by Jude Feranmi
If we are going to get close to even change this country one step at a time, we need to start thinking like these politicians do. We need to start strategizing and leveraging on the same incentives that they leverage on. The same system they exploit for their own selfish gains should also be exploited for national gains.
It’s been three months since my last published article and this was intentional, not just because I got tired of writing about the anomaly every now and then, for God’s sake, there are many people doing that already and people will still continue to write about Nigeria’s never ending woes, I also got frustrated about not been able to do anything about it. We have protests every now and then, hashtags on twitter and facebook, arguments on nairaland and forums, discussions and conferences, and still, we remain where we are. I have a picture that promised “no more blackout” since 1986. I had not even been born then and still we still struggle with this anomaly of blackout for weeks and in some areas for months. As I write this piece, I am listening to Fela’s Coffin for head of state and it seems as though Fela was alive, we are still faced with the same allegations, money has been missing from the treasury since the days of Fela only this time with different names and much more money. What then is the way forward? Where do we go from here? How do we even start to create a path that will lead us to the Utopian Nigeria that we all fantasize about?
One of the first things I heard this year from one of my elders, Wale Adejuyigbe is that, a lot of the Nigerian youths clamoring for change are very conscious of change for our country but only a few are committed to seeing it happen. This piece is only an idea for those who are committed to seeing change happen in our generation.
Chinedu Ekekee in the bootcamp organized by BEACONS_NG in OAU said that we have no choice than to follow these politicians to the gutter and play dirty with them and ultimately win them in this game. That was the only practicable solution he offered to this menace called Nigeria and that is where I want to start.
We Africans are used to quoting this proverb that, to catch a monkey, you have to behave like one, but we do not apply it. There’s no change that will happen in Nigeria that will start from outside, we cannot change a system we aren’t part of. It’s almost impossible, more so, the Nigerian system. We have to get into the game of politics to drive the kind of change that we want to see. My favorite case is a comparison of the #OurNASS protest and the Stella Oduah scandal protest. Two protests with political motives, the former from the people, the latter from a political office holder, that is from two clearly polar extremes. The former was not largely attended while the latter was good enough to grace the newspaper headlines. The underlying factors responsible for these effects are not far fetched. Every Nigerian that is not in the academic environment is struggling for his/her daily bread. More so, the way the economy has been intentionally fashioned, the daily bread has been ensured that it is exactly what it is, “daily” bread such that if the average Nigerian misses the opportunity of getting that daily bread, s/he goes hungry the next day and that will affect a cycle.
Therefore, if anybody that is organizing any protest against the FG or anybody for that matter is not ready to provide for the daily bread of the average Nigerian, then s/he is not ready to protest. So, it was easy for the protesters of Stella Oduah to protest for long hours because their daily bread was provided for, no matter the way you look at it, it is not morally right to apportion 100% of the blame to them for collecting such pay, the system has to be blamed too. The recent NIS exam comes to mind in situations like this. 525,000 people all over the country who paid 1000 each to be featured in such a national insult! Where have they been all these while when protests were announced? Nigerians need to be given their daily bread or at least a 4556/525,000 chance of the possibility of fulfilling that daily bread. I am positive that if 525,000 youths all over the country demand for a bill to be passed in the National Assembly or for the probe of an officer or the resignation of an official or anything. In fact, the whole country will stand still and listen to them. Imagine each of these people were paid 1,000 each for that day, that will be N525 million to get a demand accepted. The question we should ask is, why can’t we start from there? We lament about how old our politicians are in this country, The question is don’t we have Nigerians rich enough to guarantee N525 million for a protest/campaign to get the National Assembly to change the age of candidacy from 35 and 45 to 21yr or even 18. Most countries have their ages of candidacy as 21 for heaven’s sake.
If we are going to get close to even change this country one step at a time, we need to start thinking like these politicians do. We need to start strategizing and leveraging on the same incentives that they leverage on. The same system they exploit for their own selfish gains should also be exploited for national gains. The judiciary till tomorrow is subject to the dictates of the President, indirectly though! He who pays the piper dictates the tune. Why not raise another 525 million for that cause. This may sound too ambiguous or absurd, I’m sure we would rather use that fund, if we ever get it for some other humanitarian service or aid, but the bitter truth is this, there is very little we can do with aid. A lot of policies and negative institutions are responsible for these anomalies that we are trying to solve, why not face the system and demand that the institutions are provided with the power in the number that we have. To get this number together however, we have to employ the same political strategies that these politicians employ. A lot of these political rallies that thousands of unemployed youths and taxi drivers and NURTW officials attend are not because of the oratorical prowess of the party leaders, there are incentives and Nigerians can no longer take the incentive of a brighter future, if only because it has been abused by previous politicians who looted the country and are still looting it. CHANGE is not cheap, it comes at a cost and we have to decide whether we are ready to pay the price or not. The irony is that the cost keeps increasing by the day. If Stella Oduah was alleged to have paid each of her protesters 3,000 Naira each, then we should be ready to pay at least half as much.
Until we employ these strategies, create incentives for people to come out and in fact play dirty, we would only be dancing at the shores of the ocean of power and singing Fela and Marley songs at Ojota, Freedom Park. I hope someone can pick a cue from this.
This article was published with permission from Omojuwa.com
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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