At this moment, the real enemies of this country are the supporters of both President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari (retd.). They have mischievously and heedlessly chosen to focus on trivialities rather than real issues in their attempts to publicize their respective candidates.
It is quite disheartening seeing supposedly intelligent people leave real issues such as economy, healthcare, corruption, jobs, insecurity, strengthening national institutions, and making a point or two about Nigeria’s inclusion in the global economic race, etc, all of which have bedeviled us as a nation and focus on trivialities.
Four solid weeks have been wasted in the silly discourse over a piece of paper called school certificate. If they are not asking for Buhari’s primary school certificate, they are questioning his HIV status. If they are not asking for President Jonathan’s PhD thesis, they are questioning his credibility as a leader.
The social media climate is unnecessarily charged to the rooftop by senseless, most times stupid and exaggerated comments. One can feel the intensity of the disquietness, the hurling of insults, the hate language that pervades the virtual air. Values, character, decency and integrity have all lost their meanings and are no longer upheld.
Some of the so-called social media influencers and their coteries are acting like Facebook and Twitter class captains; unapologetic in their palpable overbearing and imperious hard-edged bristling criticisms and comments at the slightest opportunity.
A while ago, the same people put up strong critique and condemnation on those alleged to have sparked violence in the past through their inflammable public utterances. Can these same people with their hate language and base attitudes, hiding under internet anonymity, morally justify their critique and condemnation in the past?
In fact, it is in this “silly” season that you know people who are adroit in the abuse language. As you are reading this, there is little space for morals both in the virtual and real worlds.
The road to the forthcoming elections has been occupied by odium and diatribe. Decorum is dead. Anything goes. Nothing is guaranteed as the political big wigs ride on the back of impoverished hungry, disillusioned voters to stick to power.
From the virtual world of hurling insults and hate language to the one of hurling stones at a moving convoy of one’s President, we seem to be in overdrive to prove how animalistic we have become. I wonder if those dolts ever realized the risky nature of their actions. That any one of them could have been shot dead by the armed escorts for trying to make an attempt on the life of a President. That is the level we have degenerated. Ignorance is a dangerous friend to love.
Unfortunately, that shameless act has received the least condemnation from the opposition, but not as much as it has niggled over the slightest decision taken by the ruling government.
Today, a clergy man is celebrated like a rock star, not because he expressed his personal opinion, but because his remarks are seen as anti-Jonathan. In the same vein, another clergy man is vilified, given a black eye just because his remarks are seen as not promoting the interest of a particular region.
There are those whose stock-in-trade is to deliberately spread wicked lies manufactured from misconceived and misconstrued messages from the pulpit just to score a point, denigrate or destroy a particular candidate.
Leadership is a reflection of its society, so they say. You cannot give what you don’t have. Can we produce an authentic leadership from this pool of obstinate Philistine citizenry that seem to be in the majority? Are we determined and committed to effect the so-called ‘change’ many of us are yearning for?
Don’t forget we have always clamoured for ‘change’ for those of us whose memories have become calcified by succeeding season of bad leadership. Each regime seeming comparatively worse than the previous. And, in our split-personality character as a nation, we are quick to applaud the previous condemned regime and clamour for its return as a panacea.
Once upon a time, one of the present Presidential aspirants was condemned for his heavy handedness and oppressive administration. Today, like the biblical pathfinder, we are proclaiming his return, the messianic way. In the words of his teeming supporters, many of whom were among those who denounced him, he is the ‘change’ we need.
His name and that of his second then, sent alarm bells of danger. This inspired some of us to light seven yellow candles and seven red candles soliciting for divine intervention to what was seen as an infliction on a good people. His exit by the efficacy of our prayers, believe it or not, was applauded across the nation and was a big relief. And then suddenly, the same ‘monster’ has become the authenticate leadership we are all looking for.
President Jonathan’s leadership rating is considered the worst in the history of Nigeria. And as a result, he has produced more philosophasters than any other the country has had. In fact, the most deficient Nigerian has been able to compare himself or herself with Jonathan, the President.
However, many will not be surprised if in the future the same Jonathan who has been so much denigrated even by his own, who has all the negative press cascading on his head, will one day be seen as the ‘Messiah’ ‘we need’ by the same people who hurl insults and pass judgment of incompetence on him.
No genuine patriotic Nigerian should be at ease with the glee of odium, bad blood, viciousness and total lack of decorum and netiquette trending online and beyond. A few prominent political personalities were blamed for the violence that greeted the last election. Without knowing it, we are gradually, but collectively and dangerously laying the foundation for a more perilous violence to come.
There is a palpable viperous competition going online between the supporters of President Jonathan and Gen. Buhari (retd.). Someone should remind them of the words of Irvin Himmel that, “No one has ever made himself great by showing how small someone else is.”
Frank Opara is freelance writer based in Abuja.