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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Opinion: What Does ‘Change’ Mean In Nigeria?

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by Enenim Ubon

[pull_quote_center]“Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor”. – Robert Frost[/pull_quote_center]

With the conclusion of the 2015 general elections over a month ago, the party with the change slogan will now occupy the central position – becoming the country’s new ruling party. With its slogan being change and the many (in some instances unrealistic) promises made during the electioneering period, many Nigerians are expectant of change in every ramification.

The expected change goes beyond mere words or change of party with executive powers. The change expected is an all encompassing one which should ordinarily be a departure from the old order. The old order in this instance being corruption,impunity,lack of respect for the rule of law,discarding of due process,abuse of both executive and legislative powers and every other thing that hinders the development of democracy in any country. Change is what Nigerians voted for, ‘real’ change is what they ought to get, not excuses nor more promises.

In a continent where ousting an incumbent president seems like a task that can never be accomplished, a people who found the ‘courage’ for such an action deserve to get the best from the new set of people they have entrusted their destinies to.

Unlike some other countries on the continent, the change in Nigeria happened without a revolution nor protest but a ‘smooth’ process where an incumbent(to prevent the kind of occurrences witnessed in Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya some years ago, when it appeared like incumbent presidents lost elections) conceded victory to the winner even before the counting of votes were concluded. Quite commendable!

Now that the change is here, the question many Nigerians are asking is, will this new change bring with it better governance, seeing that a precedence has been set? The answer to this question and many more will be passed across within the next four years.

As a matter of fact, I believe the incoming administration has started realizing the enormity of the expectations from those who voted it into power and with the dwindling oil revenue, only time will tell how far this change will go in transforming the lives of poor Nigerians and the country as a whole.

Personally, I do not expect so much from the incoming government. I am of the opinion that the change in Nigeria is nothing but a mere slogan, that has accomplished its aim and is gradually fading. With happenings each new day, this belief is strengthened further that nothing spectacular should be expected from these change agents.

My pessimism stems partly from the fact that in a democracy neither a president nor governor has exclusive powers to take decisions and actions that can effect any desired change. Democracy gives room for bargaining,horse trading etc. This is where the challenge lies, no matter how good the leader(going by the doctored stories being told without recourse to history) is, the people around him will either contribute to his successes or further cement his failures.

Looking at the architects of Nigeria’s change, it is obvious that these are the same people who have contributed in several ways to the present woes of the nation. From former governors to senators, house of representative members, former ministers, house of assembly members, party officials, followers and even ex presidents etc. It is even on record that most of the incoming governors on the platform of the former opposition party were members of the new opposition party and that their various decisions to quit the party were based on their annoyance for being sidelined and has absolutely nothing to do with good governance nor service to the people. Same goes for some other persons elected into various offices on the platform of the new ruling party. This being the case, it would be an exercise in futility to set the standard too high for these ones, who know no other way of doing things better. These set of persons are the problems of Nigeria and for as long as we keep recycling them, change will always remain a slogan and will bring no positive impact on the lives of Nigerians. Change will continue to mean nothing until these generation of leaders who have continually failed their people are phased out for good.

The incoming government is yet to be inaugurated but has already started making excuses as to why they may not be able to perform the ‘magic’ it initially promised. This to me is already a sign that Nigerians need to lower their expectations in order to avoid unnecessary disappointments.

With the D day drawing closer, the incoming administration has suddenly realized that falling oil prices will affect its performance in office; the irony of the entire scenario is that oil prices were at an all time low during the campaigns yet they still went ahead to make sweet promises without also making proper contingency plans. It is also on record that the president elect promised to stabilize oil prices once elected. With the reality dawning on him that he posse no such ability, the stories have started changing. Is this change dependable? Time will tell.

The earlier the incoming government realizes that it has so much to do and to prove within a very short period of time, the better for it and its arrow heads. Nigerians are watching keenly and there will be absolutely no room for excuses. Things are not the same around here anymore!

As May 29th approaches and for the next four years, the world waits to see what manner of change will take place in Nigeria. It will also be confirmed if those who chanted the change slogan meant it for good or if they did so because they believe they will find favor before the incoming government to keep lining their pockets with what is meant for the development of the nation.

I hope the change in Nigeria is not going to be the kind Groucho Marx referred to when he said “it isn’t so much that hard times are coming; the change observed is mostly soft times going”. The change in Nigeria means a lot (I suppose) to those who believe in it and I hope they will not be disappointed. Realistically, only time will tell what this change really means to Nigeria.

The author tweets from @EnenimUbon.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.

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