2015 elections should not get our hearts troubled in our father’s house
“Let not your mind be troubled” ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you…”
-John chapter 14 verse 1-2
The above reference, no doubt, contrasts sharply with the untrustworthy, unreliability and insincerity of an average politician as well as the attitudes and lack of focus of Nigerians/electorate who often facilitate the emergence of dishonest elected officials in public offices.
The house in this proverbial statement of the Holy Bible represents Nigeria in this write- up. Nigeria is every Nigerian citizen’s house. Nigeria which is our Father’s house will not only outlive us but remain eternal and immortal as long as the world exists. The literal meaning of mansion, also in the sense of this piece, is the aesthetic nature or outstanding beauty of any house. So, both politicians and electorate are supposed to be the proverbial mansions and use their God-given talents, potentials and ingenuity to turn things around for better and make Nigeria, which is our permanent Father’s house great forever. The beauty here is not mere physical appearance but the soul and mind which serve as the engine for the body. Few will subscribe to the fact that even, if our Father’s house were built and designed by the British who colonised us, the mansions (that is the politicians and electorate) took over the bunch of keys to the house as the real owners since October 1, 1960 and have been managing it since then.
We may have accused the European powers who created African states during the era of scrambling and partition, particularly at the Berlin Conference of 1884/85. No one will deny the fact that one of the achievements of this exercise was the peaceful laying of the foundation of various states with distinct borderlines. Just consider if this was not done at the conference. Perhaps Africans would have locked horns in bloody clashes in a bid to create countries of their own or get it wrong outrightly because of their little or very limited geographical, anthropological and historical knowledge required for such an exercise. Agreed! The exercise at the conference was carried out to serve the interests of European powers in attendance but if such project were that easy, the African leaders would have summoned another conference to recreate and redesign what was perceived as an abnormality. The fact remains; the outcome of Berlin Conference has been the basis and foundation on which we exist. Whether we have been electing the right people to administer our Father’s house is another matter.
The system through which the electorate elects leaders is systematically corrupted and defective. The fault is not entirely that of politicians who are ready to spend their last kobo to twist and win the conscience of electorate in order to get elected. The electorates have a lion’s share of the faulty and corrupt electoral system. It has now become a tradition that if you do not have money to spend lavishly you cannot win election in Nigeria. This faulty system has created wider space for rogues, miscreants and misguided elements of all sorts to dominate the electioneering process, because they have money in excess which is the basic thing required in politics to get elected. The electorate who ought to drill and screen the candidates before the elections, now waits anxiously to make more money from them. He (electorate) forgets the fact that any politician who capitalises on distributing money to win an election will hardly execute programmes that will change the society positively and improve the lives of the masses. The main agenda of money-bag politicians, to use the Nigerian parlance, has always been to buy the conscience of a majority of the electorate and use their period in office to serve their own selfish interest.
As noted earlier, the masses allow the situation to be like this. They make the politicians to see every period of election as a time of investment, and the expectation from any investment is nothing but profit. When you make yourself available for their monetary gifts rather than programmes, the politicians will eagerly satisfy your lust for material things and hope to replenish their bank accounts from what they invested during campaign. This scenario played out in the just concluded primaries held by political parties to field candidates for various elections. Most of the candidates who emerged were the highest bidders who paid the delegates more. In this kind of system where gerrymandering, which means money and gifts rather than integrity and credibility offered and accepted, determines who get elected, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for even heavenly angels to contest elections and win. The gerrymandering has become so pronounced that it has entered the Nigerian political lexicon as ‘’stomach infrastructure.” The phrase has gained unbelievable currency, demonstrating how low our values have been desecrated.
It is not natural or normal that the country is almost 100 years behind where it is supposed to be in terms of development. There have been allegations galore, excuses upon excuses that the military incursion into politics retarded development. Now that the civil rule has been in place, the country has not been going forward. If politicians and electorate do not have attitudinal change over gerrymandering politics, they should realise that for God will not do for any man what He has given him mental and physical abilities to do for himself. God Himself testifies to this in the Holy Qu’ran in chapter 13 verse 11 “…Surely Allah changes not the conditions of a people, until they change their own condition…” Spending time and praying in churches and mosques are not the only tools needed to hinder bad or corruptible elements from winning elections and ruling us. This is obvious. Many Nigerians are prayer warriors and they put Nigeria in prayer at a critical time like this. Not that the Creator will not hearken to the supplications, but He has given us freewill and a choice to determine the calibre of leaders we want for ourselves through our votes.
There are many signs to show that the Creator accepts our prayers over Nigeria—our Father’s house, in the earthly sense. One of such signs is the oneness of the country which has been difficult to break in spite of numerous challenges and negative predictions by soothsayers from the West. Two, elections since the return of democracy in 1999 have been strengthening the country. Three, the country remains the leading and most shining for other African countries in the area of economy. If we have been this divinely guided and lucky, we should not expect Him to come down and elect ideal, incorruptible and good leaders for us when He has endowed us with knowledge, wisdom and intelligence to know what is good from what is bad.
We are good copiers in this country. We have copied many things that are working for us. For instance, Nigeria copied presidential system of government from United States (USA) in 1979. Also, Nigeria carefully and effectively followed the footsteps of U.S. in healing the pains and wounds of the civil war of the late 1960s through the implementation of the three Rs- reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation. These are just few examples of good things we copied which worked and are still working for us. In line with this, Nigerian politicians and electorate should strive to emulate America and Americans in the way they package and organise their electoral system which limits electoral fraud to the barest minimum and become a toast of the world. The electoral system in the U.S. is so developed that the common man takes cognizance of antecedents and integrity of candidates seeking elections. The candidates with questionable character or who may not deliver if elected will not bother to contest as it is the case here. Political parties, on their part, scrutinise, screen and present the candidates that are sellable in order not to smear their image on the Election Day.
This positive attitude of the Americans towards their electoral system has evidently helped them to achieve their unrivalled growth, development and greatness. It is, therefore, advisable that all stakeholders in the electoral system copy the U.S. electoral system and aggressively implement it.
“Stomach infrastructure” can only promote underdevelopment rather than development, because the products of such a system are bad and corruptible. The electorate have bigger role to play in correcting these anomalies. They must be on the alert so that they are not deceived. Politicians themselves must learn to leave they must learn good legacies which is what politicians in other climes preoccupy themselves with. There is no legacy that can be better than facilitating human and capital development in all spheres of life. Our parties and politicians should strive to surpass this feat. There is no other way to achieve this than do right thing in the interest of the people and the country at large.
Nigeria-our Father’s house is big and spacious with numerous valuable mineral resources, what is lacking is faultless and incorruptible electoral system that will facilitate and ensure the election of ideal leaders to run and manage it for us. Our hearts will not be troubled after this year’s elections, only if we do the right thing by electing credible candidates for all positions to manage Nigeria.
Olawole is a historian and public affairs analyst in Lagos.