It is a common saying that history is such a petty teacher that would not mind repeating the simplest of lessons a thousand times and for several generations until it is properly learnt. Unfortunately, Nigeria is such a stubborn student that has refused to learn even the simplest of history lessons and yet continues to pay history’s ridiculous fees for many years. We keep on carrying over the same courses that we registered for since before 1960. As a nation, we have refused to learn and even had to discard history from our schools’ curriculum. There is widespread amnesia across the nation that begs the question, “who do us?”

So every election season is simply a repeat of the same cycle but unlike the revolution of the earth, we often do not know what to expect from May 29th until the next leap year called “elections year.” It has always been the same cycle since the first republic in 1963. Each election season stands on the premises of great dearth in leadership, heavy cries of corruption, nepotism and political alienation of certain tribes and communities.

In my opinion, the 2015 elections were such that attempted to change the narratives surrounding our democracy. Before then, it was almost guaranteed that every political office holder was assured of perpetuity in office and elections after their first terms were a mere formality. This sacred primal and predatorial precedence was effectively squashed when President Jonathan lost to Mohammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, which was less than three years in formation by then. Many governors lost their second terms, and some of those who sought the Senate, for a perpetual annuity, after serving eight years were disgraced at the polls. Our democracy grew by a foot and three inches taller. It was established that nothing was automatic anymore. Ruling parties and personalities were fatally decimated by the ballots. The thumbs of Nigerians became a force to reckon with. It was now mightier than the sword and in effect than the pen on matters of picking representatives.

However, as much as 2015 achieved an unprecedented feat that hitherto was deemed impossible (it became easily the next best thing after 1993 presidential elections), we didn’t grow by much. We became the proverbial frog in a well that takes one step forward and two steps backwards. Only that unlike the frog, ours is the stride of a chameleon. Speaking of which, the chameleon might as well be our greatest real life Pokemon for Nigeria and Nigerians.

We are very quick to adapt to our changing environments. In 2012, we shut down the economy and a country for over a week as a protest against the hike in pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS), which was consequential effect of fuel subsidy removal. Then we had subsidy removed by the present administration in 2016 under the guise of deregulation being the best. Two and a half years later, pump price still hovers around 142 – 145 naira per litre, and we are not the wiser. As ludicrous as it may sound, the country still pays subsidy on PMS at this rate. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, earlier on this year gave figures of how much fuel subsidy still cost the nation, which is cumulatively around N1.4 trillion this year. But what does the chameleon do in such situations, you may want to ask? Simple, we change our colours, put on a smile and slowly but invariably move on against the inconveniences. We may spit out a few desperate protest, but all it really takes for us to forget is a comedian, an information officer and a preacher of the “e go better” sermon.

We move on. Three years and a half later, we are ready for the polls again. When the paws of the chameleon will slowly but steadily determine who rules over the farm. Shall we continue with a Napoleon or give Snowball a chance to come back after years of exile? However, the case of George Orwell’s animal farm is a rather simple one. Everyone knew who Napoleon and what he stood for and who Snowball and what he stood for. But ours is a complicated farm because no matter how many times we look back and forth we cannot clearly tell the one pig from the other. And if there is anything we know about the chameleon, it is that he does not have the patience to think through before thumbing away the next four years over a pastery dish of apple pie and a few bucks.

Next year’s elections are not in any way different from that of 2015. The main opposition party is riding on the wave of the perceived general political dissatisfaction of the citizenry with the ruling party’s persistent failure in addressing keys elements of national survival. Their mantra is ‘let us get Nigeria working again’ and they have strategically pushed hunger as their biggest campaign pawn.

This is why we must be careful before approaching the ballots. This election year should not be about derobing politicians of their immortality, we have achieved that already with 2015 and every election ever since. It should be about a conscientious effort at making well informed choices at the polls. It should be about letting political parties know that the chameleons do not want to be ruled by pigs anymore. It should be about registering in their consciousness the sense that we would no longer accept any pig they give their flagship to. Or should be a wake-up call to the parties that they need to take their primaries much more seriously if they ever want to get our votes again. I think it is high time, we changed the narrative and decentralized power from parties and look at the individuals. And if the strongest person is in the weakest party, we wear him or her the garb of honour to represent. If we make this happen, then I think history will agree that we have come of age and pass us to the next class.

I am of the opinion that this farm deserves a better than a choice between two individuals with a snot about their nose. I believe that we deserve more than having a choice between two individuals that have been around since the ‘revolution’ of 1960. And if we do not show that we have learnt this much then we will have 2023 to repeat the classes.

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