Since the conclusion of the2011 elections, many things have happened on the geographical space called Nigeria.
The economy is in bad shape, irrespective of the much-vaunted, deliberate ‘re-calibration’ of the economy that placed the Nigerian economy as the largest in Africa. But of what benefit is Africa’s largest economy with more than 70% of the country’s population still living on less than one US dollar per day?
Most of my friends that were unemployed four years ago are still jobless today. The downward spiral of youth unemployment is beyond the control of this government. Kidnapping is now on the high. I have written in the past that kidnapping is a professional business with attendant societal upheavals.
And what about insecurity? It has become nightmarish in the last few past years: insurgency has assume a new vista. As at today, Nigeria is ranked fourth on the global terrorism index below countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our once brave, dreaded, and highly-respected military are now no less boy scouts. Corruption has risen to an all-time high level, it is now our 37th state.
Our comatose infant mortality rates are still among the worst in the world, according to the UN. Access to clean drinking water is estimated to be available to less than 50% of the population. We still live in darkness. I have to put on my generator set as I type this.
It is these sordid pictures of governance in the last four, perhaps six years that have created a determination in the people to effect a meaningful change, but our politicians have taken their propaganda to another level. In their quest to maintain the status quo they seem to have resolved to playing the religious card. They will blame everyone except themselves for their failure in other to get sympathy votes from gullible Nigerians.
Nigerians, especially the jobless youths, must reject and ignore those who want to make the 2015 elections an ethnic or religious affair instead of focusing on good governance, the challenges and development facing the country.
The religious debate is diversionary. Each and every Nigerian has to make informed choices and reject this divisiveness and ember of disunity that is being fostered by some among us. I’d like every Nigerian voter to consider the following: Imagine you are critically ill and require an organ transplant to survive and the only organ that matches you is from a different religion. Will you reject the organ? Will you stop the doctor and her team from saving your life because they are not of the same religion as yours?
Next year’s election is about life saving—your life, your family’s, your friends. Vote for a candidate that will best protect and promote the future of your children and your interest. Everything is wrong with Nigeria. Nigeria is bleeding, Nigeria is broke, Nigeria is sick, and Nigeria may die should you fail to act fast.
We should focus on our common humanity and citizenship rather than religion and ethnicity. Whenever they come to play the religious card with you, tell them that Nigeria is a secular state and no single Nigerian can Islamize or Christainize Nigeria. The days of military dictatorship are over, even those that tried it in a military regime failed woefully. This is democracy, it is a civilian government. It is just not possible.
The collapse of our health sector affects all of us irrespective of our religions. Thousands of people die yearly from fatal accidents on our roads. The poor state of our roads is largely due to poor leadership and governance at all levels. Faithfuls of both religion and peoples from different ethnic groups that have held leadership positions in the past are responsible for the poor state of our roads. Similarly, the poor management of other important sectors of our economy is the reason for our backwardness and it knows no religion.
Today, not less than 20 million Nigerian youths from different ethnic and religious backgrounds are unemployed and there is no enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to thrive. The truth remains that citizens benefit equally once you have a competent team in place, regardless of religion.
Over the last few years our leaders have mastered the art of ‘bread and circuses’ – keeping an iron fist in a beautiful velvet glove. They have realized that as long as they keep the people distracted with the religious debate, they and their cronies plus their families can continue to plunder our collective commonwealth with impunity.
We must stop them from playing this religious card. It won’t work again.