We need citizens engagement to change Nigeria

The state of the nation is pathetic, there is growing number of jobless youths, a widening gulf between the rich and poor, escalating decay in infrastructure, collapse of education and healthcare, and a state of anomie seems to have enveloped the country. In place of hope, there is disenchantment, in place of enthusiasm and joyful expectance , we see pointlessness as well as bleak disengagement and dark forebodings of citizens withdrawal from the society in rueful contemplation of irredeemability of their situation. Thus there is pervasive morass of lost hope, and a gradual seeping into our collective consciousness that the politicians have taken exclusive ownerships of our collective patrimony, our national heirlooms.

What is taken as a given in other more serious nations are a cause and reason for national lamentation ,especially among the dispossessed, the dis-empowered and large population of hard- hitting Nigerians who are yet to see the dividend of democracy, but have witnessed politicians’ plutocracy, megalomania and stealing of our Commonwealth.

The economy is in tatters, and offers no hope for our generation, and indeed future generation.

We have been critical of the successive governments , which is what we should continue to do, given that the government at the centre has failed to lay a policy framework upon which to build in structures. But, we need to understand that the country operates a federal arrangement, thus the need to interrogate the state government, since they share with the centre federal allocations on a monthly basis, without anything on the ground to justify their accruals.

We need to as citizens, step up our engagement with power, we need to interrogate the political processes in the state, what the state governors do with our money, we need to ask them to explain the absurdity in the gap between what they collect monthly from the federation accounts, and what we see on the ground. We need to ask them to explain their billionaire status and the poverty of the people.

There is need to remind them that what happened to their responsibility in the concurrent list?

We must remind them that health service is in concurrent list, yet state hospitals are without drugs. How can a governor that has not provided quality healthcare have the gumption to criticise the federal government on matters relating to health?

How can a governor that refuses to provide good education that’s on concurrent list have the temerity to criticise the federal government on its dysfunctional education policies?

Agriculture which is also on the concurrent list has been another area where the States have not done much, yet they often criticise the centre on this score.

Unless Nigerians begin to demand for good governance from their political leaders and elected Representatives, and engage in more interrogation of the political processes nothing will happen. It is often said that a people deserves the kind of government they have, until the citizens stand up for their rights, until they begin to challenge their leaders , they may never get good governance.

There is need to step up political education and shed the toga of apathy , get involved in the political processes, we may never get the kind of government we want.

In Britain, the Conservative Party’s popularity rating before the last election was 57% compared to Labour’ s 25% if they had gone to the poll with that rating intact, the result of the election would have been different. The popularity at the polls convinced Theresa May to call for snap election, and they thus wanted to exploit the popularity to deepen their conservative ideology without due consideration for political variables. They did the unthinkable, pursued hard Brexit, increased university tuition fees, put pressure on elderly care mechanism among other political mistakes. The tertiary institutions undergraduates began to see the Conservative Party’ s new thinking as a threat to their welfare, engaged the party but it remained adamant.

Immediately, university students switched their loyalties to the Labour Party, campaigned vigorously for it on a massive scale, and the result was outstanding. Through the help of the students, the Labour recorded success in the election such that the Conservative Party narrowly won the election. Students have won the argument, and by any stretch of the imagination, Labour won.

After the general election , the Conservative party became a minority government, with just a mere seven seats for Labour to find itself at Downing Street. Why and how the Labour get so close to unseating a ruling party? The resolve of students to engage their leaders, interrogate them, and challenge unpopular policies made it possible for Labour.

In Nigeria, instead of citizens engagement, we tend to resign to fate and prayer, for issues that call for action plan. Our students prefer to be active in cultism rather than talking truth to power, or challenging them in the market place of ideas. Until we as a people know what we want, until we are ready to take them on on unpopular policies, and lack of good governance, we will continue to witness low quality of governance.

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