It surprised one of my co-workers when, during lunch sometime during the week, I’d mentioned that one of my grouses with the Goodluck Jonathan presidency was his condonement of corruption, citing the example of his appointment of a convicted certificate forger onto the board of a university. The government has since vigorously defended it as proper and not out of the ordinary. Propriety, and setting a good example with exemplary public servants can go to hell.
“This really happened?” My co-worker asked, unbelieving of something that would otherwise sound like something copied out of a satire written by Wole Soyinka. It got the attention of a few more staff members at the table some of whom also had never even heard of Salisu Buhari or his present designation in the corridors of power.
“Yes, he did.” I replied, and the conversation went on and on about a few other ills that paints the administration as one of the most permissive of corruption in the history of the nation’s democratic experiments. “He also pardoned Alamayesiegha, among others.”
Why the conversation surprised me a lot was because I had assumed that everyone, like me, was interested in what was going on in government, and thus fully aware of the misgovernance taking place in our name. I am wrong, obviously. Nobody really cares. As long as the routine of our daily lives are not affected in any way by the corrupt dealings of the “top bosses”, we are fine. This is not a typically Nigerian problem, but as I am here, it is one that I have given a lot of thought. A few weeks ago in Ikogosi Ekiti, during the session on what young people can do to get proper representation in power to be able to effect the changes they want, the chairman of the governors’ forum, Rotimi Amaechi, had suggested to the faces of those present that no change would come as long as people sat pretty and gave the leaders a free hand to do whatever they wanted. How else could it be any different now, I thought, when we don’t even know, or care, about what is going on in the first place? A number of young people have twitter and Facebook accounts. But how many are relevant enough to effect change? When next an “Occupy” protest comes on and locks down the streets, preventing people from going to work in order to demand for one change or the other, the very first people to complain that the protests have gone on long enough are going to be these ones who (though are very hardworking and well-meaning citizens) have no idea what the heck anyone of us should be worried about. After all, salaries get paid on time, and the road to and from Lekki are good enough in the morning on the way to work, and during evenings on the way back home.
This is the problem, and I can think of millions more who are merely content to go on with their lives without a worry in the world about anything else.
I don’t have a solution.
It just makes for a rather curious study in citizen revolt and participatory democracy.