“And Obama wins again!”
This was the final report that brought about wild jubilation in the United States of America and in many parts of the world, notably Nigeria. The social media was filled with comments about the just concluded United States Presidential election in which the democrat candidate and incumbent president, Barack Obama defeated hands down his republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The concession and victory speeches of Romney and Obama respectively were as usual, brilliant pieces of oratory; speeches that evoke hope for a brighter tomorrow for Americans.
However, while majority of Nigerians celebrated the victory of Obama at the polls, a group of misfits and skeptics took to the podium of social media to castigate the millions of Nigerians who celebrated the victory of democracy as it should be and for some, it became a bitter war of words. As I monitored this puerile war of words, I had to wonder at the evident myopia of those who decided that the victory of Obama “does not affect the price of garri in the market”.
Nigeria’s political arena has never provided this much excitement in terms of vibrant ideological evangelism, highly intellectual verbal discourse and the smooth functionality of foundationally sound institutions. The election that brought in the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led administration was totally bereft of these qualities. I remember with disgust, how millions of Nigerians thronged to the polls to elect a president who had no inspiring antecedents or impeccable moral orientation and displayed a prominent absence of intellect regardless of the prefix attached to his name. I remember with sadness, how Nigerians campaigned and voted for a man solely on ethnic sentiments.
Today, we are all witnesses as to how such myopic deeds can inflict severe hardship on us. I still find it utterly shocking when people still profess loyalty to the GEJ-led administration, when all we have seen are the mindless looting of the commonwealth of Nigeria by public officials, the out-of-control spiral of corruption coupled with mere lip-service to tackle it and a total lack of commitment to any form of development. It is sad that a lot of Nigerians live in an alternate reality to have been so befuddled by the ineptitude of governance in Nigeria today.
Despite this, majority of Nigerians are desirous of change in the way the system is run. This is why we followed the US Presidential elections with keen interest. The aim was not to abandon our nationality with all its contradictions and aspire to be Americans; no. The aim was simply to watch and learn how electoral campaigns should be carried out, how electoral bodies organize credible elections and how candidates ought to conduct themselves during and in the aftermath of elections. We only hope our public officers watched and have learned a thing or two from Mitt Romney’s concession speech and understood the importance of imbibing the spirit of sportmanship rather than the “do-or-die” attitude.
This is why I find it appalling and rather hypocritical that some of the same people who come on social media to rant about Nigeria’s misfortune in governance berate Nigerians who have rejoiced with Americans on Obama’s victory. These are the same people who are avid supporters of clubs in the English Premier League. I now ask, your support of Manchester United, Chelsea and the likes, how does it affect the price of garri in the market?
It is perfectly natural to defer to and enjoy a system that works. If our electoral system and our institutions were functioning reasonably, perhaps we wouldn’t have need to wonder about America, Obama and Romney. If our Premier League was properly managed, perhaps we wouldn’t cheer Manchester United, Chelsea and the likes more than we cheer Enyimba FC of Aba, Kano Pillars and the likes. Our democracy is young, just a little over a decade old but in today’s fast paced world, it is a shame that we have not made any positive strides in governance. The world will not wait for us to open our eyes and develop.
It is the prayer of every well-meaning Nigerian that one day, Nigeria will rise above the challenges she faces today. But we can never move forward or effect change without a model. Obama is a model for leadership and statesmanship; American democracy is a model for the shambolic system we currently operate and call democracy; the English Premiership is a model of how we sorely hope that one day, our Nigerian Premiership will be run.
That my friends, is the audacity of hope.
The writer is on twitter @saymalcolm