By Calvin Anadio Lawan
Bertolt Bretcht, a German theoretician made the argument that “the worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events.
He doesn’t know that the cost of life, the price of beans, the fish, the flour, the rent, the shoes, and the medicine, all depend on political decisions.”
2023 is upon us and the discourses emanating from Adamawa’s intellectuals and the intelligentsia is worrisome. I believe this demographic owes it to the masses in ensuring the frequent internalization of political lens that frames electorates perceptions of how power is arranged as well as how it is meant to better the lots of the populace becomes deeply rooted in the psyche of the people.
Unfortunately, ours is not the case. Discourses on both the traditional & social media from the intelligentsia almost always gravitate towards sensationalism and thin inputs that presents politico-economic discourses in a simplistic manner in a desperate act for populism.
I am alarmed by most of the baseless sensationalism and character assassination resembling tabloid intellectualism. They present that type of engagement which does not do the hard work of enlightening the masses on the most vital power the citizen’s office has over political aspirants.
The intelligentsia ought to interrogate what the significance of political actions are on our socio-economic l life and what holding political office holders accountable could mean for a better society.
I am dying to see us interrogating the manifesto of aspirants for governor, senates, House of Representatives, House of assembly members, Chairmen, and Councilors. Here’s what I am driving at:
How do we engage aspirants in serious conversations about the 2023 general elections?
What should constitute the talking points?
The people aspiring to lead us from 2023 ought to know that there’s work to be done that requires a sets of competencies which political popularity isn’t one of them.
We are a state sitting on a 39,9172 arable land that supports superior crop yield. But there’s no evidence that the political elites has been able to harness this potential.
A GDP of 1.72 Trillion Naira going by 2007 figures-which could well have doubled in the past 15 years.
A GDP per Capita of $1,417-2019 figures.
HDI of 0.488, pitching us 27th out of 37 States and the FCT-2019 figures
A population growth rate of 3.75% PA, taking our population to almost 5 million citizens.
75% poverty rate incidence which could mean we have well over 3 million citizens living below the poverty line-2019 figures
Our revenue generation has been abysmal for decades now, no thanks to our obsolete tax system and administration-202o performance on IGR.
I can go on and no but I believe these should suffice. How many of the aspirants have articulated their mission and vision targeting workable solutions to these myriad of problems bedeviling us? Less than a year to the elections and the intelligentsia hasn’t commenced discourses along this line? Unacceptable in my opinion.
It’s damming when intellectuals and the intelligentsia view politics as a popularity contest and not for the transformation of our economic life. With enormous human and natural resources at our disposal, that we aren’t engaged in such discourses is alarming.
As at this moment, only SDP’s Dr. Umar Ardo seems to have articulated his mission and vision and I find it interesting that people aren’t discussing his “Coming to the Rescue Mission & Vision”. Most seems to be fixated on sensationalized pseudo-political popularity and permutations by candidates who haven’t told us what their missions and visions are.
Look at the incumbent Governor for instance, he has not only succeeded in doubling our debt stock, even the claims that he has attracted investors by virtue of his infrastructural drive hasn’t come to fruition and nobody is taking him on that.
The Governor’s aides? These lots are more of reactionary irritants, replying critics and writing rejoinders whenever someone made mention of the Governor’s maladministration when the smartest thing is to share the Governor’s successes and mission and vision for his reelection bid.
Sadly in Adamawa state, power is used to manipulate the public to think that their interests are served by the same things that serves the elites. Also, when the intelligentsia ought to be at the forefront, serving as “Special Interest Group” fighting hard for the interest of the masses, what we see is advocacy that serves to upheld elite control of our mass-consumer economy, electoral politics, and media environment.
Since the struggle for power seems to be at the heart of our politics, whoever is in charge or exerts the most influence gets their way. Into this fray, the intelligentsia must go; aligning their vast influence with the masses to ensure transformational politics and politicking is entrenched.
With over 3 million citizens living below the poverty line as a result of the absence of productive employment opportunities, our motivation should be to rally the people and ensure a change is brought to life.
My advocacy is that since the intelligentsia is engaged in this realm of power struggle, the need to experiment with more evolved approaches to power in order to ensure we facilitate transformation within the existing socio-political space should be paramount.
What do I mean?
Let’s promote the use of power in the service of values-missions and visions- not interests. For example, let’s make it incumbent for candidates to make it clear that their ambitions is not to serve the short-term interests of power brokers, but to build a society that will support the welfare of the people for thousands of years.
I know most will say that this is not good politics, meaning it won’t get candidates elected. But I will argue that we can experiment with enabling even the ‘bad guys’ to do the right thing too. How? By personalizing the power brokers and our relationship to them.
My angle? We mustn’t be elected to act like a government.
How do we achieve that? By acting like a shadow government that could form the Think Tank for policy formulation and recommendation. Let’s herald a new political dream for millions of people who look up to us as the intelligentsia.
Adamawa shall be great.
Calvin Anadio Lawan writes from Song Local Government of Adamawa State.