The Changenik and the General

"And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." Matthew 11:1-6

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:15-20

There is an air of disillusionment hanging like a thick fog over the nation. Yes, we finally got our thumbs dirty by voting for change, but now that we have encountered the inevitable speed bumps, flat tires and cul de sacs of any journey, we are crying blue murder!

In last year's elections, millions of Nigerians in search of change voted for the political party that promised change, the All Progressives Congress (APC). I was one of those millions and I am also an active foot-soldier of APC.

The APC won the election in formidable fashion, but instead of recognizing the great power of a unified party and continuing to harness and consolidate that power as a tool for nation-building, the APC immediately dissolved itself in a goalmouth melee at the gates of Abuja, in a mad struggle for position and power.

In hindsight, anyone would be forgiven if he/she concluded that the APC was only useful as an election winning machine: we have been practically invisible as an entity in either advocacy or governance!

So if simply voting and winning an election is not enough, how does the poor, dis-enchanted Changenik go about really changing this country? 

In anticipation of the situation we find ourselves today, I recall the speech I gave at a fundraising event during the 2015 presidential campaign, in which I made the proposition that  each individual Nigerian needs to start 'being the change we want to see in the world" in the words of Mahatma Gandhi.  I must confess that this quote is something of a mantra for me because it expresses a profound truth about societal change that we often ignore: our real power lies in individual positive actions which add up into an unstoppable collective outcome.  In the words of Barack Obama: “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.”

Unfortunately, perhaps through my own inarticulate delivery, these inchoate ideas were met by a sea of blank faces most of whom were probably calculating and mourning in advance the hard-earned funds they were about to surrender. But the truth remains: true change will not come by simply thumb-printing ballot papers; true change will only become apparent when a critical mass of citizens begin to do the right thing with respect to discharging their civic responsibilities every day in every way, including holding the government accountable for its actions.

On the part of the Buhari Administration, true change will mean redefining the ethos of governance and moving away from the 'nanny' state style of past administrations where the government assumed a high and mighty dictatorial tone in its posture and pronouncements. True change will begin when human rights and the pursuit of happiness become the right of every Nigerian and the foundation for every policy or programme of the government.

We are just at the beginning of a long and perhaps tortuous journey to change that we can feel.

In the final analysis, like Jesus Christ highlighted in his message to John the Baptist, we will be judged by the fruit of our actions and not by our magnificent intentions.  May we rise up to this challenge.