By Nwachukwu Egbunike
“Things do not change, we change” – Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
Nigerians are an exceptional race. We seem to possess an infinite coefficient of passivity, the unending elasticity to withstand the absurd. The 2011 Elections is so close, yet one notices that our politicians have learnt nothing and as such, cannot be expected to change. While the campaigns assume a high-pitch or better put, an irritating acme, yet it seems that most of them have no agenda of addressing the common good. The impression is rather a tough contest to climb on top and it matters little if Nigerians are squashed in the process.
However, this attitude is not novel, rather it’s the usual but not normal attitude of political office holders in Nigeria. Nonetheless, does this exempt Nigerians for seeking a change? Of course not! Sadly however, is that many of us do not seem to care. As long as our daily ‘eba‘ is assured, we really do not worry about those who are supposed to serve us.
A friend of mine, a doctor in a hospital in the suburbs of Ibadan, narrated a rather painful incident. He was the only doctor on call, when accident victims were rushed into the casualty ward. These ‘patients’ were thugs who had sustained injuries in a road traffic accident after a political rally. Lead by a Senator of the Federal Republic, my friend was expected to do the impossible. Briefly put: public hospitals in Ibadan have been on industrial action – both state and federal. The grouse was that doctors have not been paid. My friends hospital is already strained with the influx of patients from these public infirmary.
So when the dis-honourable Senator, insisted that the doctor on call should perform magic, my friend politely informed him that he cannot admit any patient. His hospital lacks a CT-scan, the only one in town is in one of the public clinics that is on strike. The Senator was surprised that these hospital have been shut for many months. He said that he has been in Abuja and therefore is not aware of the events in his constituency. In short, he did not know about the industrial action.
While we can spend eternity complaining, the fact remains that many politicians will not change. However the greatest tragedy is that we the voters, do nothing. Little wonder Richard Dowden (2008:81) in his book, Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracle laments:
For outsiders, the passivity of Africans in the face of appalling oppression was depressing…. In Nigeria, more than 100 million people were ruled for twenty-nine years by an army officially 70,000 strong, of which probably only one-thirds were effective. That meant only 1 soldier for more than 2,000 Nigerians. And yet in all that time, there was not one popular democratic movement of significance.
Unfortunately this scenario continues to be valid, even after the soldiers have retired to their barracks. Currently the oligocrats who are in charge of our democracy, though over bloated. Nonetheless, they form an insignificant class when compared to the oft-repeated 15o million Nigerian population. Let’s not allow history to repeat itself, vote to change. My people say that it’s not the fault of the mouth that it did not speak, rather the ear should take the blame for not hearing, even when the mouth has spoken.
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