By Lauretta Onochie
In 1999 Nigeria returned to democratic rule. It was very surreal. It was a very happy feeling being counted as one from a democratic nation.
And so Nigerians embraced democracy having been under military rule for many years. We had high hopes that within the shortest possible time, Nigeria will join the League of Nations in terms of democratic, electoral and infrastructural reforms.
16 years down the line Nigerians awoke from a great slumber to see that the sort of reforms brought by those who assumed power from 1999 to 2015 were not reforms Nigerians needed. What Nigerians needed were far removed from what was on the table. But one can only offer what they have and that was how PDP caged the nation in lawlessness and impunity.
Everything was subject to manipulation. No processes were allowed to take their course. Nothing ever happened except according to the dictates of those in authority. Our Courts and I mean, the judiciary arm of government were solidly under the control of the federal executive. The national assembly which is the legislative arm of government was controlled and succumbed to the enticement of Ghana must go bags in dollars and other foreign currencies.
There was some sort of negative and unwholesome national reorientation of Nigerians. Our values were thrown out of the Doors. Our ethics took a serious bashing. We lost the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. Those who stood on the values we were raised by, were seen as useless and weak. The hardest hit were our children, who were born into such a messed up system.
Children grew up to see their parents receive gratifications for jobs they did not do. Children grew up to see their parents squander funds meant to pay for contracts awarded to them and which were abandoned. They saw their parents who were civil servants on Grade level 8 building Estates and mansions they couldn’t afford with their take-home pays while being honoured with the front pews in churches, mosques and religious organisations.
Our children were no longer allowed to do chores in their homes simply because we have a maid and a servant who are in most cases treated as less than human beings in our homes. While overworkjng our domestic staff, we instilled the culture of laziness in our children.
Our children were no longer open to competing with their peers. In Primary school, we suffocate their teachers with gifts, covertly buying the top position for our children. In secondary schools, we sponsor teachers on overseas holiday they cannot afford. We all know what happens when we rush our 15 year olds into universities.
That must be the right way to go. That’s what we did to ourselves and our future generation.
That’s how we got to where we were. And then we decided we have had enough; that our system needed a total overhauling. Nigerians voted to have another leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who now wants to be nothing other than a democratic leader.
But Nigerians are still the same. They voted for General Buhari and not for President Buhari. They want President Buhari to deal with the National Assembly, ruthlessly, and for the passage of the budgets, romance them with Ghana Must Go sacks of dollars. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be now! But the President, a true democrat, followed the laws of our land and refused to go to war with the 7th Assembly. Today, where are they?
As it was done in the past, some Nigerians also, insist that the President controls the courts too. If a major case goes against the opposition, they march through the streets of Abuja, shamelessly, in disrespect to our legal institutions not only believing, but verbalising that President Buhari is doing exactly what they did. As they are, so they think others are.
The saddest is that when President Buhari’s friends also lose cases, they fall to the ground, kicking and screaming that President Buhari has let them down by not manipulating court processes in their favour. And these are people who campaigned for change. They too do not UNDERSTAND the meaning of CHANGE.
Over the last three weeks, aides of the President have been inaundated with messages to tell the President to “Call the governor of Rivers and Kano states to order”. “How and why?”, I asked. President Muhammadu Buhari is not the monitor for state Governors. Every state governor, with it’s state House of Assembly, are accountable to the people of that state. President Muhammadu Buhari will not disrespect a state governor, who was duly elected by his people and who has executive powers to govern a state. It’s same as disrespecting the people of that state, who elected that governor, unless the governor, asks for such intervention. (NOTE: Ask for, NOT blackmail or bully the President for an intervention.)
Governor Nasir Elrufai did not need the permission of President Buhari to place Kaduna in lockdown. Same for Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, etc. In fact, Mallam Elrufai has extended the lockdown in his state for another 30 days without blackmailing the President. He is one heck of a Mallam with a good heart and the political will to do what’s best for his people of Kaduna State. Mallam Elrufai is embedding change in his state.
Change does not mean, “Change PDP to APC. Remove a rotten system under PDP that manipulated everything for their followers, with no regards for our laws and constitution, and bring in President Buhari, a righteous man, to continue with the same rotten system, this time, manipulating for the benefit of his own followers who missed out in PDP”! No! That is not the meaning of change.
Change means we must not do things the way we used to do them. In the past, we expected public servants to DISH out free cash. It was justified that everyone in government must have their hands in the cookie jar. Change means we do not expect public servants to be SHARING billions in cash because we expect that they should keep their fingers to themselves. But when you insist that your leaders must give you cash, which you feel entitled to, you are encouraging the old order and killing CHANGE.
Change also means respect for one another. For example, Gov. Nyesom Wike, a product of lawlessness and impunity, MUST now learn to show respect to Pres. Muhammadu Buhari, a leader who does not discriminate among governors and their states, irrespective of party affiliation. It’s a learning curve for him so I expect him to keep learning.
Finally, Let’s re-examine our understanding of CHANGE. Have we changed our attitudes, values and most importantly, our mindsets to accommodate contentment? Have we updated the meaning of RESPECT in the way we relate with one another? Let’s be the CHANGE we want. We must not encourage our leaders to steal massively from us in order to accommodate our greed by giving us peanuts. That too, is change! Let’s Embrace Change!
Aide to the President (Social Media)
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