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by Uyu Eyo Ita
It seems that politics in Nigeria has always been a case of the lesser of two evils: it is not that candidate A is the ideal choice but compared with candidate B then A might as well be the only choice. The only exception to this was the first time that the current president got elected. You could almost reach out and touch the hope of millions of Nigerians, see the excitement deep in their hearts and the blind faith that they had in the man that had no shoes. It was reported to have been the most transparent election in the history of Nigeria.
Four years down the road, the people’s faces are withered and disillusioned. The problems seemed to be made worse by the once shoeless president and his team bent on amassing personal gain at the expense of public interest. There have been so many scandals involving his cabinet during his tenure that in typical Nigerian fashion, we simply lost interest and moved on with life as we know it. How could we come to terms that N5 trillion naira has been stolen since he got elected? While the president did not personally siphon all that money, he is at the helm of affair and it all happened on his watch. Until he came into power, Nigerians did not know that mere ministers could cruise around in armoured cars or that staggering sums of money could just disappear without anyone having a clue where it has gone. He will go down in history as the Nigerian President that did next to nothing to tackle the systemic corruption that plagues us. And then there is the security challenges in the country. Under his watch and before our eyes, Boko haram morphed from a security threat to an international terrorist organization with their most recent atrocities being the slaughtering of 2,000 innocent Nigerians in Baga. Nobody knows what has become of the 276 abducted Chibok girls.
In comes 2015 and with it, our patience, never in huge supply in normal circumstances, have run out. Anything has to be better than our current reality or is it? I see no clearly articulated plan for Nigeria from the opposition apart from platitudes on fighting corruption and a depiction of Buhari as the saint that never embezzled public funds. These are commendable in itself but that is not where the problems of our system begins and ends. What strategies will rescue our ailing education system? How will our youths become not just employable but masters of industries? How can we have an efficient energy system? The world is turning its back on our oil, what will become of our mono-economy? Leaving the many conspiracy theories that is never too far from the minds of Nigerians about Buhari (that he is out to Islamise the country); he has not satisfactorily given sound answers to these questions and this is why I remain unconvinced.
For the jaded majority, the idea of change and hope are as distant as the stars. We do not ask for much: security within our borders, a little less unemployment, a less erratic electricity supply (because to hope for a steady supply is a bit more than we can do) and if we are very, very lucky maybe an accountable government. These are things that most of the free world take for granted but not so for us.
Who will deliver these things to us? Why must the choice be between an incumbent with a less than sterling record (if the truth be told and away from the fire of tribalism and agenda setting) and an ex-military ruler who had his chance over thirty years ago? We deserve better but this is all we have and come February 14th, Nigerians will cast their lot for the lesser of two evils and no matter which way the scale tips, it will still be an evil.
Uyu Eyo Ita is a writer, poet and an Economist based in Coventry, United Kingdom.
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