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Confronting Political and Idea Dehydration in Nigeria’s Politics

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

By political or idea dehydration, which can creep into our lives in many ways, we refer to situations where we fail to depart from our past and mostly doing everything like before. We almost know the next step the President will take because we have been here before. A typical example is the President of Nigeria always repeating his goal as fighting corruption, ending insurgency, bringing back stolen moneys, same song every Sunday service, etc. Same speech all the times, everywhere. It is an infection and by learning to combat this infection can be the difference between a healthy nation and a broken one, a healthy social life and uncontrolled and disorderly one, a great leader and a weak one. Recently the Vice President was also quoted as saying the same thing and also promising to reduce pump price of petrol without any visible increase in the supply line. Similarly after any election in Nigeria then tribunal, appeal court and supreme court. Also at the end of each month every state governor makes it to Abuja, collect the allocation, report at the home of godfather for a sharing formula. In this mundane routine we fail to develop even our administrative ethnic and skill let alone adding any positive value to the society. We buy ideas and the ready made goods off shelves, from social media, and they may not be correct or work for us. Americans develop their technical expertise from experience and do it yourself using the first principle approach. There is no short cut. We seem really dehydrated in every way.

Whilst we may understand that we are in Nigeria, and with Nigerian flavour even into administrative politics, the citizens shouldn’t be blamed for their high expectations on their political leaders. They make comparison with other nations and cannot understand why their nation is failing. At present there is a very poor political competition between the the main political parties, between APC and PDP. Instead politicians move from one party to another and back to same as their case may be. In the recent event the PDP members were seen on camera walking out on former Rivers State governor Amaechi (a former PDP governor), who also was of their same party before he decamped (to APC that is sponsoring his ministerial appointment). The current Senate President, Bukola Saraki, was also from the PDP but supported to be Senate President by mainly the PDP members. Why did you walk out because you don’t want Amaechi but you enthroned Dogara, Saraki and many others (not from South South or South East)? All of them committed the same sin by dumping PDP for APC. There is a game and action we called “after thought” and there is another one we call “lack of foresight”. PDP members who listened to Amaechi during his screening and could not even talk but preferred to walk out while Amaechi was out of sight, signals some undisclosed problems. To us these people are idea dehydrated and politically not trading for any visible valuable object.

Nigerians are not impressed so far, not even with their idolised president Buhari. He is certainly too slow and someone must tell him. We are not expecting any magic but ordinary performance within human fit, road maps of ideas laced with action rather than empty words we heard several times before. Naturally what affected APC was their inability to act as a one political party because of their history of merging. PDP has so far taken advantage of this but in the very wrong way. The campaign is over but not so for the PDP. The courts are hitting PDP really hard but they have no other weapons to use except the old ones that failed them before, litigation, blackmailing, media propaganda, etc. Things won’t move forward for either party that way. They need brilliant political organisers that can work with ordinary Nigerian citizens on the streets. We believe Buhari when he says PDP led government stole billion from public money and they must refund this. What we are quarrelling about is the amount to time and attention being paid on this obvious fact.

The first step we will suggest is that each political party must do away with comparison. Don’t compare your inch of performance to someone else’s mile. Everyone is on their own political journey, and the reality is that none of us are going to be on exactly the same page or chapter at any time. We’re all going through different things, experiencing life in different ways and trying to wrestle through different questions. Do away with comparison, as it will do nothing but get you down and make you feel inferior compared to the accomplishments of others. Comparison is a game you will never win at. It’s not fair to compare your own life with that of someone else or even your own party with others. Each party should have been uniquely made for a different purpose, orientation in governance and to let the nation experience different things. Right now nothing differentiates the political parties, only personalities.

The second point is that each politician, each leader should stop trying to do things on their own limited knowledge and skills. Idea dehydration can take root in our lives in many different ways, but one of the most common is when we try to do this whole national assignment thing all on our own. You know, as if we’ve got it all under control. Consult your consultants and research team. The beauty of it at the end is that not only are they our companions, but they are stakeholders too in the same commonwealth. In particular the new appointees must henceforth humble themselves completely, drop the facade of perfection and allow your research team to intervene in every facet of your life. Doing so will completely revolutionize your idea, heart, soul and political awareness.

Thirdly we must not allow a daily routine to become mundane. There is nothing wrong with a president or a minister having a daily routine. In fact, we encourage people to make prayer, reading and research, meeting, and experiencing quality times with othersomething to do habitually. What we don’t want to do is allowing these things to become a mundane routine, something we do just for the sake of doing. When a routine becomes stale and mediocre, it’s time to do away with it and recalibrate our direction. Routines are great because they form habits, you just need to make sure those habits don’t become dry and without purpose. Most of the activities at the corridors of power may have reduced only to mundane routines and this won’t move our economy forward.

The foutrth suggestion is that we make planning and research a priority, not a last resort. Planning and taking informed decision is political dehydration’s biggest enemy. When we truly discover the importance of planning we will see that it not only replenishes the political life but also keeps us in tune with the current condition of our community. It costs a little extra to plan but it is always worthwhile. If our politicians are not supposed to be gamblers then they must be encouraged to always plan first, not as a last resort. Share your feelings, your burdens and pains, your frustrations, your joy and your discontent with your research team and with some members of your constituency. Share until you cannot share anymore and until you have achieved you political goals.

The ffth suggestion is that each leader should equip himself or herself with well standing mentors, not godfathers unless these godfathers are not the greedy and selfish ones. It’s always a good idea to have people in your life that you’ve given permission to keep you accountable, call you out when you do something idiotic and keep you on track with your academic or political journey. Whether it be in person, over the phone or even Skype, give permission to men and women who are wiser than you to speak life into you. Our leaders must learn to live humble lives. Learn from the direction of your mentors and allow your heart to be guided by those who know what has been put before you. Your mental welfare depends on constant evaluation and refining.

We had advised each Senator to have office(s) in their districts respectively, and run accessible programmes that will enable them to interact with their people. Know many of them looking for jobs, admissions, loans to help their business, requiring internal and external contacts and linkages, etc. On the contrary we find them donating money and vehicles to village heads and errand boys. Our people are actually more advanced and matured than their representatives who go to office because of money, clothing and food. It is true our youths are unemployed but they are not thieves, they also have certificates and proud of their nation, they have skills to live on. If we succeed in repositioning our leaders may be, and just may be, the positive change may begin to come; from new ideas and driven by research findings.

Prof R. A. Ipinyomi


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