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Stomach Infrastructure: An Apt Reflection of the Nigeria Story

The concept of politicians in our clime doling out fleeting incentives on Election Day is not a novel idea in our polity. History holds it in numerous stead of how the Nigerian Politician in all his untold impunity will siphon, embezzle and divert public funds while in office, yet, when elections come around, he remembers there is such a thing as the grassroots. True to the script, he becomes philanthropic with public funds and doles out merchandise on Election Day in exchange for the peoples’ mandate. The coinage ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ assumed viral usage in the just concluded Ekiti state election that held on June 16th. As we were aware, the PDP in all its scheming displaced the APC; thus, Fayose assumed governor-elect of the state. A lot have been attributed to the odds that favoured the PDP by commentators, cynics and political observers. One of such reason, as the story goes, was the distribution of little bags of rice and other food items by PDP cohorts to many of the electorates in both the rural and urban centers. While this might not be the sole reason why they won the election, many observers are of the opinion that it was a pivotal hatching.

And just before we start to pour aspersions on the electorates in Ekiti for selling their souls for a pot of porridge, it is apt to first situate the gravity of their actions. This anomaly is indeed the most demeaning act ever witnessed on the conscience of the electorate. That something as defining as deciding the kind of life one and his future generation will live can be traded for a day’s meal is atrocious in itself. Some say it’s poverty that have left them with option, but in truism, this malady transcends poverty. Something has gone wrong with the minds of many Nigerians. That we always think of ‘what we will get today’ at the expense of tomorrow wrecks belief.

Pathetic to note, this tale of ‘Stomach Infrastructure’ has become manifest in diverse forms in our country today. As a people, quick fixes are always what we yearn. We might not all be guilty of accepting a cup of rice to buy our votes, but we are guilty of simply letting such an anomaly go unhindered, and we move on. In many ways than one, that a politician and his schemers can conceive such measures in their thoughts and have the temerity to execute it, is a collective insult to every electorate. It is true that many Nigerians suffer from selective amnesia, but how we allow politicians thrive with impunity is a wonder. Today, youths are conscripted into several electoral induced groups, famous among which is a group that call themselves Transformation Ambassador of Nigeria, TAN. While I am not a big fan of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, I accept the reality that he is my president. However, I find it disturbing that the primary aim of millions of people under the aegis of TAN at a time when our fledgling democracy is bedeviled with a plethora of issues is to make GEJ to recontest elections in 2015. It is also not a coincidence that groups like TAN, Friends of Jonathan and the likes takes prominence and form during the electoral era. At times I wonder, what makes people, young and old, dissipate so much energy in clamoring, supporting and even killing themselves for politicians, who only comes around during elections? What have this people been told that made their convictions unswerving?

Many of us are guilty of simply accepting who our politicians have become. At best, we whine about them on social media, but we always tend to move on. They sting their venom on us, we cry, threat ourselves of the diseases they infected us, and wait for the next bite. Perhaps, our understanding of governance and what it represents have been chequered by the cruel reality of our polity. It wasn’t for nothing that the late Chinua Achebe was insistence that the fundamental problem with Nigeria is ‘Leadership’. This was and still remains the bane of our predicament. And if we all know this, how is it that ‘We the People’ who determine who these leaders are cannot do anything about it?

The parable of stomach infrastructure is not just a tale that resonates with the 65 year old man in Ado Ekiti, who voted for Fayose because of the half bag of rice he was given on that election day, it is a story that lives with us all; the sad reality of the Nigerian People.

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