Who Are The Real Third Force? By Habib Oladapo

As the dust raised by the 2019 Nigerian election settles and the frenzy over the results reach a denouement, the speed train is set to move away from the memories of another quadrennial interference and we get back to what is left of our respective lives, some thoughts from the backlash still ravage my mind.

Before the election season came around, Nigerians cried bitterly about our travails under this administration. We wailed that Nigeria had become the ‘poverty capital’ of the globe. We said we wanted a diversion from the norm – a pulling down of the old structure and set-up of something disruptive and upwardly mobile.

Few individuals bet on the sound of these pains; they set sail on the currents of our voice. These individuals are successful people in their own rights and have been able to break away from the streak of poverty we have all found ourselves in.

They are vanguards of several struggles, reformists brimming with ideas of what the country’s set-up should look like. Some of them are known outliers of the norm in the industries they work in. They are nationalist in their thinking, embracing the idea of a unified country that works; these individuals decided to breakdown the defences and vie for the Presidency, albeit the huge doubt on the genuineness of some of these aspirations.

Well, I didn’t expect every Nigerian to welcome them, but I thought for the younger population whose future is at risk, they know and will act better.

The young people are at the behemoth of Nigeria’s terrible development indices: we are the country with the most out-of-school children; we are forced to waste years in school due to ASUU strikes, even when we finally leave school we are confronted with unemployment. We are the ones whose future is at stake. Some of us have put in more into ourselves than people of our age in developed climes. Still, there is a wide contrast in our standard of living.

By virtue of the anger in the system, I expected Nigerian youth to at least support the new candidates. Even if they will not win, it would have been a very big statement against the system if we queued behind them.

Sadly, we are the ones who were predicting their failure, loudly commenting on how their ideas were not well thought out, how they were not campaigning enough and how they did not align perfectly with the status quo or with some powerful individuals.

Well, Fail they did. Apart from the two leading parties, all the other 71 political parties could only muster 3% of the total votes; the result was even worse for the frontline candidates who had come forward with pedigree and fresh views of how Nigeria should be governed. I feel this is opprobrium for the candidates; they were expressly embarrassed by the same people who they were fighting for.

According to INEC, 51.1% of the voters are 35 and below and 22% are students. The age bracket of the two leading candidates represents just 4% of the voting population. How will these people build a desired future for us? If any of the young candidates have up to a million votes, it would have sent jitters down the spine of the power brokers, it would send a message that the people are choking from their strangle and the narrative could change in the nearest future.

For one reason or the other, we decided to either not vote or vote the same people that have held us in perpetual hostage. We still loudly articulated to go to the next level of the hardships that have enveloped us as a nation.

Our silence after so much ranting means several things; that we are comfortable with the status quo; we are not ready for a better Nigeria championed by young people; we are still stuck in the abyss we have found ourselves; that all our hues and cries are not genuine or not serious enough for us to make a strong decision.

According to Malcolm X, nobody can give you freedom, nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you are a man, you take it. We made the battle between two evils and decided to shun the alternatives.

I thought we would have realized that these two are our main opposition and it’s time we recognized our power as the real third force and take a step towards the desired change. I guess I thought wrong.

The country is not moving forward due to poor ideas and poor implementation of the few that are brilliant. Our debt profile is getting higher. The population is expected to increase by 137 million in 2040 and there is no clear-cut policy or plan for this; there is none to even cater to the already saturated economy. The indices are glaring; we are moving at a snail pace towards development and even smaller countries are leaving us behind.

When the onslaught comes and our economic woes bite harder, we should all remember we had a chance to do something about it and for whatever reasons we all failed to. We left the vessels to set us sailing becalmed.

But then, when the cycle returns in four years, we will know better and hopefully act better.


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