By James Ogunjimi
“Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.” – Milton Friedman
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
In my interaction with people and numerous engagements on social media, I have come to realise that when it comes to changing governments in Nigeria, majority of our people think we are limited to just two options: Vote PDP or Vote APC.
I have had cause to hold discussions with people and I realised that the prevalent notion is that as far as changing governments is concerned, we think it is a case of being stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Others are of the opinion that we are expected to choose from the list of aspirants and parties and choose the perceived lesser devil.
But then, we aren’t stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, our options aren’t limited to all these old and recycled political parties and their flag bearers; we only have an illusion of being stuck because we have not thoroughly studied the situation of things. We have based our assertions and thought pattern on what everybody else thinks; we are yet to form individual opinions that emanate from a thorough study of our situation, a critical look at our leaders over time and the body language of the ordinary people.
During electioneering, Nigerians scrutinise the aspirants and realise that they are the same, but then, they dig even deeper and choose to vote for the one that is ‘less bad’, but it doesn’t take more than 6 months for their eyes to become clear to see that they have made a mistake whose repercussion they will suffer for 3 years.
What I call the ‘third’ option is perhaps the hardest and that is why most Nigerians find it easier to collect one congo of rice and sachet tomato and suffer for 4 years rather than rise up collectively to reject this flawed system. The ‘third’ option is an option to either continue year in year out to elect leaders who do not care about the masses, or revolt against a system that paints such leaders as the only option and glorifies looting and plundering of the national treasury. The ‘third’ option is an option that takes away power from greedy and quarter-to-dead leaders that have turned public office to their birthright and place it in the hands of the ordinary people.
The ‘third’ option is an option to wrest power from those who have turned it to a money-making venture and meal ticket and place it in the hands of the collective. The ‘third’ option is an option that stops the blind trust and misplaced loyalty of the people to the flawed political parties lying around and in the failed political system being operated. The ‘third’ option is an option that encourages the masses to ask questions on matters of governance and demand accountability rather than stifle them.
The ‘third’ option is an option that establishes a system that makes heroes of hardworking men and women rather than light-fingered politicians. The ‘third’ option is an option that builds cells and platforms relentlessly as a viable alternative to the political parties who have no clear plans for the masses and no clear direction on how to lift the nation out of the quagmire of corruption and insecurity, in preparation for the ‘crisis’ that will pave way for a challenge for power by ordinary people.
Considering and giving the ‘third’ option a chance helps the Yoruba man understand that the Igbo man isn’t his enemy. It helps the Hausa man understand that his enemy isn’t the Yoruba man. It helps the Muslim understand that the Christian isn’t his enemy. It shows very clearly to all that the masses have a collective enemy: This anti-masses government and it helps them unite to fight their common enemy.
The ‘third’ option is an option to revolt rather than sit in the corners of our rooms grumbling about how bad the system is. It is an option to be brave enough to do something about our situation rather than go through life suffering and smiling. It is an option to go beyond criticising government and analysing heated political situations to change that system that overheats the polity to achieve its selfish purposes.
True, most people think this ‘third’ option is impossible, but then, if anything is possible at its first attempt; it hardly lasts. We have had our chances to overturn this system, but then, we have spurned the glorious chances and have almost taken power from one devil and hand it over to another devil. In 2012, the uprising could have toppled this government, but then, those who would have power today would be the same crop of leaders, because we would only have succeeded in toppling the government; the system would still remain.
Before another chance presents itself, we must build, we must engage, we must take the work of enlightenment religiously. We must build platforms that would serve as alternatives to these known political parties, we must stop the bad habit of distancing ourselves from the downtrodden and have-nots; we must engage them in discussions and stir political debates towards system change.
Like Beautiful Nubia sang, “The people are ready…they are tired of promises.” When we move close to the people, take interest in them and hear what they have to say, we would realise that the people have always been ready; they just need the right push in the right direction, undiluted political education and reliable and ideologically-clear platforms to lead them.
They want to be sure that when they finally arise and move powerfully against this system and successfully overturn it, they will have better lives, they would have food to eat, they would have shelter, their children would have access to quality and affordable education, and that power will not somehow find its way back into the hands of the people they fought.
The ‘third’ option is possible and we must keep that hope alive, remain vigilant and await the ‘crisis’ that will be our ride to power. Like the Christians continue to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ even though they don’t know when it will be, we must continue to work, plan and build in anticipation of another chance that will allow us to challenge for power with the right people, under the right conditions, with the right orientation and marching under the right banner.
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