by Ife Adebayo
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber – Plato
I’ll start today’s article with two quotes, the first by Winston Churchill “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.” And the second is a popular quote by Plato which says “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber”. These two quotes summarize my thoughts after the TFA Symposium in Ekiti State from the 5th to 7th of April, 2013.
Nigeria’s democracy is 13 years now and like Winston Churchill said Nigerians have been killed over and over again by misrule, electoral malpractice and government recklessness. When I say Nigerians I do not refer to the ruling class, I refer to the Nigerians who lose their children daily because they cannot afford malaria drugs, the women who die in childbirth because they cannot get to a good primary healthcare centre, the Nigerian kids on the streets who are not in school because they cannot afford education, those who are in school who have to study in classrooms without roofs, the teaming number of graduate youth who are so used to be unemployed they take up menial jobs to survive, the uncountable Nigerians who die every day on our roads due to pot holes. These are the Nigerians that I am talking about. These are the Nigerians who have been killed over and over again. And things will not change unless we make a conscious effort to change them.
Do you have any idea why we are where we are today? It is because many of the intellectuals, the activists, those who had the good of Nigeria at heart refused to go into politics. The quote from Plato summarizes this, when the smart ones refuse to go into politics the space is filled up by those who are dumb as there is never a vacuum in power. This much was agreed to by Professor Pat Utomi at the just concluded TFA Symposium, he said one of the regrets of his generation is that they stayed out of politics after the return to civil rule in 1999. What scares me most about this is that I can see this generation towing the same line. We have a teaming mass of youth who tell you politics is too dirty, who do not want any participation with politics, the ‘we are too good for politics’ syndrome is at work again in our nation and if we let this continue Nigerians will continue to be “killed many times”.
As at March 2011, the minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke said Nigeria earns N42billion naira oil revenue daily and what do we get from these? One of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, over 70% of the population living below the poverty line, high unemployment just to mention a few.
In a country where the youth make up more than 60 per cent of the total population I wonder what the youth are doing while our nation is brought to its knees. On election days most of the people on the queues to vote are youth and we therefore deceive ourselves that we are participating, what we forget is that we can only choose from the options available to us on election day, the only constitutional means of attaining political posts in Nigeria today is via registered political parties, how many youth are card carrying members of a political party? The few who are card carrying members are they actually participating in the party policy formulations? Are they involved in grassroots sensitisation of the masses? Are they interested in the party candidates’ selection processes? How then do we intend to lead the push for change? We need to get serious.
Facebook and Twitter politics is good, but they will not translate to votes on the ground in 2015, they will not translate to policies and policy formulations, neither will they translate to candidates for elections in the parties, this is why we need to take the bull by the horn and become active participants in the electoral process, join a political party, join an advocacy group like the ‘Enough is Enough Nigeria’, educate your driver, hair dresser, market women etc. We have to take this Nigerian project serious and realise power will not be handed over to us; we have to demand it and take it.
The merger of opposition political parties to form the All Progressive Congress is an opportunity for Nigerian youth to come together under one umbrella. For the first time we are having a merger of parties who have only one intention – the enthronement of good governance in Nigeria. A government that will listen to the people and take Nigeria out of the doldrums. Once the merger is completed I encourage us all to become active participants in our local government branches, be involved in the political process and let us work together to move Nigeria forward.
Ife Adebayo is an IT Consultant with work experience in Germany, United Kingdom and Nigeria. He currently runs his own IT firm in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an ardent believer in the Nigerian project and encourages all Nigerians to become actively involved in making Nigeria a better place. A registered member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, he was an active member of the UK branch of the party, holding the post of Youth Leader for the year 2010/2011.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.