by Ore Fakorede
In all honesty, I’ve never really had any interest in Nigerian politics. From an intellectual perspective, I have been discouraged by the shady elements that often parade themselves as politicians and the consequently inordinate nature of political dynamics in Nigeria. It is as if thugs, touts and unintelligent persons pick up politics when all else fails, not as a calling, neither as a premeditated choice of profession.
At the grassroots where the very core of the citizenry subsists on crumbs of the national cake, untoward persons hold the reins of power, serving their own pockets as counsellors of wards and local government chairmen. The state mirrors that situation, as inadequate and inept individuals have twisted the very ideals of democratic governance to suit there own Machiavellian purposes. Chairs have been thrown at the National Assembly, a chronically-ill man has been sworn-in as president and retired generals still aspire to hold political office.
Yet, inspite of the bad taste that all these have left in my mouth, I find myself torn as another round of elections begin this weekend. I am torn between symbols – an umbrella and a broom. One an emblem of protection, the other an insignia of cleanliness. It is not that there are no other options for me to be torn between. Rather, the sheer abundance of alternatives has forced me to stand between a rock and a hard place, hard pressed to pick between the devil that I’ve always known and the angel of whom I have only heard. I am afraid of more options – the myriad of coalitions, cooperative societies and family circles masquerading as political parties are mind-numbing.
As I run back and forth in my mind, I trip over unanswered questions and unconfirmed statements. I unearth clues only to find that they point, not towards the truth, but towards the madness of deceit. I ask myself what an umbrella is. Is it what it seems to be, a small consolation in a hurricane? Or is it a covering for the shameless, power-hungry men that have monopolised it? Perhaps it is even an instrument of cowardice for those who are afraid to walk in the rain and under the scorching sun just like their unfortunate countrymen do – with uncovered heads. I wonder about the broom too. In an unskilled hand, it is bound to be ineffective. In a cruel hand, it could become an instrument of oppression. It could sweep hope away, it could sweep in suffering. I am confused.
As I stand in the darkness of ignorance which has clouded this nation for so long, I plead for illumination. Not the unreliable incandescence of a PHCN-powered light bulb, but the small, flickering flame of truth. I don’t want apples, peaches, grapes or strawberries. I don’t want Evian water, fresh from the French Alps. I don’t want another sham elections whose results have been determined long before the witless international observers board the planes to Nigeria. All I want is change. To see dashed hopes revived. To see the almost forgotten Nigerian dream brought to reality. Umbrella, broom or whatever, what will bring that change? Perhaps only faith can. Faith in my vote and its ability to win back what has been lost to the mediocrity of bad governance. Faith in my ability to choose the right people to lead this nation. Faith in myself to show others the way through my irrepressible belief in my fatherland. I will be the bringer of change. So help me God.