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••• The International Writers Magazine: Politics and Disillusion in Nigeria

How Dishonest Politicians Cause Pains Among Citizens
• Odimegwu Onwumere

The electioneering campaign is on and we gather ward by ward and unit by unit to receive aspirants of political positions and hear their manifestoes. They promise us of a better living like good roads, hospitals, qualitative education, constant electricity and other people-oriented need.

nigerian buses

While we listen to them, many of us do not believe their sermonizations. They say that politicians are not honest in the entire global political environment, they are not frank. They say that politicians just speak in the language that they feel will arrest the minds of the people, seeking to engage the people, but not actually to do what they promise after the people must have voted them.

There are today tears and anguish written all over our faces – we are now refugees in our country, christened Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). I look for explanations to define the relationship of politics with the people; it is a strong and importunate relationship of disagreements. The word politics is dirty to people. Nigerians say that politics has become about power and conflict and this explains why many people are especially irrational about politics.

The displaced are victims of politically-motivated insurgencies being carried out by Islamic sect known as Boko Haram in the northern part of Nigeria. The last time I checked, there were nearly 4 million people in the camps where the government provided for them. These people are excluding hundreds of thousands that have been killed since the mayhem started in 2009. We are facing a problem of political foolishness. It is a social problem greater than any crime in the world; politics has prevented our leaders from solving the problems they promised the voters that they would solve if voted for.

We have been having politically-motivated religious wars between the two dominant religions of Christianity and Islam in the country. The United Nations (UN) will always have politics or is it humanitarian services to play in such crisis whereas it is very hard to see a country that is united with each other across the world. Politics has divided countries and peoples. Yet, we hear that in the last 20 years alone, the United Nations (UN) has presented electoral support to more than 100 countries. However, the drums of wars and rumours of wars in diverse places, being brewed by politics continue to skyrocket.

We once saw Palestine on 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 where people lost everything they had due to political conflict. I have heard of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the decades of dictatorship under Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, where Tunisians gnashed teeth in their experience of bad governance, dearth of liberty and poor panoramas. They later engaged the government of Ali in December days of 2010 and on 14 January 2011, they achieved their objective and the government was ousted. By then scores of people have been pummeled to the soil. All boiled down to politics and the people.

I’m looking for the truthful person who will engage us actively. I would have joined politics but one has to know how many millions of dollars that he or she has, hence politics isn’t for people, but for the capitalists, who have for centuries been transforming in circles from the times of lords and feudal and found themselves in democracy. Around the world, I’m seeing a lot of people who are not engaged in politics and policymaking. Yet, over the years, you hear of politicians, clerics and opinion leaders advising more people to join politics.

Hardly can we explain political decisions and hardly can journalists be given freedom of information. We saw Zambia in 2011, when for the second time since independence in 1964, Michael Sata from the Patriotic Front vanquished the sitting president and was elected to the country's presidency with the highest choice, after three unsuccessful endeavours. This makes politics boring to me and it has created long distance with voters. We have sentences like German sociologist Max Weber stating in his capacious sociology of religion in 1920, that the direct problems with the world people are material interests which come first, followed by mental interests, and not ideas.

We perceived that the earlier European colonization marginilised the Aboriginal peoples. There was the Queensland Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897, regarded as the most heinous, geared towards pointing out where the natives should live, who they should associate with or even marry.

It is politics that drove more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015. The last time I checked, 135,711 people got to Europe by sea since the start of 2016. In 2015, Germany received more than 476,000 asylum applications. More migrants made the journey on land through Greece and the Western Balkans, and sought for asylum in Hungary, which had 177,130 applications by the end of December 2015.

We heard the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saying that more than 1,011,700 migrants entered by sea in 2015, and about 34,900 by land. More than 3,770 migrants were reported to have died while on their expedition. We also heard and saw the crisis that it sparked. Many countries were literarily held hostage by the flood of people. Europe nearly divided over decisions to handle the menace (The rise of the Right Wing politicians in recent German elections the manifestation of discontent). Many migrants drowned in the seas and many arrived by seas to their respective countries of refuge. We saw that Turkey and Albania didn’t rest.

The conflict in Syria drove many citizens away with the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, molestations in Eritrea, poverty in Kosovo, compelled people to leave. They were looking for better life elsewhere due to political issues in their countries.

But upon how politics has treated the people, we are still struggling to be like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the First indigenous President of Niger. There is Hillary Clinton, Government Official, U.S. First Lady, Women's Rights Activist and once presidential hopeful in 2016 (1947-). There was Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister (1925–2013). There is John Major, Prime Minister (1943–); Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen (1542–1587); David Cameron, Prime Minister (1966–); Alexandra Feodorovna, Princess, Tsar/Tsarina (1872–1918) and a host of others.

Notwithstanding, we heard a former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in 1998 that democratization gives people a stake in the society. Its importance cannot be overstated for unless people feel that they have a true stake in the society, lasting peace will not be possible and sustainable development will not be achieved.

© Odimegwu Onwumere is an award-winning journalist based in Rivers State.

The Stinking Gap Between Politics & People
Odimegwu Onwumere

I was young when the military took over the political affairs in Nigeria on 1983, lasting till 1998. Killing of civilians and hounding of activists that were opposed to the whims and caprices of the military, were the first impression that I had about politics ...

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