In a certain land, not faraway, preparations for elections are underway. Feverish excitement and political activities are deafening. Social media totally awash with subtle campaign and endorsement posts. Very young people, sure their world view is the only available route, forcefully drive their narratives. Eight months (February 2023) since a long time away.
Starry-eyed youths, eager to change their country, are in over-drive, confident of victory. Their arguments seem intelligible, rational and best for the country. For too long they’ve been stuck with mediocrity, misgovernance and mismanagement of their future and destiny. They want a new lease of life. They are so excited they won’t take it easy with anyone pointing out obvious stumbling blocks and challenges along the way. They want to see a new day. They seem desperate for change. Good and commendable. But.
Funny enough, they even expect you to join them as they jump up and down in excitement.
They don’t seem to have the patience to search out how they became woke in the first place. Who and what opened their eyes. Folks who deliberately inspired the awareness in the land today, at great personal cost, and secretly prayed for this day. Are there hidden facts they all could still learn from folks who activated the awareness?
But the rulers and those who held and still holds the land hostage, seem uncomfortable with the woke generation and for good reason. And the beat goes on.
The old guard seem all too confident of victory, not because the population are in love with their style of leadership, that brought us here, but simply because they know they are totally and completely in absolute control of all the necessary institutions in the land. They also know that the religious, ethnic and regional divisions, help them manipulate the system to their advantage. So as the breeze of the ongoing political awareness and electoral revival blow noisily all around them, they remain unperturbed, sharing positions and allotting offices to themselves during their pre election nocturnal meetings.
They seem to live in an entirely different world from the helpless masses of the country. They are the owners of the land. They know they will put pepper into the eyes of the over-excited youths. They know they’ll only begin to take the hyper-aroused youths serious after the February 2023 polls. And prepare to counter and contain them towards 2027 and 2031 polls, all things being equal.
They know they are absolutely in charge of the security agencies, the armed forces and all allied paramilitary institutions, including the umpire of the polls. They know they have husbanded incredible resources for the battle in February. A battle they see themselves as garlanded and well-decorated veterans. A battle where morality, justice and the good of the land, doesn’t matter. A battle where the winner takes it all.
They take advantage of the grave poverty and deprivation they afflicted the land with, they know these facts will always work in their favour. The people will cry for a while, loose in the courts and the beat goes on. They’ve not just done it before, they know they’ve done this for decades. They aren’t bothered one bit. They see themselves as masters of the game. Do the excited youngsters have any strategy to contain this?
Between this unfolding developments and the uncanny reality of a vicious, predatory leadership cabal, lies the likely outcome.
Either the aggrieved long oppressed masses effect desirable change through the ballot box, or the ruthless oppresive cabal continues with their mindless stranglehold on the land, by deploying ethnic, religious and regional divide, intimidation, stomach infrastructure and abuse of institutions as usual. Every citizen’s opinion on this grave matter, bothers on which side of the divide one finds himself.
Activists who have been sounding the alarm for decades that consensual devolution of powers and reverse to true federalism, remains the sensible route to save the land, currently seem unpopular, as everyone seems fixated on campaigns and elections.
The people strangely believe that votes will count this time around and that the elections will be free and fair. Nobody is interested in studying past developments. Nobody cares about the likely conduct and outcome of the February 2023 polls. All eyes are expectantly on favourable outcome come February 2023. Everybody believes therein lies all the solutions to our miseries as a people.
Whereas a successful ballot box revolution seems desirable and needful, how about the sad and stark realities.
The agitation that inspired the new consciousness is forgotten. The activists who risked their very lives creating the awareness, are no longer useful. Even their opinion borne out of painful hindsight is hurriedly disregarded, as election frenzy rule the land. The cheap assumption that power will ultimately change hands come 2023, seems to blind the thought and vision of even discerning members of the public.
The promises of Eldorado both by the old guard and the prospective alternatives, seem clearly unrealistic under the 1999 constitution.
The uncanny reality that will hit the land after the February 2023 polls juxtaposed against the current unfolding developments will present a course of study in the chequered annals of the land. The falcon can’t hear the falconer.
I gently plead with ye’all, to save this and go through it again next February. My conclusion: We should worry more about the unjust and unkind unitary structure that makes it impossible for the land to thrive. Elections come and go, but the fact that our political structure needs urgent review and revisit remains the incontrovertible truth.
Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko is the founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA).