2023: Nigeria’s rendezvous with destiny
The The year 2000 was awaited with great trepidation by world leaders, world agencies, religion merchants, technocrats, scientists, journalists, business tycoons, rich and poor and others. Some experts even predicted that Armageddon would happen in the year 2000. Some even predict big changes in this magical year. Even some UN agencies have proposed goals to be achieved by the year 2000 such as health for all 2000, water for all 2000, home for all 2000 and other fanciful slogans. It was also with such trepidation that George Orwell wrote his most ambitious book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which he warned would be a failure. For Orwell, “every book is a failure”. Despite the melancholy and Orwellian fears, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a huge artistic achievement.
The year 2000 arrived, Nigeria and many African countries were deemed unable to achieve some of the set targets. From 2000, the UN set the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a target date of 2015, which Nigeria failed to achieve. Next come the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include health, education, water, roads and housing. Without achieving the MDGs, it is doubtful that Nigeria and some unfortunate African countries still struggling with poor leadership will ever achieve these lofty goals. The year 2023 is a special year in the political history of Nigeria. There is nothing so magical about 2023. What makes it so special is that Nigerians will witness an election like no other considering the stakes and expectations of Nigerians are so high regarding the ballot. It is not business as usual anymore because Nigerians, especially the youth, have decided to take their destiny into their own hands and will contest this election which will be unlike any other in the annals of the country.
Despite what some politicians are saying about the 2023 ballot, it will definitely be different. The strong turnout of young voters during ongoing voter registration and the growing number of registered voters are all indications that the 2023 election will be a turning point in our democratic evolution. Nigerians see 2023 as a year of great political change, a paradigm shift from the status quo ante and a departure from our decrepit past and the ushering in of a new order. The decaying and crumbling past must be allowed to rest in peace. As Frantz Fanon warned in his classic, The Wretched of the Earth, “Each generation must, in relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it”, this generation of Nigerians will also discover their mission and fulfill it by 2023 .
The 2023 movement is not about ethnicity or religion or even class struggle, it is about the survival of the homeland. It is about saving the soul of Nigeria. It is about the fate of our children and their future in this politically congested and emasculated land. Hunger knows no tribe or religion, insecurity knows no ethnic group or religion, poverty afflicts everyone, regardless of language or creed. If we let this great country starve by our corrupt politicians sink, we will be part of this sinister shipwreck.
The 2023 election is not about the origin of the president. It’s not about his size or the way he dresses, it’s about skill and character. A lot of it is about who can fix the dying country. It is about who will save the country from total disintegration and impending anomie. The election is about overhauling the comatose economy, decrepit health and education sectors, escalating insecurity and nascent official corruption. Nigeria is in disarray simply because of bad leadership. The election is possibly a referendum on whether or not Nigeria will be and where it is heading. It is about the future of the black race and whether or not Nigeria will favor the destiny of the black race. When it gained independence in 1960, Nigeria held great promise for Africa and the entire black race. Our ancestors dreamed of an emerging black power, they envisioned an egalitarian society and a balanced federation. Their vision for the country has been openly betrayed by incompetent and corrupt leaders, leaders who totally lack the moral compass to navigate the affairs of the highly endowed country.
The tragedy of Nigeria, the so-called giant of Africa, as captured by Fanon is that “during the struggle for liberation, the leader awoke the people and promised them a heroic and unmitigated march forward. Today, he uses all means to put them to sleep, and asks them three or four times a year to remember the colonial period and to remember the long road they have traveled since. Some of our leaders still behave like this leader portrayed by Frantz Fanon.
The 2023 is not for absent leaders, it is not for aloof leaders and leaders who watch from the sidelines as the country burns. We must resolve to lead people who have the experience and the ability to do the job. The presidency is about work, work and work. Aso Rock is no resting place for weary legs. It is not a hereditary palace where kings reign. It is the seat of power of the President of Nigeria. The next occupant of the Villa must be ready to tackle our problems, growing debt estimated at over 40 trillion naira, rising inflation estimated at 20.5%, growing number of children outside the school system estimated at 20 million. In 2023, we need charismatic leaders, sacrificial leaders and servants. We need leaders who are willing to die for the country. We need digital leaders and leaders who will consider all parts of Nigeria as his constituency. A leader who is ready to unite the country with less emphasis on religion and ethnicity. In “Africa Is People”, taken from The Education of the British-Protected Child by Chinua Achebe, the master storyteller recounts his experience at the 25th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris in 1989, where he told the audience full of economic experts that “what was happening before me was a fictional workshop, no more and no less! Here you are spinning your beautiful theories, to experiment in your imaginary laboratories. You develop new drugs and give them to a group of lab guinea pigs hoping for the best. I have news for you. Africa is not a fiction. Africa is a people, a real people. Have you thought about that? You are brilliant people, experts in the world. You may even have the best intentions. But have you thought, really thought about Africa as a people?
As we head into the election, is our politician treating us like a fiction as Achebe illustrates or not? And if they treat us like their guinea pigs and manufacture all kinds of drugs to cure our national ills, let them remember that Nigeria is a people. You should remind them that voters are not guinea pigs. They shouldn’t treat us like mere statistics or say we don’t matter. Our politicians must start treating us, the electorate, and indeed all Nigerians, as human beings and not as experimental guinea pigs. In other words, politicians must stop trampling on the masses and treating them with absolute contempt and neglect once they are in power. As campaigns will officially begin on September 28, let politicians campaign with decorum and a high sense of decency.
They should only promise what they can deliver in four years. The nation’s problems are already known. Their duty is to tell us how they are going to fix it. It is not about poetry or long speeches. In all, let them remember that Nigeria is a people, Nigeria is not a fiction. May we not fail in 2023, our year of hope and redemption.