When promises hold no water

Gabriel Osu

Gabriel Osu

As a young man, I was always fond of watching our political leaders make promises, especially during election campaigns. Even as an adult, I observe that not much has changed. It is still the same culture of promises failed. A typical campaign rally is very interesting to behold. Venue is a large expanse of land flowing with party faithful and rented crowd for the purpose of adding some credibility to the whole show.

There is usually a heavy presence of law enforcement agents positioned at strategic locations. Close to a high, well-decorated elevated platform is a popular musician hired to thrill the crowd to frenzy. Decked in colourful but flowing agbada and babariga attires, the politicians soon take time to climb the stage one-by-one, chanting party slogans and mesmerising the crowd with their rhetoric. Many of them are truly gifted orators who can compete with the best of actors on stage.

They tell their followers what they want to hear: free education for all; free healthcare for every citizen; uninterrupted electricity; thriving industries; employment for all. They promise to even build houses for the masses on planet Mars. All they ask of you in exchange is your vote.

Now, in a democracy, like the type we practice, there is really nothing wrong with anyone or a group of people aspiring for public offices in a legitimate manner. It is the norm in most leading economies of the world, but ours is a peculiar case. Why? Very few of our public officers fulfil their campaign promises when they get to power. Indeed, our politicians are good at making empty promises and taking care of their private and family needs at the detriment of the masses that voted them into power.

If you doubt me, take another look at the history of our political landscape over the years and tell me if we have truly advanced in any of the areas they often hammer on during their campaigns. Do we now have housing for all? Are our healthcares better? Are there thriving job opportunities for our teeming graduates? When are we likely to get to the promised land? I doubt if it will happen in our generation.

Some may ask why are things this way? Could it be that most of our politicians are ill-prepared or ignorant of the expectations from a public officer? Or, like someone once opined, could it be that they are wired with a different type of gene once they clinch political positions such that they lose touch with the yearnings of the masses? Only recently Reuben Abati made some unusual revelations that there were dark forces at the seat of power warring against the growth and development of this nation. He said no matter how well-meaning those in powers are, once they begin to frolic with the paraphernalia that comes with power, they soon lose touch with reality and begin to operate in reverse gear.

Of course, those concerned have come out to debunk the claims. But is it just enough to wave-off those postulations as irrelevant? How else can one explain the glaring inconsistencies in government policies and implementations over the years? How do one explain the numerous unfulfilled promises and hopes dashed as a result of the numerous flaws in the actions and inactions of the political class? How do you explain the ‘docile’ nature of the masses and civil societies; their failure to speak out when appropriate for their rights and demand accountability? Something is wrong somewhere. The political contraptions in this country have failed us. 
• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

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Gabriel Osu
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