My fellow indulgees! In case you do not know, India is the largest democracy in the world. It has 1.2 billion people. For most of its 67 years of existence since independence, it has been ruled by the Congress Party; the party associated with the very famous Gandhi family. But this is about to change, and indeed has changed, because last week, something dramatic happened. The Congress Party-led Alliance lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The BJP had been out of power for 10 years, but in the elections whose results were released last Friday, Indians voted strongly in favour of the BJP, expressing their anger at the Congress Party for “uncontrolled high prices, corruption scams and rising unemployment.” That’s what democracy is all about and that’s what makes it so beautiful. I bet you noticed something familiar about what is stated as the reasons for the anger of Indians that made them vote out the Congress Party – corruption (do you smell $10 billion unaccounted missing oil money?); rising unemployment (familiar with recent rebasing of GDP and all that talk about un-inclusive growth, about high rate of unemployment in the country?). Indulgees know very well that these are familiar issues that they see and hear about in this country. But while Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa, you are not likely to see Nigerians been allowed to express their anger during elections. No, politicians of this ilk won’t like that to happen.
But I can tell you today that I strongly believe that a time is coming in this country called Nigeria, when what people say, what people do, what people fail to say, and what people fail to do, especially when they hold political office, high or low, will matter! Those actions and inactions shall come down heavily on them and they shall haunt them for the rest of their lives. At the moment, I don’t know how many past political office holders are being haunted by their actions or inactions of the past in our country, but the general impression I get, is that, sitting in my vantage position as the Chief Indulgee at this square table, they are carrying on as if “nothing spoil”.
This is the typical attitude in a country where missteps and misdemeanors by this group of people matters very little in shaping and determining the twist and turns of their political careers. Why shouldn’t what people do or fail to do, and which causes the other citizens severe pain and anguish lead to them suffering one way or the other too – like, to lose their jobs, allowing democracy to run its proper cause so that we can exercise our franchise without any let or hindrance? Why not? Why not? Why not?
Today, we are all singing bring back our girls with heaviness in all our hearts. However, long before this incident, on almost a daily basis, we read, we heard, we saw how people were being mowed down. Lives were being lost because the foot soldiers of Boko Haram were bombing people indiscriminately across the North, in particular the Northeast. We would wake up and the news would be out that 50 people had been killed in a Boko Haram raid or bombing. We woke up and heard 100 people killed in a village. We didn’t know what government was doing. We were only told that the military was fighting the insurgents; these were then followed by promises, including the one last year that Boko Haram would be defeated before the middle of 2013. Not a few people made a nose at those promises because for some reasons, we don’t really trust those who lead us. And substantially, we still don’t! And they never really try to prove us wrong. You can see what’s been happening in the last one month over our Chibok girls.
Nigerians were being bombed out of existence and the words of action and the assurance that something was being done or would be done to stop the nonsense were not following. The challenge we have is that our democracy is one with a question mark. The fact that it has lasted since 1999 does not make it a genuine democracy. The reason is that there is sufficient anger in the land that should ordinarily want to make electorates vote against the ruling political party for failing to resolve problems. But they will not allow this to happen. Yet, it is in the midst of all this that we now find ourselves held down by the kidnapping of our girls by Boko Haram.
For two weeks it did not seem alarming enough to make the government at the highest level to respond appropriately. If anybody needed proof that government did not really care about us, the initial attitude of the federal government to the kidnapping, waiting all of three weeks before beginning to make any coherent statement about it, shows the level of government disconnect with reality. It’s not only uncaring, but smacks of arrogance and contempt for the people.
In democracies where electorates can decide and shape the direction of governments with their votes, this is enough cause for people to start thinking it is time for the PDP government to pack itself out of governance. Are people aggrieved enough? Well, they ought to be able to demonstrate this through their voting decision in the next general election. In truth, what this government has done is the workbook for how to lose election. In 2015, this government will have a lot to answer for. It had done quite a lot to make it lose the next election. But its handling of the Chibok crisis tops them all. This handling of the Chibok matter is a sad representation of who we are as a people. This government has failed us all on this and my fervent wish is that when the time comes, we should not forget this and make sure that our vote counts.