Rodney Asikhia

"Lip Service"- Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 34, 2016 

The legitimate aspirations of Nigerians for peace, progress and security over the last 55 years since the founding of the Nigerian state has gone on largely unfulfilled, with promises broken, hopes and expectations have been deferred time and time again. The result is an ominous apathy and disenchantment in the business of government and governance in the polity. 

For the most part of our 55 years of nationhood, we had military government and rule was by military fiat without popular will of the people given much consideration if any at all, this was quickly fingered as the main reason why the country’s growth stagnated and identified as the lost years of growth.

 However, since democracy’s return, there hasn’t been much of a difference in results apart from the change in government ideology and other cosmetic achievements that have failed to deliver the basic things of life to the masses.

 This paradox leaves us with unanswered questions that a failure to answer correctly will definitely mean us needlessly spending more years in the wilderness, one of such questions is, what is to be blamed for our inability to provide the basic dividends of democracy to Nigerians after an unbroken democratic governance of 15 years? What will it take to get genuine and lasting change? And lastly, are we really prepared for change? 

So much has been said about change of late, meaning that Nigerians are truly eager for change to come, but for this change to come we need to answer our national questions. Answering these questions will mean leveraging on our democratic system of governance.

Democracy as a form of governance was defined by the onetime president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This definition presupposes that if change is the agenda, then it must be driven by the people. Democracy espouses certain principles which define its character wherever it’s practiced some of them are; equality of rights, equality before the law, the right to know by the public, elections, power and civic responsibility exercised by citizens, protection of freedoms and the responsibility of citizens to participate in the political system that will in turn protect their rights and freedoms.

We have long waited for someone to become president or governor for the desired change we need to occur, but this thinking has been the bane of our national growth and development and this belief feeds off the thought that the ability to change things lie outside of oneself and not within. 

Democratic practice requires diligent labour and effort to make it work, the logic is simple, if a person or a government comes into power on the basis of expressed popular choice then popular choice must remain expressed and solid on the policies that must be pursued as well as the direction of the government. The absence of this has been the reason why after elections, elected officials defer to a cabal rather than the popular choice that brought them to power.

The way to true and lasting change is clear, and it is that the people must express exert their individual power in a coordinated manner to make it happen. The culture of indifference and apathy to the business s of government and governance must cease, because even if you change government and you don’t change culture, nothing has really changed. In this regard Nigerians must wake up to their responsibility of shaping the government of the day and holding elected officials up to the highest standards of accountability, engaging government at all levels on how we wish to be governed, participating actively in the demand and supply value chain of governance at all levels of government.

It is true that some Nigerians have been passionate and eager to participate in the political process and some have even tried to do so in the past unsuccessfully.

Too many Nigerians are familiar with the feeling of powerlessness in the face of a situation they were passionate about changing, too many know the frustration of being angry as a result of inexcusable dereliction of duty, corruption, negligence and abysmal managerial abilities of public officials and yet were helpless in causing a change.

Lip Service is how every seems to speak of the problems but no one acts on it.

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