It is common knowledge that 2007 is an election year in Nigeria; and anyone who has heard me discuss politics, seen the picture on my desktop, read the poster on my home door, taken a look at the picture on my homepage and read my recent blog posts would know that I am close to neck-deep into the political process this time. I am not contesting for any office, but I am campaigning for a Presidentail candididate — Prof. Pat Utomi. And the good news is that I got him one more vote in the April 2007 elections when I registered yesterday — after many weeks of literally running after the officials in charge of the exercise.
In 1983, I was one of the young (but more fortunate) victims of Operation Wetie that took many lives and left many scared of politics. In 1989, I literally saw the nation’s economy (and my family’s) dance to the rythm of millitary dictation. In 1999 and 2003, I witnessed the rape of a nation as I watched people’s passive stance taken advantage of. In the recent moments of Nigeria’s 46 years of existence, we have not been very blessed with leaders who care beyond their own bodies and accounts (at least that is what we see that changes in size very easily). The fact that citizens have also given up hope, and are so disconnected from the process that can create change makes the situation worse. The assumption and usual excuse for staying away from political participation is that “our vote will not count anyway”, or “the cabal will not open their eyes and watch change happen”, or “the election results have already been decided.” Lies all!
To make matters worse, the primaries conducted by the ruling political party (and others who claim to know better) left a bitter taste in the mouth of Nigerians because we witnessed selection in most cases. Would this be a good yardstick to measure what is to come? Too early to say, if you ask me. The major tragedy that may befall the upcoming elections wouldn’t be the possibility of an unfair process, but the apathy of the Nigerian people that has kept many away from the process, claiming that their votes wouldn’t count when it came face to face with the machinations of those who assume that Nigeria is their birthright! In war, every participant knows that if you’re able to intimidate your opponent by making them think that they stand no chance in battle, then you are the victor. This is exactly the philosophy that is working against many Nigerians who really desire change but feel that they stand no chance in the political process. What we need to continually remember is that darkness will prevail until it is challenged by light, and reality checks show that we have more people who stand for light across the nation — but we must create a process that will bring little lights together to form the greater light that can dispell darkness and ensure that Nigeria settles down to the business of nationhood.
Among other evident agents of change standing for elections next year (and considering the critical role that the Precidency plays in our democracy) I have made it clear that in Prof. Pat Utomi, I see the change we seek. A man who has lived all his life to make others better; who has shown leadership in politics, business and civil society; whose campaign has taken politicking to the level of values and issues; who blogs (www.utominotes.com) and spends time to share thoughts with all classes of people… that man, deserves my vote and that of every Nigerian who truly seeks a New Nigeria that we can be proud to call home. I am tired of the word potential (it is common to hear that Nigeria is potentially rich, great, bla, bla, bla) and hunger for a nation that has a receptive atmosphere for her citizens’ contributions to nation building. It’s high time we made the world know that the likes of Wole Soyinka, Emeka Anyaoku, Philip Emeagwali, Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Bola Ige, etc, are not historical creations of fiction (or fictitious creations of history) but human expressions of the greatness of a nation beyond the Niger!
If you’re Nigerian and haven’t registered for the elections, you have the chance to do so until February 14 and chances are that the registration kiosk is somewhere around your home. When I find one, I alert those who live around that area, and we should all do the same so that we can build a critical mass and deliver Nigeria from its captors. 2007 is a year of opportunity for Nigerians and by May 29, we should be clicking glasses (and the geeks can stay online and click the send button to announce the gret news to the world). Let me invite you to see the following websites for more information about the change process for Nigeria in 2007, and the presidential campaign of Prof. Pat Utomi: