One conclusion I’m able to deduct from the just-completed presidential election and people’s post-election reaction is that Nigerians are not ready for “The Change” they profess with so much passion and hope.

You may be wondering how I came to this conclusion, you may ask, is it because the incumbent President won? No! Let me take this opportunity to congratulate our President.

Congratulations to President Mohammed Buhari and your team. You proved once again that you know how to play The Game of Thrones and Chess better than others. You were able to leverage your weaknesses with hardcore politicians like Tinubu, Amechi, Oshomole amongst others and your N10k free loan to market women definitely worked. The timing of the launching of these crucial infrastructures completion was a master plan. There is no better way to sell your next level (4×4) agenda than to show evidence and proof that you are actually putting things neglected for decades in place. The Second Niger Bridge contract and other projects executed in the South East did not help win over the South East but obviously helped reduce the margin as you were able to increase your stake in the region.

In regards to the election, was the election free and fair? Hell no! It had never been and was not meant to be. But compared to previous polls, nothing new actually transpired in terms of the election malpractices and execution. Counting and posting the election results at each poll unit was a significant improvement only marred by the need to manually collate these results across the country; when we have the technology that could have given the final result on the election night. A story for another day. (Digital voting bill awaiting a true loving Nigerian senator to sponsor is on the table)

So why do I think we are not ready for change? I believe it’s fair to define the kind of change I am talking about, so we are very clear on the angle I’m coming from.

We are not ready for a Nigeria where every Nigerian can get into a good secondary school, University, top job and even a political position on merit.

A Nigeria that gives an enabling environment; where you can walk into a bank with a fantastic idea, a business plan, some capital, and you can leave the bank with a roadmap on how that idea will not just take you out of poverty but also become a global phenomenon.

A Nigeria where the institutions are strong and money cannot buy justice.

A Nigeria where Intellectual property is respected and when breached; it’s resolved in court speedily.

A Nigeria where contracts are respected across all level, and when there is a dispute, you can rely on the judicial system for justice, enforcement, and compensation order.

A Nigeria where Research and Development are appreciated and funds are available for forward-thinking Nigerians to come up with innovative ideas.

A Nigeria where our University graduates are able to add value to their employers without the need for extensive training.

A Nigeria where jobs are available for the skilled and our youths value their lives beyond taking the risk to travel illegally through the Sahara desert to get to Libya, gambling with death on an overcrowded and unsafe boat on the Medditerean sea to get to Europe as the only hope of survival.

A Nigeria where our leaders actually serve and are made accountable.

A Nigeria where hard work is celebrated and corruption is criminalised.

A Nigeria where every life counts and the health care system works for all.

A Nigeria where “good” education is made available and mandatory for all up to GCSE level.

A Nigeria that treats all its citizens right, with respect and dignity irrespective of your ethnicity, religion, social status, or influence.

A Nigeria where the best brains are employed to get the best for all Nigerians and nepotism is extinct.

A Nigeria where car manufacturers and other international companies can establish themselves, be profitable with all unnecessary archaic bureaucracies and bottleneck eliminated.

A Nigeria that is the international flight and logistic hub as well as the heartbeat of Africa.

A Nigeria that works; where 1+1=2, no gimmicks, no bribery, and no kickbacks, where all you have to do is just follow the books and work hard.

A Nigeria that is the pride of Africa where people are happy, hospitable, friendly, lively, entertaining, vibrant, colourful, and takes pride in its rich and diverse culture.

A Nigeria where your state of origin, ethnicity and religion are irrelevant but instead your state of residency is what should matter when filling forms, registering to vote, paying tax, applying for University bursaries, etc.. Why will people even register to vote in their villages? Does that make sense? The president with all due respect resides in Aso Rock, Abuja, why will he go to his village to vote?

It just shows that even though Nigerians resides and work in different parts of Nigeria, they don’t feel like their state of residency is home. I know many people who were born and bred in Lagos. Actually second generation Lagosians, yet they have been a tenant all their lives. These same people own magnificent houses in their villages, unoccupied, covered in dust and at best part rented for peanuts. Mainly using the tenants to give the estate some security presence.

This election period has actually opened my eyes to see how selfish and divided we are. This division is more visible in the South; where violence became the order of the day and brothers were killing brothers. Soldiers and police officers were shooting at defenceless citizens. The most amazing one was soldiers shooting at a journalist’s drone monitoring election. How do we explain that to our kids?

How did we get here?

Prior to the election, the two political parties presented men well over retirement age, and for the first time, with slightly different ideologies. As our top political parties have always read from the same scripts all promising good roads, schools, hospital, water, electricity and co without telling us how and when these will be done. They just support these promises with stomach infrastructures (foodstuffs).

This time around, APC and PDP saw things slightly differently. While APC focused on the need to keep corruption at bay, invest in infrastructure and diversify the economy with a focus on the agricultural sector, PDP was keen to get the economy moving, turn a blind eye to corruption, sell/share the national assets including NNPC and restructure the Nigerian constitution.

What I find amazing at these two parties’ multiple million dollars rallies is they seem to have the same hungry Nigerians attending both rallies with the hope of stomach infrastructure and cash handouts. This should not be a surprise as Nigeria is now The World’s International Poverty Headquarters; A vibrant, hardworking people plagued with high unemployment have been turned into beggars in their own country; a country that is rich in oil, mineral resources and arable land.

Fast forward to election day. Nigeria became a tale of two cities. My observation was that the southern parts of Nigeria were tense with military and police presence, hoodlums here and there sent by politicians to disrupt votes in polling stations they felt their opposition had higher chances of winning as well as all sorts of drama. Most importantly, the majority of people in the south did not vote. They did not even register to vote to start with, and more people from the south did not get to collect their voter’s cards either. A state like Lagos should have at least 11 million registered voters. Lagos should be the state determining election results rather than Kano. So it’s bad enough that most people in the south did not register nor collect their voter’s cards but come election day, they had the lowest turnout too.

People were not too bothered. The mentality was more of the North will win anyway. But they had other options from the South like Kingsley, Fela and Sowore. Even if it meant just voting to show their displeasure or to call for change.

Areas of affluence and highly educated people had the lowest turnouts forgetting their common sense in fulfilling their civic right due to complacency. Yes, you may be comfortable today, but if you don’t vote, you leave the option of who governs and make policies into the hands of fate and the less educated ones who are more susceptible to manipulation.

University students and young adults did not come out en masse to vote in the South. They were watching Netflix, on social media, watching the premier league and dancing shaku shaku. While their northern counterparts as young as age 13 had PVC cards with fake ages were on the queues in full force voting without any violence.

In a country where the northern elite keep their masses perpetually illiterate and poor so that they can be easily manipulated, the south’s “over-sabi” becomes a problem. Southerners think they are smarter than Northerners. But every Northerner does not play with his radio. They tune into BBC Hausa, VOA Hausa and Radio Nigeria Hausa all day and night. You will be shocked at how informed the Northerners are.

One of the main reasons Atiku lost in the North including his polling station although he is a Northerner and one of the largest private creators of employment, is because his party promised to restructure Nigeria. A move that will not be to the advantage of the North; although if executed properly, it will change Nigeria’s narrative for good. Northerners may not be that vibrant on Facebook or Twitter, but they are well informed. They have a few trusted leaders they listen to and reason with.

On the other hand, the South believes the North is pulling Nigeria backwards and slowing down its progress, yet they can’t agree on anything. Everyone comes to the table with their personal agenda and ambition. This is the very reason the third force couldn’t form a collaboration to take on the two big parties. The Ideal approach would have been to put Nigeria first. They should have come to an understanding and agreement that in other to upstage PDP and APC; there is a need for the smaller parties to come together. They then merge and refine their ideologies and manifestoes, map out how they intend to disrupt the status quo over the next 16 years with the intention to capture some local governments and House of Assembly in 2019.

Come 2023, with the experience, proven records, trust won and achievements in the little areas of governance; they can then go to contest as well as capture some state governorship and some Senate seats.

Then come 2027, bigger ambitions, they can go for the kill (The Presidency, Senate, governors, local governments and the house of assembly).

Instead, the coalition meeting was an ego clash meeting; debating who will step down for who? Guess what? They never went past that stage. With all due respect, these guys may sound very intelligent but their inability to pull off a master plan to attract some of the over 52 million disengaged registered voters who I’ll assume are tired of our recycled politicians in APC and PDP, also show that their emotional intelligence isn’t that great. It was Only Fela a few days to the election that offered to step down for others. Another political stunt if you ask me. As a Business consultant 52 million disengaged, registered voter is a significant market share I will pitching to my client with a strategy of how to capture just 10% of the market. That’s 5.2 million votes for starters. I know it’s not easy, but it is very doable.

This write up is not meant to divide the North and South further. But to let us realise some of the reasons why things are the way they are and why change is not going to happen soon. Northerners are happy with the way things are at the moment. Nepotism and political posting are in their favour. Southerners are the ones shouting and crying for change, feeling marginalised and exploited. If change can be done on social media, then the South would have championed it, and it would have been a done deal a long time ago.

In conclusion, after the election, I asked a number of my friends from the South, what they thought about the election and asked if they voted. For me, this was the shocking and heartbreaking bit. Most Southerners didn’t vote. Some had been very active on social media running their mouth about the election and abusing others with contrary opinion only for them to confess to me that they did not even register to vote. They have very hectic schedules, balancing work, business, family and social life, not forgetting Lagos traffic etc. Moreover, also if they had a PVC, it’s no point voting because it will be rigged. It was rigged anyway! It’s a North vs North Presidential ticket. I heard things like APC and PDP are the same so it did not matter who they voted for they are all the same.

So what was all the noise on social media about? How do you expect a change if you do nothing? The worst reason/excuse I heard was; “it’s only God that can change Nigeria”. Well, at this point, you will all agree with me that Nigerians are not ready for the change. Standing on the fence will not bring about any change. A division is not the answer neither is leaving it to fate, nor to God. Change doesn’t just happen. People make it happen.

Just because you have a good job or business, you live in a beautiful house, have a decent car and a driver, your kids attend a private school etc., and in your eyes, you are okay. “You cannot come and kill yourself”, as they say, makes it right.

We always look to the presidency for change, but true change comes from you and I. we need to change how to treat others especially our subordinates. We need to improve our work ethics; we need to live by example, we need to think beyond just ourselves and what benefits us. We need to start being accountable as well as holding others accountable. We need to begin by obeying traffic rules and following due process. But no one seems ready for this. Because we believe it’s just “suffer head” and our contribution will not change anything.

If we don’t fix Nigeria now, that hazardous road taking thousands of people’s lives annually may take ours or a loved one’s one day.

If we don’t fix Nigeria now, the Private Health Care System we trust may fail us one day and due to surgery complication, time may not be generous enough allow one get on that emergency flight to England, India, Germany, Turkey, Dubai and co for that life-saving surgery. Money and Influence can’t bring back life.

If we don’t fix Nigeria now, our kids may not have a Nigeria to call their own.

If we don’t fix Nigeria now, Our grandkids may never forgive our generation.

If we don’t fix Nigeria now, Nigeria may never attain its potentials.

Let’s forget about what others are doing. You do not have control over what others do, but you are in control of your actions. I have a simple question for you “Are you ready for change?” Are you willing to make a difference in your little way? I don’t think so! No point arguing about this. Prove me wrong by commenting on what you will start to do to make a difference.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem and perhaps not ready for change.