By Paul Orie
THE general mood of discontentment among Nigerians has reached unprecedented level. This is definitely a season of discontent. The people have to contend with insecurity which daily disrupts all forms of human activities and claims thousands of lives. The poverty level arising from unemployment, nonpayment of workers’ salaries, the inability of the poor to access medical facilities coupled with poor funding of hospitals, leave the sick and their families in agonising situations.
Also, all grades of Nigerian workers are being thrown out of jobs because of the closure of factories and businesses. Manufacturers still cry that factories are not performing optimally because of poor power supply, compelling many industrialists to relocate their businesses to neighbouring West African states in addition to the escalating insecurity in parts of the nation. Furthermore, the Association says government policies including multiple taxation stifle the manufacturing sector.
It is worthy of note that poor power supply has been a major factor destabilising other small scale businesses such as, welding, operators of restaurants, hospitals, offices etc. These are all reeling in pains. The worsening security situation in the nation has continued to have crippling effects on economic activities and everyone gripped with fear. Farmers cannot go into their farmlands to work, citizens cannot move freely even in daylight, school children and adults are kidnapped or murdered.
Painfully, the Nigerian police cannot provide adequate securities for anyone because government has emasculated the officers through under funding of the Force and salaries are not paid. This explains why many of them protested in Maiduguri streets last year. Nigerians have been drained and depressed, workers are being owed salaries ranging from six to 24 months and insensitive state governors are not disturbed. Sadly, the bailout funds given to state government were not utilised by some of the governors for that purpose.
The decay in national development has infested the universities. Twenty years of democratic rule has had no impact and Nigerian governments and the political directors who manage our economy have not come out with policies to halt the slide in tertiary education. Shamefully they regale themselves with frequent shut downs of the universities and polytechnics. The huge deficit in road infrastructure in the nation constitutes a major drag on socio-economic development. The Lagos sea port roads have remained deplorable with importers, exporters, commuters incurring huge losses and also worsening the economy that is already prostrate. No one is comfortable about this.
The foregoing clearly shows how national development has been plagued by the ineptitude of our politicians, chiefly the federal and state executives, and legislators. All these have raised the level of disillusionment among Nigerians. In the next few weeks, Nigeria voters will go to the polls to vote. It is very certain that voters have sufficient reasons to vote out elected political office holders namely: the president, state governors, national and state assembly legislators who have performed woefully.
This is the hour which frustrated Nigerians have been anxiously waiting for to use their permanent voter’s card, PVCs to prevent those elected officers who could not ameliorate their sufferings and remained insensitive to their plight. Since politicians in Nigeria do not make any binding commitment during their electioneering campaigns, they have exploited this lacuna and the inertia of the electorate to the hilt.
Nigerian voters have kept their PVCs jealously, threatening they will use them to vote out non performing politicians. The critical questions to ask at this moment are: will voters use their cards decisively at the polls without been intimidated by the politicians? Can they avoid selling their vote or allow politicians to buy same and pave way for the same individuals to continue with the administration of misery? Are voters going to assist the unpatriotic vote seekers, and buyers to produce the usual band wagon behaviour riding easily to the various government Houses in the states and Aso Rock including our the legislature.
Will voters jettison the primordial sentiments in our national politics based on religion, sectionalism, and tribalism, region to vote for wrong candidates or parties. This is the time politicians intimidate poor voters through the oath taking that has taken root in Nigerian politics since pre-independence years. Will voters yield to these forms of intimidation?
Voters as usual will be used as pawns and politicians will again exploit their inertia. The refusal of registered voters to collect their PVCs is very heart rending especially in the face of simmering discontent in the nation. This means they are not prepared to chase those under developing the country and dehumanising every one out of the political arena.
Voters often argue that they registered to use the PVCs as Identity Cards; officials of INEC bitterly complain that they have large numbers of unclaimed PVCs in their various offices. It is mandatory for voters to pull themselves out of this apathy to shame the predators with their PVCs.
The lingering crisis in the universities has harassed the nerves of every one. At the forth coming elections, one expects lecturers under Academic Staff Union of the Universities, students and their parents to work together and use their PVCs to vote out politicians degrading the nation’s Teritary education system. Will they do that without being influenced by vote buying or selling? The combine effort of workers, farmers, market women can use their PVCs to change the fortunes of Nigeria and Nigerians at the polls. They can, this is a clarion call.
The Nigerian Organized Private Sector, OPS namely the apex body Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria that complain bitterly of insecurity and governments’ unfriendly business policies remain pernicious to their members. Can the leadership of OPS ask members to mobilise their employees to vote for improved business environment?
The worst thing that will happen to this nation in the forth coming elections is to allow unserious politicians to continue to preside over the affairs of Nigeria. If the millions of voters registered to voters do not come out boldly to vote, we shall again witness the usual sudden switch to the winning party with its spurious scores at the votes. Enough of this.
Mr. Orie, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Lagos.