“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” – Desmond Tutu
Officially, in spite of the state of hopelessness in Nigeria, the 2023 campaign for political offices has started. It therefore offers Nigerians a window of HOPE, as it gives them the opportunity to address the many challenges facing the nation through their votes.
Clearly, the current situation is very hopeless with inflation above 20%, which is reflected in the high and unaffordable prices of goods and services. The 33% unemployment rate (with an unemployment rate among young people of about 53%) exacerbates the current security crisis caused by a high poverty rate of over 40%, among other factors. The exchange rate is volatile, even though the nation is faced with high corruption and insecurity, intractable divisions among ethnic nationalities and broken public finance.
Primary health care is virtually non-existent and basic education is largely or completely ignored. At present, more than 250,000 public school classrooms (from pre-primary to junior secondary) are classified as bad and an estimated 20 million Nigerian children are out of school. Kidnapping has replaced Nigeria’s crumbling industries. Public debt, which stood at N42.84 trillion in the first half of 2022, is a huge concern. In addition, Nigeria’s largest source of income and foreign exchange suffers from oil theft, with around 400,000 barrels of oil reportedly stolen daily. As hopeless as the situation is, most state governments will accumulate more debts to fund campaigns. Watch out and speak out!
In all this, I encourage you to be hopeful. Having hope means asking politicians for concrete answers about their plans to reduce areas of waste and mobilize resources to finance Nigerian projects and programmes. This means finding out from the politicians how they intend to rebuild Nigeria’s broken public finance and put it back on a sustainable track. The politicians should also provide answers on how to reduce the growing public sector bureaucracies to free up resources to broaden the space of the private sector. We need concrete answers on how they want to revolutionise the education and health sector, and deal with the problems of poverty, security, urbanization, unemployment and broken public trust in government.
This is not the time to remind us of the problems, we need answers on strategies to solve the problems and the challenges. What we need now is the *HOW*, *WHEN*, *WHERE*, *WHO* and *WHOM* answers that are evidence-based, measurable and trackable. This is where the hope lies. Hope does not mean sowing ‘asobies’, dancing in circles, promoting candidates because they share the same political party, faith and ethnicity as you. Hopefulness is about asking the hard questions and voting a candidate with the best credentials and strategy to save Nigeria. Hope isn’t being so positive that you ignore potential danger.
Remember, right now, your hope may be the decisive factor in the likelihood that we will succeed or continue in our sorrows. Be objective! Our current state of hopelessness is due to not asking the hard questions and not voting on the strength of capacity, competence and character. Rather, we were dazzled by the badmouthing, rhetoric, religion, ethnicity, greasing of palm and empty promises of the politicians. Hopefulness in a state of hopelessness requires demonstration of commitment.
Give your time and resources to get the message out to everybody around you on the need to vote wisely. In doing so, you bring hope to the hopeless and, in turn, help to make our communities and our nation a better place. Develop your abilities and continue to show your gratitude to God for the current situation. The evidence is abundant to show that people with high levels of hope have better physical health, better health behaviours, better social supports, and live longer. Keep in mind that hope is not synonymous with blind optimism. Hope can be difficult to achieve, particularly if you work blindly. Nevertheless, it is better to be hopeful despite the way things seem momentarily.
As you keep hanging onto positive expectations (HOPE), remember to mobilise your resources and in 2023, vote based on the competence, capacity, and character of candidates. With this, you will have the power to overcome any obstacles; therefore, entrench hope into the current state of hopelessness. You have the power to bring positive change, deploy it Now. Happy New Month! Happy Independence Day!! God is with us!!!
Dr. Uba is a development economist and Chairman of ACUF Foundation and can be reached at +234 803 309 5266