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By M. Babajide-Alabi
I read on an online blog last week that Nigerians are patient and tolerant people. To be honest I do not understand how the writer came to this conclusion as he did not give evidence of a study or research. However, just as elated as I was a few years ago when a report classified Nigerians as the happiest people in the world, so was I when I read this assertion on the blog.
I do not know how to place these seemingly ‘strange’ virtues, but on second thought one can reason that if not for these “patience and tolerance”, many of the so called leaders gallivanting about on the Nigerian political scene today would be cooling their feet in various dingy jails across the country.
Nigerians, according to the writer, are not only patient and tolerant, they are also forgiving. I tend to believe that what the writer intended writing here was ‘forgetful’ and not forgiving. I reasoned that if not forgetfulness, some of these born again politicians who had at one time or the other ruled with iron fists would dare not show their faces in the polity again. If not forgetfulness, how could any sane individual supported an “Evil Genius” Ibrahim Babangida’s presidential candidacy?
These patience and tolerance “attributes” are what some of the leaders swept off by the “Arab Spring” in 2011 would admire in Nigerians. They would think if their citizens had same qualities as Nigerians, the probability of still ruling their countries would be very high. In Nigeria it is part of the citizens nature to tolerate the excesses of the leaders. The regimes of the “Evil Genius” and his “Crown Prince” Abacha readily come to mind here.
I hold contrary opinion on this patience “award” as I believe Nigerians exhibit this virtue only when an action do not directly affect their daily bread. Perhaps it is not really patience, but being unconcerned with what is happening around them but not directly “to” them.
But do not make the mistake that a “tolerant” or “patient” Nigerian is an idiot. Of course they lose their cool when you “corner” them to the walls and there seems no way “out”. Anything short of this, they are the patriotic, patient and tolerant lots as exemplified by the workers of the state of Osun still dutifully reporting to work on empty stomach after eight months without pay.
In recent times, there seems to be a slight change in the body language of some Nigerians though. After the “mass” demand for change and the inauguration of the government of President Muhammad Buhari, Nigerians are getting impatient. In the past weeks they are getting really restless and frustrated as they think the light at the end of the tunnel is fast disappearing.
They are questioning their own sanity while wondering how they believed, wholesale, the CHANGE sound bite of the then opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC). Many want to know when the APC-led government is going to hit the ground running as promised during the electioneering campaign. They are wondering that after four weeks into the government, nothing major has happened, except the intra-party fightings and the show of shame in the National Assemblies.
Many Nigerians are sad that they ignored the wisdom in the cautioning words of analysts before the elections. Some of them had advised that no change will come to the polity until the present crop of leaders are “retired” from governance. But nobody seemed to listen, as masses were all busy ‘chanting’ CHANGE. Everybody refused to accept that merely “mouthing” change does not mean it will happen.
The masses were sucked in by the sweet-talking politicians who promised heaven in Nigeria. They were all carried away but regretting now that they did not demand for a blueprint the implementation of the so called change. Instead, we believed the hype and the propaganda that once the “evil” Goodluck Jonathan was out of the way, the change in Nigeria is automatic.
There were many questions that the men and women on the streets wished to ask but dared not for the fear of being labelled anti-progressives. There were doubts on their minds on the modalities of the “new change” but they could not put them into words. These questions and doubts soon turned into thoughts and eventually, grudgingly, sucked them into the change “agenda”.
They were not dumb. They knew many of these politicians who had ruled them for a long time and made no impact on them, but they still could not help setting themselves up for disappointment. To those who could read between the “lips” of some of these politicians who hurriedly crossed carpet in the dying days of the then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) , they knew no change was going to happen.
Never in the history of Nigerian politics has there been a “coalition” of men and women of different persuasions and conflicting interests united with a strong desire to “take over” the running of the country. The common men and women were told the “huddle” of strange bed fellows that we witnessed immediately before the elections was part of the change that was coming. But it was clear this “gang up” was headed for the rocks once the ultimate aim of its purpose was fulfilled.
There has been concerns on the direction of the new government. This is understandable as the public is left in the dark on what will be its focal point. Everybody is guessing if it is security or economic recovery or war against corruption. Going by events in the past one month, it is clear to even the blind, that there won’t be any difference between these present players and those that were sent packing. The greed, selfish interests and personal ambitions that were canvassed as reasons for the failure of PDP are manifesting in this government.
Nigerians now have idea of what change will be. They have seen the colour of the change as they struggle to accept that in this dispensation the players will fight, kick, bite, back stab and cut the limbs of “friends” who stand in their path to power. They have shown that they belong to nobody but themselves.
Nigerians on the other hand thought they voted for a party that would be a model for other ruling African political parties. What they have now is a party that has been thrown into confusion from the start. Is this the beginning of the end of the change revolution? Or simply put, has Nigerians been short changed? Only time would tell.
Published in Sunday Vanguard July 5, 2015. CLICK HERE