Are we in the season again?

2021 was Israelis fourth election in two years and came three months after the collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government that saw to the launch of an alliance with his former rival, Benny Gantz. Within the said period, Netanyahu’s government had failed to pass a budget and according to a renowned tatoo artist, Amalia Sand, it looked like they had lost all direction, with everyone pulling in from different directions. Despite the biting realities of citizens discontentment with leadership deliverables, government’s crisis communication language remained the same; in Israel, just like Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan, the government feigned they were on top of the matter. It hardly ends with proclaiming being on top of the matter, even global defenders of human rights exhibit repressive tendencies that confirms government brutality on citizens as not being indigenous to the African continent, where cruelty is famed.

Like we rarely find fault with our leaders and political benefactors, in Israel, neither the growing disquiet nor the rowdy demonstrations outside Jerusalem Courthouse, as well as Netanyahu’s corruption trial could dent his popularity among his core supporters, but a respondent on Cristine Amanpour’s “today on CNN” when asked about his impression of the election held that “I am seventy-three and have seen quite some elections and a dozen of leaders, none have disappointed me, they keep getting worse at the turn of every era”. As shocking and heartbreaking as this sounds, this was a veteran’s view of leadership and succession.

Alas after his second stint, Netanyahu by 2021 was succeeded by Naftali Bennett, and if nothing has happened to change that CNN veteran respondent’s opinion and fear about new leaders, he must be witnessing another mistake of leadership after Netanyahu and could be wishing Bibi had stayed longer. Just like the veteran, I do not think Israelis will do more than keep looking forward to a sunny day, when all their concerns and worries would find fit solutions, because the diversity of our climes come handy with diverse challenges; theirs may not be unreliable power, poor infrastructure and unaccountable leadership, but they sure have a problem we can be thankful we are spared from.

In Nigeria comes another round of elections by 2023 and like the CNN veteran, the next being worse than the former has not really been a matter in dispute, as we are almost certain that we are still far from hope, given the issues that still define our political discussions. The policy summersaults and growing uncertainties that characterizes transition programmes in this West Africa’s giant of a nation could only be seen to have drawn its strength from global political events that have relegated every voice of reasoning. At least if the US Capitol could be so desecrated to show citizens disapproval of the election that saw Donald Trump trumped out of the White House, then playing in the mud is no strange terrain for even the West.

A peep at Akwa Ibom just like the Nigerian situation promises more mess in agreement with established norm that attempts to justify politics as a venture reserved for con artists and tricksters. Who would dare think differently when we devote more time painting pictures of how we have succeeded at building a world-class economy out of a third world nation than face the reality? It has become more convenient for people to think themselves as technocrats while others are either political stakeholders or pawns in the power game and where ever we are inclined to, we must hold fast to what Obasanjo in his book, My Watch said, “revolution by proxy cannot be successful”, we must at all times define our course of action rather than recline to the helplessness of an outsider cry.

Never letting a moment slide without deceiving the people as being all powerful, the infinitesimal lot who are advantaged with both the yam and knife on their call will rather have the state dissolved than see a future of departure from their retrogressive holds and yet, their forte has never shifted from how well the people are hoodwinked into thinking there is a future with these Buckaneers of destiny. As days count we wake to a longer queue of blind people who have been promised nothing more than the sound, anguish and fury of uninformed decisions; else, how more can we explain our choice of sick people as our healers. Do we have the powers to change the narratives? Yes! We used to, but had since lost that in pursuit of self-preservation, choosing piecemeal over insisting on conversations that could help rebuild our ruins. After all, gone are those days an aspirant crisscrossed the state to consult the people and in doing so come head-on with prevailing realities, our clime has negatively evolved to where the people congregate on an aspirant’s home to be consulted and lied to.

With an option to choose from the retinue of regular and relatively new faces, the people simply gave themselves away when they insisted on a homegrown governor to succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2023. One would ask what consideration this lone quest was intended to furnish, especially now that it has become glaring that we are out in the courtyards crying over who holds the Midas touch in changing our already pathetic situation; couldn’t we have rather set the rules of engagements to reflect a productive yearning? With less than a year to a gubernatorial election that is likely to have one of Barr. Onofiok Luke, Pastor Umo Eno, Senator John Udoedeghe, Mr. Akan Udofia, Senator Bassey Albert or Hon. Idongesit Ituen assume duty at the Hilltop Mansion, we are full cycle in the realization that we needed more than a homegrown leader. We should have rather asked for one who understands the economy of time, geography and people but most of what we are seeing are people who want to achieve more for themselves, as if we would be asking for too much if our terms included a Governor who genuinely loves Akwa Ibom.

True to the “nothing lasts forever” cliche, the homegrown conversation we focused a better part of our energies is lost on us, and so badly that a section of the people are now resorting to needless vituperation in conversations they had all the time to pitch sanity. One would ask what part of gubernatorial aspiration permits people to insult perceived opponents touting them inexperienced as if there is any of the aspirants with a cogent gubernatorial experience. Well, talk is cheap, but I learnt from Raphael Eden that a lot of people in our clime infamously major in minors; I have watched people get intentional in attacking shadows and in reality overlook what would cause more harm in future. Quite pathetic is the bullish misadventure of name-calling and stereotyping by lesser beings who deploy unprintable blackmail, character assassination and body shaming on aspirants just to show their disapproval of their opponent’s ambition. We have sadly in the pursuit of majoring in minors, clearly failed to ask the right questions.

With so much to talk about the content of our educational curriculum and school infrastructures, Medicare and equipping of our medical facilities, viable infrastructures, rural development, social interventions and bridging the gulf of poverty by creating middle class men and well as human capital development, it is disheartening to watch people venture into nuclear production with the expertise of local craft. If all of what most people want is to have food on their tables, then there is more we can do beyond the metropolitan rhetorics of laying claims to the admissibility of our Guber prospects on compensation terms. Our priorities must necessarily shift from loud promotions and campaigns to the organic modules of safely interacting with people below the rung of political stakeholder(ship). These would bring our most preferred prospects to speed with the yearnings of people whose concerns are neither expansive mansions nor SUVs.

Hope for the common man lies in discussing their fate away from the comfort of party offices, government offices and highbrow residences, in gatherings they can be part of. Artisans, market women, real students and young enthusiastic entrepreneurs all have how they would wish to be served by a government they want to own, and just like the ambitions of gubernatorial hopefuls, their aspirations must be considered and treated as valid. It is time to trounce the fear that the next could be worse than the last, our leadership recruitment processes must begin to reflect our collective aspirations and diverge from personal sentiments of religion, sundry revelations and prophesies, entitlement, brawns and financial muscles as none of these will do us any good in the long run, but genuine commitment to the course of service which must be shown through palpable records and testimonials from previous briefs and engagements.

As the season unfolds, the only religion, political alignment and interest that deserve our time must be those that will begin the building process for a society our children will be proud of; very little of these can be achieved through blind partisanship, sheepish following, allegiance to political party, filial considerations and membership of copy and paste whatsapp groups. Party officials across the various strata, delegates and decision makers, must learn to seen Akwa Ibom beyond how much they can make from phony deals, to reflecting on how much a guber aspirant knows and loves Akwa Ibom. It is time to do more than pay bills, Akwa Ibom has for far too long bled; let us make this season count.

Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak LGA.

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