The most prevailing theme in the socio-political blogosphere in Nigeria in the last 8 weeks since the March 28 presidential elections have been “change”. The theme of change has been resonating from all angles and it is pertinent that at this time we consider this theme and its underlying subthemes and tenets.
The tenets of change are entrenched in epochs and the general living conditions of those concerned. The tenets here would be the discrete principles upon which the Nigerian and Africa society in the 21st century epoch is built. The African society seem to have a prevailing notion that neo capitalism with its emphasis on private production and distribution with the government only playing a distinct role of regulating market actors to the advantage of the state.
In the 21st century African society there is also a consensus that democracy as advanced by the western world (Europe and USA) and its multifaceted agents with supranational status like the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) is the form of government for Nigeria and the Africa as the best engineered for an African renaissance and growth.
There are less pervasive principles like the guarantee of the inalienable rights of the individual, the Rule of law, justice and equality of individuals within a sovereign state which altogether form the basis for which the mantra of change is flaunted.
The sub themes of change are nebulous and far from been explicitly defined this is because all of this subthemes of disconnect and schism between citizenry equality, resource utilization and self-actualization on individual levels; national growth and efficiency of distribution process, security and the effectiveness of national institutions and its body of laws. A mind discerning would find it difficult to truly define and set the standards of measurement for this parameters. In absolute terms inequality amongst citizens would be evaluated in income terms, however, income as an absolute yardstick is subjective to the prevailing societal living standard of living, the family size and the value of exchange or real income of the household. This perhaps seems the most objective instrument of measurement of individual wellbeing and capacity. Without forgetting the fact that income distribution always differs. This is also true at the national level, the exact standards and benchmarks to be employed in the measuring national growth, functioning of law and the institution of state are difficult to set although the real gross domestic product of the state is often use in measuring the nation’s welfare.
The overarching theme of change must now be fully examined. Karl Marx has said ‘that the philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however is to change it’. The meanings ascribed from each phenomenon and to each situation is static and dynamic. Each individual uses a colored lens to make meaning of events observed in his environment. Great minds and achievers understand that their views are only one of the so many possible views and that the picture is better when viewed from more than one perspective. It tis this thinking that makes great achievers challenge their beliefs, opinion and ultimately the status quo for improvement. When change is sought, it would usually have an object; the purpose of which it is sought. Adolf Hitler the Nazist leader of the German Aryan race and the singular most influential cause of the Second World War (1939-1945) wanted a world where the “superior Germans” would lead the new world order.
The abolishing of the gold backed exchange standard in the 1970s and adoption of the floating exchange rate to curtail the doom foretold in world economics and finance because exchange elements are stressed. The change from one mode of life, reason and operations would usually have an object, a mission which they are either to promote a defined interest or have a pervasive impact. The Nigerian clamor and birth of change is one entrenched in both. There is the need for achievement of sector and defined interest of party members, the labor force, students and perhaps more importantly entrepreneurs and mobilizers of capital. The pervasive change that Nigerians seek at this time would bear on the mindset of the Nigerian people, the institution of state, utilization and employment of the Nigerian resources. The purpose of this change perhaps would be a new orientation of its people, a sanitization of the bureaucratic process and the reduction in the acceptability of corruption as the way of life. It could perhaps be a change in the system, nature and cost of governance. It could perhaps be wider and greater participation of private persons in the production and distribution process. This change is still too nebulous but it is germane to note that change always is a singular dynamic process and procedure.
Change is difficult to achieve in an environment where fear, corruption, incapacity and lack of character prevails. This four ingredients I would call the “forces against change”. The forces against change are intertwined and they all get to re- enforce each other.
The Nigerian wants a change and development of his life style, however he is afraid that the change may unseat him and reduce his status in the new-socio-political system. The Nigerian society fears for his lot which is natural in an environment where change or volatility exist in the way of life and means accruing to each individual to achieve what he or she seeks. The fear here is the reward and the repercussion for allegiance and activities in an undefined environment. This fear here emanates from a sense of insecurity around the individual pertaining to his means, his purpose and the opportunity available to him.
Second, the hydra headed phenomenal of corruption and impunity in the way of life of Nigerians and the nation. There is no gainsaying that corruption stands out as the bane of the Nigerian society. The immediate government of the Nigerian people has been criticized largely not for his lack of initiative as much as his stance and adoption of corruption as an official policy of government.
A third force against change is the quality and capacity of the Nigerian citizenry. Nigeria boast of many doctorate degree holders with little adding to the overall body of knowledge. The average Nigerian graduate is often regarded as unemployable due to his inability to add real value to an employing situation. More so is the fact that the Nigerian populace currently has a dearth of the needed technical expertise and investment expected of any first world nation in the 21st century. This is simply necessary for a largely consuming agrarian population to transform into a manufacturing population who can meet domestic demand through domestic supply for the process and product. This is to say that change in this sphere goes beyond the curriculum of the national board on technical education or the “untechnical polytechnics or mono-technics” of education. The technical education and capacity needed here and must be acquired for a forward trajectory of the nation is such reminiscent in post-WWII Germany, it is that same technical education that the industrial revolution of Europe on the back of the British steam engines started from it is the technical education that the japan and many transforming nations have displayed in the last 50 years. The technical education and capacity needed are here are the ones that will allow Nigerians produce, Nigerian machines through the use of Nigerian steel managed by Nigerian hands with finance and goodwill from anywhere they can be mobilized. This is perhaps the most difficult challenge that the Nigerian change and the African voters’ revolution faces. It is the ability to convince owners of capital to invest in individuals and institutions that then spirals into an on the job training and off the job sense of actualization in blue collar jobs.
A fourth challenge to the Nigerian clamor for change is call for character. Over the post-independence era of Nigeria, it would be observed that there has always been people of week character in the institution of state as well as in the citizenry. It is this lack of character that has created a phenomenon of “tradable values” where in a typical Nigerian has a price. This is particularly a force against the broom revolution as the question of ‘how much’ is your conscience worth? Or how much is your value worth in exchange for below standard performance? Would the progressive boast of people of real integrity, honesty and due diligence expected of public servants? Would the new Nigerian populace divorce personal interest from public institutions? One need remind the reader that the character seats in a strategic position it is the Lokoja of the rule of law, legality, morality and competence. Character is caught in the nexus of performance and expectations in law and it is inalienable element for meeting the requirements of law (legality) and effectiveness in office and position of responsibility.
The last two years Nigerians have witnessed a revolution in its clamor for responsive governance and a surge in the clamor for the witnessed change of baton in the governing party. It is this two independent yet inseparable movements that has resulted in the broom revolution and conspiracy of change. The opposition party from august 2013 to march 2015 and the ruling party from May 29th as party rode on the mantra of change through individuals who had to evolve into new personalities in the course of the last decade.
The opposition party in its messages of change seem to usurp the prevailing hardship and dwindling fortunes of the average Nigerian in the last 4 years to create an overwhelming call in which the forward movement had to jettison its call for transformation and advance a directional call for positive change. This is the case in the era where Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Its TAN movement had to succumb to the euphoria of change by its ineffective attempts to redefine its slogan from transformation to positive change. Another pointer to the prevalence of the call for change is the failed attempt by the PDP in Lagos to oust the APC government in the April elections. In all this elections we saw a devoted clamor and call for change at various federating levels of the Nigerian state.
The other key component of this conspiracy is that which emanates from the citizenry. A large section of the Nigerian populace and its diaspora population had been disenchanted by the ineptitude of the PDP government and the inaction of government in matters that relate to her citizenry and the quality of lives they lead. In the last decade the Nigeria population has witnessed increased cost of living, increased unemployment, increased brain drain and rising inflation. This increases have also been coupled with decrease in standard of living, a fall real national productivity, decrease in standard and quality of education. The frustration of the citizenry is best explained in the rate at which the opposition swelled and the rate at which the citizen became critic of the ruling government. This was channeled using the social medium, a veritable tool for mass movement in the 21st century, protests, petitions, and legal proceedings and ultimately the ballot papers and ballot boxes.
The conspiracy of a thing is its ability to deceive in an overwhelming manner it is the ability of the reality to transcend and cajole the observer with a false of absoluteness. It this conspiracy that the philosopher Hegel referred to as the process of the being becoming unbeing in a dialectic process. It is the process of change.
The conspiracy of change is the process where the reality of elections in 2015 seem to preach a departure from old ways yet rooted in old ways of election rigging and malpractices. The conspiracy of the Nigerian change is similar to the one witnessed in South Africa where political power change but the societal structure doesn’t change. It is this conspiracy that makes the Nigerian politician trick the Nigerian populace by claiming to be democrats while they employ professional riggers and looters to steal the peoples mandate while their acceptability.
The conspiracy of the Nigerian change is laid on the foundations of trust by the Nigerian people. This explain the overwhelming goodwill the new government enjoins home and abroad. The Nigerian people are made to believe that there aspiration for a change in government and the daily routine of governance is been achieved and they are compelled by the innate desires of a people to want to trust. To trust a thing, instrument, animal, life. It’s that desire that makes a man optimistic.
The conspiracy of change is one built on the hope and aspiration of the people but funded and utilized by the political elite to a purpose not fully defined yet.
In closing the reader should reflect on this saying by Obama- change will not come if we wait for some other persons, or if we wait for some other time we are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek. And like the new president of Nigeria said in his inaugural speech that we have in our hands an opportunity; an opportunity to surprise the Nigerian electorate with over performance may be?