#NewLeadership: Ask yourself honestly, what exactly are we fighting for? ~ @Chude Jideonwo

Published:19 Jan, 2013

photo-10

Ask yourself honestly, what exactly are we fighting for? (#NewLeadership Series by Chude Jideonwo)

I began to worry last year when I sat down after theelections and asked myself – when young people say they want “change”, do we really know what we are talking about?

I have spoken about the futility of a youth agenda. Indeed, what is needed in its stead is a clarity of purpose: what exactly is the “change we need”?

Let me quickly explain. South Africans had a clear idea of the change they wanted – the end of apartheid. Nigeria’s founding fathers – the end of colonial rule. South Sudan – ‘Give us our own country’. The American Civil Rights Movement – end of segregation. Obama’s 2008 army, despite the deceptive ambiguity was very clear – Obama. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya – unseating dictators.

Young Nigerians – actually, all Nigerians – unfortunately don’t have that kind of clarity. Nobody can really answer the question: What exactly are we ‘fighting’ for? That’s a tragedy.

While there is the danger of a single problem (or single solution), a people who want to transform their country must know the core of what they want so that they can effectively focus their strengths and get it.

Look at some of the few times in Nigeria when we had a real mass revolt that actually made a difference. When Igbos wanted Biafra, when Nigerians wanted MKO Abiola, when we wanted Abacha gone, and each time we have fought against a fuel subsidy increase that signaled a “wicked government” (Note: It wasn’t about the subsidy removal, it was about the “wickedness” of the government, which is a broad, galvanizing issue).

The reason behind the magic is simple: the majority – rich and poor, literate or not, male or female – wanted the same thing.

For a mass action to work, it has to be a cause bigger than all of us; a cause for which people are ready to stake their reputations, their freedoms, even their lives.

Right now, there are too many voices asking for too many things; refusing to submerge special interest once in a while under a larger vision. That is one challenge.

The second challenge is this, and this might be controversial: our problems are comparatively less dire than being treated as a slave in America, as a second-class citizen in South Africa, or being unable to run for office in pre-colonial Nigeria.

Nigeria’s peculiarity lies in the fact that our system should have collapsed finally by now, but by some miracle it’s still holding up. Our systems actually, somehow somehow, work. They are weak, they are corrupt, but many people still get minimum service from teaching hospitals, many get their pensions from government offices, many go to police and get some measure ofprotection – there is a deceptive appearance of normalcy, until there’s a huge event that showcases in stark terms the deeply sorry state of affairs. Unfortunately or fortunately, it always passes too quickly or we recover even quicker.

So we find our lives bearable, and think perhaps it can get better.

So maybe we should therefore stop berating Nigerians for not setting themselves on fire like the Tunisian hero who set off the Arab Springs.

Maybe the nation’s thought leaders should instead ask themselves: why haven’t we yet told a coherent tale; one that has a mass appeal and that can drive a national movement? If those crying for change have not yet defined the change they want to see, how do you expect people to die for what they cannot understand; something they do not believe in?

Then there is the third challenge; that Nigeria is a country too fragmented by ethnic and other divisions. But that should not be a fatal impediment. If politicians of allpersuasions and stripes could come together to work for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to achieve a common purpose of achieving power, then change-minded Nigerians with an agenda can replicate that.

The 2011 elections were an example of this. Civil society groups, political parties, churches, mosques and everyone else had a single goal: preventing rigging and ensuring a free and fair elections. Many tried to distract from this focus by emphasising candidates and candidacy, but as civil society noted correctly – fielding candidates is largely a question for political parties.

That unrelenting focuspaid off: despite what the opposition chooses to say, the elections were not without corruption, but they were free and fair, and largely reflected, in each state, the will of the people.

If you ask me, that singular goal should again be the focus of 2015. We should again focus on free and fair elections but not just on Election Day. It should start with persistent advocacy for internal democracy in political parties, it should insist that INEC widen the field of options for candidacy, political education for the electorate across the country, strengthen electoral funding laws and institute independent monitoring for enforcement.

People have said what are free and fair elections without good candidates? Then I ask, what qualifies a candidate as good? Democracy is not perfect – but as long as every qualified person can aspire and make himself or herself available to be elected; if apeople vote a particular person, then that is good enough for me. If the person doesn’t meet the people’s expectation, they can recall him in the short term or get him out in four years.

If the push and pull of elections are allowed to run unfettered, ultimately we have the change we seek, because politicians will have the fear of being voted out. As we have seen in Ondo and Edo, this is a real fear and it can be effective.

I am convinced that once we are able to prove through elections – consolidated over at least four electoral cycles – that bad leadership will not be rewarded; Nigeria will have made the right turn.

Nigerians should know that the voting card is the most important tool for change that we have and we should be pushed to deploy it maximally. I have outlined some of its major pillarsabove.

Again, some will say – and what happens after the free and fair elections are solidified? Well, the same people that forged the first consensus should begin to work on next steps. No nation in the world is ever developed at once or gets to development and stops – countries move from one great wave to another. After you solve apartheid, then the next big issue can be poverty. But you cannot sensibly deal with both big issues at once – that’s a seductive prospect, but that’s just not the way it works. It’s a slow, steady march.

If we decide the issueisn’t free and fair elections, then perhaps it can be corruption – which many have identified (and I agree) as the most important challenge Nigerians face. As inspiration, Anna Hazare’s courageous (if tainted) battle against corruption in India has galvanized the mass population. Maybe security – and the complete absence of respect for human life our government perpetuates? Or is it poverty? Whatever it is, we have to reach some kind of consensus – and consensus takes time.

Historically, political leaders are best able to frame this movement – think Ghandi, think Mandela, Castro, Mao, Lee Kuan Yew.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, we have only the PDP and those who insist the PDP is Nigeria’s bigger problem. At the risk of awakening the “you are an agent of PDP if you say anything good about them” crowd, that is quite simply not true according to the facts. The No-to-PDP campaign might be a media success, but as elections have proven, that is not the case with the electorate.

It is the prerogative of the Congress for Political Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and others to unseat the PDP, because, after all that is what a democracy is about, but that is not a cause that is going to galvanise the public. It will not galvanise them because it is not broadly logical, and therefore lacks resonance.

First, many don’t think the PDP is the problem, they think it is just as flawed as the rest; only bigger. Second, the PDP has delivered many successful governments includingthose of Olusegun Obasanjo, Donald Duke, Godswill Akpabio, Rotimi Amaechi, and Sule Lamido. Third, does any real change happen simply because of a change in politic parties? Has Britain changed since Cameron took it from Brown despite his rhetoric?

The political opposition to the PDP can perhaps be more effective in changing Nigeria if they sit down, frame their vision in simple terms beyond just a party change, get an attractive, capable candidate to drive this vision, and then build a national coalition around whatever this cause will be – something even business leaders and young professionals can buy into and run with.

Unfortunately, as I write, there is no one person or one organisation that has defined clearly this vision of the “change” that we seek and how exactly we will arrive at that destination – and managed to define it in a way that captures the imagination and buy-in of the mass population.

Realising how far awaywe are from this gives me a headache. It reminds me that we have far from started. Thankfully, we can start now.

———-

Chude Jideonwo is publisher/editor-in-chief of Y!, including Y! Magazine, Y! Books, Y! TV & YNaija.com. He is also executive director of The Future Project/The Future Awards. #NewLeadership is a twice-weekly, 12-week project to inspire action from a new generation of leaders – it ends on March 31.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Abdulmumin Jibrin Warns Against Politicisation of Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin has urged members of the National Assembly to support President Buhari’s anti-corruption war.   The Lawmaker’s reaction in a series of tweets Thursday through his verified twitter handle @AbdulAbmJ? comes shortly after opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the national assembly withdrew their support for the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

EFCC Traces Three Mansions To Fayose’s Associate

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) has traced three posh houses to an associate of Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose. The houses, one in Abuja and two in Lagos, are believed to have been bought with part of the N1.219billion pumped into the 2014 governorship election.  The cash believed to be from the office of the National security Adviser (NSA). Fayose has denied having any dealing with the office while Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) was...

Reps Ask EFCC, ICPC To Probe Bala, Others Over Land Swap

The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate the former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, to examine the likely abuse of financial regulations in the land swap policy he introduced while in office. Also to be probed alongside Bala are the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Engr Adamu Ismaila and the coordinator, Abuja Infrastructure Investment...

Aisha Buhari Gives Fayose 5 Days To Apologize Or Go To Court

Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari has described the statement by Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose which fingered her as an accomplice in the famous Halliburton bribery scandal that landed former U.S. lawmaker, Williams Jefferson in jail as “very wild and unfounded.” She threatened to drag Fayose to court if the statement was not retracted within five working days. The letter emanated from the chamber of Mary Ekpere and Co. The letter signed by Ismaila Alasa and Mary Ekpere...

EFCC Arraigns Senior Air Force Officer For Allegedly Receiving N40 Million, Landrover Bribe

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned, AVM Rufus Ojuawo, in an FCT High Court, Apo, for collecting N40 million gift and a Range Rover sports car from Hima Abubakar. Mr. Ojuawo, a former Director of Operations, Nigerian Air Force, was arraigned before Justice Mahawiya Idris on a two-count charge. The charge says Mr. Ojuawo while in office in March, 2015, accepted a gift in the aggregate sum of N40 million from...

Fresh Militants’ Attack In Ikorodu Communities

Gunmen suspected to be militants were said to have invaded Igbolomu and Ishawo areas in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos State. According to eyewitnesses who escaped from one of the invaded areas, said the gunmen from the Niger Delta came through water channel since yesterday and started shooting sporadically. Credit: Vanguard

Police Confirm Attack On Shell Facility In Imo

The police have confirmed an attack on a facility belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) at Awarra, Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo. Andrew Enwerem, the police public relations officer in the state, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Owerri that the police received report of the attack in the early hours of Thursday. Mr. Enwerem could not disclose the extent of damage done to the facility or the group that carried...

I’m Being Prosecuted For Old Grievances- Dasuki

Former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has told a federal high court in Abuja that he is being punished by some persons at the highest level of power in the country for perceived grievances they had held against him while in active military service many years ago. Dasuki, who did not name any particular person, said the punishment being meted out to him was unfortunate having being borne out of mere vendetta.

Government May Borrow N165b To Pay Civil Servants

With fast declining revenue, the Federal Government said yesterday it is now faced with the prospect of borrowing to meet the monthly civil service wage bill of N165 billion. Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who had met with protesting workers of her ministry on Wednesday, said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that she does not have any power to pay N1.2 billion, which was not in the budget of the Ministry. The minister said...

Nigerians In UK, Europe Express Disappointment With Referendum Result

A cross section of Nigerians in Europe on Friday expressed disappointment over the decision of the UK in a referendum to leave the European Union. Results released early on Friday by UK authorities indicated that 17, 410,742 Britons voted to leave EU, while 16,141,241 others voted to remain. The Leave campaigners won by 52 per cent to 48 per cent with England and Wales voting...

Militants Threaten To Resume Bombing As New Group Emerges

Niger Delta militants have threatened to re­sume hostilities and have alleged that the two weeks ceasefire agree­ment elapsed without any commitment on the part of the Federal Gov­ernment. The fighters said gov­ernment officials are more interested in grand­standing rather than initiating dialogue with them. In a statement entitled: ‘If you make the peace­ful change that we seek impossible, we will make violent change possible’, a group called Ultimate Warriors of the Niger Delta said if...

New Zealand PM Rules Out Ransom For Citizen Abducted In Nigeria

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, on Thursday ruled out paying a ransom as a long-held government standing for a New Zealander abducted a day earlier by gunmen in southern Nigeria. He said at a press conference in Wellington that there was no chance of the government paying a ransom for the release of New Zealander being held hostage in Nigeria. Key said the compromise would only put a bounty on the head of any...

PDP Senate Caucus Withdraws Support For Buhari

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senate caucus yesterday announced its withdrawal of cooperation with the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led Federal Government. The caucus said the resolution would subsist until the government “ceases the belligerent attitude towards PDP members.” A communiqué read by Senate Deputy Minority Leader Emmanuel Bwacha, endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, Minority Whip, Philip Aduda and Deputy Minority Whip, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, said the resolution was adopted at a meeting...

Shootout In Maiduguri Government House Over Rice Distribution

There was shootout between policemen and soldiers in Maiduguri Government  House Thursday afternoon when soldiers in a truck attempted to forcefully get a share of the rice being distributed to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) not living in camps. Reporters gathered that the distribution of rice for the IDPs had started from about a week ago under the watch of policemen in the Government House who are to ensure that the rice is given only to...

FG Suspends Sack Of Resident Doctors, Negotiations Continue

The federal government wednesday suspended the sack of members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) pending the conclusion of the ongoing negotiations on the matter. This was part of the resolutions reached at the mediatory meeting initiated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, between the federal government delegation and leaders of NARD. The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, was quoted to have suspended the sack as part...

Gunmen Kidnap Foreign Contractors In Calabar

At least three Australian citizens and one Australian resident, who were contractors for Lafarge cement company have been kidnapped and their driver killed in Calabar, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday. There was an initial confusion over the number of victims and nationalities of those involved, as police in gave conflicting accounts, Reuters said in a report. But media reports indicate that three Australians, a New Zealander, a South African and two Nigerians...

AMCON Shuts Senator Bruce’s Companies Over Debt

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria on Thursday morning sealed the Abuja premises of Silverbird Galleria belonging to Senator Ben Murray Bruce. The galleria currently houses the Abuja studio of the Radio and Television stations of the senator as well as his other business interests. Apart from Bruce’s companies, the seven storey building also houses other business interest of private individuals such as Shoprite, among others. The building was...

House Of Reps To Conduct Public Hearing On U.S. Sexual Allegations Against Members

The House of Representatives says it will convene a public hearing as part of its investigations into an alleged sex scandal involving three of its members. The hearing will allow Nigerians weigh in on the matter and be transparently engaged in the investigations as promised by the House leadership, Nicholas Ossai, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said. The scandal allegedly occurred in the U.S. state of Ohio early June. The allegations were...

Army Debunks Militants Allegation On Plot To Topple Buhari’s Govt

Authorities of the Nigerian Army have said allegation by a militant group claiming that a coup plot to remove the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari were the handiwork of mischief makers since there was nothing like that in the offing. A statement titled ‘Warning to Mischief Makers; Nobody is Planning Any Coup’ and signed by Col Sani Usman said, “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to another campaign of calumny and distraction by...

Boko Haram Fracturing Over Islamic State Ties- U.S. General

A senior U.S. military general on Wednesday said the terrorist group in Nigerian, Boko Haram, had been fractured internally. Lieut.-Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the nominee to lead U.S. military’s Africa Command, disclosed this in Washington during his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said that the problem in the group resulted from some members splitting from shadowy leader, Abubakar Shekau, over his failure to adhere to guidance from the Iraq and Syria-based Islamic...

Nigeria Cuts Off Gas Supply To Ghana

Nigeria has suspended the flow of natural gas to Ghana over unpaid bills, local media reported on Wednesday, saying an amount of some USD 180 million was outstanding. News outlets reported that Ghana’s state-owned Volta River Authority owes N-Gas, which in turn is in arrears to the West African Pipeline Company, the operator of the conduit that transports gas from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and onwards to Ghana. The latter’s arrears have been building since October...