A smarter generation -By Sesugh Akume

Filed under: Political Issues |

Sesugh Akume


This friend wants to run for office in the next dispensation, it’s time to stop complaining, roll up sleeves and get to work on redeeming our society from collapse and building a great one. He has ties with one of the two political contraptions that have weighed us down and put us in this state we’re in. So on this day he gets a call that the party faithful in his area are paying the wife of his state’s ex-governor in jail a solidarity visit. ‘Solidarity for what?’ he wondered. Well, that’s how it’s done, as a politician you don’t ask such questions he was told, simply whenever party people in your constituency meet you need to be part of it, to be noticed, to be known. That’s how they know you’re taken seriously, he was told. After it all happened he told me this story and said he didn’t go, he simply was unavailable to go. He didn’t see himself expressing solidarity to the wife of some politician in jail, not as if he was jailed for doing a right thing.

Next, this ‘young man’ an acquaintance–the sort whose biological age says they’re young, but their thinking, reasoning, understanding, perception, perspective, worldview is dated and steeped in this shambolic status quo–from the other party wants them to see this godfather, a certain senator who has made the senate his retirement home, who just about everyone is fed up with. Why are they to see this senator? he wondered. He is the one who issues party tickets to candidates to run for office on that platform anywhere in the state, he was told; you can’t do anything in that party without his express consent except you don’t want to succeed. In fact, except you want to be a ‘vagabond politician’ you need Senator Godfather’s approval stamp on you. How can one person own an entire democratic system and run it as he pleases? he wondered to himself. What guarantee is there that after pledging allegiance to him that another won’t do same and be favoured, as two can’t be candidates for one office at the same time? Having sold one’s soul to a godfather, where will the place of well-considered independent thought be, how can one justify and defend each stance and action thereafter? For how long shall we continue with this antiquated system at this stage after close to two decades of uninterrupted civil rule? And the thoughts kept pouring in. He then found a way to change the topic, and to slyly avoid it whenever it comes up. This acquaintance sees him as not being serious, well but better to be perceived as ‘unserious’ than to be part of a travesty, he says.

He kept wondering what was going on. Why was this fellow on his neck to see Senator Godfather? It’s not as if the fellow wants him to succeed more than he does. It later dawned on him, Senator Godfather isn’t as invincible as he’s made to appear, he’s only really clever. He knows people are fed up with him, the bumbling stooge he emplaced as governor, and their entire party. No one is really keen referring to them any longer. As a crafty politician what he needs is a constant supply of promising, budding politicians who bring some freshness to the system. As they go about their engagements the people look at their innocence with favour, and transfer same favour to the party they’re fed up with for these ones’ sake, in the process Senator-Godfather himself is seen somewhat in a different light. Imagine what five promising young people without previous baggage can do in a constituency. Even after one emerges–through their usual cheating and manipulation –the effect of their collective impact won’t be easily erased, the party establishment with their bag of old tricks knows how to handle the fallout, that is not a problem.

When the scales fell off our friend’s eyes, he wondered to himself, why don’t young, budding aspirants and others without previous baggage and whose mission is service come together, organise themselves, pull their weight, and work together instead of relying on, and continually being manipulated by lecherous, self-serving members of an old guard who think nothing of anyone except themselves?

Besides, running for office and operating outside the stranglehold of these two albatrosses is by far less expensive, it’s inexpensive even. There you consult various levels of godfathers in your constituency, you consult party stakeholders, you consult party caucus members, you consult different party exco members at different levels, you consult the women, you consult the youth, you consult delegates, you consult every opinion leader and even opinion holder. Incidentally, all these people are tone deaf, the only language they understand is cash! Under that system, running for office is unimaginably expensive. Why won’t it be the exclusive preserve of those who can afford it–shady characters and all–irrespective of what they can offer in office, and the source of their money? Why won’t elected officials in Nigeria be fantastically corrupt, and the highest remunerated in the world (and still be hustlers for a quick buck here and there)? We need Renewal. We can’t continue this way.

Steve Biko wrote, ‘The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.’ He manipulates you and wants you the oppressed to feel defeated, completely overwhelmed and helpless with no motivation to even try. However, a generation has arisen that sees right through the oppressor. They know as of fact, and recently of experience, that they have the numbers, the energy, the drive, time, intellect, wisdom, street smartness, depth, motivation, experience, networks, even the financial muscle through crowdfunding and pulling resources together. They know that in coming together they can chart a glorious future, away from the present morass, instead of waiting for others to do so. This is happening already, and the awareness is growing.