Each time we vote for strangers because the incumbent turned out uglier than his predecessor, I remember an old story. It is the story of the headstrong girl who marries this handsome stranger against the wise counsel of her parents. She throws herself to the stranger, crosses seven rivers with him until they reach where he calls home. Then, one man comes forward and collects dude’s beautiful legs, another demands the hands. One by one, the handsome youngman’s body parts go back to their owners until it dawns on the lady that she is married to a skull. It is already too late for her.
Every buyer should examine the object of their fancy. Do not get married in the dark, no matter the attraction. Ask questions. Anyone who goes for what is too good should be ready to be sorry. When you pick blindfolded as we all often do in our democratic politics in Nigeria, you are doomed to get what is called winner’s curse — the joyful buyer feeling ‘cursed’ having paid and sacrificed so much for a dreary stuff, a skull in the place of a dude.
There is so much suffering in the land. The situation is so bad that even reasonable people in this government are embarrassed that there is a dearth of coherent, competent response to the challenges. I read popular Professor Jerry Gana recently declaring that Nigerians were yearning for the PDP to come back to power. I wonder what voices he hears. It is true there is buyer’s remorse on every face of “Change” you meet on the road, but if the people are hungry and ill, is lapping up the vomit of 2015 going to be the magic dose? If Tandi missed the dance steps, and Tandy, his replacement, does not even show the faintest idea of what it means to dance, does it make any sense to go back to the disappointment of the past?
One party cried out that hungry people now barter their precious kids for tins of garri. The other party countered that, we are, indeed, lucky, for it would have been worse; that Nigerians would have been selling their kids to feed if the other had not been defeated in 2015. A people cannot be stuck with two bad options. There must be a third option. What is that option? Faced with the spectacle of an impotent inheritor of her bed, a widow longs for her late husband only if the departed was competent too. Otherwise she would query her chi which creates only the unfit to fill her space. Nigeria is a woman indentured to spoilt, limp, powerful men who do not know what responsibility means. Passed from one bed chamber to another, the woman is day and night subjected to abuse, ill use and misuse without any hope of redeeming herself.
A people are as great as the questions they ask. They get the kind of government they deserve. We had our campaigns and elections last year. Did we ask the right questions? Did we ask any question at all? We shouted ‘Change’ so repeatedly that we forgot to ask the drivers the direction we would be going. Evergreen King Sunny Ade once cried out that he did not know where the driver was taking him. We heard his song, hummed his music. His question did not mean anything to us. We merely got the rhythm, we danced and missed the message.
We had our election campaigns last year. Americans are having theirs this year. From the campaigns alone, can we see clearly why America has kept focussing on the future and racing to the next century? Everyday, everywhere, the candidates talk, speak, answer questions and queries. They get ripped open. Every strand of hair in every part of their bodies is examined in the interest of their nation. Americans have the opportunity to hear the candidates make promises, directly. They are not giving room for a candidate to disown promises made by his/ her party. For us, we listen to the wrong people always. In 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua was the candidate, the person who spoke to us was Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2011, the candidate was Goodluck Jonathan, the voice in the air was Obasanjo’s. And we were satisfied, happy with the proxy we got and elected the persons we did not know. We felt neither buyer’s remorse nor winner’s curse. When Yar’Adua lost it midway and Jonathan missed it, we still did not change the way we choose our leaders. In 2015, we did exactly the same thing. We listened to some strange voices. Promises were made by persons not on the ballot while Muhammadu Buhari, the man who would be president, looked on. Today, his ways are not of those who came to us with promises. Buhari does not deserve our insult. He deserves apology from us for asking him to do what he did not promise. He promised only one thing: “God willing, I will fight corruption.” This he has done and is doing. He promised nothing else. Others did. And those who did are not in government — or not in power. So?
The road to the future is right before us, not behind us. The solution is not in looking back, like a dog that goes back to its vomit. No. The best should rule the rest. That is the philosophy that propelled civilisations across all ages. Ours cannot be different in 21st century Nigeria. Enough of the APC regaling us with some folktales of what they did centuries ago when the world was flat. Enough of the PDP which still does not know that Nigeria is far gone from gerontocratic shamelessness. Nigerians are suffering. Businesses are crumbling, jobs are dropping into the Lagoon, homes are tension soaked and all our husbands of today tell us is how worse it would have been if we had not spent our life savings to buy them as our masters.
A people cannot be stuck with two bad options. There must be a third option. What is that option? The third option is a clear aggregate of the unpretentiously good and able. The rest should be led by the best. That is the natural way to excellence. Not the reverse. The nation is in deep shit! It needs the best to give it a gold treatment. The solution is in the future, not in the past (and the present) of a band who, even now, does not know that men have expiry dates.