It is safe to assume that political consciousness in the Nigerian experience is making a gradual climb. And a number of accidental factors are responsible for it.
First of all, as the American elections heated up, Nigerians who either had affiliations with the United States or were merely observers of global politics took to ideological sides with the Democrats or Republicans. The heated debates in the social media space about the implications of having a Democrat-led government and its effect on the larger world went on even after the elections on November 3rd 2020.
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However, before then, the emergence of the #EndSARS movement particularly triggered national consciousness in most Nigerians since October 2020 till date. Yet, the protests which were fast turning into an uprising before its abrupt death could be regarded as a watershed moment in Nigeria’s history.
The middle class, elite, and the proletariat all rose together to fight for their right to live in a country where other rights, benefits and dividends of democracy are continually being denied. Of course, an uprising leading into a revolution might not have foretold well for the survival of “One Nigeria”, but the protests stopping around when it was already getting violent. This also created another round of healthy debate and ideological divide between Nigerians of diverse background – home and abroad.
It was in 2020 that the maladministration and rot which is rife across different cadres of government were exposed anew. The ordinary Nigerian realised afresh how dilapidated the healthcare system, education, economy and other areas of living were fashioned against Nigerians. Those who had the nerve left in them to scream at their corrupt and selfish politicians did. The mishandling of the CACOVID sponsored Covid 19 palliatives by officials and politicians further created more distrust between citizens and politicians.
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It was also during the riots and looting of Covid palliative warehouses across Nigeria that Nigerians finally accepted that there are two types of youth (Youth 1 & Youth 2) – those with the privilege of a good life and others who have lost hope in the system.
As all of these were ongoing, then came Donald Trump’s social media accounts bans and debate began again with some arguing it was setting a dangerous precedent of muzzling free speech.
Also, the recent Ugandan re-election of Yoweri Museveni for the umpteenth time and under controversial circumstances as the president left Nigerians thanking their little stars for the small mercies of being at least able to change their non-performing leaders at four-year election rounds.
Within the past year, with a nationwide lockdown, the average Nigerian have had their life flash before their eyes in a nation racked up in high inflation rates with little or no difference in the way of governance in 2021. However, one thing citizens can be thankful for at least, is that they are more aware of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the imperfect 1999 constitution.
The Nigerian reality remains more vivid as the days go by. Those who have resolved in seeking greener pastures outside the shores are not relenting despite the limitations of Covid-19 on immigration; while those who have also decided to brave the storm of the dysfunctional system and make it better at home are not relenting either.
The consensus is that many more surprises lie in wait as we approach “an already hotly contested” 2023 elections, even more Nigerians will be turning out politically mature. Despite the poor turnout in the last Lagos East senatorial bye-election, the larger Nigerian voter space may experience a better turnout at elections going forward.
Featured Image Source: The Whistler NG
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