BY RECHARD MAMMAH
Dissatisfied with the mode of governance of the nation, particularly in the years following the return to civil rule in 1999, many Nigerians yearned to be rid of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party that had held the reins of power during the period under reference. Their wish came true in the 2015 polls.
However, since that outcome and the resulting less-than-salutary performance of the new APC-led administration, there is not a little soul-searching going on as to whether indeed this is the change that the nation craved.
The answer is yes and no. Proponents of change wanted the PDP gone. They got that. What they failed to do, like many people that this writer knows, routinely also fail to do, was to comprehensively see through the day after change comes. That is our dilemma today.
Indeed, one of the real tragedies of life is to get what we want and not recognize it. But that does not negate the fact that it has come and will indeed take a life of its own. And this is a truth that has held through generations. Some examples would suffice:
For our first witness, let the reader see how the Bible records the change story as it has to do with the emergence of Jesus the man on earth and how his immediate constituency, the Jews, took it:
‘He came to his own but his own received him not but as many as received him to them gave He the power to be called sons of God.’
The French revolution is another change moment that went out of the box. Beginning as essentially lower and underclass bread riots, it was to subsequently metamorphose into a middle class freedom march that left the world, the grand doctrines of Liberty and Equality.
And for our third example, we will remain in West Africa and indeed go down to neighbouring Mali, where many years of poor governance and dictatorship had opened the door for the flourishing of a wave of rebellions and then the entry of Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. In the midst of this, an interim government that had been put in place to stem this tide began to spend more time on its own self-succession gambit! The people were incensed. They marched on the presidential palace, beat up the head of the government and the joker had to be evacuated to France for medical treatment. The lesson had been learnt: the nation moved on to successful elections and the associated containment of the insurgency.
The foundation well established, let us return to the difficulties that Nigerians are presently having with their own change moment. For the textbook simpleton, this was supposed to be a simple, easy and cosy ride in which the hard-fighting leader of the opposition pack and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would saunter into the villa every day from his close-by lodgings, confer almost exclusively with President Muhammadu Buhari at every turn and the result of these meetings would be carried out stresslessly in the national interest and for the greater good of ‘we, the people.’ Sorry sir, change does not work that way; revolutions do not come easy!
And the reason is simple. Unlike in the laboratory of the physical sciences, where experiments are largely controlled and totally regulated activities, in the social laboratory of life, it is a matter of dialectics and dynamics. Here change takes place around a more intriguing constellation of variables, some historical, some a-historical, some psychological, some biological; some comprehensible, some incomprehensible; some scientific, some non-scientific, some mild, some not-so-mild; some personal, some public, some emotional, some non-emotional, some benign, some radical; this is what is playing out before our eyes today.
What did you go out to see? Jesus asked his disciples after the disciples of John had come to see him with a very depressing message from the Baptist asking him to confirm if he was indeed the messiah or should they wait for another!’ The scars of war had taken its toll on the fighter and Jesus wanted to be sure that his disciples were able to get the deeper import of what was unfolding before their very eyes. And in the same breadth, we ask, Nigerians, what exactly is the change that you were looking for? Did you define it correctly? Have you received it definitely? Do you need more time for it to unfold? Whatever your response is however, the truth really is this; Nigeria, your change is here already and you will do well to embrace it, warts and all.
It is in the 72 year old you voted in as President. It is in the fights within the factions of the ruling APC. It is in the emergence of Saraki and Dogara as the incumbent head honchos of the National Assembly. It is in the exit of Jonathan. It is in the ongoing fight for the BOT chair of the APC. It is in the regrouping of the PDP. It is in the media searchlight on missing monies, probe of institutions and officials, and the continuing clamour for a better governance space. It is in the continued flourishing of the Boko Haram insurgency; Nigeria your change is here!
The question is therefore not whether we have change but whether it is the change we indeed want and going forward, what we are going to do about it? And as we hold a mirror up to the change that we are going through, the thing to do then would be very clear to us. Nigeria, cut off the illusion; quit the grumbling; confront your change!!
It is this inability to properly define the change we want to see that makes us to be shortchanged or to miss it when it is here with us.
In every change situation however, there is equally the potential for non-change. So discernment is everything. For the majority of our people, this would not be a problem. Change would be more hours of electricity supply at justiceable rates. Change would be a society with fewer crimes being committed and one with zero tolerance for violence, be it domestic or insurgent. It would be a state where leaders serve and lead and not gorge themselves obese on the resources of the people. Change would be a society where the rule of law thrives, where merit is the order of the day, where hard work is valued, where schools once more are education centres, where life is meaningful, healthy and chic. If this is what you are getting now, then give God praise; but if it is not, please roll up your sleeves and work harder at it, citizen: your struggle has only just begun.