[files] Peter Obi speaking to the press. Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP
The burning desire by Nigerians to see a turnaround in the country underscores the reason why Nigerians are flocking to Peter Obi and the Labour Party.
There is an urgent expectation for a new dawn to manifest in Nigeria without delay to give Nigerians a new lease of life. People are fed up with the status quo. Any political platform that could guarantee the desired rebirth becomes the centre of attraction.
As it were, Nigerians have suffered untold hardship, pain and anguish brought by selfish and greedy politicians. The political and economic system has been ruined. Long-suffering is a norm in Nigeria as people bear the burden of misrule. The virtue of patience has been overstretched beyond the limit and this is understandable.
Understandable in the sense that the country has been raped and bastardised and Nigerians denied the good things of life since independence. The desire for a productive country started on October 1, 1960. That desire did not materialise. Barely six years into independence the country was plunged into a fierce fratricidal civil war that claimed over a million lives and truncated the political and economic trajectory.
At the end of the war in January 1970, the military took over the reins of government; Nigerians continued to look forward to a productive and viable country. The civilian interregnum between October 1979 and December 1983 was a huge disappointment. The civilians re-enacted corruption and maladministration that brought back the military.
In a nutshell, from May 1967 to October 1999, a period of 32 years, Nigeria’s affairs were run by unaccountable military juntas that failed woefully to build the expected virile country. The country was practically put on a ruinous path that only a conscientious, patriotic and committed leader could reverse.
When the new democratic dispensation was birthed in October 1999 with the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the helm of affairs, Nigerians re-enacted the desire for good governance. Obasanjo had the historic opportunity to build a vibrant Nigeria but failed after eight years of mesmerizing Nigerians. Obasanjo handed the baton to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who unfortunately died early in his administration. Nigerians think that Yar’Adua demonstrated inklings of a proactive leader with his 7-Point Agenda that never materialised.
President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded Yar’Adua but instead of continuing with the 7-Point Agenda, floated a transformation agenda, which Nigerians interpreted as another side of the same coin. Jonathan’s perceived personal desire to bring new dawn failed woefully due to the greed and avarice of the powers in his party PDP. Thus, for 16 years, rather than see good governance, Nigerians saw unthinkable sleaze and utter plunder and despoliation of the country.
Amidst the disorder, General Muhammadu Buhari appeared on the scene and won the 2015 presidential election and no sooner was he sworn in on May 29, 2015, than Nigerians began to demand the change he promised. But the change rather came in the negative or so to say. With the mountain of problems, Buhari argued that the ground had to be cleared first and the foundation laid upon which change would be built. But Nigerians are not ready to make excuses. They want change to happen as promised.
I would like to stress that the good country Nigerians desire is achievable with a committed leader at the centre directing the tone of governance across the states. The states would key in once there is a pivotal leader at the centre. Unfortunately, the states are overlooked while everybody is focusing on the Federal Government, which is totally misplaced.
All the basic social amenities – water, hospital, roads, schools, health centres, etc, that we need are largely the responsibility of the state governments. Though the Federal Government had taken it upon itself, over the years, to be in charge of electricity, nothing stops any state government from getting involved in power generation as an independent supplier.
If each state government gets serious with power supply, the power from the centre would be negligible.
The same applies to roads. Available statistics show that there are about 200,000 kilometres of roads in the country, out of which the total federal highways are about 34,340.90 kilometres. The states and local governments have responsibility for 165,660 kilometres of roads. If the states and local government councils do their roads, the federal roads will pave into insignificance.
It is ironic that while people lament over the dilapidated inter-state federal highways like the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Lagos-Shagamu-Ore Expressway, Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, etc, no one mentions the intra-state roads that really serve the people. I can’t understand why the attention of Nigerians is always focused at the president while the governors are left out. Virtually, all the administrations that have presided over the affairs of Nigeria since independence passed through this unfortunate syndrome.
The worst set of Nigerians is calling for the return of corruption with the hash-tag “Bring Back Our Corruption.” The promoters of this demented and crazy campaign argue that under PDP, food was cheap and life was better. It is ironic turn of events.
Across the civilized world, progress is made when there is rapport and understanding between the people and their leaders. There can be no progress when the leaders and the people are heading in opposite direction. Buhari’s anti-corruption war has not brought any respite. Rather than see progress, corruption and sleaze have become the order of the day.
And beyond that, insecurity has overwhelmed the country. Nowhere is safe. There is a daily bloodbath. Terrorists including Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers, and ritual killers are on the loose with no control. Some parts of the country are virtually under the control of criminals. There has never been a situation like this in the country before, not even during the Biafra war.
On the economic front, all the nuts are loose. Mass unemployment, high cost of living, abject poverty, and despair, among other outrageous problems pervade the land. Virtually, all the economic indices are in the negative. The horizon appears bleak and frightening, except there is a deliberate intervention to right the wrongs.
The craze for a new Nigeria informed the rush to Peter Obi and his Labour Party. Nigerians are disenchanted with the ruling APC and the opposition PDP that have jointly ruled Nigeria for nearly 24 years, precisely since 1999 and ran it aground.
The track record of the three key presidential contestants – Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the APC and Peter Obi of the Labour Party speaks for them. Nigerians know who is who. As such, no amount of shenanigan will divert the mind of Nigerians who are focused on redeeming the country from total collapse.
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