The cycle is repeating itself. Once again, election season is upon us and we are treading the same path that led us to the question of “Why do things never change in this country”? Call it a product of widespread political ignorance or a product of an insidious disenfranchisement system that systematically insulates Nigerian citizens from active political participation. Whatever name fits the bill, the open secret is that most Nigerians are unsatisfied with the way things have been run in this country and have no clue how to change it, and the answer might be in how we vote.
When we only view one side of a multi-diverse system of governance and deposit all of our expectations for change in the office of one person, it should not be surprising why our leaders fail in our eyes. Setting aside the state and local governments, in the national government alone, we do not have one leader, we have 469 leaders that are collectively mandated to represent our interests and ensure our general betterment. Yet, when the season of election arrives, all our energy is directed to the leader who we believe is going to magically change our lives, onto whom we are going to lay our expectations, and who we are going to blame for every shortcoming and dissatisfaction; the president.
Granted that at face value, the presidential candidates ostensibly seems to possess the power to create the change we desperately need, especially after listening to their verbiage of empty promises to secure votes during the campaign. However, in that illusion, we forget the indisputable reality that those powers are intricately embedded in the agency and constitutionality of the other 469 leaders that we give scant attention to, the branch of the government that represents the diversity, will, and desires of the people; the legislature.
If we sincerely desire to witness progress in our lives, we have to change our indifferent attitude towards who we elect to represent us in the national assembly and extend that energy to the other legislature at the state level. A simple definition of a legislature evinces how much power that branch of the government holds, a closer look at our constitution reveals the depth of those powers, and a brief assessment of everyday life in this country testifies to the extent to which those powers are brazenly being misused.
It is our responsibility to carefully vet the characters of those who wish to represent us, are they career politicians whose only political ideology is to stay in power irrespective of what party they align with? Or are they people who take the initiative to pursue our interest? We all know the former is the norm, not the exception. In our tunnel vision of selecting the next president, we neglect to thoroughly scrutinize the other 469 leaders and end up electing people who have turned their power over government spending into an avenue to pad budgets, inflate the cost of running the government and create rigidity and delay, who have turned the oversight function into a business of setting quid pro quo arrangements for kickbacks on government contracts, and whose self-designed Zonal Intervention Programme is basically a supplementary source of income. The litany of infractions perpetrated in our legislative branch is inexhaustible, and our votes are the reason why such events persist.
Progressive change in a government does not rest on the executive’s shoulders alone; it takes a collective will of all 3 branches of government, especially the two where our votes hold influence. We have to be smarter and ask tough questions the next time someone comes seeking re-election with the intention to distribute perishable items while wearing a spurious smile that reads “vote for me”.
Most of us are aware of these realities and feel despondent in this environment of abject dysfunction and lawlessness. We have a chance to do things differently this time. Ask yourself this. Is the man or woman whose poster I see on my way to make ends meet capable of representing my interest? Does he/she know the very basic task they’re supposed to perform? Or are they just aspiring to get a share of the cake and join the class of elite that do not have to play by the rules they are meant to set? Our collective progress is being held hostage by people whose self-interest prevails over national interest. It is time to liberate our country from their clutches by decisively casting our votes on who is best capable of representing us.
Kazaure wrote this piece from Abuja