By Austyn Ogannah
It is obvious that Nigeria as a nation has been going through very rough times in the last three decades due to poor leadership and corruption.
The situation has now reached dangerous and frustrating levels and must be tamed before any government can deliver the basics of governance to its people.
The two major political parties in the country, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is a merger of some opposition parties as well as some aggrieved members of the PDP, have chosen and presented their presidential candidates.
They are incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo for the PDP and former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo for the APC.
However, with barely six weeks to the general elections, I have come to realise that one problem that Nigerians desperately want to be fixed is that of the monstrous corruption in public office that has stalled every attempt to make government work for the populace.
Corruption has therefore become the big issue for voters in this round of elections.
Since the military restored democratic rule in 1999, about 14 years ago, politicians and their cronies, civil and public servants, have taken corrupt practices to unprecedented levels under the PDP- controlled Federal Government that has mostly paid lip service to fighting the monster.
Billions of petro-dollars have either been wasted or siphoned from the treasury by state governors, political appointees and civil servants under the watch of the Federal Government controlled by PDP Presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007), the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007-2010) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-till date). Notably, worst hit by allegations of graft is the Jonathan government where billions of dollars were stolen under the petrol subsidy programme. Allegations of corruption and fraud still continue to trail the petroleum sector under current minister Deziani Alison-Madueke.
The wastes and corrupt practices have left social services in deplorable conditions, roads are in poor conditions nationwide, healthcare delivery is abysmal, electricity is poor, public schools are almost dead, economy is struggling, the average Joe is hungry, living is tough, crime and security are a big problem, and in fact nothing works properly in the country described as the biggest black nation in the world.
I think Nigerians have had enough. I have followed a handful of political debates closely and also had random one-on-one interactions with people from different walks of life and can say Nigerians are yearning for change. Even for the rich and affluent in our societies, change is the word on the streets today and the PDP is under the knife because it has failed to use the powers of the Federal Government to crush corruption and provide critical social services to the populace.
Clearly, Nigerians want a different approach to the issues plaguing the nation which are mostly offshoots of corruption.
Nigerians are yearning for a President and government that will be hard on corrupt people irrespective of their status in the society. This is why General Buhari’s popularity continues to soar into the elections and is giving President Jonathan and his PDP nightmares.
As Head of State (1983-1985), General Buhari’s military administration was very hard on corruption, graft and indiscipline, though it also recorded several human rights abuses as well as allegations of nepotism and attempting to islamise the nation.
Buhari, a Muslim, is from the North, while Jonathan is a Christian from the South. Nigeria is a secular state with an almost equal Muslim/Christian population.
Though religion and tribal sentiments have played leading roles in how voters voted in previous elections in the nation, these factors now seem to play a minimal role with voters ahead of the 2015 presidential elections.
With the retired soldier’s popularity amongst Nigerians still rising into the elections despite allegations of violations of human rights, nepotism, etc, Nigerians seem to be ready to embrace him with his flaws and vote him to the Presidency with the hope that he’ll take on corruption again.
However, the big question remains whether the PDP and Jonathan can throw a Hail Mary pass before Election Day and turn the tide against Buhari and the APC ? Nigerians are waiting and I am watching.
Austyn Ogannah is the publisher of California based online news media, THEWILL