The Nigeria i pray to some day see
I wrote the post below just as the 2009 US presidential elections were at a climax, in fact at that time, i wrote many articles about the political machinery. I have decided to share my thoughts through this blog. This blog will be a hybrid between the Nigerian political process; our constant struggle for a true and honest electoral process, and the American process which i follow passionately and with great admiration.
The last year and a half have been extremely exhilarating and engaging, I have followed the American political process with great enthusiasm and perhaps with a pinch of jealousy hoping this was my country’s political process in play. The election sent shock waves all around the world, not just because of the history making leading contenders Hillary Clinton- the first real female contender for office of president and Barack Obama the first African American to become the flag bearer of a major political party; but because the whole status quo of American politics has probably been shattered. A woman, an African American? Yes, I know what you are thinking never in your life time did you think you would see this. But as much as this historic process has given me great joy and pride it is testament to the greatness of the American people, I can’t help but be broken in my chain of thoughts- to stop and compare this process to that of my beloved country Nigeria; the differences cannot be clearer. I however see it from a different angle; one of deep thought and comparison. One imbedded with many “whys”?
I have paused to ponder, to ask myself why I am so interested in this process after all I am not an American, I cannot vote and it is very unlikely that I will be in the US long enough to have a stake in the country’s political metamorphosis. But the more I watch, the more I cannot but help but ask why Africa and Nigeria in particular is so far away from a real and genuine political process. One that really respects the vote of its franchised, one that challenges its citizenry to be part of its political process, to hope and believe in the country built with years of sacrifice from our forefathers and that together there is no height we can not attain as a nation. One not marred by the corruption, the very plague we have wrestled with for the past 50 years and has eaten into the fabric of our culture.
I am in awe of the American political process, its not perfect we all know that every system has its short comings, but its greatest strength is its ability to shift the focus to the voters, and the power the voters know they have to elect whoever they want .This is very interesting, and is at the crux of this conversation. Comparing Nigeria, a “giant” of Africa, rich in oil, extremely educated, gifted and talented people with the political experience America offers is a topic i cannot resist.
In Nigeria, and I dare say Africa as a whole with the exception of a few countries (maybe) elections are not an avenue for people to express their preferences rather the process is more like a selection – the winners are hand picked by a corrupt powerful few.Before the race is run the winner is known. That has been our story and this has deprived the country of its greatest minds. Minds that have left the richness and hope of Nigeria and have immersed themselves into different parts of the world ” the developed countries”
It might not be fair to draw parallel comparisons between both political processes, because America has been an independent nation since 1776 and Nigeria just gained her independence in 1960. But a major point of note, is that talking to Nigerians who grew up in the sixties they tell you things were much better than they are now. In other words we are worse off now than we were forty or so years ago. That’s the big problem, while America has no doubt made great strides in the last forty years technologically and with its infrastructure, we have been stuck in the same spot, and that’s being very modest.
Every year, thousands of the best educated and skilled Nigerians leave the country, most of them never to return, because they feel hopeless and that they can never see a secured future for themselves. But why? All the ingredients of success are present: we are a large oil producer, and a wealthy country with great growth prospects. But this is why they leave; they have no belief in the system and that’s our greatest obstacle. The Americans hold on to the American dream however dim it may be at certain time, but we have no dream, we have nothing to hold on to, no respect for our country and saddest of all we have no belief in Nigeria. The average man on the street tells you nothing can be done,simply put; it’s a lost battle. The level of corruption is above the Richter scale.
I pray for the day I will see a Nigeria free of corruption, uninterrupted power supply, crime free, an educated police force and leaders who are dedicated to fighting for the average man on the street. But the reality is that I don’t think i will see this in my lifetime, and I am still just in my late twenties.
We need a new awakening of our intellectual, spiritual and creative minds, we need to hopefully be inspired by the election of Barack Obama, that with great vision and leadership we can make a full turn around. We can bring our country out of the depths of corruption, to the hills of prosperity and unto the valleys of hope. But only with a lot of determination and sacrifice.
We Nigerians, need to come back and rebuild our country wherever we may be around the world. It’s not going to be easy but it’s a sacrifice we have to make for future generations. We need to do what is right and gradually affect people around us with our attitude of change. And for those of us who have lived abroad and have witnessed the workings of a developed nation, let us take all those years as an indoctrination to come and spread the gospel of CHANGE