Nigeria, nepotism

Populism is a political style of action that mobilizes a large alienated element of population against a government seen to be controlled by an out-of-touch closed elite that acts on behalf of its own interest.

It cuts across political divides; populist ideology can be left, right or middle. Its goal is to unite the unsophisticated, the lumpen proletariat against the corrupt dominant settled elite, the bourgeoisie.

It is effectively a government of the common man, guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses. Often times, it comes into being when mainstream political institutions fail to deliver.

At election periods the world over, promises are made, deals are stuck, political parties and candidates attempt to win over the people by appealing to popular issues, needs and interests.

Pressure groups and interest groups are regularly courted; appealing prescriptions are promoted and touted as quick fixes. More direct electioneering techniques are usually targeted to the poor and the vulnerable who often brim with hope of better thing to come.

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Electioneering in Nigeria is often a closely contested event where contestants reach over themselves in their bid to win over the electorates and by extension votes.

In the last 2015 general elections, the scenarios were classical, the embers of hope were fanned, anti-corruption crusade took center stage, insecurity was brought to the fore, the exchange rate and economic uncertainties of the time were highlighted.

The epileptic power situation, the moribund rail system among others was brought to the foreground, while different panaceas were dished out as quick fixes.

Fast forward to two years down the line, the tripod of social, economic and environmental indicators give mixed results. While it is safe to agree with the regime’s summation of technically defeating Boko Haram, the persistent wanton attack by herdsmen on their host communities is an antithetical narrative.

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The anti-corruption crusade as so far not led to mainstream convictions, the menace of child bride and child trafficking across regional divides is an untoward situation. Sustained depression over several quarters has brought untold hardship on individuals and families.

With inflation steadily increasing, 18% at present, purchasing power has reduced drastically, job cuts and job losses have soared, and unemployment rate is at an all time high.

The environment have not fared better either. The Ogoni cleanup is a case of talks and less of actions. There are no substantiated efforts to reduce gas flaring or clean up areas affected by the incessant pipe-line bombings.

Initiatives to mitigate and control the release of green house gasses into the atmosphere by anthropogenic activities are either not available or poorly sensitized to the people.

When the dust settles, the poor are the most vulnerable and the most affected. Their hopes were swelled, the bars were raised highest and expectations are so far unfulfilled.

Often times, the poor can only grumble, but when stomachs are affected, drastic events are usually the outcomes. These conditions are the necessary and sufficient givens for the emergence of a populist ideology.

Unfulfilled dreams, unequal opportunities and an inefficient system disenchants the common man, the poor and the vulnerable.

It is these eventualities that drive populist ideologies. Populism is a poison, it is nihilistic, it is akin to the state of nature, it is a consequence we must make sure does not befall us. Political actions ought to result in economic prosperity and human flourishing. We must restrengthen our commonwealth.

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Participatory albeit bottom-up approach should be adopted in the redefinition of political, economic and environmental action such that it is positive, inclusive and plural.

The present administration should take a look at the socio-economic-environmental indicators and come up with frameworks and action plans that will impact the lot of Nigerians.

They should do the needful and save us from the impending wave of populism that threatens to take center stage in the social polity as nothing disenchants the common man as unequal opportunities and unfulfilled dreams.

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