By Bola Bolawole
It is often said that politics is a dirty game; meaning that those who engage in politics are dirty people. People without morals and people without scruples are usually said to be those who are at home with politics: Those who can tell lies without blinking; who can call white black; and who can kill or go to any length to achieve their goals. They are people of low esteem and without character; they do not care about name or reputation. As a result of this negative categorisation of politics, decent people, so to say, distanced themselves from politics, leaving the field wide for the “dirty” guys to flood it. Even where you have decent men and women playing politics, the modus operandi of the game was usually dirty – hooliganism, thuggery, killing and maiming, election rigging, blatant lies and deceitful promises were the hallmark of the game. When politicians win elections and form government, they usually renege on their electoral promises; not only that, they often take flight from the people and only return when they need the people’s vote in subsequent elections.
Thank God, this negative attitude about politics is changing; more and more decent people are joining politics and the rules of the game are more decent and people-focused now than they used to be. The citizens themselves are more knowledgeable and responsive. More than ever before, those in government are being held accountable to the people. In addition to the traditional agencies such as the Legislature, the Judiciary, and the media, we now have social media or the internet as new potent weapons through which citizen participation in governance has assumed even an alarming dimension. The world is now a global village and there is no hiding place for any government, no matter how tyrannical. In this country, for instance, we have had an explosion in the emergence as well as activities of civil society groups and organisations holding government accountable to the people and protesting all manner of injustices and oppression from government to citizens and from citizens to citizens. Citizens who violate the government today are also not likely to go scot-free.
Politics is no longer seen as dirty game for dirty people. Today, the realization is that politics affects, even shapes, every other area of life. He who controls political power controls virtually our life – economic activities, social life, sport, even religious life as recent events have shown. It is, therefore, no surprise that sectors and leaders who, in the past, were apolitical, so to say, have now seen the necessity to take interest in politics. In 2015, virtually all the notable Christian leaders made important “political” comments which went a long way in shaping the decisions eventually made by the electorate. Had religious leaders not given their members the tacit go-ahead to vote according to their conscience, it is unlikely we would have had the CHANGE that has all but turned into ashes in our mouth.
In 2015, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, directed all RCCG members to see to it that they registered and voted in that year’s election. This year, Pastor Adeboye has raised the stakes in that he has directed members to join political parties of their choice as well as participate actively in politics, starting from the ward level. Whatever meaning anyone may read into this, there is no denying the fact that it is merely reminding or encouraging citizens to be alive to their civic responsibilities. When citizens are apathetic, good governance suffers. The people themselves end up short-changing themselves and democracy ultimately suffers.
Last week we discussed here our expectations for 2017: Stop the pogrom in southern Kaduna and the killings elsewhere; complete the Boko Haram rout as well as pursue peace, not war, in the South-east and South-south; rescue the economy in all of its ramifications from imminent collapse and stop the untold suffering in the land; make our elections free and fair again; and let the Southerners\Christians in the APC\Muhammadu Buhari stop their acts of cowardice and stand up to be counted on the side of their people and faith. I now add that in 2017, I expect to see more citizen action, the type that was everywhere visible during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. More than anything else, civil society was the nemesis of the Jonathan administration. APC\Buhari only latched on to the momentum and rode the crest to power.
Since then, however, it is like civil society and pro-democracy activists have gone to sleep or have abandoned the struggle, as they say. Reasons advanced for this include that the civil society groups were largely financed or sponsored by the APC; they were thus a wing of the party and were not the disinterested or altruistic parties that they claimed to be. Two: The huge hope invested in APC\Buhari made them, like most other Nigerians, to drop their guard, believing that those parroting CHANGE would deliver on their promise. Three: The failure of APC\Buhari so far has led to widespread disappointment and disillusionment and a battle-weary civil society group can only withdraw to its shell and lick its wounds.
It is time to shake off the lethargy and be up and doing again. Where we are today is worse than where Jonathan left us. The task at hand cannot be easier than that undertaken under Jonathan. If anything, it promises to be more herculean.
LAST WORD: It is not true that prophecies are useless and do not contribute to national development. Prophecies, when they are from God, are the mind of God and I wonder how anyone can dismiss that as useless. While we may speak out against false and fake prophecies\prophets, we should be careful not to throw the baby away with the bath water. Prophecies have been known to solve knotty problems and avert disasters; hence, let no one discourage or bad-mouth prophecies.
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