Opinion: Why I Speak Out – A Lesson On Active Citizenship In...

Opinion: Why I Speak Out – A Lesson On Active Citizenship In Nigeria

By Opinions | The Trent on September 13, 2015

by Obinna Mgbeahurike

In a nation where our natural proclivity is to imitate everything that is wrong, it behooves on a few dissenting voices to speak out. Several arguments have gone out as to what previous appointees have attracted to our society, our immediate communities and rightly so.

However, while I will not hold brief for others, I have spoken out against the lopsided appointments made by President Buhari because he is setting a dangerous precedent.

One can imagine if the government that succeeds him is from PDP and from the South and proceeds to do exactly the same: “rewarding friends and cronies who have stood with, and suffered with him”, will the North also understand? Will we hear them say, “Well our brother did the same so let’s chill” and will that chorus even be in our best interest? Wouldn’t that be a slippery slope towards entrenching nepotism as policy? I leave you all to judge.

We are at a crossroads where the anticipated messiahs are proving worse than the devil we wish to rid ourselves of. We already have people wishing and praying that the next government is not APC. We are walking the rope towards a system where the opposition will no longer be believed to offer hope as we are beset by the “we’ve seen it all” syndrome; a one-party state with democratic dictatorship in place!

My friend and contemporary Sola Kuti bore the slogan ” One Standard For All”. It didn’t make as much sense nor has there been a dire need for it more than now in our polity. The wisdom in that line resonates long after his adventure in politics became rested. That demand is the only thing capable of salving our polity. A call for the leadership of our dear nation to live within the standards they held their predecessors. This should be our collective charge as a people

I voted Goodluck Jonathan. I campaigned and prayed for his success. Not because he was the best we had, but because the maturity with which he approached the national discourse gave us the semblance of democratic leadership. He didn’t need to be the best, he also didn’t need to stop people from telling him so. We had the type of freedom of speech in Nigeria never experienced in Africa as a continent. For the first time as a nation, we had a leadership we could critique. That expression is the first step in democracy.

I support my Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Many and believed he would be a stooge, I saw that without the support of a central government, no governor can be a stooge even if he wilfully decides to. I took steps to ensure support and vote for him. I continue to ensure I give him that support till date. Because I have been in positions where no one gave me a chance but I had everything to prove, and I went out and did. Just like he is doing today.

I wail when our economy and polity is being taken for a ride. I cringe when the leadership of my country is given to unguarded speech and ridiculous action. It pains me because I know that such action and speech are the tonic needed for our tomorrow to become bleak. For bigotry and perpetual underdevelopment to plague us. Because I know that the same “it’s our turn” syndrome will create an unending loop for our nation to continue the downward spiral.

One man can indeed change a nation. As tribalised as he might even be, respecting the diversity of choices and people will not make one a weak leader. It will only strengthen our nation and him as a leader. Advancing our economy and polity by working with the reality of our society will solve age long problems we felt have defied both economic and political principles. That type of man is who I seek to lead me…

I write this because even if this ugly trend continues and our nation continues in this mess, my grandchildren will ask what I did when I was in my youth…. I will point them to this post and tell them I spoke out.

Obinna Mgbeahurike is a poet, social critic, and graphic designer. His commentary are usually based on economics, governance, and social issues. He has two published collections of poems and is working on a third. He owns a blog, Arch Cardinal, and he can be reached on Facebook.

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


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