How Nigeria will get Better
By: Deji Yesufu
The political situation in Nigeria is at the moment in the process of throwing out different candidates that will bear the flag of the various political parties in the land. While there are almost 100 registered political parties in the country, only two of them have enough reach around the country. These two are the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). There are a few other parties like the SDP, LP, and APGA but most of them have only regional reach. The PDP and APC have become the behemoth that they are because they have once produced people who became president of the country.
So political parties are in the middle of their various primaries. INEC, the country’s political arbiter, has a few days ago extended parties primaries by another six days to give more time for political parties to mop up everything concerning party primaries. When Nigeria came into the fourth republic in 1999, many people did not pay much attention to things like party primaries and because of this a lot of shady deals were cut and people emerged as party representatives in manners that did not conform to the law. INEC has resolved most of these issues at the courts, and with a new electoral act in place, political parties know that they must do everything by the book or risk loosing at the end.
One area that INEC has failed to fix in these electoral processes, though, is the issue of how party representatives are selected at the primaries. Today, we have the delegate system. What it means is that at various levels of selecting candidates for political offices, individuals are selected by the parties to elect people as party representatives. The people who do these election or selection, as the case may be, are called delegates. Delegates are established members of a political party. They are expected to be individuals that are well known in the party, people who are above board and who can make decisions for the party.
In fact I understand that at the national level there are 3,200 delegates who will choose for Nigerians the people who will represent the country for both the APC and the PDP. Now this is where things get interesting: because Nigerian politics have become heavily monetized and the inherent corruption factor has become part and parcel of us, these delegates no longer make choices based on mere observation alone; they elect the highest bidders to office. Ayisha Osori’s book, LOVE DOES NOT WIN ELECTIONS, brings to fore the problem that well intentioned persons undergo to overcome the larger than life presence of the delegate system. You literally have to pay your way into being chosen by your party. I am told that delegates are collecting as much as $15,000 each to elect people as party representatives for House of Representatives. This should give you an idea of how much these delegates will earn at the presidential level.
Now if what I have written above gives you a bleak picture of the state of things in our country, then I have succeeded in showing you why I am still convinced Nigeria can get better. For the rest of the essay, I want to suggest three things that will fix this country.
Nigeria’s Young People: The EndSARS protests was the best thing that happened to Nigeria in the last few years. It was spontaneous; it had a unity of purpose in it; and it was engendered by our country’s young people. The killing of those young people at the Lekki Toll Gate, which brought an abrupt end to the protests, remains a tragedy and a blight on this country’s conscience. I am confident that either in this life or in the life to come, those who killed those young people will face judgement. I digress.
EndSARS showed some of us that the number one thing that will fix Nigeria is her army of young people. Our youths may not have jobs, they may even be denied education but they have a certain drive for creativity and a commitment to forge ahead and make it like no other sets of youths in the world today. A perfect example of this is seen in what Nigerian youths are doing in the music industry. From the mad face Portable to the calm, cool and collected Kizz Daniel, Nigerian young people are producing music that the world is crazy about. And this creativity is not restricted to music alone. We see it in our sports, media and movie industry also. It is only a matter of time, these young people will rise up and replace the old order of things in this country. Nigeria will get better because her young people will only get better at what they do.
Nigeria’s Massive Human Resources: One day the story of how India moved from being a third world country to first, like that of Singapore, will be told. For now India has placed herself and her people in every sphere of world affairs. Indians are about the leading people in Information Technology and the sciences. India has become a major source for medical tourism, especially for people in Africa. Even in the relatively unknown world of Chess, Indians are becoming the leading players of the game. The penultimate world champion in Chess, Vishy Anand, is an Indian and is still very much playing the game. India is what she is today because of her massive human resource. Human resources is the greatest and the best of all the resources that God has given to the nations. That Nigeria has the highest concentration of black people in the world is an advantage that this country will someday benefit from and this is why some of us do not believe that the breaking up of this country will prove advantageous to us. The world has learnt that countries thrive better when they come together and that is why we have such unions like the European Union and others. The larger the better.
The people that usually set off society in a positive direction do not usually have to be many; we only need to have a few people in places of influence and society will have no choice but to get better. The story of my encounter with a young man leading the vehicle licensing office that operates here in Ibadan, which I published a number of months ago, is a case in point. The young man and his team have ensured that vehicular licensing, at least as far as Agodi, Ibadan, is concerned, must be done properly. If such an individual were to move up the ladder of the civil service, he will bring a similar positive change to the whole system he presides over. Imagine what will then happen if we have such persons occupying the office of President, Governors, Legislators, Judges, and so on – with time, our society will become better. The blessing of population is that society has a greater likelihood of producing such people.
Sheer Providence: For many years, Nigeria was under the iron grip of one man called Sanni Abacha. He killed whoever he wished and left alive only those he decreed so. The Nigerian people were constantly under fear. We could not speak freely; the press was gagged and it was as if this was how things will continue to be. Nigerians woke up one morning in 1998 to learn that the evil military despot, that held the whole nation by the jugular, was dead. There were widespread celebrations and in a matter of weeks, the country began to have a semblance of normalcy. Subsequently Nigerians elected their own leaders into office and since 1999, the country has continued to enjoy uninterrupted civilian rule. Those who are thoughtful understood that what happened with Abacha is what we call providence: it pleased God to take away life from the one that had constituted himself as an enemy of the nation. The God who saved us from Abacha can still save this country today.
In spite of a rising army of atheistic youths on the social media today and the despising of the idea of God saving men through prayers, the fact remains that God answers prayers and he still influences the nations through his kind providences. One other reason why we believe that Nigeria will get better is that we pray daily to God to save this country and we trust that God will, one day, raise up leaders to various spheres of our national life so as to cause for things to work properly in the country. There are rumors that one of the reasons why insurgencies still persists in Northern Nigeria is because certain individuals in the top echelon of the Nigerian army are benefitting from the continued conflict. With wars also come the need for the purchasing of arms and ammunition. The whole process shores up illegitimate gains for certain people and the crisis is made to continue to persist because a few people are making money off the blood of others that are being spilled. It is not difficult for God to change such people in a minute. The Christian church will continue to pray and plead with God to send the right people to lead this country and we know that God will answer our prayers.
Conclusion: There is actually no alternative to Nigeria getting better. Some of us have become too old to go to another country to go and begin to struggle to acquire a better life for ourselves. Even if one manages to go abroad, there is still that nagging pull that Nigeria continues to exact on its citizens all around the world. The constant thoughts of Nigerians in the diaspora is how this country can get better. Those of us who are still here have the opportunity to partake in the fixing of this country. There might be little time left for a few of us; we are not likely to enter the promised land because of age but we can bring the country to the point where we are able to actually see the promised land ahead of us. These three items I have suggested in this essay are points we cannot overlook: we can take advantage of our large population; we must invest in our youths; and we cannot cease to pray for Nigeria. And one day we will wake up to behold a New Nigerian nation.