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The Impending April Elections: Time To Take Back Our Sovereignty

I greet you!

As Nigeria’s April elections approach, “We The People” must seriously reflect on the quality of
leadership that we have had in this new democracy. We must decide whether it has been satisfactory to us. And if not, then we must decide now to make a change when we get to the polls. Next to competence and integrity, I suggest humility as a very important quality to look out for in a leader. Unfortunately, it is in short supply amongst the present Nigerian leaders, which is why they segregate against us.

When the white population introduced the ‘Separate but Equal’ doctrine in the twentieth century America, the minorities did not find it to be funny at all. The doctrine maintained that the Caucasian race, otherwise known as white people, were superior. Therefore, they would not share the same social amenities as the ‘inferior’ minority population of the country. For example, some public toilets were labeled “whites only,” and right beside them were toilets labeled “colored people.” A colored person found in a white toilet had better be a cleaner, or he or she faced lynching. Colored people could enter the same buses as the white people, except that the colored people could only stay in the back seats.

There were white schools and colored schools; white churches and colored churches. The idea was to keep the whites apart from the other races as much as humanly possible. The white segregationists truly believed at that time that they were a superior race to the colored peoples of the world. Besides, they were the majority power in a racially heterogeneous society. My point is that, relatively speaking, their act could be said to be a little justifiable, considering all the circumstances under which it was done. But the so-called colored people, especially the African Americans, fought relentlessly, and many paid the ultimate price, until the dehumanizing segregation policy was abolished in the later part of the century. Today, everybody in America enjoys equal rights to every public amenity.

It is now the twenty-first century, and Nigeria’s ruling class is in the process of perfecting a meaner, more dehumanizing form of segregation against their own people. These are their own equals who only temporarily entrust their sovereignty to them. But the Nigerian leaders believe that they are superior to the “ordinary” Nigerians. They have everything separate from the rest of us that they consider as “common people.” Yes, the segregationist Americans did not want to share anything with the ‘inferior races.’ But it is very important to note that  they did endeavored to provide ‘equal’ amenities for them. Hence, their practice was celebrated as “Separate-But-Equal Doctrine.” On the other hand, the segregationist Nigerian rulers of today do not believe that the lesser class citizens deserve anything good. Their doctrine is ‘Separate-And-Not-Equal.’ They provide the best social amenities for themselves and their families, while they grossly neglect the amenities of the masses. Take healthcare delivery, for instance.

Nigerian leaders believe that their families and they are too good for Nigerian hospitals. This means, of course, that they do recognize that our hospitals are in very deplorable conditions. Indeed, they seem to do everything to make sure that the terrible amenities remain that way. And then they jet out to America or England for the most minor medical care, even ordinary headaches. Meanwhile, the rest of us can go ahead and die everyday in the ruins that we call hospitals in this country.

The same is also very true about education. Nigerian leaders can afford to let Nigerian academic institutions to degenerate to pure ruins because their children are not studying in Nigeria. This is true about the President himself, his ministers, the governors and their commissioners, down to their aides. They all have their children in the best schools in America and England, paid for with our money that they steal. They also import every service and every commodity that they use, down to ordinary toothpick, because nothing local is good enough for them. To ensure that we do not equal them, they ban the importation of those same products without making provisions for comparable local alternatives.

Putting it all in a nut-shell, I say that these guys have all our wealth in their private bank accounts. They terrorize us with sirens and trigger-happy gunmen. They bully us into the gutters and bushes to make way for the Almighty ones on our public roads.

They allow our education system and healthcare to rot, while their children are educated in the best schools outside the country. And they run overseas for every minor illness, all on our money. They do not give a damn if NEPA works or not, because they have the power to order NEPA to supply whatever little electricity that exists exclusively to their homes and business empires. If NEPA completely crumbles, they have unlimited supply of our money to ensure that their own little heaven is constant, side by side with the hell that they have plunged the rest of us into.

The Igbo people have a wise saying, which posits that one who is quick to criticize others, must be ready to proffer solutions. So, here is my prescription, which consists of two medicines. First, every registered voter in Nigeria owes this nation a duty to vote consciously and conscientiously to make a difference in the coming elections. And then, collectively, all voters must insist that their votes be counted. I trust Nigerians to pick the right leaders that will actually be called our true representatives. We must replace the present crop that treat us as second class citizens in our own land. My second medicine is a very simple lasting solution to our leadership problem. We can simply insist on the abolition of the existing unwritten separatist doctrine. We can take our sovereignty back from our highly compromised, so-called representatives in the National Assembly. We can force them to give us a piece of anti-separatist law that will turn this country around for the better. The key elements in this piece of legislation should include the following:

(1) No Foreign Education And No foreign Hospital Treatment For Leaders And Their Family Members— The logic here is very simple. If our elected leaders know that they cannot send their children off to study abroad, then they will ensure that our education receives adequate attention. The same goes for hospitals. When the rulers are forced to heal themselves in Nigerian hospitals, they will ensure that hospitals are put in order. Those fat cats certainly do not want to die and leave all that money that they have stolen from us. So, they would put our hospitals aright once they know that they have to use them. We do have the wealth for the best of all those amenities, if only we can control the looting spree of our rulers. Indeed, even with the looting, there is still enough to put things right if only our rulers would be a little compassionate to the rest of us.

(2) No Siren And Armed Escorts To Bully Us As They Clear Traffic For Leaders— This way, they will make a little effort to plan better traffic for all of us. Secondly, we will regain some of our respect and dignity that they trample upon everyday with their trigger-happy henchmen and drunk- like drivers.

(3) General Rule-By-Example Clause— This clause would take care of all the other segregationist practices that are not covered under items 1 and 2 above. For example, no banned foreign product may be found in the possession of our leaders and their families. No more hypocrisy; no more selective application of the law. These guys issue directives to ban the importation of products without any plan for local alternatives. Indeed, their gross inaction and failure are killing the industries that would give us quality alternative local products.

The effects of electricity supply failure is one good example. Industries and businesses are failing every day because Nigeria has no electricity. And the crooks in power turn around and import everything that their families use, down to ordinary toothpick, with our money. In essence, this piece of legislation would remove every obnoxious preferential treatment that our leaders presently enslave us with. For one thing, there would be much less scrambling and killings by politicians to get into power. Elections may no longer be a “do-or-die affair.” Everybody that goes into politics in order to live like tin god with our money would vanish from politics.

Then, maybe, just maybe, we would begin to breed leaders that would actually serve the people, and not rulers who intimidate the people into serving them like overlords. A legislation of this nature makes so much common sense for a society like ours if we are truly interested in moving forward. But we know that our legislators and the rest of our leaders will never let it happen. They want to remain the tin gods forever. They are not in a hurry to return to us the sovereignty that we relinquished to them in our past disgraceful passivity. The time is now, for a change. The time is now, to vote-in humble leaders with integrity!
Harry Agina writes from USA

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