A country fails when it’s people give up on it. Even the most intense crisis or conflict can be recovered from, if there is a will. So while it’s an open secret that many want us to fail as a country in 2015, the only ones who can guarantee that it will not happen is us.
In a lot of ways, we are already failing. None of our leaders has worked out a vision that drives our chosen destiny: unity and faith, peace and progress. It is vision that unites different cultures into one. Where have you ever seen diverse group of people brought together without a reason, a course of action, deliberation or agenda to which they could all apply themselves? Is it surprising if in the absence of a convincing national vision, they descend into divisiveness and chaos? In this respect, our leaders have failed us. They have done some worthy things, at different levels. However, as scripture says, where there is no vision, the people perish. Our fathers built one country and pledged it’s existence to the advancement of unity and faith, peace and progress. But our leaders, by failing to outline a vision for us to unite under and have faith in, have failed us. The beauty of it all, however, is that we have refused to fail them in return. Because from every conversation I’ve had, and observation I’ve made and experience I’ve shared of all things Nigerian, the recurring feeling I walk away with is one of surprisingly similar visions for the country, from individuals who are quite removed from each other. The paths and strategies to get there differ, but the motives are congruent. Nigerians, at least the ones I have had a chance to either speak to, want a united, progressive nation. If these thoughts exist, and we all carry it within our chests, and are willing to commit to them and act on them when the chance presents itself, then 2015 may do its worst, but we will let all the tension wash over us and come out in one piece.
One thing that will help in this regard, is a fair estimation of our politics. Goodluck is not the ultimate villain. None of the candidates challenging him are the ultimate saviors. And I know that we all know this, but in some ways, we have to remind ourselves of things we already know. If Goodluck cannot, by himself, destroy us, and none of his challengers can by themselves, save us, then next year’s election is not so important that we have to hinge our every hope on it. This is not an argument for apathy, only for sobriety. Words have the ability to construct a reality all on their own. “Next year’s elections will be the most important in Nigeria’s history!” has been such a constant refrain across the country, the media, and individuals all over that at this point, even animals in our forests have gotten the hint. But why? I do not deny its importance, but 2011 was just as important. As was 2007. And 2003. They’ve been so important that Nigerians have died for each and every one. Perhaps this is the sense in which 2015 is terribly important, the potential for loss of lives on a much more horrifying scale. If this is so, then perhaps we need to de-emphasize their importance. We need to adopt the “a plague on both their houses” attitude to the political class as a whole, and stop thinking that what they do is done for us. It isn’t. None of these elections has been worth dying for, and 2015 will not be the exception.
The one thing we need to protect above all is our continued existence, and the continuance of our democracy. Because the real drivers of change since 1999 has been us. Not them. Us. No matter who we have elected. And the best way to keep that going is to prevent anything that will lead to a complete collapse. That includes building up the idea that all the change we seek is going to be determined by 2015. It will not be, I can promise you that. It is important the same way dressing for the weather is important, it frees you to focus on your day’s activity. By electing the right leader, we can focus on doing what we need to do: stitching our individual motivations into one driving, uniting vision for us. So by all means, vote.
But let us not sacrifice our nation for it. We are all we’ve got.