On the road to 2023: Building on shaky foundations – By: Tunde Asaju

IIf you read the nonsense that critics and opinion writers tell about Nigeria, its unique political schemes and outstanding politicians, you would be forgiven for thinking that we are a disillusioned lot. Believe me, you are wrong. The phrase – hope never dies – was carved for Nigerians.

Nigerians are like atypical victims of a vicious abuser who complains about the current discomfort but loves the resilience he derives from the experience. Every once in a while you hear of a Nigerian who is tired of life and commits suicide, that is our share of mental health issues. Majority of Nigerians are irrepressible which is why imported religion takes root here than in their traditional farm. Politicians serially tease us with promises of good governance and no matter how many times they fail, we blindly invest our trust.

Months away from another “general” election, our perennially lame legislature passed an electoral reform bill to which the president had to be bullied into giving his assent. We believe that the name we give to something helps it reflect its own attribute, which is why we have called our electoral arbiter, the “independent” National Electoral Commission, INEC. He has to lobby and beg the executive for funds to operate, often getting help when it’s too late.

Just eight years ago, we convinced ourselves that we had to change our ways and live like other nations – through the ballot box. The politicians formed associations among which, the Peoples Democratic Party, the PDP emerged in the lead. Its pioneers meant well. They demonized the midwife soldiers of the transition and ganged up on stopping them from trying to rule our nation. They gave us publicity and we believed in their chimeras, full of hopes.

As the referee blew the whistle for the race to begin, the soldiers and their civilian lackeys moved to the market. They found an imprisoned former military hero, dusted him off, and sold him to the electorate, who wistfully embraced the charade. The honeymoon phase quickly dissipated, but the experiment lasted eight years. It gave birth to a transition truncated by inertia, insecurity, cabalism and the death of the leader.

We campaigned for the MP only to plunge deeper into the abyss. Our second-hand spare tire had apparently passed its expiration date with performance worse than our dashed hopes. While the nation was burning, he was sleepwalking. Once we had had enough, we walked into the military retirement home and brushed off another dead wood that promised to be the manure on which the vibrant tree of democracy, decency and goodness would grow. governance. We hoped to reap the rewards of good governance to feed our hungry souls and heal our emaciated bodies. We dreamed of peace, security and prosperity.

Conversely, we spent every resource trying to keep this one alive while fighting each other. Unprecedented anarchy, chaos and carnage was unleashed upon us and things more than fell apart. However, in Nigeria, hope remains the hanging fruit that whets the appetite of hungry souls as they journey through the desert of death, destruction and deprivation.

By showing so much interest in what the two dominant parties are doing either in their gangs, we slip into the analogy of foolish builders willing to rehabilitate an old structure for three times the cost of building a new, bigger and better. The problem is that even after spending so much, we see half of the structure collapsing because we hired the same architects and engineers. In turn, they employed the same handymen who would use the same inferior materials to support the structure rather than bring it down. All this while we stay inside – praying for a miracle.

This is the scenario since the two “dominant” parties have now held their conventions and chosen their leaders. Last Saturday, as members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) gathered in Eagle Square, the Kaduna bandits got a head start by rehearsing on the Kaduna airport runway, preventing planes from taking off or land. Prior to this show of bravado, their constant looting of southern Kaduna settlements no longer made the headlines.

Eagle Square signals showed that Nigerians have learned nothing and are basically not interested in changing anything. Party loyalists were bullied into pre-arranged endorsements. Tough candidates advocating the principle of letting the votes decide suddenly abandoned their ambitions in the name of party supremacy. It wasn’t a Eureka or Road to Damascus moment, as emerging clips showed why certain military-style principles of obedience were abandoned until the last order.

A candidate was informed of two “judicial” files thanks to which his obstinacy could earn him a mandate in Kirikiri. It extinguished his spitfire ambition faster than water extinguishes a raging bushfire. Another aspirant withdrew after “due consultation”; those who insisted were beaten mercilessly.

The convention that has become a consensus reveals the bumpy road that awaits us towards the “2023 Selection”. It is neither democracy nor the pretension to resemble it. Its outcome does not ring the silent bells of hope; rather, it opens a window to greater despair and discouragement.

This party, which claimed to have gone from 11 million members to 40 million, “consented” to Abdullahi Adamu, founding member of the PDP, ex-scribe of its board of directors, governor with two terms under the aegis and candidate for the presidency in as the new party chairman. Adamu has already faced N15 billion corruption charges brought against him by the EFCC. All of that is now forgiven as per the saying of one of its predecessors Adams Oshiomhole, who invites thieves to come to APC and your sins are forgiven. Nuhu Ribadu, the man who led the ‘witch hunt’ against Adamu, witnessed his coronation over the weekend, giving credence to those who call the ruling party an association of criminals pardoned. This is the main challenge for those who still believe that change is possible with these arrangements.

The consensual exco had saints like Iyiola Omisore, the first Nigerian to win election from a holding cell as the new party scribe. There are 75 more. That’s the change APC promised us for its Next-Level – the difference between six and half a dozen. If you’re looking for the PDP men of yesteryear, check out the APC registry and vice versa.

The constant things in Nigeria are corruption, nepotism, hunger, darkness, insecurity, banditry, mass unemployment, discouragement and lost hope. There could be no hope for a new broom if the APC ‘wins’ in 2023. Even its new president thinks there’s nothing new to offer when he says the party has delivered on its promise towards Nigerians.

The words of our elders that eyes designed to carry a person to old age do not begin that journey by oozing rum apply here. Any party selling forms of aspiration above a reasonable income does not have the capacity to deliver Nigeria from its problems. True democracy begins with the glasnost of the electoral process.

Don’t worry, Nigerian politicians know how to do this without incurring the wrath of the EFCC – they are asking others to raise funds. Buhari did so and his PDP friends Atiku Abubakar and Aminu Tambuwal asked their friends to choose the 40 million naira tab for the forms. Where is the hope here?