IT is not because we generally lack retentive memories. But I have discovered that most Nigerians have a high capacity to forgive any wrong-doings and let things move on. However, there is a precondition to this leniency. It is the ability of the wrong-doer to change from the old ways, which of course includes even a change while winding-up or at the dying minutes. But to expect the people’s leniency or understanding without the willingness or any manner of exhibiting a departure from the old-wrong -ways, could bring about a startling realization of how retentive the people’s memories are and by extension, how unforgiving they could be.
Recently, a friend had something to do at Ikom, a local government area of Cross River State. He called on the third night of his stay to inform me about his findings. “Such a wonderful people” he claimed. “Warm and full of charm for their visitors” but he concluded unfortunately, “it is a place that has been caught up by the same bug as now common in Edo State”: The bug of erratic electricity power supply, suppressing every attempt of the people at industrialization and making a hopeless situation of the daily struggles with sweat swathed nights or provocative sounds of electricity generators.
Narrating my friend’s experience at Ikom is nothing unusual to most of us. But what I find rather funny was his claim that the moment he checked into the hotel, he was offered a hand-fan and promptly informed that it would be useful in drying up his sweat later in the night. Electricity power, they say would certainly not be on. And they can no longer bear the cost of running the hotel on diesel powered generator. He also told me of how much he cherished the hotel management’s honesty, but maintained he was convinced more to be their guest as a result of his inability to afford the more promising and expensive hotels, than any other reason. Therefore, outside, under the moonlit skies, while he fanned himself with the hand fan, he thought about the coming elections and considered that I should join in his imagination of what the Ikom people as well as Edo State indigenes would be considering before making their choices in the forth coming elections. We both shared the feelings that situations like these make people become apolitical. While some brandish their total rejection of the political class, they have also opined that if their votes really mattered, it would have been impossible for their situation and feelings to be left unattended to in such a blatant manner.
Perhaps one other quality that should be added to the claim that Nigerians are some of the happiest people on earth is also the profound magnitude of their understanding and leniency. Even when those offered their political mandates refuse to provide an understanding of the people’s plight = let alone to offer a solution to such problems, the people still welcome the campaigners into their fold and painstakingly await their promising of a final resolve to solve all known and unknown problems. And as an added palliative to the rekindled promises, is the hail of blames on the opposition. Somewhat like saying “…but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away”
Anybody on hearing why the harvest of the wheat is taking such a long time to manifest, or can no longer manifest is supposed to blame the enemy’s handiwork; and invariable advance the planter his sympathy or understanding. But even as cogent as this excuse may seem, it should not be wished away that the planter has grossly failed in his responsibility to remain awake and keep watching over the farm, if it was considered so dearly.
In the same vein, petroleum products have become very difficult to find in most parts of the country today. Trending is the usual accusation of the enemy having sown and is still sowing the bad seed; and supposedly under the ‘good’ watch of some self-acclaimed diligent caretakers.
By now, any good thinker would have thought that emphasis is placed on how to solve the recently nagging problems even beyond a sole concentration on campaigning. Some of the campaigners in the various States ought to have constituted themselves into action committees in ensuring that there are no sharp practices in the distribution of the petroleum products, having told the public that there is an abundant stock. And when possible, to appeal to the cabals who have always ensured that the subsidized kerosene (cooking fuel) never get to poor Nigerians at the recommended price, to loosen their grip and be mindful of the critical electioneering period in order for the campaign messages to appear matched with actions.
However, just as it is said about time, vice and virtue; the 3 phenomena which never remain constant, therefore the political campaigners have become oblivious that time has since moved on, and to realise that the critical elections have suddenly caught up with all manners of our antics. Since the culture of always doing the right things has not been fully nurtured in most of us, the campaigners are just behaving as if the time is up for them to do anything meaningful about their promises. They have even resigned that the time is over for them to amend their promises with at least a soothing make-believe. They are behaving as players who have just lost their penalty kicks, and only wishing that the referee would order a retake. Such is the dilemma when a people fail to match their campaigns or promises with actions for too long. And critically too, such is it at a time the match umpire like Prof. Attahiru Jega has also moved on to be on the side that history would eternally commend.

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