Jan 14, 2015

SAME EVENT; DIFFERENT RESPONSES - CRITICAL TRAJECTORIES by Arikor Collins



While the ink was yet to dry on this piece, I immediately was forcefully torn between a confusing web of two different worlds; two diverse emotions: hope and doubt. I hurriedly at the same time asked myself, how do I feel in this very moment - am I happy or sad? Was this our dreams finally come true? Vague and intense feelings of uneasiness washed over me. Dangling between two different emotions, I set down penning this piece. Pictorially, I sought to paint the true picture of what I was experiencing. The product was to picture an orb helplessly and hopelessly oscillating, reminisce of my elementary integrated science textbooks, from the pendulums of failure in leadership.

Arguably the grandest upcoming event in Nigeria's history, the 2015 general elections has in no small measure elicited diverse responses. Media report cards are significantly impacted with the activities of the two major Presidential candidates. From all indications, the Presidential elections - though, not the only slated election for the year- is the major and focal cause of concern. It is such because the occupier of the office of the Presidency, being the country's leader, symbolizes the whole country. The Presidential elections thus have attained a flagship status for all other electable positions. In the same manner that this piece elicited two conflicting reactions within me, the fast-coming general elections in Nigeria has also generated two different responses, meanwhile it is still the same event. The line of demarcation is very clear. Same event - different responses. What caused the difference?


On one hand of the divide is an incumbent President seeking re-election into an office he has occupied for the last six years, while on the other end of the plank is a former Head of State and retiree Army-General earnestly yearning for the same office as the incumbent (remarkably the fourth time in a row). One would have quickly reasoned that both contestants, being patriots, as they claimed, would join forces to interpret the upcoming event in a similar and single manner, because, by and large, whoever ends up occupying the office of the President has the other to thank, not just because he won him, but because it made him stand on his toes while contesting. But no, they've thus far succeeded in creating more discordant tunes for the country by their own different interpretations of the same event.
Looking critically at the recent flag-off campaigns of both blocs, some noteworthy points are worth stressing. President Goodluck Jonathan while flagging-off his campaign sought once more for the code that got him into office four years ago: emotion and sympathy of Nigerians. Conscious however, that his first tenure really had nothing much to speak for his widely-acclaimed and widely advertised achievements in office, he sought to solicit for the electorates sympathy once more. Only, this time around, he dropped the 'I had no shoes' concept having come to the campaign venue clad in a very expensive shoe. His target audience that day was the youths; his message: His (and his age-mates) gaffes. Yes, President Goodluck while flagging-off his Presidential campaign at Lagos quite admitted that his generation has failed us the youths. What then is he seeking to remedy after failing us for the past six years is beyond my comprehension. While stressing the profligacy of his predecessors that has brought the country to its knees presently, his opponent being one of them, he reminded youths that it was time they take charge of their own future. Perhaps, the President saw himself as youth also, which is not a bad idea at all. But where his administration, for the last six years, has been constantly undermined by unsustainable practices, how does the President seek to re-enter office?

And at the other end, General Muhammadu Buhari is vigorously bandying about his 'change' mantra. Apart from being matter-of-factly out of tune with modern day governance and administration, the retired Army General certainly doesn't have age on his side. One would reasonably have expected that the foremost crier of 'change' in Nigeria should be somebody definitely younger than incumbent President Jonathan. We are now in the era where the country is striving hard at reforming, reshaping and transforming herself. Consequently, new initiatives and projects should be gaining momentum, not old and forgotten paths. In as much as wine thrives best when put in old wine-skins, the wine of governance being dynamic certainly thrives best in new and innovative policies. Beside being old, the General's prior unholy precedents do not augur well for his current political intentions.


Basically, what made the difference was the state of the nation at present. There have been unresolved conflicts here and there. Also, there has been that unhealthy polity whose open field has made many to politically and economically bankrupt this country. Let us take the simple, yet critical issue of global warming as an allusion to the point being made. Some scientists believe that with sustained global warming, there is a point where the melts of earth's major ice sheets could be irreversible. This is because ice cover naturally reflects the sun's rays. But as the ice sheet thins and shrinks, the ocean below, which is less reflective, is eventually exposed. The dark ocean surface absorbs more heat, which in turn leads to greater melting. A self-feeding, runaway circle could then be created. The resulting rise in sea levels from the meltwater could spell disaster for hundreds of millions of people. It could also lead to sudden and unanticipated climate changes which could bring disastrous results. Now apply this analogy to ongoing political aberrations in Nigeria and tell for yourself where we are heading to. Various past political upheavals have constantly warmed up the Nigerian geographical sphere. The build-up to the 2015 polls is also one such instance. Can something be done?

The good news from the foregoing, therefore, is that all is not doom and gloom for the Nigerian polity. Our choices in life, in as much as they are sometimes being fated by others nevertheless remain largely a product of our own consciousness. As I reflected upon my thinking about the upcoming elections in Nigeria, I realized that our response to what and what gives way prior to, and in the elections proper, tells us something about Nigeria, about ourselves, and how our future would be greatly affected by the our present decisions. So the inevitable question arises: What will determine our response to seeing the wrong man occupying Aso Rock? The answer is surprisingly obvious. So much that we have probably already experienced the answer in small ways in our families. The blame/praise for the event that would cause that regrettable response falls firmly on our shoulders. Isn't it high time we make the right decisions?
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