2015: Auspicious era for change in mindset
The book of 1 John chapter 1 verse 8 has it that “if we say that we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” From the context of the foregoing scripture, it is not out of place to say that if any Nigerian politician says that he has never exhibited unprogressive mindset towards political or electoral activities within any political dispensation, “he deceives himself, and the truth is not in him;”
I must confess at this juncture that this piece is set to convey my views on some of the myriad of unprogressive mindsets that have collectively become the major hindrance that is literally standing against the much sought after ideal democracy since May 29, 1999.
There is no denying the fact that organizing plethora of seminars and symposia on how to attain an ideal democracy and organizing series of lectures on the attitudes to adopt to attain an ideal democracy may be fruitless except both politicians and the electorates change their mindsets on the concept of politics. The reason for this clarion call cannot be argued against when seen from the perspective of the quote credited to Albert Einstein that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Without mincing words, Nigerian politicians have since May 29, 1999 been doing the same thing as dictated by their mindsets over and over again and thereby through the country and the people into situations that seem worst than they met it.
At this juncture, it is germane to ask, “What is mindset?” Mindset is simply “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” According to an African proverb, “When a farmer is deeply obsessed with how many tubers of roasted yams he will be eating in the farm, he would no doubt become an unsuccessful farmer. “ The reason for his failure in his farming occupation cannot be far-fetched when analyzed from the fact that he was pre-occupied with what he would harvest from the farm rather than what he would sow into the farm to enable him reap good harvest. This proverbial analysis also describes the unprogressive mindsets of Nigerian politicians who are wont to see politics as a means of stealing public funds rather than seeing it as a platform to sow into the lives of the people. There is no denying the fact that the mindset of an average Nigerian on Politics is deep-rooted in the erroneous thinking that politics is all about “chopping money.”
It is not an exaggeration to say that as long as the erroneous mindset that politics is all about eating just like the farmer that thinks farming occupation is all about eating roasted yams, the business of politics can never played right in this part of the world.
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With this warped and persistent mindset over our democracy that was birthed for almost 16 years today, it stands to reason that Nigeria’s democratic growth would remain stunted and would continue to be described as a “nascent democracy.”
Permit me to reiterate the fact at this juncture that an ideal democracy can never be attained until there is a sincere change in the mindsets of the people. Change in this sense means changing from a selfish politician to an altruistic politician. Change in this sense means changing the mindset that sees engagement in politics as a way of becoming wealthy, famous and powerful to that of serving the people and making the country a better place to live. For God sake! Politics is about the service to the people.
Also, the mindset of seeing politics as a “do-or-die” affair should be changed completely for Nigeria to move forward as a country. It is high time politicians began to see politics with the mindset of sportsmanship. Having the mindset of a sportsman means not becoming down-hearted if one loses an election or political appointment. Politicians should begin to hold out the olive branch to their opponents rather than resorting to violence and using thugs against themselves. Similarly, the mindset of thinking that the best strategy to employ for a successful political campaign is that of making hate speeches and engaging in smear campaigns against opponents should be changed under the political dispensation that the forthcoming general election would herald.
Another area where one can say that both politicians and the people have to change their collective mindsets is that of seeing the provisions of amenities or infrastructures to the people as favor. In developed world, the provision of amenities or infrastructures to the people is never a favor done to the people but a service which a political leader is obligated to provide by virtue of the oath of office sworn, social contract entered with the people and promises made. In this part of the world, provision of amenities or infrastructures are celebrated by the people as they see it as favor done to them.
Another mindset that need to be changed include that of seeing politics as a means of exhibiting “sit-tightism” that is unarguably one of the features that characterizes military dictatorship. “Sit-tightism” in a military dictatorship is euphemistically called “re-election”. Re-election to my view is undemocratic as it does not allow equal participation in democratic politics. It allows a particular candidate to become a common denominator in every political dispensation where, in most cases, there are better candidates. As the gate to new political dispensation is bound to open after February general election, I am of the view that certain political practices that are presently shaping the mindsets of both the politicians and electorates need to be changed. There is no salient reason to be given in support of an idea that only a particular candidate is qualified to represent the people within a given constituency at every given political dispensation as if such candidate is the only candidate in the constituency. Participation in politics is not the heritage of any person or that of his family members.
As if the foregoing warped mindsets on politics are not enough, those that can in this context be called tribal jingoists are wont to see criticisms, allegations, insinuations or even state laws invoked against their kinsmen that are non performers in political offices as discriminatory and seemingly a pogrom rather than call their political kinsmen to order. Evidences abound on how some tribal jingoists react whenever any of their kinsmen is dropped either from an appointed political position or impeached from an elected position. It is high time tribalism is separated from politics. The patriotism for Nigeria as a nation should be allowed to becloud tribal jingoism, ethnic sentiment and religious bigotry.
Finally, the mindsets of seeing politics as an avenue of stealing public fund and go scot free. More worrisome of all is the mindset of wives of political leaders who see themselves as part of the government and first ladies of the nation. With this negative development, they go ahead in the undemocratic activities of meddling into government activities of their husbands. A friend of mine jocularly referred to them as “contemporary lady Macbeths.”
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