The lyrics of late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s numerous anti-government and pro-people songs readily comes to mind when there is a public discourse about Nigeria’s unending problems, especially those orchestrated by politicians and people of influence at all levels- local, state and federal. His song, Mr. Follow Follow, is one that could be used in an analysis of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) crisis.
In the past few weeks the public has been assailed with a lot of ‘follow follow” movement exemplified by the followers of the two factions of the PDP. Unfortunately the situation does not augur well for the citizenry as there is a degree of neglect by government of the governance and service delivery issues that concern ordinary Nigerians.
Since the announcement of the formation of the new PDP led by Alhaji Abubakar kawu Baraje we have heard all sorts of statements from the ludicrous to the most profane. Several analyses have also been put in the public domain regarding what a full blown implosion of Africa’s biggest political party will mean for democracy in the country. Extreme voices within the PDP and apologists from the ethnic nationality of the current President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, have also hinted that nothing will stop their man from retaining the Presidency at the 2015 general elections. Some have even projected scenarios of war and bloodbath for the country in the event that their kinsman does not secure the Presidency by 2015.
It is absurd that in all these, the followers on the different sides of the now divided PDP are acting with complete disregard of the generality of Nigerians. They are speaking with such venom and hate that ordinary Nigerians shudder at the effrontery and audacity of these individuals who seem so certain that they alone matter and their desires and interests must be met at all cost. Their attitude is so aptly described in the lyrics of the song “Mr. Follow Follow”. In the song Fela had lamented that some follow to the extent that they close their eyes, ears, block out all reasoning and even close their mouths. He wasn’t necessarily against people choosing to follow whatever or whomever they believed in but he cautioned loudly: If you dey follow follow. Make you open eye, open ear, open mouth, open sense
The fiercely outspoken followers of PDP act like poorly informed religious persons who carry on with blind faith and are ready to do anything to protect their spaces of interests and influence. They are completely oblivious of the interests of the larger citizenry who are also closely watching their crazed actions, unguarded utterances and unbelievably self-deluded dance of victory even in the face of unresolved conflicts. The 2015 elections have become a recurring subject of public discourse despite the numerous governance deficits and challenges bedeviling the country. Concerns of the ordinary citizens do not seem to count at the moment.
Public Universities have been choked for air since July 1, 2013 as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government continue their bickering over the latter’s reneging on a 2009 FG-ASUU agreement. The educational development of the country’s youth population is carelessly being stagnated by the continuing face-off between ASUU and the FG, and there are little signs to suggest that the issue will be resolved soon.
It’s ironic that Nigeria’s youth population estimated to be about 68 million is continually being disparaged and treated with ignoble scorn by the inactions of government and its failure to follow through with its agreement with critical managers of the sectors that have direct impact on the lives of youths. Interestingly, the 68 million –majority demographic is one that can determine the outcome of the 2015 elections if voters’ choices are swayed away from the ruling PDP and its candidates. However, the continual decimation of the youth population may be deliberate and intent on making them further vulnerable to political aggrandizements and inducements to vote in a ways that will favour particular candidates. Over the years the “poverty’ card has been effectively used against the Nigerian voting population. Followers of different parties and candidates have been willing “victims” of all manners of inducements and “promises” by desperate politicians.
Will 2015 be any different? Will citizens’ choices at the ballots be premised on an objective use of their right to vote or will this be clouded by the often dominating persuasions of ethnicity, religion and party allegiance? The current crisis rocking the PDP has thrown up all sorts of analyses and scenarios of what this may portend for the country. This is perhaps the first time the so called biggest party in Africa will be rocked by this level of crisis. Its survival and it’s strangle hold on the political landscape of the country is at stake, especially in the face of a touted alternative or the new All Progressive Congress (APC). And that perhaps explains why the followers of the faction loyal to the Presidency appears determined to use every available means to quash the new-PDP as a first step towards ensuring that it has a chance to maintain the status quo come 2015. Any chance of reconciliation seems to be dimming by the day as the new-PDP equally becomes more emboldened. Will this benefit the democratic development of the country? Perhaps, but it’s not so clear to see. There may be underlying high stake negotiations being played out by the triggers of the factionalisation. It is difficult to trust the intentions of politicians especially those who had hitherto pursued the same agenda under a platform that has not delivered on the promised dividends of democracy.
Perhaps, the political parties, whether the now factionalised PDP, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the numerous others, should be reminded that a growing number of Nigerians are closely understudying the unfolding events. They should also realise that there is an equally increasing momentum and desire for change. These followers are not blindly following. They are adhering to Fela’s advice. They are very alert and discerning with their eyes, ears and mouths open. They are assimilating properly and the potential of using their voting power to radically effect the change they desire in 2015 is one that should not be swept aside by anyone.
Mr. Amenaghawon Joseph Idahosa is an international development officer based in Abuja