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A honest account of Nigeria’s reviving political tsunami (I)

In the 2006 tsunami in South East Asia, domestic animals were said to have climbed to higher grounds while humans went picking easy fish on the beds of the receded beaches. Then the high water came and hundreds of thousands were dead in the unfortunate devastation. This story may not be entirely true, and not all domestic animals would have escaped, but when I heard the story it reminded me just how dead human instincts have become. Noise crowds out our instincts.  We have to be more perceptive, meditative, reflective and wary. A political tsunami is coming in 2019, ‘says the Lord’, but I don’t know what form it will take. For me, I have run to higher ground, by doing the only logical thing now; getting involved.  

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The oceanography institute says this about tsunamis;  “Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases.” 

What is happening on the political scene in Nigeria today is the clear beginning of a tsunami. For one, there are giant waves unseen on the surface and among our people right now. Nigerians are genuinely tired of the political rigmarole even if they have been reduced to nothing by weaponized poverty in the hands of our leading political elites.  The tsunami is beginning to make landfall and we can see that first with the number of jostlers for the presidency.  There are over 60 people from all walks of life and all persuasions gunning for Nigeria’s number one job; the presidency. Some are serious some are not. Some are extremely brilliant, some not so much. The public has asked that all these people merge and present just one of them which ‘they can rally around’. As sound as this logic looks, it also comes with some fatal flaws viz;

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1. Nigerians seem to think that the problem confronting them is an easy one and can be reduced to a binary option; either Buhari or one more person. I think contrary though. The socioeconomic and political problems facing Nigeria are complex and convoluted, and calls for  Nigerians to think deeper, work harder, lose more sleep, search more meticulously. I believe the focus should be on the ideas that each aspirant is pushing and proposing and their abilities to convince Nigerians to those ideas. By asking for just one person, many young Nigerians also reveal that they still want things served a la carte, simplified, put in a neat box for them – as usual. Just as we have always waited for power to be delivered to us at home, or preferably in bed, we also want the solution to be presented so simply so that we can just blindly walk to the polling booth on voting days and dreamily append our thumb on the right space, then return to our reverie – all the while fiddling on instagram and twitter on our smartphones. Chances are this idea will not work. Too simplistic for a country as screwed up as Nigeria. Nigerian youths especially must know that in all great countries, the youth got more actively, intelligently and philosophically involved. It’s a lot of hard work. 

2. If the aspirants come together so quickly to present a single consensus candidate, it will be so easy to clamp down on, clip the wings of, blackmail or intimidate such a candidate. This is high stakes warfare and every aspirant should know that he/she has taken on a death wish. I say it is better that the status quo is worried about 60 or 70 people tugging away and trying to remove them from office, than one person who sees him/herself as superstar. For now, we are tough to track, and are busy putting ideas into the heads of Nigerians through our daily multiple engagements with the press and social media as well as townhall meetings. The moment we choose and present one person, all others will stop spending or going through the troubles, even if they promise not to. I have seen how tough it is to get people in politics to spend on something which does not boost their chances, their own images, profiles or egos. The investment behind the change of status quo is therefore directly proportional to the number of players on the field. And so also is the impact dependent on how many people are putting their monies behind this project in their own different ways. Let the public endure the momentary confusion while we sort things out.  Finances apart, it is better for the project of rewiring and reorienting Nigerians that 70 people are speaking to TV stations, Radio Stations, engaging on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WhatsApp and the rest, than just one lone struggling sheep. If we have observed the animal kingdom we will see that opportunistic predators like hyenas always like to quickly isolate their prey from the herd. Together the herd is strong and can defend itself. I believe that the coming together can take place a month to the elections. For now, we owe it a duty to our nation to spend our money, time, connections, network, goodwill and other resources to educate and energize our circle of influence. That is how tsunamis are built up. These are the actions and activities strengthening the waves in the depth of the political sea. 

3. The process of arriving at the ‘consensus’ candidate must be thorough, drawn-out, and owned by the public. There is nothing to be in a hurry about in such a critical decision.  Except we want to have a roughshod result, which will defeat the purpose and be worse than the crowded field we want to avoid. 

I told some of my co-aspirants that I would prefer a situation where we beef up our team before taking any decision to present anyone. As many of these 60-70 aspirants should be contacted and brought to the fold.  Then we should take the decision to the public by organizing the ‘debate before the debate’, and the ‘election before the elections’. Nothing will seize the current lousy narrative of ‘defection’ or it is ‘defecation’ politics, like when the public starts to get direct insight into our efforts to produce that single candidate. Nothing will seize public imagination and attention more than this.  Another great danger is that if a few choose one of theirs, the remaining multitude who did not join the ‘consensus team’ are not bound by that decision. So it will be a waste of time. More importantly if the public is part of the process by seeing the debates and even by voting, then naturally the consensus choice would have gained the buy-in of a considerable portion of the voting populace.


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