The 2019 general elections are around the corner. The electioneering campaigns ahead of the poll are akin to every other Nigerian general election in the time past. The political atmosphere is tensed with preponderance of political arrangements tend to rejuvenate the hope of the Nigerian populace. Every contender both at the national and state levels promises to restore the nation to the path of sustainable growth and resourceful manpower through their cardinal plans. This track of patriotic anthems is being sung over the years yet the country remains underdeveloped and unproductive in human and capital resources. The shadow of greatness appears towards the election and disappears immediately after.
As the strategy to either retain or capture political power in the 2019 general elections gained momentum, a plethora of usual theoretical inclinations and promises are being made by the political aspirants. The Nigerian masses are currently basking in the euphoria of value-driven master plans initiated by these contenders. The candidates particularly the presidential aspirants in the 2019 general elections have backed up their master plans with different appealing political mantras. These mantras tend to renew the hope of Nigerian masses. Aside the “hope 93,” the political agenda adopted by Late Chief MKO Abiola in June 12, 1993 presidential election which was terminated by the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, numerous elected Nigerian leaders have willingly betrayed the Nigerian masses with the mandates bestowed on them. What is the Nigerians fate amidst the current atmosphere of hope blowing around?
Taking a glimpse at the present state of the country before the advent of 2019 political messiahs. It is sardonic to observe that while other nations compete globally in terms of technological, medical and scientific advancements, Nigeria with her numerical strength and natural endowment has risen to such legendary and astronomical proportion in extreme poverty ranking. According to Brookings Institution report, “Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extremely poor in early 2018. At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.”
Historical survey revealed that economic development and highly quality human capital enjoyed in the comity of developed nations were attained through selfless and patriotic political leadership. In Nigeria, the government expenditures at all levels are tools for personal aggrandizement at the detriment of public advancement. Each of the 109 Nigerian senators receives N13.5 million as monthly running cost, N7500 as monthly pay and over N200 million as constituency allowance while each of the 360 lawmakers in the House of Representatives receives N11.5 million monthly running cost aside other allowances. The remuneration of former Nigerian heads of state, presidents, vice presidents, etc is outrageous in juxtaposition with other countries. Clifford Ndujihe, an editor at Vanguard Newspaper posited in his investigative report that the Federal Government of Nigeria had spent N14.35 billion on the up-keep of former presidents, vice- presidents and their families in the last 12 years. While another report by the same source revealed that over N37.367 billion was expended on servicing 47 former governors from 21 of the nation’s states in pension payments and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years.
Corruption is an euphemism for quantifying the embezzlement of the Nigeria’s treasury by some selected individuals aside the institutionalized looting of the national cake. Virtually every public sector is underfunded. The unemployment rate is alarming. Many States’ workers are being owed salaries while the retired ones are denied of their pensions. The prevailing rate of orchestrated killings by the Boko Haram terrorist groups, the deadly Fulani terrorists masquerading as herdsmen and other sundry crimes like armed robbery, crude oil theft, kidnappings despite the regular billions budgetary allocation to security sector, and the monthly allowance budgeted for State governors as security votes. It is evident that these funds are being siphoned by certain individuals. The Nigerian security sector still lacks necessary equipment, incentives and adequate manpower. In this light, are Nigerian political leaders patriotic or self-centred?. The great future which the Nigerian masses anticipate will remain an illusion under self-centred political leadership. The psychological state of the Nigerian masses is being toyed with. For decades, the calibre of individuals who have been promising to build a virile nation cum equitable system of administration has been regrouping and resurfacing under different political platforms to capture political power yet the country is drastically crippled. In this season of promises, it is pertinent that the Nigerians look beyond the crop of recycling politicians and scout for political aspirants with pro-masses based antecedents. This decision would solely determine the Nigerian masses fate after the 2019 general elections.
Binzak Azeez writes from the faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.