Let me acknowledge the role of social media, conspiracy theorists and the information highway and have the conversation below.

The coronavirus was slow to arrive on Nigeria’s shores and gradually we joined the league of COVID-19 infected nations, like Mr. Sawyer from Liberia and Ebola, we were not prepared. Was anyone really prepared? But the economic impacts of the disease were not slow, as the global economy halted and Nigeria’s, largely informal, service-based economy was forcibly shut down to preempt the disease’s spread. Until that point, we were experiencing unprecedented growth and accounted for many of the fastest growing emerging market economies—though, that growth was, disappointingly, largely jobless and not necessarily in the most productive sectors. Till date, our policymakers have no approach for the pandemic as an opportunity for a “great reset” of our economy.

Our leaders have not stopped the virus nor secured the health of our people and the economy is simply not growing. Indeed, given the already poor health outcomes across the nation, citizens are uniquely vulnerable to widespread disease and face severe, longer-term consequences of getting sick. While Nigeria seems, so far, to have been spared the worst of COVID-19, no one knows what the next pandemic threat might look like or where it will come from. What is certain, though, is that the next pandemic is not so much a matter of if but when. Are there any strategies for shoring up health systems to be better prepared for such a pandemic even now or in the future?

Underpinning the response to complex health and economic challenges is good governance, strengthened democratic institutions, transparent elections and inclusive reforms key to building and maintaining safe and productive societies. We lack all these, the extent to which governments can best serve their people not only during crises, but at all times, depends on mutual trust between government and their people, and we have a deficit of this also. Do we look ready to tackle the complex relationship between governments and citizens, especially in times of crisis, to examine how leaders can govern inclusively, fairly and effectively? A categorical no is the answer.

With the rising homegrown or domestic terrorism and the trajectory that ethnic lords are fighting over quit orders, our current leadership does not possess the right fundamental mindset to provide nationwide liberal-democratic leadership. For the Trumpists amongst us, for those that bought Mr. Biden’s Aso-Ebi, can we say that our Nigeria is anywhere near what United States has in any ramification, the number of Nigerians being killed, maimed, kidnapped, mauled by robbers, bandits, robbers, terrorists, gunmen, politicians are countless? No one cares while we worry about Mr. Biden’s gay appointees, our straight crooks in government steal our souls away and we tear ourselves apart over at best non-issues or no issues. We are not Americans; can we face our kettle of fish.

Let me ask my Nigerians more bereaved than Americans, the republicans and democrats amongst them, why are Nigerians being punished with the NIN registration, with all the multiple biometric registration on different platforms? Why is synchronization a difficult task? Why is it that most NIMC offices have obsolete computer equipments. In many offices the printers are not working, yet there is no state solution for insecurity, from economic downturn, even as the kidnapping pandemic continues to thrive and citizens now ask each other to leave their territories.

So while we fiddle about America, her elections, former and current presidents, Nigeria burns, one of Punjab’s most famous poets, Surjit Patar, writes;

This is a festival.

As far as I can see

Beyond what I can see

There are people gathered.

This is a festival,

Of people and land, trees, water and air,

It includes our laughter, our tears, our songs,

And you don’t know who are part of it.

The poem describes the interaction of a young girl with farmers. The girl says that when the farmers leave there will be no joy in the world. ‘What shall we do then? she asks and as the farmers weep, she says, ‘my wish is that you win this fight for truth.’

It is my wish that Nigeria rises from the ashes from the current fire that we are toying with because at the pace and the direction, we are going, this nation will burn, it will, it is not a god-forbid matter, it will except we all do something different and well.

Prince Dickson PhD, the team lead at the Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre) sent this piece via pcdbooks@yahoo.com

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