Nigeria is an interesting country and its people are even more confounding. Our love for and belief in miracles is unparalleled. The word, ‘paradox’ finds expression here too. Here you find students who do everything but study; yet they look forward to fantastic results at the end of examinations. They may even run after some prayer contractors who promise them miraculous success in such examinations, rather than sit down to study. Process isn’t one of our strong points. So no matter what someone is doing or is not doing, it is still okay if he/she comes out reeking of sudden, huge wealth. ‘He/she has arrived’, many would say or ‘he/she is blessed’. I have heard of a so-called ‘miracle money’ wherein some religious adherents are promised sudden monetary windfall or payment into their bank account for doing absolutely nothing. It is a new wave of religiosity that beats the imagination of many right-thinking people.
It is not only in the realm of religion that we see this contradiction. It is all over the place. One area is in politics. Although politics here is full of sharp practices, fraudulent behaviours, lies and violence, it beats me when citizens expect to see good governance emanating from the cesspit that our politics is. This has led many of us to conclude that the country is not honestly ready for real democracy, the type that brings about the famed ‘dividends of democracy’. And the reasons are many. Here are a few ways we do the wrong thing and expect a good result by way of miracles.
Where in the world do we hear of citizens paying a fee to their political party to qualify to seek nomination as standard bearer? And even if that exists, are the sums paid so embarrassingly high as here? Pray, how much is the official and legitimate earnings of the president of Nigeria that the two major political parties would demand N27m and N22m respectively for aspirants seeking to be the parties’ presidential candidates? And the citizens, ever passionate believers in miracles expect the aspirants in this process to come into office and devote their lives to giving everyone a brighter future. That must be some great expectation to think that the aspirants will not first recoup and seek profit for their investments.
We breed a class of politicians who do not believe in democracy. This is because while democracy is hinged on the freedom of choice by citizens on who should lead or represent them, today’s politicians abhor the promotion of such freedom to choose. Instead, they try to foist ‘consensus’ candidates on the populace. Someone said recently that whenever a Nigerian (man) says ‘that is our culture’, then watch it, a woman’s right is about to be breached. Similarly, when politicians talk about ‘consensus’ candidacy, watch it, for someone’s right and privilege to aspire for a political position may be at the risk of a breach.
And for all the teeming contractors and professional praise singers who supposedly brought their hard-earned incomes to purchase forms for politicians even more privileged than them, did they really believe many citizens were fooled by such lies? And assuming the facts were as they claimed, what is in it for them by way of payback? A free and fair contract awarding system is certainly not a natural outcome of such but a miraculous expectation.
What about social, cultural and religious affiliates of persons in government who put much pressure and make so many demands from these persons to bring in illicit funds and patronage to the group? Yet they expect good governance and prudence in state finances. That again is political miracle or great expectation. And the delegates at party primaries who for a few bundles of money (sometimes laundered) and some other material items like cars, plasma television would readily give their votes to the highest bidder, they should kiss goodbye to any miracle of good governance four years hence.
Whether or not democracy and good governance thrive in Nigeria is not going to be dependent only on the politicians, but the citizens themselves who know what is right but sit on the fence, suck up to the wrong doers or claim weakness to act in the face of tyranny.