“In 2015, we must seek out the best leaders, we must rebuild a culture that seeks to nurture the best in all of us.”
Apathy is our country’s leading cause of all that is wrong with us. Most of us do not follow politics or anything whatsoever. We have placed our bets on religion, entertainment and Soccer.
I understand and appreciate Nigeria’s obsession with this triad; I understand because poverty is painful. The triad of religion, entertainment and soccer is important because it gives hope, humor and excitement; these are great ways to mitigate the pains of poverty.
Other than Goodluck Jonathan and to an extent Nuhu Ribadu, how many people know any other candidate who ran for the Presidency during the 2011 elections?
We the citizens are a huge part of the underlying problem behind our broken politics – apathy, especially among the youth and the middle class.
Unfortunately for us, the costs of our political indifference are mounting. The first cost apathy exacts from us is distorted information. Politics can only capture public attention these days by “shock and awe”. We are bombarded with focus group tested cliches like “I have no shoes”, soundbites, declarations and catchphrases.
We have neither the time nor energy to keep our ears unplugged for hour-long speeches nor our eyes open to read policy documents and make a call to pressure our representatives in the legislative houses.
Instead, we catch up on what is served on mostly decanted news by government controlled or compromised news media, making us prime candidates for misinformation. All most of us can remember from the 2011 election was the “meek” Jonathan kneeling in front of Pastor Adeboye for political anointing. Jonathan’s purported “meekness” became the object and symbol of the entire campaign.
No tangible policy speech was given, campaigns were laced with empty promises, bombast and ceremony. No single policy gained leverage in the voter’s rationale. It was all about smokes and mirrors.
In addition to this, is the cost of financial immorality. Because of an apathetic public, politicians are spending more money to reach voters through a variety of means, ranging from distribution of Ankara prints, measures of rice, recharge cards, branded T-Shirts to noodles.
Elections are routinely funded by moneybags and political jobbers with an eye on huge payoffs and high return on investment after the elections with their candidates as winners. Dirty money subverts the electoral process and we are left to face two devastating outcomes as a result of our shortsightedness: politicians splits their focus between fixing Nigeria and obeying their sponsors who determines what can be done for the country.
In reality, both outcomes corrode our political system, a waste of time and it corrupts the political process. Are we to blame for the lack of financial morality in today’s politics? Yes! Because in a democracy, we are meant to be active participants, we are supposed to elect our government. Corruption occurs because we, the apathetic people do not police our government.
Apathy is paralyzing this nation. We need to address and redress the unhelpful belief that politics is boring, inaccessible and even unimportant. Backwards thinking most often results in backwards doing. If we want to change our political system we must first start with individual attitudinal change followed by national attitude adjustment.
The first to adjust must be the middle class and our youth demographic. How many people in this country can name the speaker of the House? The main cause for political indifference in the youth of today is: lack of knowledge, lack of interest, technological immersion, lure of easy money, fast paced city life and lack of ideal servant leaders.
The political set up in the country is patently corrupt and pathologically inefficient, the main reasons why the youth have distanced themselves. But for how long? There is the need for the youth to face the situation squarely and get involved in the political system and VOTE! I know young people are easily bored and politics can’t compete with Blackberry and other electronic devices. I’m aware that majority of them think all their free time should be spent entertaining themselves because politics feels like work and it reminds them of school. But remember you are growing older – every minute.
We must shed Apathy in exchange for pragmatic confidence as we seek solutions to the political dysfunction facing our nation. We face a decisive moment in history that calls for us to reflect and revisit fundamental sociopolitical tensions threatening to rent Nigeria asunder. We must stop burying our heads in the sand by looking at our current sociopolitical ideology that commodifies everything into arrangements for the highest bidder.
Nigerians are facing rapid social decline, unemployment, food insecurity, evaporating industrial base with economic, cultural and religious tensions fighting to fracture our fragile peace. Unfortunately, the congress of baboons leading us refuses to acknowledge the deeper malaise and discontent across our nation that transcends age, ethnic, religious and political affiliations.
As a society we have lost many of the principles of decision making that are central to participatory democracy. Many are completely unaware of what has been lost. For most of us, the social bonds that keep our traditional society functioning have completely disappeared along with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of better days we nursed at independence and well into the mid 1970’s.
Far worse today is the average Nigerian diminishing capacity to recognize this perilous state of affairs and the will to do something about it. We are enmeshed in a knowledge deficit of the political process, we do not have the economic stability required to engage and take part in building a vibrant political movement. With this as our reality, not only are political questions passed over, we do not question political solutions and worse; creative approaches to our problems seem to have been eradicated from our brains.
The silver lining for us is the fundamental point that in a democracy, the political apparatus to acquire power is still accessible to anyone or group provided they can mobilize and agitate for change. We do not need a radical overthrow of political institutions, what we need is; radical re-engagement by citizens into politics and a willingness to limit financial immorality.
In 2015, we must seek out the best leaders, we must rebuild a culture that seeks to nurture the best in all of us. The real question is to ask ourselves; What can we do? We must resolve to take Nigeria back through civic leadership, incremental individual attitudinal change and development of national character and values. Our objective must be the enthronement of civic change as a vehicle for transformational leadership in government, education and business. We must realize that the present arrangement jeopardizes the collective health of our future. We are the architects of our own story and we can choose a tragic end by doing nothing. It is our call.
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