The Voter As Servant Of The Elected

The Voter As Servant Of The Elected
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Sanusi Muhammad

Greed, corruption, sycophancy and materialism have failed the world overtime. Compulsive philistines and prescient think-tanks attack grievous social problems- mostly self-inflicted with paper bullets. They are peashooters trying to collapse Gibraltar.

In the present Nigeria, we see combustive ‘change’ pulse with lust and self-interest among political personae.

But the electorate it seems not to know, better or in self denial for crumbs. Sadly, they shamelessly fall for the same ruse and garbage as ‘service’ delivery or constituency project or whatever.

Both politicians and electorates are, however, caught in a familiar cycle of cannibalism, often enacted by characters who, attack and retreat in obsessive rhythms of victory and defeat.

The electorate has caught the deadly Sappho’s fever; that is why voters recycle their familiar tormentors via the ballot box.

They have unconsciously caught the bug hence they sway to the melody of supernal choirs and vanish to the lure of infernal conductors-or deceptive politicians if we like. The politics of domination by deceit, violence, intimidation and threats of arrests of critics and deep pockets is implicit in Nigerian culture, and this escalates at charged historical moments,

like the present. Even in the throes of the corona virus aka Covid-19, large segments of the pitiful electorates ignored the ravage of glaring bad governance, and went to war, online and offline, to defend the  honor of the presiding oligarchs.

Ultimately, they guard against their tormentors’ right to keep exploiting and dominating them which is a clear thinking of hoping against hope.

The tormentor is a sadist. He provides only what can feed the hungry a meal but cannot provide sustainable source of livelihood for fear of the obvious. We have seen this happen in almost all governments from 1999 to date. It’s a function of ignorance at its best. I would call it the ritualization of eye and mind to witlessness.

The bêtise of such heedlessness manifests around us in real time. The eye and mind elect narcissistic, bigoted personae as galvanizing objects, and then formalize the relation via votes at election time.

Ignorance is the first rung of the ladder leading directly to death. It precedes the plunge to nothingness. Nigeria must be guided by this truth through the pandemic. Our increasing vulnerability to Covid-19, for instance, is yet another manifestation of our plummet down the steep vale of ignorance.

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It was ignorance that drove State Governors and some local government chairmen to acquire toxic chemicals to rid the public space of Corona Virus via fumigation. Against the rule of wisdom and uncommon sense, they dumped toxic chemicals on ignorant communities in their domain as preventive measure and solution to Corona Virus, while their aides and sycophants cheered and polluted the media space with contrived photo ops. What a pity!

Cleaning with simple disinfectants and providing sanitization stations in public places were much cheaper, more sensible alternatives that were ignorantly or greedily avoided but the supposed state agents needed to flaunt fumigation gizmo in exaggerated onslaughts against Corona Virus in public space.

Disinfectants are ill-suited for dispersal via fogging machines, they are solvents applied to surfaces to kill microbes argues some experts. Rather than drown the citizenry in poisonous fumes, the governors could have redirected their energies and resources at more simplified testing, humane quarantine measures, contact-tracing, physical distancing awareness, and efficient, sincere distribution of palliatives.

Ignorance and greed stirred the initial reluctance of the health and science ministries, to explore opportunities presented in the nation’s herbal endowments at fighting Corona Virus and any homegrown palliative or vaccine by any other African country.

For instance, a prominent public functionary revealed a source, wished that Madagascar’s herbal therapy, Covid-Organics failed at clinical trials because they were wary of losing contingency funding and ‘lootable’ loans accessible via international lenders.

A clinical evaluation of the spending of the contingency fund of N984million ($2.7million) reportedly released to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the additional N6.5billion ($18million) mooted afterward must be done by relevant state agencies, the media and civil societies.

Likewise the expenditure of the N500biillion Covid-19 Crisis Intervention Fund purportedly established for the upgrade of healthcare facilities at the National and State levels, must be done to ascertain if the fund administrators truly committed the funds to target projects.

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Right now, there are no social safety measures and intervention schemes for society’s handicapped; the deaf, blind, homeless are left to the ravage of the elements. Leprosariums, orphanages, geriatric homes, to mention a few, are ignored in the ongoing intervention efforts.

Although, the governor Bala Muhammed of Bauchi state remains an exception in this category as the only known governor known to have attended to the needs of the disable and the most wretched. 

Before Corona Virus, Nigeria was grappling and still grappling with terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, child and sex trafficking, sex- for- marks, armed robbery, banditry, cattle rustling, homelessness, mental health problems, divorce, collapse of the economy and corruption of the family unit.

These are social problems requiring sustainable welfare policies but the country’s leaders for lack of visionary and humane leadership have denied the people such benefits. In place, remnants of hoarded donated food items with most as expired grains and other eatables are moved to the rural areas as palliative. In some cases, the palliatives once consumed become sources of other killer diseases with no functional and effective healthcare delivery for succor. What a sad situation to contend.

Currently, there is no social welfare programme that offers healthcare assistance, non-discriminatory entrepreneurial loans, food stamps, and unemployment compensation, among others to deserving citizenry divides. The absence of such initiatives wreaked untold havoc on the people at the outbreak of Covid-19, leading to increased crime and loss of confidence in governments.

While government intervention efforts focused on the poor citizenry, presumed middle class segments have lost their jobs, suffered arbitrary salary cuts, and lack of access to welfare relief that could help them cope with the economic hardship foisted by Covid-19.There are no housing subsidies, energy and utility subsidies, and assistance for other basic services to individuals that are most affected by the pandemic. At the backdrop of these challenges, the numbers of the unemployed sky-rockets.

A 2019 World Bank Report shows that Nigeria created 450,000 new jobs for the jobless in 2018, partially offsetting the loss of jobs in 2017 while over five million Nigerians entered the labour market in search of jobs in 2018, the number of unemployed increased by 4.9million in 2019. More radical estimates indicate that over 18million youths were unemployed by the end of 2019.

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Nigerians must have to wake-up to elect the right persons for leadership; not every Dick and Harry that offers himself for public office without the required credentials.

The electoral law should be amended to include other requirements for aspirants jostling for elective positions. A rigorous classroom examination should be part of the requirement apart from mental health and source of wealth. We must use 2023 to reconstruct the power equation, redistribute social privileges, reinvigorate the civil societies and dormant economies.

Something’s got to give. Renaissance hierarchies are dramatized in the noisy climax of gladiator politics. The average voter must re-emerge decisively as political personae of a renaissance Nigeria in 2023.

To achieve the objective, we must reprise our roles as fearless change-makers, irreconcilable to visions of them as pawns and inferior social elements.

We must quit participating in heavily choreographed elections, in which the demands of corporations, parasitic individuals, gluttons and banks are paramount.

We must vie to tilt power in Nigeria’s interest. It’s time to take back what rightly belongs to us through the ballot box. In the process, if money is offered to blindfold us to remain aloof, we should not reject but collect as part of our share of the looted public treasury. We should use same donated stolen money to unseat our tormentors from power.

Any gift extended should be collected and converted to a tool of defeating the Thieves-In-Power!

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues


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