Column Opinion

Nigeria 2023: Candidates Wey No Sabi

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

“…I know who will be the next president, but I will not mention his name, because if I do, the person will be eliminated…” Mr. Muhammadu Buhari

In our political party, we do what we promise
Only fools can believe
We will not fight against corruption
Because there is something certain for us
Honesty is fundamental to achieve our deals
We will demonstrate that this is a great stupidity to believe that
Mafias can remain part of the government as in the past.
We ensure, without a shadow of a doubt, that
Social justice will be the main goal of our mandate.
Despite this, there are still stupid people who think that
One can continue to govern
With the wiles of the old policy.
When we will assume the power, we will do so
to end the privileged positions and influence peddling
We will not allow
Our children starve
We will accomplish our purposes though
The economic reserves are emptied completely
We will exercise the power until
You understand that from now
We are the “new policy”.

And now, read from the bottom up, starting with the last line and up to the beginning.

What you understand from that opening comment is at your own risk, and I dare say it means a lot, and speaks to many issues regarding the Nigerian state. So, for the next 12 months In Shaa Allah, I will once a month X-ray the issues around the forthcoming General Elections in the world’s largest black population and democracy. Kindly note my use of the phrase In Shaa Allah. I am not a politician that feels that all is figured out…and I am not one of the owners of Nigeria that determines who gets what.

Let me start in the following manner.

A huge piece of bakery deliciousness sat in front of me. It was a combination of three desserts in one. One layer was cheesecake, one layer was ice cream cake, and in between those was a layer of brownie-like chocolate cake… all drizzled with some kind of fudge icing that was calling my name.

This was served to me while on a family vacation. At the time, I was at the beginning of my no-sugar adventure. I’d been doing great at home, but I’d been dropped into a place that was teeming with bakery things my mind could not even conceive of, while everyone around me could eat a pound of sugar a day and still look fit and trim.

I didn’t want my family to miss out, so I told them to please enjoy. “I’m fine,” I said with a carefree smile. But inside a totally different dialogue was playing in my mind:

It’s not fair!

Saying “it’s not fair” has caused many girls to toss aside what she knows is right for the temporary thrill of whatever it is that does seem fair. But the next day the sun will rise. As each band of light becomes brighter and brighter, the realization of the choice she made the night before becomes clearer and clearer.

I have friends who like to restore cars. I have other friends who like to restore houses. Many times, we like to restore things because they are broken or because fixing something usually costs less than buying it new. But I think many enjoy the challenge of a fixer-upper because we enjoy the process of building something that is better than what was there before.  

When we look at Nigeria as it rides towards the next elections, the truth is that it’s not fair that the candidates around don’t really understand the enormity of the work ahead, how badly fragmented Nigeria is as a nation, that the deal structure which never has been really federal is disjointed.

Do the candidates whether for the office of governor of Plateau or for the ‘unhallowed chambers’ of presidency understand that several millions of Nigerians are children under the age of 18 and half our population is youthful whether lazy or otherwise.

While we do the drama of cost of cooking gas and gas flaring, solid cooking fuels (which creates respiratory ailments), inadequate sanitation, and substandard housing is at a peak, people lack access to proper drinking water within a 30-minute round trip walk. While we take pride at our 200million+ population figures, and fight amongst ourselves which ethnic group or faith has the higher number, millions are multidimensionally poor people having at least one undernourished person in their homes.

With the campaigns soon heating up, with the best of efforts, Nigerians live in households where a scary percentage has not completed at least six years of schooling, have no access to electricity, lack seven of eight of the following assets (a radio, television, telephone, computer, animal cart, bicycle, motorcycle, or refrigerator). They also do not own a car.

These candidates no sari wetin dey, they will prove that though money is available that could have gone towards the social good, it largely will go to shore up their chances at the polls rather than the manufacturing and industry of the nation.

Dem no sabi say across the nation we need to De-commodify education, which includes strengthening public education and preventing the privatization of education in the manner we have gone about it.

No candidate, not even those that are teachers are promoting or discussing our education. They are not talking about how a ‘would be’ great nation can bridge the electricity and digital divide. Build publicly financed and publicly controlled high-speed broadband internet systems with spaces open for private players to thrive.

We keep talking about out of school children, but in reality, these candidates and awards 2023 are not about ensuring that all school children have access to all the elements of the educational process, including extra-curricular activities or developing channels through which students participate in decision-making processes in all forms of governance and education.

Sadly, our education is about jobs, getting a job, and not creating one, so, is any candidate coming with a template to make education a lifelong experience, allowing people at every stage of life to enjoy the practice of learning in various kinds of institutions. Fostering the value that education is not only about building a career, but about building a society that supports the continuing growth and development of the mind and of the community.

Candidates that do not know how to make water available beyond commissioning borehole. Leaders, governments and candidates that have no blueprint for education, for schools, for transport, health and hospitals, that have elevated mediocrity, that see public office as a gift and not responsibility, will 2023 see any difference—Only time will tell.

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