By Jerome-Mario Utomi
In the words of Justin Merkins, a world acclaimed management consultant, there are clear thinkers, muddled thinkers and people that fall in between. Clear thinkers -are the ones that can cull everything down into the right points-are very hard to find. But if you get yourself a team of clear thinkers, the possibilities are endless. These are men who see tomorrow, trailblazers and high level executives, but most often misunderstood by some fellow countrymen still stuck in the old normal of yesterday.
From the above outlined attributes of clear thinkers, it will not be considered an overstatement to conclude that Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, falls into the bracket of a clear thinker.
This position is predicated on his (Dare) warning on the 27th August, 2019, in Abuja while delivering his goodwill message at the launch of the 2019 Futures Awards Africa to commemorate the 2019 International Youth Day, that Nigeria’s future remains endangered except the excesses of youths are checked “We need to lead them on the path that will benefit our society the most. If we leave them to their own whims, we will endanger our collective tomorrow. “The youths are our future. They are our assurance that we have tomorrow. How bright that tomorrow becomes depends on us. It will depend on the efforts we put in today’’Dare said.
About one year after that ‘prophetic’ statement was made; the negative consequence resulting from inability to abide by such warning has become a word made flesh and now dwells among us.
Glaringly, the recent quest for new order in the country spearheaded by Nigerian youths, and other strategic’ interplays, conflicts and considerable uncertainties of the past weeks which exposed the ‘civil but cold’ relationship between politicians and Nigerians is on the one hands a perfect example. Notedly also, it in more than one way underscores the usefulness of the attachment theory of 1958, as propounded by John Bowlby, a British psychologist.
Adding context to the discourse, Bowlby, in that theory pointed out that ‘if a primary caregiver responds inappropriately and/or inconsistently, the infant learns to assume that he or she is powerless to affect the larger world and that his or her signals have no intrinsic significance where the universe is concerned. A child he added, who receives really erratic and inconsistent responses from a primary caregiver, even if those responses are occasionally warm and sensitive, develops anxious resistance and indifferent attachment.
For all intents and purposes, it captures the current political temperature and disposition of Nigerians towards the leaders once considered as caregivers. The previous broken political promises and disappointments, for example, made the youths active on social media. And through the process, they learned strategic lessons.
First, aside from the new awareness that the qualities required for success are the same that undermines success, Nigerians appear to have suddenly come to the realization that political participation is a broader category of political behavior and consists of those voluntary activities by citizens that are intended to influence election of leaders or the decisions they make.
Again, not only have Nigerians come to term that ‘power concedes nothing without a demand, to a certain extent, they have expressed dissatisfaction/frustrations that the nation is governed by people that do not feel the pinch the common man is made to endure, noting that their feelings/opinion are not regarded by the government.
There are major realities and instances of gradual and silent infringements on the masses by the present administration that has not only caused Nigerians to stagger in confusion and incomprehension but left the nation on the tiger’s back.
Take as an instance, at the wake of the All Progressive Congress (APC) formation in 2013, the party according to reports presented to Nigerians a 29 paged documents prepared by the Audu Ogbe led 20 man manifesto Committee, where the party among other promises, stated that the APC mission would be anchored on the point that the task before the current generation is to build on the achievements of our heroes past, and bequette an enduring legacy for the future generation.
Noting that its guiding principles would derive impetus from the six principles of; belief in, and the fear of God; upholding the rule of law; preserving national unity; pursuit of a just and egalitarian society; building of strong institutions; commitment to social justice and economic progress and promotion of representative and functional participatory democracy. It was on this premise that Millions of Nigerians defied all odds and voted out the PDP and in its place, voted the All Progressive Congress into power in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
Today, while the party has denied making such promises, social justice, economic progress, representative and functional participatory democracy are all under attacks.
All Nigerians now hear is but excuses that produces monument of nothingness; Nigeria cannot work because the past administration did a whole lot of damage to the economy/system.The Nigerian youth who sleeps in the street and excruciating poverty and starvation drives into the ranks of the beggars whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect are lazy.
What however renders the whole argument as verge, ungraspable and spurious is that if the nation’s economy could not slip into recession under the last administration that allegedly mismanaged it, why has recession become a recurring decimal-as it has occurred twice in less than 5years (2016 and 2020) under the present administration?
Away from the issue of economy/recession, if we must ever think of one event in recent times that appeared most ‘brazing’ and probably did more than anything else to convince Nigerians with critical interest to look differently at the out of ordered situation in the country, it is the present administration’s management of Premium Motor Spirit(PMS).
In 2016, with just one year in the office, despite the electoral promise to reduce petrol price fromN87 that he met it, President Muhammadu Buhari, against all known logic increased the price to N145; an increase of about N58 and an action that further perpetuated poverty and consolidated powerlessness among Nigerians.
Before Nigerians visited with such oppression could absorb the shock occasioned by the increase, they were again in August 2020, informed by the PPMC of further increase.
It reads, ‘’Please be informed that a new product price adjustment has been effected on our payment platform. To this end, the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) is now one hundred and fifty-one naira, fifty-six kobo (N151.56) per litre. This is effective 2nd September 2020.
Once more, before the dust raised by the 2nd September 2020 pump price increase could settle, another was up. The burden of hike was again placed on innocent Nigerians with the upward review of PMS Price to N170 per litre.
This came in a season when the poor masses still struggle with nostalgia over other increases such as; increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent, re-introduction of Stamp Duty Charge, re- introduction of Stamp Duty on house rents and C of O transactions and the electricity prices.
Despite all these unpalatable signals and feedback from the poor masses, our nation’s handlers have not deemed it necessary to appraise the entire process in order to situate if these increases are achieving the targeted results. But instead, they pushed on, focusing on trivial concerns while forgetting to address the fundamental issues.
Notedly, Nigerians may presently have no one to comfort them because on the side of their oppressors there is power. However, President Muhammadu led administration must not fail to remember the admonition by AL Gore, a Former Vice President of the United state(USA), that the visibility of democracy depends upon the openness, reliability, appropriateness, and responsiveness, and two way natures of the communication between the leader and the led. If they receive responses that seem to be substantive but actually are not, citizens begin to feel as if they were being manipulated. If the messages they receive from the media feed this cynicism, the decline of democracy can be accelerated.
In the same vein, if citizens of a country express their opinions and feelings over an extended period of time without evoking a meaningful response, then they naturally begin to feel frustrated. This has happened all too often to poor masses who suffer prejudice and are not given a fair hearing by their leaders.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; email@example.com. Or 08032725374.