By Uzoma Uwaoma
As you may be aware, I was the Director General of Brady Chijioke Nwosu Campaign council of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in the just concluded 2019 gubernatorial elections in Imo state. It was quite an experience.
But I can tell you that the major lesson I have learnt in the last few months is that there is a serious difference between theory and practice in Nigerian politics. This thing we call democracy, which Nigeria returned to in 1999, after mass protest and frustration with military rule, is not exactly the same democracy that they have in either the United Kingdom or the United States.
I have also learnt that Nigerian politics especially in Imo state is all about money. You can talk about poverty index, on writing and quote those figures from the usual sources, but when you go onto the field of politics, you are bound to confront the reality of the poverty that has turned the Imolite into an endless community of beggars and cynics. The tragedy of Nigeria is the impoverishment of the people and the total collapse of values and dignity.
Everywhere the campaign team went to with our candidate people begged for money. They were not interested in policy documents, action plan or campaign leaflets or gift items. They just wanted cash, raw cash. I ran into hordes of young men who earn a living by belonging to neighbourhood gangs and cults. They are not interested in any talk about development and progress, many of them are college graduates by the way, they just want money to buy “drink and smoke.” very pathetic!!!
The Nigerian political elite, the professional wing that is, has over the years destroyed this state. The political field is peopled by hypocrites who exploit the people’s poverty. The people themselves have become dangerously cynical. When we campaigned on the streets and market places, during our door- door campaign, we were told: “ihe ga ikwo ose” – “no money, no vote.” Nobody was interested in our leaflet. If people said as much as hello, they wanted you to pay for it. There were endless requests for mobilisation fees, transformers, vehicles and all kinds of things. Two days to the election, the situation became almost unmanageable. I was asked to pick up bills at drinking joints. People stopped by and asked for money to “enjoy the rest of the evening”. Others came with requests for money to pay hospital fees, to take care of a newly born baby, to bury a relative, or to make a girlfriend happy. One political associate told me that every request was valid because as far as Imolite are concerned, only a thief goes into politics and it is better to “take their own share” before the election.
I also learnt many lessons about the psychology of Nigerian politics. I re-discovered our people and environment. I got a first-hand exposure to Nigerian politics, not as an observer-analyst but as a direct participant. I am better prepared for the future, and I have more than enough stories to tell. I want to thank Brady Chijioke Nwosu for giving me the opportunity of this field experience and for his down-to-earthness, his sincerity, wisdom, straighforwardness, politics and the leadership that he provided.
Going forward, Imo state must address the crisis of:-
1. Campaign funding and finance. One governor went on radio to boast that he will spend N7 billion to impose his candidate of choice on a state. The monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state in question is N7 billion.. Nobody has taken up the issue.
2. We also need to worry more about the leadership recruitment process. It must be possible for Nigerian democracy to accommodate and promote the best, those who are willing to serve, and who believe in Nigeria and higher causes.
Brady Chijioke Nwosu has since congratulated Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha (Ome nke ahuru Anya) the Imo state governor-Elect. Rt. Hon. Emeka has a duty and a responsibility to run an inclusive government that will address the interest of all the people of Imo state, not of Owerri zone nor mbaise nation. He should resist the temptation to be mbaise or PDP governor.
I want to thank all the friends, family members and associates who supported and stood by me. I am grateful to every member of our political family who devoted their time, energy and resources to the campaign. I also want to thank all the people who did their best to discourage me, and the professional trolls, haters and grumblers who have sent messages to mock me. I don’t feel discouraged. I believe Nigerian politics cum Imo state can be upgraded and rescued if we all summon the courage to get involved in it. We did not lose. We won in losing. That is the paradox of this experience and of the future that is to come.
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