Opinion

The choice before Nigerians 

By Promise Adiele

I first encountered the phrase “illusion and reality” during my formative years as a literary disciple in the Department of English, University of Lagos. Shakespeare’s classic Merchant of Venice provides an immediate platform for the critical explication of “illusion and reality”. In the play, beyond the covetous and mercantile disposition of Shylock, there is the sub-thematic hierarchy of choice for those seeking the hand of Portia in marriage. The Prince of Morocco made a choice. He chose gold in all its glittering, mesmerizing glory but it was the wrong choice. The Prince of Arragon chose silver. But it was the wrong choice too. However, Bassanio chose the less glamorous lead and it was the correct choice. The incident popularizes the potential of another phrase “all that glitters is not gold”.  It is at once a piece of advice and admonishment for those irredeemably inclined to enticing appearance as against reality. Joshua in the Holy Book encouraged the Israelites to make a choice. In his words “choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served or the gods of the Amorites. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”. 

Nigerians face a simple choice in 2023 between illusion and reality. The incidents in Merchant of Venice and the Holy Book provide a concise metaphor as a guide towards the choice before Nigerians. It is a choice which will determine the slant of posterity in the country. It is a choice between obvious illusion and staggering reality. It is a choice to either remain in the doldrums with dehumanizing conditions or break away from the past and chat a new course for the country. It is a choice between suffering and smiling – with due respect to Fela, the Afrobeat legend. Choices have consequences, which is an interesting thing about them. While objective choices are informed by reason, blind choices are informed by cosmetic, short-term, selfish considerations. The first consideration of an objective choice is selflessness and the advancement of humanity while the first consideration of blind choice is greed and personal satisfaction. In any case, the choice before Nigerians is straightforward – make a wrong choice and continue to wallow in the pit of hardship, inflation, insecurity, and death. Make a correct choice and steer your destiny into the path of gradual recovery, safety for all, and economic emancipation. 

There is a pervading illusion in Nigeria now which paints the picture of wellness. It is an illusion maintained and sustained by those who benefit or have the potential to benefit from the system. Many Nigerians have unfortunately latched onto the deceptive narrative that the country is doing well, therefore the APC government deserves a renewal of its mandate. It is a monumental illusion to think that because millions of people wake up every day and hit the streets, returning in the evening time to their homes, therefore all is well. It is an illusion of an extended proportion that Nigerians are safe in their country. I do not want to recount what is going on in Southern Kaduna, the whole of North East or the bloodbath that has become the order of the day in the South East. It is a great illusion to believe that since a few people in the country can afford three square meals every day, therefore everyone is happy. Since corrupt politicians and their cronies can throw crumbs at a famished populace as an inducement, everything is alright. But illusion is deceptive and can lead people to eternal damnation. Illusion, like a façade, prevents a choice maker from accessing hidden reality. In 2015, Nigerians were hypnotized by the illusion of Change as they raced towards a mirage. Today, they know better. 

Reality always adorns the garment of mercilessness even though millions of people prefer to live in denial. In Nigeria, reality is palpable, it can be touched and cut with a knife. No amount of deception or pretense can take away from the realities in Nigeria. The reality is that beyond all the razzmatazz and make-belief all around the country, 133 million people are living below the poverty line. That is a fact. Families are suffering under the weight of inflation and economic strangulation. The hardship in Nigeria is beyond description. In the current yuletide season, many families could hardly afford to feed amid the skyrocketing cost of essential commodities. With a bag of rice at N52, 000 it is a luxury undefined for the millions of poor folks who cannot afford it. The reality in Nigeria is that corruption has assumed statecraft with government officials stealing amounts that tingle the ears. The conscientious observer is daily appalled by the reality that Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari is not completely in charge of Nigeria. Insecurity holds the country by the jugular. The reality is that in the unfortunate circumstance APC wins the presidential elections, these conditions will worsen and the country will continue to retrogress unhindered. 

Having presented the two situations of illusion and reality above, the choice before Nigerians should ordinarily become clearer. But regrettably, the choice is made difficult by those who desperately and continually obfuscate the reality in Nigeria for their selfish ends. Many people in Nigeria are committed to defending and rationalizing all the realities in Nigeria, thus misleading millions of the ill-formed masses who, like the plebeians are fickle-minded and react to the dictates of their material needs. The haters of Nigeria do not care if the country goes to blaze and burns to ashes. For them, the economy is doing excellently well. There is no corruption in the land. The length and breadth of the country are secured. There are no criminal presidential aspirants. Nigeria is in its best condition. Those who identify the anomalies in the country should be hounded and erased from the soil. The haters want 2023 to come quickly so that INEC will be compromised and election figures manipulated to reflect the interest of a few, misguided fellows. The haters of Nigeria are against BVAS and the INEC chairman. They do not believe in fairness because they are products of a mangled system. 

Nigerians must make choose between illusion and reality. The illusion is that those stealing trillions from the exchequer are celebrated as saints while the reality is that their pilfering has grounded the country’s economy. While it is encouraging that millions of youths are ready and prepared to enthrone a new Nigeria by making the right choice, it galls the soul that millions of those who will make the choice care less about the future. They are interested in stomach infrastructure and will easily endorse those who have impoverished them. If Nigerians can set aside cosmetic considerations like ethnicity and religion, if Nigerians can react swiftly and make the right choice in 2023, then the revival of the country will start in earnest. As the Biblical Joshua urged the Israelites to either choose the outdated gods of their forefathers, a concise metaphor for old, infirm presidential aspirants in Nigeria or choose a bright future heralded by a vibrant Christ, the choice is easy before Nigerians. 

Promise Adiele PhD teaches at Mountain Top University

Promee01@yahoo.com

Twitter: @Drpee4 

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