A man fainted outside Mr Biggs in Port-Harcourt and soon a crowd formed around him. Then a passerby suggested: " give him an orange, it will help." the man opened one eye and said: “go away! If na orange i want i for faint in front of fruit market--Ndubuisi Victor Ogwuda via Prince Segebee
First my apologies that the title of this discourse is not sounding as intellectual as I'd like it to sound but I have decided to use the above title as it best illustrates our next journey which commences in a couple of days. In the last one year, I have been on various campaign trails and trains, excluding the over 7 hours inugural train journey from Lagos-Ibadan. Different individuals, different parties, largely same ideology or an almost lack of it. You do not need a soothsayer to tell us that it is likely to be a journey to a pre-determined end.
We are fixated with what we think we want, when indeed a large teeming number of us do not know what we want. We seem to be in the same direction, like the man that fainted in front of Mr. Biggs, we are only on a journey of self-deceit because we have refused to deal with some of the core issues. In many a state without fail, whether PDP, ACN, CPC, CBN or GTB, it is the picture of the governor tied to that of either goodluck/sambo or that of buhari, and in that order the picture of the governor with other candidates. We are yet to get that mindset needed to move...
'Everything get as e be', in another local parlance we say, somehow-somehow, anyhow-anyhow, the French say comme ci comme ça, and Germans say Wie dies so...I dare say we die so. Very little may change before we head to the polls but the fact remains that very little has changed in our political culture. With all the recent last minute uncertainties and clashes, we are far from Uhuru, it’s as usual possible that no violence may follow the polls whether rigged or not. Social and liberal scientists and artists alongside anthropologists insists that a country's politics is a reflection of its culture, as we head towards these polls, no doubt it is evident, that our culture is in display.
While it remains a subject of debate, we are certainly getting what we deserve as a people, while others argue that there is no systematic study that demonstrates that we cannot get it right, however today from Jos, Maidugiri, to Abeokuta, Yenogoa and Uyo, it has been violence, thuggery and arson. Since independence we have toyed, experimented and moved from parliamentary democracy, military rule, presidential democracy, and cimilcy (civil/military rule). We have seen civil war, a tortuous eight year transition prgram, an annulment and an interim government.
Different shades of electoral bodies, different styles of ballot, fact remains despite all the billions expended, we may be on the road, but we are nowhere near, in regard of political culture...'e get as e be'. It would not be gainsaying to accept that as the case with counterfactual propositions, it is only in Nigeria, that Nigerian politics can exist. Even Obama would fall prey, our current status is a function of our operating political culture. Beyond the ordinary, such as norms, values, tribal marks, spoken language accent, religion, we have rather than harness growth and stability from them and exploited our weakness therefore the obvious failure that is inherent in the system.
In 50 years our political culture has largely been that of coups, constitution-making, transition, siren-blowing, party formation and looting. We have failed to cultivate a national democratic or leadership culture for which structures of meaning can unfold. As we go to the polls next month, I dare say that because our government both as an institution, system, and process is embedded in a faulty political culture, we are only gambling with hope. We are trying hard to build a political culture that protests against unpopular government, which demands resignation of a corrupt leader to face the law and one which no one is above the law, a government where good governance is a norm and not only found in the pages of newspapers or interviews but there for everyone to see.
For us a people, our lack of knowledge of, government opinion particularly in terms of accountability, probity and good governance accounts partly for the e get as e be attitude. There has been no conscious effort at treating our mixed political culture, we seem to be on the run from it or living in self-denial, we as a people are born out of a mixture of historical factors, some supportive of democracy, others not, terms such as nationalism, patriotism and even Nigeria, are being used and defined circumstantially. By a function of Northernism or Southernism, we have constantly played by a winner takes all and loser fights all.
In a structurally and imposed togetherness, we all agree we are meant to be a great nation, a great people, but have refused to find the perfect blend of accommodation and assimilation that can help us manipulate our diversity to give credence to the statement. Yet the April polls gives us yet another opportunity to start a journey, though faced with the least qualified ones, we can make our votes count by standing by our choices and let the ballot speak, and electoral culture can start even though e get as e bi.
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