THIS EMPATHYLESS GOVERNMENT MUST GO!
Why Nigerians Must Vote Out Buhari And His APC This Saturday
As I went for my usual early morning jug today, I came across a frail looking elderly woman. It was quite early and so the road was relatively deserted and lonely. On one hand she clutched the Holy Bible and on the other a huge bell.
Preaching her message in-between Christian choruses, the clinging of the bell and shouting on top of her voice, she called on the public to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, her aged voice ringing into the silence of the distance.
As I reached where she was, I felt deeply moved. This was an old woman, who probably felt she was close to her end and as such decided that the world must hear the good news she had received, something she believed had saved and assured her of meeting Jesus when she died.
The spectacle reminded me of late Mrs. Eunice Elisha, a pastor of one of Nigeria’s mega Pentecostal churches, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who sometimes ago embarked on similar venture on one early Saturday morning in Gbazango-West of Kubwa, a satellite town in Abuja, but was brutally hacked to death by people suspected of being members of a certain religion.
Report was that some members of the other religion had “warned her to be mindful of what she preached and even had her husband advice her to take caution”. Her lifeless body would later be discovered in a pool of her own blood.
Recently, the governor of one of Nigeria’s 36 States, Kaduna, warned that “foreign powers planning to interfere in our elections would go back in body bags.”
Then came the President’s warning at an APC caucus meeting that “So I want anybody who thinks he …will snatch ballot boxes or disturb the voting system, he will do it at the expense of his own life…”
As usual, there was a huge outrage following both statements, as Nigerians aired their opinions on whether these statements were a license to visits death on Nigerians or not. Going by the provisions of our electoral laws, whether or not these statements were warranted in the first place is another matter.
From Mr. President, Governor El Rufai to the killers of Mrs. Eunice, the question is, what is it that formed the ideology of a certain people that shaped their outlook of life in way that, to them, even the most “inconsequential” of offences -i.e. a middle aged woman preaching her faith in the street- a thing deserving of the most severest of punishment? Now I am not trying to say snatching ballot boxes or attempting to derail our elections is an inconsequential offence, no. Why do I have the feeling that to some people, life can easily be discarded for reasons as mundane for example, as two goats locking horns, as it were? Why would anyone kill another person for what s/he believed, or what s/he said about what s/he believed?
For me, it is a common denominator, from the man on the street, to those who rule us; it’s a set of beliefs and an ideology that has led to a chronic lack of empathy.
Empathy is the capacity to understand and feel what another person feels from within their frame of reference, which is the capacity to place one’s self in another’s position. To try to feel other people’s pain exactly the same way they feel it. Ironically, we all want this from others, but we are stingy in giving it ourselves.
Apparently, the people who hacked Mrs. Eunice, a mother of 7, to death have no empathy any more than a man who called for foreigners to be returned in body bags. The same goes for a man who suggests we discard our electoral laws, and liquidate ballot box snatchers, when he himself failed to give assent to reform the laws. And this may sound simplistic, but it is not. The point am trying to make is, our leaders lack the capacity of putting themselves in the shoes of us the followers. Over 20,000 people have been killed since this government took office, a government that has empathy would not play politics with the fight on terror, and it would take the bull by the horn and not pay ransom (indirect empowerment according to President Obasanjo) to killers or “forgive ‘repentant’ killers.
Even those who, obviously, are pulling the strings from behind the scene on President Buhari’s re-election quest, despite his age and physical limitations, according to he himself, lack empathy for the man too.
A government that is not bereft of any atom of empathy will not promise to amend our constitution with a view to devolving power, strengthen INEC to reduce, if possible, eliminate electoral malpractice, attract the best and brightest of our sons into our politics and public service and yet remain one of the most sectional and engage in the most lopsided appointment in our history.
Such a government won’t promise to prevent the abuse and misuse of Executive powers and fail to obey court orders.
Nor will it promise to bring permanent peace and solution to the insurgency issues in the North East, Niger Delta and other conflict prone states, yet watch as we organize mass burials.
In almost four years since President Buhari took power, over 11 million jobs have been lost, poverty level as increased and most Nigerians now live within less than a dollar a day.
In 2015, even before President Buhari appointed ministers, he approved almost 40 billion naira to prospect crude oil in northern Nigeria, as we speak, that has proven to be a waste of tax payer’s money, yet no comments on the matter. If President Buhari has the capacity to put himself in our shoes, he would at least offer an explanation because I don’t expect that if he sends someone on an errand with his hard earned money, and that someone returned with no results and no explanation that would go down well with him.
Before his election, he swore that subsidy was a scam, even in Lagos; protests were organized against former president Jonathan when the issue of subsidy and the pump price of fuel came up, and President Buhari also promised to sell off all the planes in the presidential fleet as a way of cutting cost, today, the wastage in government, from contracts awards to appointments smirks of the worst form of corruption, and the amount that has been paid for subsidy is unequaled.
Do we have to go far back into memory lane to remember the row between Ibe Kachukwu, Minister of State of Petroleum and the GMD of NNPC, over the whistle the former blew on the issue of 25 billion naira NNPC funds? Has there been a conclusive probe on the matter? Who else noticed that Mr. Kachukwu has gone quiet ever since? Who else doesn’t know that NNPC being a haven of corruption for successive governments in this nation requires urgent reform or outright scrapping or privatization?
Who didn’t hear about the issue of one Mr. Folarin Coker, a former Lagos state employee who was alleged of diverting 3 billion naira, and doesn’t know that the matter has not been conclusively investigated? Is he not an employee of NTDC now, employed by Mr. President?
Who didn’t hear about the issue of Abba Kyari, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff who was accused of taking bribe to help MTN evade fines, despite concrete evidence, has the matter been conclusively investigated?
On camera, when the issue of budget padding came up, President Buhari promised to punish those involved, like most of his promises, till date, has anything been heard of the matter?
Tell me, who among President Buhari’s inner circle of friends and re-election promoters, from the governor recently accused of taking bribes in raw cash, caught on camera to the man who many have accused of owning much of Lagos, to the one who said to join APC and have your sins forgiven, who among them is clean? Even when Babachir Lawal was sacked, he was replaced with Boss Mustapha his cousin, effectively retaining the position of SGF in the family.
Despite the fact that this president spent much of his tenure blaming past governments, he also spent a better part of it in medical tourism, even though he promised to end same, and in fact, the First Lady raised the alarm that funds appropriated for Aso Rock Hospital were looted, no heads have rolled.
Is the president somehow shocked that his tenure has ended this fast with nothing to show for it? How times flies, yet only a few people realize this truth.
From President Obasanjo to the UK House of Lords, people with conscience and lovers of Nigeria everywhere have all “expressed worry about the inability of the Buhari government to end killings in Nigeria”, shouldn’t we the voters?
And sadly, President Obasanjo has raised the alarm that “…Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of millions of dollars as ransom…” should we not do ourselves the favour and listen to this old man?
Citizens, how much worse do we want things to get, in the name of God, let us show ourselves some empathy and vote out President Buhari and his APC at all level come Saturday?
God bless Nigeria…
Albert Afeso Akanbi is a writer and Humanitarian. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @RealAfesoAkanbi Instagram: RealAfesoAkanbi Blog: akanbiafeso.com