The Federal elections ever held in Nigeria in 1959, exactly 60 years ago was to prepare Nigeria for independence. The sad news was that, the 1959 elections ‘supervised by the departing British colonial administration under Governor James Robertson,’ was a deviation of the colonial leaders as moral agent from moral and spiritual laws. These widened the gaps, the divisions between the ethnic groups, and between the rich and the poor in Nigeria. The widened gaps between the regions, the rich and the poor shaped by a deviation and corruption as the ‘vestige of a colonial legacy,’ increasingly became the norm in Nigeria. To make the matter worse, the first general elections in 1964 supervised by Nigerians themselves that produced Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa as the Prime Minister ‘ultimately led to the first coup of January 15, 1966.’
General Olusegun Obasanjo ended the 13 years of military rule with the famous general elections of 1979 that produced President Shehu Shagari. The increasing and systemic corruption led to the coup of General Mohammadu Buhari of December 31, 1983. Nigeria’s many afflictions continued till 1993 when General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the presidential election won by Chief Moshood Abiola. Nigeria returned to another civilian regime in 1999 during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar that produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and his team of 36 state governors. The 16 years of civilian rules, 1999 to 2015 from President Obasanjo to President Usman Yar Adua and President Ebele Jonathan all from the People’s Democratic Party reduced Nigeria’s economy to zero level.
The problems and challenges facing Nigeria goes beyond political elections. The blame about Nigeria’s problems can go around friendly enemies within and without, not leaving anyone out. Now that the Nigeria 11th general election since 1959, that is the 2019 Presidential election has come and gone, the ‘fiery fingers’ pointed at President Buhari and the urgency to get him out of Aso Rock has become a dead news before arrival. For me, the defeat suffered by the 8th Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the governors of Imo and Oyo State, Rochas Okorocha and Senator Ajumobi respectively, is an assurance that power belongs to the people and that vote counts. Indeed, ‘O to Geee’ – enough is enough. However, bearing in mind the political and leadership development in Nigeria, the truth is that ‘elections have far more consequences than the immediate results of the poll.’ Internationally, the Brexit referendum, American presidential election that produced President Donald Trump, and Zimbabwe presidential election continue to have more unexpected consequences and challenges.
The source of Nigeria’s problems resonates with an African proverb which says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” Just as Nigeria’s many afflictions continue to rest at the table of our political elites and their international collaborators and looters, the real enemies of Nigeria are Nigerians through bribery and extortion. What can we say about the case of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) official who claimed that a magical snake had slithered into the safe and eaten thousands of dollars examination fees. What about the mechanic who was given money to buy a new part for a car but not only went for ‘tokunbo,’ he did not change the old part of the car. Beyond the ‘brown-envelop journalism and religion,’ a building contractor made a quotation of five bags of cement for one load of sand and in practicality used one bag of cement for five loads of sand. Such a building will surely collapse with many causalities. What about the abuse of office, power and the mechanism of self-enrichment, ‘when so many Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, having legislator who are among the highest paid in the world? We must not forget the ‘corrupt civil society groups that take money in exchange for organising public demonstrations that serve the payer’s interest … There’s a lot of rent-a-crowd going on in Nigeria driven by politicians.”
My recent visit to Nigeria early this year was an open eye to see our inhuman attitude towards one another. While in Nigeria earlier this year, I travelled from Lagos to Ibadan. I went to the motor park to board a public bus to Ibadan. My experience from the motor park to Ibadan and back to Lagos two days later was an eye sore and a vivid picture of corruption, greed and wickedness towards one another, an unfriendly enemies in leadership. After waiting at the motor park for over one hour without any bus loading for Challenge, Ibadan, I decided to take the one going to Iwo road. While waiting, I saw the lifestyle of affluence the Union leaders, the unfriendly enemies at the motor park lives through the illegal collections made from the vulnerable passengers. The dangerous state of the buses were beyond description. A rope was used to joined the gear to the engine. One can rightly say, those buses are moving coffins. After loading, the amount collected by the Union leaders leaves the bus driver with little gain. The question is, what are the levies collected by the Union leaders used for? Passengers paid through their nose to travel in a moving coffin, indeed, Nigerians help comes from the Lord not leaders.
My experience when I was returning to Lagos was very sad. At the motor park in Ibadan, I took a car with four passengers. The driver of this car due to his hunchback raised his seat in order to see very well. The driver despite his human limitations was not idle unlike the union leaders living on free money. Again, after the union fee was taken from the total amount paid by the passengers, the man was left with little after filling his tank with gas. The same experience of horror and exploitation spreads across every part of Nigeria – politics, religion, trading, and professions.
Nigerian elections at 60 calls for a new orientation and education among unfriendly Nigerians from the leadership to the followership. Greed and corruption are part of the banes of our problems in Nigeria. The Bible says “a man’s enemies are members of his household” (Micah 7:6, Matt 10:36). The problems and challenges confronting Nigeria are firstly unleashed on Nigerians by Nigerians, the friendly friends. Our politics from the beginning has been a do or die duel with friendly enemies. The question is what killed the defunct Nigerian Airways founded in 1958 with over 30 high-end aircraft? Who are behind most of the fully paid abandoned projects all over Nigeria? The truth is that “the real and true enemies” of Nigeria and the Nigerian people are the Nigerian elites who harvest where they have not sown.
Nigerian elections at 60 is a call to overcome moral evil, a deviation of Nigerians as moral agent from moral and spiritual laws. There are deviation from moral law that promotes societal, political, personal evils and sufferings. Our society’s negative attitudes towards life and one another points to our selfishness, envy, greed, jealousy, corruption, hypocrisy, and the appetite to take advantage of others. The increasing presence of jobless youth and street children in many Nigerian cities beyond parental neglect are basically because of our leadership deviation as moral agent from moral laws. It is a shame to our leadership building mansions, camps, private universities, and riding the latest cars we cannot manufacture in Nigeria while the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is rising. It is on record that 13.2 million Nigeria children are out of school and the highest in the world. The number is increasing. The warning is that without good environment for trade and quality education, there may not be peace for the leadership because idle hands will take to more threatening negative attitudes and means of getting rich without labour. Education is the bedrock of any nation and lack of education is the killer of any nation.