By Patrick O. Okigbo III
In Nkem Nwankwo’s 1964 novel, Danda, the fictional character, despite all his shenanigans, was never allowed to gain membership of the Council of Elders. Fast forward 5 decades on, Nigeria has regressed to such a point that many Danda-like characters have overrun the highest “Council” in the land: the political leadership across the federal and state governments.
None has a more public display of uncouthness than the undistinguished Senator Dino Melaye. There is no month that goes by without his new attempt at a new low. A novel with a character such as Dino would be dismissed by critics as too outlandish to be real. But real, he is. He sits in the Senate. He makes laws that govern 200 million people going on 450 million in another two decades.
But we have a Dino because as my friend, Jide Adedeji, often reminds us: In Nigeria, those who should be listening, with pen and paper in hand, are the ones talking because those who should talk have vacated the space. For years, politicians sold the rest of us a dummy; they convinced us that politics is a dirty-game. So many exited the space. It is time to re-engage.
Do not blame Dino, who, like his namesakes, should have gone extinct a while back. Rather, he (and his cohort of comedians) peddle their act and drive Nigeria to state of dystopia because we have refused to engage.
Don’t get me wrong, Dino is a great politician. He understands his base. Like Trump, he knows how to feed this base with what the rest of the civilized world considers to be anathema but which the base laps up with great zest.
We can check this trend before it reaches the inflection point of no-return? It is possible but difficult. Difficult because most Nigerians are now firmly jaded and have lulled themselves into a belief in their powerlessness to change the polity. Of the 67.4 million registered voters, only 29.4 million (43 percent) voted in the 2015 Federal Elections. This is deplorable.
We must all do better. The first step is to #GetYourPVC. INEC is currently registering voters. About 7 million new voters have registered since 2015. We need more. Getting the permanent voters card is the first step in a long journey to reclaim Nigeria’s commanding heights from those who are bereft of ideas. The little discomfort of getting the PVC is far less than the lifetime of underdevelopment that awaits us all.
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