October 7, 2022


The need to impact positively on the lives of the people is the major reason why many countries in the world started embracing democracy after centuries of the feudal, totalitarian and authoritarian systems of government.
Here in Nigeria, after several years of military rule, many were hopeful that a civilian government would yield positive results, in terms of respect for human rights, economic and educational development, as well as a higher standard of living.
Many Nigerians had different opinions about politicians. While some looked up to them and had faith in their capability to transform the country, many others did not. The latter saw the country’s political elite as incapable of impacting the people in a positive way. They claimed that the only politician who ever made an impact on the lives of the people was the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Awolowo introduced free education in the old Western Region at a time politicians in other parts of the country were too busy pursuing their selfish ambitions.
Another notable politician, they pointed out, whose educational and housing policies were of great benefit to the masses, was late Chief Lateef Jakande, a former governor of Lagos State.
Jakande built many schools and housing estates over three decades ago. Many of these structures are still relevant, especially to those living in Lagos.

Babatunde Raji Fashola, a former Governor of Lagos State and Godswill Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State were also hailed by some Nigerians for raising the infrastructural, environmental and educational standards of both states. There is no notable development by other states governors in the present dispensation. All that we hear nowadays are reports of fantastical acts of corruption and defections from one party to another.
Aside the few aforementioned politicians that put smiles on the faces of the people at different times, Nigerians have been waking from one nightmare to another since democracy was fully restored in 1999.
According to Matthias Pantaleon, poet and playwright, Nigerian politicians are actually making life unbearable for the average citizen. Members of the executive and legislative arms of government have failed the nation. The judiciary, which used to be the last hope of the common man, has become the worst thing to happen to the poor. The way and manner politicians are toying with the lives of Nigerians is heartbreaking.
“There is untold hardship in the country. As if that is not enough they failed to call SARS operatives to order or checkmate their excesses which eventually birthed the #EndSars protest. Politicians can deny all they want, but we know the truth and it stares at us in the face like life and death; a reminder of our own mortality.
“Politicians should know that people are listening to what they are not saying, people are talking to families that have lost their loved ones to bad governance, and some days to come,, people will actually act. It is left to them to do right and heal the nation or be prepared for the inevitable,” Pantaleon said recently.
Nonetheless, going down memory lane, one could recall a similar maltreatment of the people by a previous civilian administration. For instance, Obasanjo’s civilian rule was characterised by blatant disregard for human rights in the Niger Delta where he ordered soldiers to wipe out two communities known as Choba and Odi due to a fracas some Niger Delta “resources control” agitators had with some soldiers there. Yearly increase in fuel pump price was another bitter hallmark of Obasanjo’s tenure as president.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration was characterised by massive corruption, particularly in official circles. It was as if honesty was the exclusive preserve of fools during the tenure of that administration. Jonathan unwittingly increased the pump price of petrol on January 1, 2012 after he had promised Nigerians a better standard of living in 2011. The then opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, capitalised on that blunder to rubbish his administration and went on to campaign vigorously for a change of government. The citizenry swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker. The rest is now history.
Since the advent of the current government led by Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, Nigerians have tasted real hell. Never before in the history of the country’s democracy have things been this bad. The hardship and suffering experienced by the people is quite phenomenal, to say the least.
As captured in a few words by the late legendary afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who was himself a thorn in the flesh of corrupt government officials, Nigerians were literally suffering and smiling.
At this point, it is imperative to look at the yardstick for measuring positive impact. It is measured by the actions of the members of the political class toward rapid economic, educational, infrastructural and social development. How many tourists have been visiting the country and how many foreign investors have invested in Nigeria since 2015 till date?
Unable to cope with an unfavourable economic climate, many indigenous and foreign companies have folded up. The result has been massive unemployment nationwide. More university graduates have taken up menial jobs, some of them working as bus conductors and commercial motorcycle operators, to survive. Those were the kinds of jobs usually handled by school drop-outs and illiterates. There could have been better roads all over Nigeria, constant electric power supply and adequate security of lives and property if politicians had the interest of the citizenry at heart. The current state of affairs in Nigeria is that of total despair everywhere. Many are suffering and they have no hope or belief in the people at the helm of government anymore.
*** By Blessed Adjekpagbon
 

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