#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

‘President’ Ambode: Lagos to link inner roads to Smart city project

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Friday said plans are afoot to link inner roads in the State to the Lagos Smart City Project, just as he expressed readiness to commence deployment of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras in October across the State. Governor Ambode, who disclosed this in Coker Aguda area of the State at the commissioning of some of the 114 roads, newly constructed in the 20 Local Government Areas (LGs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs),...

Shade Of Life: Ebonyi People are myopic, they don’t behave like Igbos – IPOB

The Indigenous People of Bifara, IPOB, has lampooned the people of Ebonyi State for spurning the sit-at-home order it passed. The group had in a circular issued few days ago, asked Ndigbo nationwide to spend the day indoor in protest against the continuous detention of the leader of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. The directive, however, witnessed non-compliance as normal activities and vehicular movements were unperturbed across Ebonyi State. The Coordinator of IPOB, Mr. Ugochukwu Nweke while reacting to the development, described the...

Buhari approves 56th independence anniversary programme

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the programme of events for the commemoration of Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary. Bolaji Adebiyi, Director of Press in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja. Mr. Adebiyi said an interdenominational thanksgiving church service had been scheduled for September 25 at the National Worship Centre, Abuja at 4p.m. A public lecture and Jumma’at prayers are slated for September 30 at 11 a.m. and 1...

PDP may declare Dariye’s seat vacant – Dachom

Former Organising Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Plateau state, Mr. Mike Dachom, has said that the party might declare the seat of a former governor of the state, Mr. Joshua Dariye, vacant following his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress. Dariye was governor of Plateau State under PDP from 1999 to 2007. Dariye, before his defection, represents Plateau central senatorial zone in the Senate under the PDP. He first got to the Senate under the Labour Party in...

Nigeria loses N800bn to auto policy

The President, Shippers Association, Lagos State, Mr Jonathan Nicol, said the Federal Government had lost about N800 billion to the auto policy on imported vehicles. The 70 per cent tariff and levy on imported vehicles which took effect in 2015, had reduced vehicle imports by more than 50 per cent. Nicol on Friday said that other ports outside Nigeria in Benin, Togo and Ghana now accepted the vehicles and developing their economies with proceeds from the imports. According to him, with the...

MTN denies paying bribe to reduce NCC fine

South Africa’s MTN denied it paid a bribe to Nigerian officials to reduce its fine to 330 billion naira ($1.05bn) as part of settling a dispute over disconnecting unregistered SIM cards in the West African country.   MTN said in a statement on Friday there had been allegations that a top official in the Nigerian presidency took a payment towards reducing the fine.   The telecom group was initially fined $5.2bn last October for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM...

Your anti-corruption policy scaring investors – Sen. Bruce tells Buhari

Senator Ben Bruce (PDP Bayelsa East) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to adjust his approach to the anti-corruption crusade, saying the policy was scaring investors. Bruce, who disclosed this while contributing to the Senate’s debate on the economic recession in the country, said Nigeria should not expect foreign investments as even local investors had stopped investing. He said that people who had money to invest were no longer doing so because the anti-graft agencies were harassing any person with...

EPL: Mourinho feels heat as Wenger marks anniversary

Jose Mourinho has vowed to silence the critics when Manchester United face champions Leicester, while his old rival Arsene Wenger hopes to celebrate a memorable milestone with a rare success against Chelsea on Saturday. Mourinho finds himself under fire less than two months into his United reign after three successive defeats and an unconvincing League Cup win at third tier Northampton. United are already trailing six points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City and another setback at Old Trafford this weekend...

Reps begin investigation into Jibrin’s budget padding allegations.

The House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges on Friday in Abuja, commenced public investigation into allegations of fraud made by Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin against the House. This followed Wednesday’s resolution of the House which mandated the committee to investigate the allegations, bordering on breach of privileges of members. It would be recalled that the former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, accused the leadership of the National Assembly of padding the 2016 budget. In his allegation, Jibrin alluded that the corruption...

Khama should ‘go hang’ for telling Mugabe to step down – Minister

Ian Khama’s call for President Robert Mugabe to step down hasn’t gone down too well with the Zimbabwe government: the Botswana president should just “go hang” Mugabe’s former spin-doctor says. Or he should concentrate on Botswana’s desert, Jonathan Moyo says witheringly in an article for a private weekly in Zimbabwe. Khama’s call on his ageing neighbour to step down after 36 years in power was greeted thankfully by many Zimbabweans on social media, where the current wave of protests against the...

Bayelsa first lady, Rachael Dickson gives birth to quadruplet

Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and family may have to continue in celebration as after many years of childlessness, his wife and First Lady of Bayelsa State, Dr. Rachael Dickson delivered of a quadruplet – a bouncing baby boy and three baby girls.   We gathered that the mother and children are doing very well.   Saint Mienpamo, Special Assistant on Research & Social Media to the Governor says the ”Governor’s joy knows no bound.”   The latest news has been tagged a double celebration as...

Electrician jailed 3 months for stealing N11,000 phone

A Jos Chief Magistrates’ Court on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old electrician, Abdulgafar Musa to three months in prison for stealing a Nokia phone valued N11,000. Musa, of No. 66, Shehu Street, Jos, was charged with theft. The Magistrate, Mr Jovita Binjin, sentenced the convict after he pleaded guilty to the crime and begged for leniency. In his plea, the convict said “It was the devil’s hand work; jobs are not coming and I needed money to eat and also give help to...

Recession: Those demanding asset sale are economic predators – Sani

A Nigerian senator, Shehu Sani, has described proponents of sale of the country’s national asset as “economic predators and profiteers who want to take advantage of the situation in the country.” Mr. Sani, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, said in a statement on Friday that “Nigeria’s capitalist forces raped Nigeria to recession and now they want to kill and bury it.” Nigeria is currently going through one of the worst recessions in its history, due...

Stop expecting too much from Buhari, pray for him – APGA chieftain

A Chieftain of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, in Katsina State, Alhaji Umar Tata, on Friday urged Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari with prayers to lead Nigeria out of its present predicaments. Tata, the party’s governorship candidate in 2015, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Funtua, Katsina state. He cautioned Nigerians against over reliance on the President, saying that “he is human and capable of making mistakes.” According to him, what is...

NEMA returns 5,403 citizens to their homes from IDPs camps

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has confirmed the return of 5403 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to the home after their stay in Camps. The returnees include 1517 in Mafa , 750 in konduga, 1200 in Ngamboru and about 1,936 are due to return to Dikwa This is coming at a period Governor of Borno State Alh kashim shettima and a team of NEMA North East zonal staff led by Zonal coordinator Alh Muhammed Kanar spent the night in Bama in...

Police Uncover Fraudsters’ Den In Ogun

The Ogun State Police Command has uncovered a “fraudsters’ den” at Pokuku Village in the Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state. The den, which was nicknamed “Pokuku Shrine” was until Wednesday allegedly used by suspected fraudsters to carry out different forms of criminal activities such as fraud, according to the police. The state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Ilyasu, on Wednesday said the police raided the shrine after an intelligence report on criminal activities being perpetrated there. The shrine,...

Bayelsa State Gov Dickson’s Wife Gives Birth to Quadruplets

Wife of Bayelsa State governor and first lady of the state, Rachael Dickson, has put to bed quadruplets (four babies) today. The team of four babies includes four females and one boy. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, chief Press secretary to governor Seriake Dickson said in a statement released moments ago: "This is particularly good news for the family and Bayelsans because this bundle of joy is coming after many years of praying and waiting upon the Lord. "Governor Dickson thanks friends, family members and Bayelsans...

Patience Jonathan: EFCC places witnesses against under security watch

As the trial of former aides of ex-First Lady, Patience Jonathan, begins on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed its 13 witnesses in the case under security watch. The witnesses, including a banker and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) are expected to tell the court how four slush accounts were opened for the former First Lady. It was gathered that the accounts were opened by the ex-First Lady’s former Senior Special Assistant (Domestic/Household and Social Events to...

Gov. Dickson hails judiciary as APC, Sylva lose at Appeal Court

The Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, has commended the judiciary for its steadfastness in protecting the sanctity of the ballot and upholding itself as the bastion of the nation’s democracy. Dickson’s comment came on Thursday afternoon following the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the earlier judgement of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, in his favour. Both the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal upheld the election of Dickson, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party...

Markets open as traders boycott IPOB’s sit-at-home order

The sit-at-home order by pro-Biafra groups, especially the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) was boycotted in Imo State Friday. Markets, schools, government offices, as well as other public places were opened for business against the directive of the separatists groups, which ordered complete closure of all markets and business places across the Southeast to pray for the release of the detained IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kalu. In Owerri, the Imo...

Watch This Guy Destroy An iPhone 7 In Order To Test Its Durability

Recently, YouTuber JerryRigEverything got his hands on the new jet black iPhone 7 after reading a peculiar warning on Apple's website. According to the video, while the company assured buyers that the phone's surface is just "as hard as other anodized Apple products," it also said that due to the color's high shine, it "may show fine micro-abrasions with use." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hya-sd4sWY Read More: cosmopolitan