In 2015, I voted Prof. Remi of KOWA party. I saw through the veiled campaign promises of APC, Buhari’s dark shades and Jonathan’s last gap face-saving. I was idealistic. I insisted then, although quietly, that we must not practice a reductionist politics that fossilize people’s choices between just two political parties. I called for an alternative to the existing waste.
There was apparently a leadership gap in the country. For anyone within my age bracket in Nigeria, anyone unfortunate enough to be born in the 80’s, we don’t really know what it means to experience a working system, to live in a government that works. I felt KOWA provided that alternative. It was a gamble. When people often talk about wasted votes, it is not really about delegitimizing the right of a citizen to independent choice, or about scorning people’s participation in strengthening our civic processes. It is about the immediate value of our choices, about the smart use of our efforts. It is about finding a balance between the civilisation we seek and the reality we face.
Fast forward to 2018, I am still gambling with my choices. This time I am a reluctant sympathizer of ANRP. I am probably one of the fancied, brandished 20,000 registered members on social media. I like what the party represents. I like the fact that they are building a virile internal system while seeking to disrupt the polity. You might disagree with the tactics and personality of some of the leaders, but you can hardly fault the system put in place. It can only get better. At first, I was tempted to think they were seeking to build a puritan party absolved of the current establishment that is often derided. But then, after Obj’s letter to PMB, they stuck with the reality we face while they pushed their agenda. I have seen consultations going on and I hope the right questions are being asked. In an ideal society, critical subject-matter of politics revolve around history, economics and ethics. At a very personal level, what that translates to is that, whoever seeks political leadership must have an antecedent, policy direction and proven integrity.
We can begin to ask serious questions towards 2019 from that prism. Do our preferred candidates have a track record that can assure us that their brand of leadership works? Do they have positive energy and attitude? Are they men of integrity? Do they have a personal ambition to do something bigger than themselves? What exactly is their plan for the country? No one must be allowed to belittle providing clear blueprints about their plans. Can they make us money? Are they emotionally intelligent? And from our recent history, we shouldn’t shy away from asking too, is my candidate medically well and fit? Like, shey o wa alright? If we can answer all these ideal questions carefully, we must also find how to make this work in Nigeria’s peculiar political turf.
Now, let me quickly throw yesterday’s quote into the mix: “I want Buhari out but not for Sowore, Atiku or Rabiu Kakwanso. That is not a smart way to use one’s efforts.” That came from an insider, a Prof. Osinbajo’s admirer, a disappointed optimist, who was deeply involved in the last election’s campaign. They combed through wards and streets – and this is unavoidable if we are serious about the grassroots. They put off their ties and spoke the language the guys on the streets understand. Because out there, English hardly works, money does. That’s the language they can relate with. We can argue how such average psychology has been perpetrated largely because of failed leadership. But the painful truth is that that has always worked for the touted morons in government. That’s why despite your high sounding developmental analysis, policy documents and shown track records, you can still lose. And lose badly. That’s why those currently vested with changing our fortunes will lift no finger in the opposite. Such crassness serves a personal greed. Such poverty, both social and mental, increases their chances of perpetuating themselves in office. We must find a way to reach those guys.
We must sensitize the educated and social media savvy youthful generation. They can become the most potential group in deciding the forthcoming election. They are critically informed, and we can be sure (maybe not, but possibly) that they won’t exchange the seriousness of their choices for money or a bag of rice. This is the group that can really cause the disruption we seek.
So we must always find a way to meet everyone half-way, perhaps. Those of us who understand better must insist on the right leadership. Find a leader who has the ethical backbone to take us beyond where we are. Our problems are not only structural or economical, they are also attitudinal. We must therefore sell a leader whose optics can galvanize a change in our attitudes to the country. A leader who will show that civil servants equally hurt the economy with their indolence as much as a corrupt politician who steals. This is what the Sowores must show. I have heard from credible sources about Sowore’s penchant for blackmail and how the APC used him in the last election. They have dirt on him. He needs to come out clean and be ready to defend himself when attacked. I read recently that’s already happening. Well, Atiku’s situation is a public knowledge. No sweat there.
However, if these new guys seeking a different drive away from PDP and APC are really serious about change, a coalition is inevitable. Moghalu. Durotoye. Sowore. Adamu Garba. Etc. This is the time to make concessions that serve our ultimate good. We need to be talking to one another. Election is less than ten months away. We need money. We need believers. We need a united voice. This is where I hope the likes of Tope Fasua and his types can show leadership. You guys have a template of the future we seek. Reach out to these multiple voices in the mainstream now. Let them collapse their structures and plans and vision into one another, in a way that would strengthen a united block. Then let’s all sponsor and support the best. And even IF we lose, we have a momentum to build on towards 2023.