Written by Kevin Kolawole for flawlessview.com
The Nigerian general elections have come and gone, soon there will be a swearing in exercise and another tenure will be put into effect.
flawlessview.com spoke to some individuals who did not participate in the just concluded general elections, this is what a certain John Doe said when asked why he did not perform his civil duty as a patriotic Nigerian.
“Why do I have to vote, it’s not by force, at any rate why do I have to stand under the sun and vote for a thief who will end up going there to enrich himself? I’ll rather stay home relax and enjoy the holiday”
Another Jane Doe had this to say when told that she only showed her unpatriotic nature when she did not participate in the election
“Speak for yourself jare, who said that because I did not vote means that I am not patriotic? Shay those people that get voted into office and only go there to take care of themselves and their children, shay they are patriotic ni? Abeg carry your patriotic go jo.”
Patriotism is an act of devotion by a citizen to his/her country, a devotion to serve to the ultimate degree displaying an unquestionable loyalty.
Amongst the many ways through which one can show this loyalty, for the purpose of this editorial, we shall limit ourselves to politics.
“Politics is a dirty game” is a very common quote among Nigerians, this is because the brand of politics run in Nigeria is anything but normal, it is often violent, it has been known to be fatal in most cases, do Nigerians ask themselves why this is so?
The traditional system of government found in the average traditional setting is often not democratic, it is usually a system where a king dies and his son is crowned the next king as obtains among the Edos, in some other setting, a council of chiefs by methods of rotation select which family lineage produces the next king after the demise of the reigning monarch as obtains among the Egbas, I am not aware of any Nigerian traditional community where indigene vote by way of ballot to select their monarchs.
Alas, we live in an Era where monarchy, dictatorship and all forms of governments of a single individual have been swallowed up by the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Though the democratic system of government is borrowed, Nigerians have altered the system, attaching corruption, violence and death dealing to it making it a no go area for the average Nigerian.
Today, Nigerians vote politicians to the various houses of Assembly for the purpose of championing their (electorates) course, but these voted individuals get there and first on their agender is always things meant to make their lives more comfortable, for instance, the Nigerian House of Assembly members are among the highest paid in the globe/world, for serving in these houses, they pursue a pension plan where they continue to get paid even after leaving office just as the governors enjoy at the moment.
How did Nigeria get to carry such a huge financial burden? – The self centered activities of politicians who were voted into those seats by “patriotic” Nigerians.
Is it therefore a patriotic act to vote during elections in Nigeria?
The WordWeb dictionary defines patriotism as “Love for country and willingness to sacrifice for it”. Going by this definition, it therefore behooves of a patriotic Nigerian to be willing to sacrifice for Nigeria.
What obtains in the breed of politicians that man political offices in our nation’s power houses, these are individuals who do not want and are NEVER ready to inconvenience themselves let alone sacrifice for their country, these groups of individuals who ought to be shining examples of civil servants and by implication, servants of the masses have by their self centered, selfish and self preservation tendencies transformed themselves into “civil masters”, masters of the masses who they serve (what an irony).
Stories abound of individuals who lived form hand to mouth and could barely survive, yet were fortunate to be voted into one of the House of Assembly, years later (less than 4 years) the same individual now has properties in choice locations around the country, has fleet of exotic cars, spends money like he/she has a minting press in his/her backyard and yet his/her constituency, (yes the same constituency that made his/her tenure in the House a possibility) lacks the most basic amenities such as good roads, health centers, schools and so on.
So what is patriotic about voting for in individual who him/herself has no patriotism flowing in his/her vein? As a matter of fact, an act where one votes for an individual who ends up bleeding the country through their governance rooted in selfishness is definitely the opposite of patriotism, such an act is unpatriotic, it would have been better that you did not vote for the individual because in the absence of such an individual in government, Nigeria will fare better.
The perks now associated with political offices has made getting into these offices a very risky affair, in some cases its a “fight to the death” affair. Preparatory to the just concluded elections, there were reports of assassinations here and there of rival politicians who were considered a threat to political careers.
Politicians in Nigeria prioritize their loyalty to party over their loyalty to Nigeria and Nigerians, these individuals are among those who preach the “patriotism” sermon to Nigerians and yet they put their party’s needs before the needs of the nation. It’s logical that the party is the vehicle that takes politicians to that “exalted” position, but yet, a patriotic Nigerian should know that his/her loyalty should be to the nation first before the party but “live what you preach” is just a nice word to beautify political speeches.
To be patriotic is to be willing to sacrifice one’s comfort for Nigeria, to be willing to serve the masses that put them there, to be willing to put their (electorates) needs ahead of their (politicians) own. To be willing to eschew corruption in all its ramifications.
Finally, participating in elections in Nigeria will actually be an act of patriotism and not an act act akin to the foolishness of handing over Nigeria into the hands of self centered and unpatriotic wolves in sheep clothing who continue to preach patriotism and care nothing about the concept of patriotism because within their hearts and souls are seated the society destroyers namely greed, selfishness, corruption and deep rooted hate for anything communal but insatiable love for Self! Self!! Self!!! .