Only two people in the hall had reacted to a government policy or action in the past year. The other members of the audience never saw reason to react to anything the government had done in the previous 12 months. The two who had reacted had done so by writing one article each. Aptly, this was at a forum where the majority had insisted the responsibility of governance rested solely on the shoulders of the leaders.
Everyone in the hall had agreed that they had disagreed with at least one government decision in the last one year. So then, how can you say you want a better country if the best you do when you don’t like how you are governed is to complain at home, complain at the office, complain on your way to work, complain to everyone who cannot do anything about your grouse but never engage those whose actions are the reason why you complain in the first place? Let us get real, we obviously desire a better country but we absolutely deserve the one we are currently burdened with.
It has been 15 years of some sort of supposed participatory governance. We are supposed to have moved from a followership that could do nothing about military decrees and edicts to a followership that had a right to be engaged and a right to demand that engagement at every turn of the democratic process. We needed activists to help remind the military rulers that we were not their slaves. We needed the likes of Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome Kuti, Col. Umar and the likes to put the military on their toes. That was then. We do not need activists today.
Democracy is about numbers, as long as the majority of the people do not openly kick against what they don’t want or propose what they want to the government of the day, we would always have to make do with whatever gets thrown at us from the authorities. The days of ascribing mythical powers to our leaders are gone, like Yemi Adamolekun of EIE Nigeria said, ‘these people are men and women like us, they have flesh and blood,” and by all means we must let them know we have just as much stake in Nigeria as they do.
Citizen action must be the norm. Like leadership, followership has its responsibilities and as long as we the followers refuse to play our role in this democratic experiment, those at the helm will always have a field day. If we continue to leave our collective destiny in the hands of a few and expect that some so-called activists will continue to help us put our leaders to order, we will all wake one day to see the situation has since gone beyond redemption.
We desire a better country but we deserve the one we currently have. Nigeria’s current reality is the aggregation of who we are as a people, it is about what we did, what we are doing and what we have refused to do. Until we get our acts together and understand that voting during elections is not the only responsibility required of us to make our country work, we’d have to get used to being told our common poverty has been halved even when the realities that daily stare us in the face indicate otherwise.
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