Wed. Mar 22nd, 2023

…I mean let’s get serious.

By Senator Iroegbu

I have been seeing trending pictures of a young woman, Ms. Khadijah Okunnu-Lamidi, who declared interest to contest for the 2023 presidential elections and can’t help but get amused. It’s like we do have their likes every year. They enjoy these few months of fame each election cycle, only to recoil back to their enclaves with no sustainable policy engagements. It’s often said that “impossible is nothing” but the axiom that “victory only comes when preparation meets opportunity” still holds. Even what you see as divine providence in some peoples lives, somehow, sometimes and somewhere they have paid their dues.

Not to digress so that I can pass this very short message.

I know it’s good to support the women and youth in politics but it baffles me how unserious they take this important matter. You don’t just jump out of the blue a year to a very critical election and say you want to be president except it’s just for “notice me”. In the last four to seven years what has been your position concerning the politics and policies of Nigeria. What are your contributions to the debate, in what ways have you offered recommendations or criticisms, applauded the government actions or condemned them? Where were your voice during recession, EndSARS, Twitter ban, election reform bill, PIA, restructuring, fuel subsidy? These are how you build up your status and political career. I can’t just start applauding you because you are a woman or youth. I mean no offence and this is not just to her in particular but to all the marginalised groups including the youths. We can start from the low hanging fruits by creating awareness of our desires for leadership.

What have you done in your little corners? What articles have you written to express your views passionately across? How have you utilised the social media space to let your voice be heard on burning national issues? Ok let’s say you are not a talking and writing type, what about your social mobilisation skills, community development projects at the heart of national issues. Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Emmanuel Macron, Jacintha Arden, Justine Trudeau didn’t just fall from the sky. Their positions on national issues were known and they made their voices heard to be discovered.

In a nutshell, I don’t want some unserious candidates to use affirmative action to ruin the chances of serious ones. But the dilemma here, especially in Nigeria is that the ” serious ones” are afraid to come out. Even when they summon the courage to do so, they are hacked down politically. Maybe, this set of emergency candidates have learnt to play safe and stealthy not to be a victim. Nevertheless, like the late icon Desmond Tutu said:

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Iroegbu is a journalist, security and policy analyst

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