What do Nigerians want?

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By Victoria Ikeano


Sir: Nigerians are said to be a stubborn people, hard to govern. There is no empirical evidence to back this but one thing is indisputable: Nigerians are hard to please. Each succeeding government is considered worse than its predecessor in the opinion of the average Nigerian; from the Shagari era down to the present time, it has always been the same.

Even General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime that is considered generally as harbinger of Nigeria’s economic predicament is viewed upon hindsight as being better off than what we are experiencing today.

Even the Goodluck Jonathan government, viewed as not good enough for us hence the general consensus that the government should be booted out of Aso Rock Villa to halt the ‘downward slide’. Currently, there are murmurs that the Jonathan-led administration was not as bad as thought after all.

The country’s fault lines which were seen to have reached a crescendo at that time are now more amplified.  Criminality has become hydra-headed. There are now rising complaints and in fact many are beginning to have second thoughts about our revered President Muhammadu Buhari.

We appear to be fickle minded, fastidious, armchair critics. When Nigerians urge you to follow a certain route and you do, they will still be the ones criticising you for taking that path. Such a difficult people as we are often thence, confuse decision makers that have no strong convictions.

Take for example, the issue of political parties. Many people called for pruning down of such large number of parties on INEC’s register.

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Now, the electoral body, bowing to popular demand has chopped off a number of them using as criteria those that did not win any elections in the 2019 rounds of election.

But rather than being applauded the same Nigerians are resisting it, asserting that INEC has no such powers, mouthing their right to ‘freedom of association’.

Take another example – the dreaded Book Haram sect that is causing havoc in especially northeast that has still not been completely eliminated after years of military onslaught.

So people are now calling for a different approach – the carrot approach – educating them and getting them engaged somehow.

This entails getting knowledgeable Islamic clerics/scholars to give correct interpretations of the teachings of Prophet Mohammed which is anchored on peace; building social amenities that are  accessible to all; making equity and justice a fundamental pillar of governance.

Along the line, there are suggestions that repentant Boko Haram members should be rehabilitated by government, to give them a fresh lease of life. To this, many Nigerians are not only crying blue murder but in strident opposition.

Yet, war is not known to have solved any problem. Indeed, the carrot, peaceful method, attacking the root causes of the problem has long been accepted as the better approach.