There is an observable trend towards government and its key players by the Nigerian masses. To describe that trend as apathy is to be polite, but everything should be done to ensure that this apathy does not degenerate into hostility. There is also another observable trend towards second-tenure government, which can be described in Nigerian university campus lingo, as “October rush”.
The growing apathy towards government can be traced to a privatization of the process of governance which makes a mockery of democracy. A privatized system of governance is like a cult system which is exclusive rather than inclusive. The beauty of democracy is that its inclusive ideal makes it possible for all stakeholders to contribute their best towards an effective governance, despite diversity of interest.
The sad price which an exclusive system of governance imposes on a polity is the closing of windows of opportunities from diverse interests. We cannot deny the fact that Nigerian politics and those engaged in it are opportunistic as well as risk-taking adventurers. When politicians borrow heavily or use state resources to emerge successful in elections, they are engaged in a risk taking venture. It is a serious disaster if they fail at the end of the day; which is a possibility.
It is obvious that winning in money – politics has a price attached to such success. A part of that price includes having to appease those who invested in the risky venture; they would want to recoup their investments. It is obvious that any government which comes to power through such horse-trading adventures would be limited in the scope of who to bring on board. This is one way that exclusiveness comes into governance.
It cannot be denied that Nigeria is blessed with abundance of human abilities and talents. Those who have much to offer to humanity do not go begging for opportunities to do so, neither would they kow tow to party loyalty and conditions. They are usually not opportunists or gamblers, but serve according to the dictates of their personal volition, without having their hands tied to any power structure. Definitely there are several Nigerians of this mould who place value on their independence and peace of mind, than on money and what money can do. They may be rare to find but they are there.
An important item on the agenda of any new government that wants to serve people rather than existing power structure, should be to pick out from the silent and unobtrusive minority, Nigerians who put service as a priority. They are there in every walk of life, neither do they advertise themselves or throw their weight about here and there. Their peculiar life-style keeps them away from the crowd, neither do they join political parties, lest they get tainted and diverted from their value orientation.
Only those who seek earnestly and without guile stand the chance of finding true values. Why things rarely work effectively in Nigeria is not because there are no serious-minded people who can make things work. Rather, the problem is that we are not selective, neither do we look for the best. Sound management practices put emphasis on selectivity and merit, but what we find in Nigeria is a buccaneer system where anything is acceptable. Nations are not built that way!
It is this buccaneer system of governance which accounts for the growing apathy towards politics, especially by the articulate class of Nigerians. It would be a lie to say that there are no people of honour, high integrity and noble volition of Nigeria, even in the political arena. Rather, a buccaneer system breeds corruption.
Second-tenure government, like the “October rush” of campus students, is usually characterized by scrambles to keep something aside for the future and appease some groups, etc. It is a period when numerous contracts are awarded and contractors paid up-front and projects abandoned uncompleted. Towards the end of second tenure, there are usually possibilities of several months of salaries and pensions accumulating for the next government to pay. We would not want to see several projects abandoned for a new government to inherit, neither should gamblers be settled with public fund.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, PH.