Only the truth shall set us free, By Elliot Uko

The electioneering fever is raging, and excitement, hope and dreams rule our hearts. Political parties are in season. Issues that have shaped discourse for years, are aggregating thoughts, decisions and narratives. Flicker of hope arises in the hearts of the younger generation, that the country could be salvaged. Old war horses remain pessimistic about the future of the land. Politicos dutifully pretend they hold the answers. Reality hides in-between.

Finally the PVC revolution advocated for by certain activists I know, gladly becomes a reality. But a lot remains to be done. More machines, more centres and security for prospective voters, are needed. It doesn’t really matter that the PVC revolution took off late. It doesn’t matter that it was only taken seriously, just recently. The important thing is that our people have woken up and the electoral process and our fledging democracy is gonna be deepened.

The election eight months away, promises to be like no other before it. Surprises are possible. Participation by the beleaguered and hapless electorate will be huge. Welcome development.

But does this mean that votes will truly count this time around? Will owners of Naija allow voters to decide? Have those bent on disenfranchising certain ethnic groups resident in their region repented? Are we eventually going to have a peaceful, credible poll?

Will the emergence of a new President next year vitiate the truth that our structural deficiencies which gave birth to most of our challenges as a country, be altruistically, consensually and sincerely addressed.

Is it possible to grow and make Nigeria great under this current suffocating unitary structure? Will the election of your friend, neighbour, kinsman or preffered choice, change the hard truth and unflattering fact that no individual, no matter how gifted, can possibly transform Nigeria positively under this centralised 1999 constitution?

Can our excitement over the election of our man, associate, party’s candidate, tribesmen, hero, miraculously remove the unattractive reality, that only a return to true federalism and devolution of powers, can actually heal Nigeria?

Will the disappointing reality that some people just do not want to hear about the inevitable restructuring of the country, suddenly make 2023 elections the be-all and end-all solution to the numerous ailments plaguing Nigeria?

Is it really true that once your, brother, man or preferred candidate is elected, legislator, Governor, Vice President or President, that all our problems vanishes and the suffocating unitary structure hindering our progress will no longer matter? Questions.

The political actors are still working on their manifesto, but they all assure us electing them will transform our country. But we heard same stories in 2007, 2011, and 2015. They are singing the same song yet again. Funny.

Bola Tinubu and his team believe he will win. They are hoping on oiling, recalibrating amd strengthening the South West/North alliance that brought Buhari to power seven years ago. A coalition built more on anger over Jonathan’s close relationship with the region they militarily crushed in 1970, and a determination to remove and isolate the recalcitrant region, than on truly rejuvenating and redeeming the land.

He and his Northern political allies, relishing their recent ability in humbling the Presidency during the party primaries are riding stubbornly on a North/South West coalition that hopes to exchange baton between themselves moving forward, establishing themselves as the new power base. Tinubu didn’t even bother to campaign in the South East, same thing Buhari did eight years ago. “We can run Nigeria without them, they surrounded Jonathan prancing about like drunken peacocks, we’ll teach them a lesson ”

The alliance strategically reaches out to embrace just the middle belt, probably only willing to poach votes from the South East and South South, while wholly banking on the North West, North East and South West as their power base.

Atiku Abubakar on the hand, hopes on the nation wide support base of his party which is the oldest and largest, with structures in all 774 local government councils. He also isn’t seriously courting the South East, but strategically picked an Igbo from South South. He is simply counting on appropriating the cultural and traditional fanatical Northern sentiment and emotions of preference for one of their own, since the only threat to that, Mohammadu Buhari, will not be on the ballot for the first time in 20 years. He certainly will reach discreet deals with traditional rulers, Islamic clergy and influential opinion leaders of the entire North to work out a deal where Northerners are encouraged to vote any other party of their choice at the legislative and Governorship elections, but choosing him at the Presidential poll, in order to retain power in their region. He seems confident of victory.

Peter Obi pushed by other Nigerians as the preffered choice of his abandoned and disregarded South East brethren, isn’t actually the Igbo candidate. Rather he represents the aggregated anger of the younger generation of Nigerians, frustrated with the country and the hopelessness in the land.

He smartly appropriated the anger over the inanity that has become standard character of our land, promising a breath of fresh air. Flaunting a credible pedigree and burning desire to enact change, he cleverly presented himself as a desirable alternative to the asinity and absurdities in the land.

Having successfully sold himself to the larger aggrieved population of the land, especially the younger generation, his people had no choice, but adopt him as the hope of the people. His relatively small platform, isn’t a plus, but the anger and frustration in the land, and the ongoing PVC revolution, may help him swing surprises.

All the other candidates can only make impact if they build alliance with others. That’s all about the almighty 2023 elections and the prominent actors.

But this hard reality of the season, does not in anyway remove the truth about the stark reality of our sad situation: Which is that the poverty, unemployment, hunger, animosity, sectarianism, sleaze, insecurity, and agitation ravaging the land, is derived from the fear, lack of interest and loss of faith by sections of the country.

Issues inspired by broken and weak institutions, nepotism, mediocrity, impunity and prebendalism, all as a result of centralised structure that concentrates all power at the centre denying the federating units breathing space and empowerment to thrive, resulting to salaries, pensions and other emoluments owed marooned population, deepening the suffering and despair in the land.

Continuing to deceive ourselves, won’t resolve the issue. The need to reconstruct our polity is imperative and urgent.

Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko is the founder of Igbo Youth Movement and secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly.


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