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Wanted – Hope, at least

IT is annoying to suggest that the most important issue in Nigeria’s politics is who becomes President in 2015. Unfortunately, it is true that the only issue defining Nigeria’s politics is the succession agenda — and it runs through all tiers of government and all the political parties.

The next general elections may be 30 months away, but politicians know only elections and they have imposed the election mentality on Nigerians. Promises made during campaigns just a year ago are forgotten. Every attention is on farming out power in 2015.

Nigerians should worry, and they do, about their existence being tied to elections doused in enticing slogans that are just words. Nigerians have been reduced to statistics in the democratic disputes for power.

Our governments are largely uncaring. They fail to create hope, a minimal ingredient for survival. Government policies paint a bleak future. Government’s penchant for insisting that not even the people matter, in its decisions, is a major deficit for the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

When it fails, as is the case with most of its decisions, it turns on ordinary Nigerians accusing them of supporting the opposition. Such accusation confuses Nigerians when they are lending their support to a government policy.

An example is the removal of fuel subsidy. Government after the elections deployed its resources on a campaign that stated that removal of fuel subsidy would deal with the oil sector cabal which it said was the beneficiary of the subsidy. The thrust of government’s campaign was that gains from subsidy removal would be used to develop the country, a trite argument that was at least 20 years old.

Protests last January in Lagos saw Nigerians demanding transparency in the subsidy regime. The House of Representatives subsidy probe indicted many organisations. More protesters, in Abuja and Lagos in April and June, demanded prosecution of those the House report indicted. The police dispersed them yet they protected another rally at the National Assembly that wanted the probe report thrown away, a view government shares.

Nigerians are poor and getting poorer. Government’s ineptitude on policies that could free resources to re-generate the economy is creating new poverty levels. There are no better grounds for hopelessness than when people are poor and burdened with leaders who point them to more dreary future.

Government should provide hope beyond fanciful pictures of projects it intends to execute; intentions and pictures do nothing for the people.

Talks about the 2015 elections may be distractions to the President, but they re-affirm the selfishness of the Nigerian politician, who believes power is everything and must be obtained by all means and at all costs — including the people, if necessary.

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