Nigeria is on the verge of another general election…, Vote Wisely as Election is just around the corner

By Rev. Fr. Timothy Etsenamhe

I was inside a banking hall recently, just before the multiple bank holidays known as public holidays in Nigeria. Surprisingly, I noticed a man out of the crowd who walked in and sat next to me. He immediately pulled out his phone from his pocket and beaming with contagious smile, he began to call some of his friends to come break fast with him. Suddenly the portrait of Aisha Buhari’s invitation to all presidential aspirants across political parties to the Villa for an Iftah Ramadan dinner came glaringly on my face. Honestly, Islam is really a lovely religion. The lecturer who taught us Islam in the Seminary would usually make reference to how lovely Islam is. He defined   Islam so beautifully as a religion of peace. A religion whose tenants makeroom for adherents to eat and make merry together after been in union in prayers, strengthened by mortification of the flesh for a period of time, is really lovely and at the same time inspires peace. Indeed Islam is one religion to be admired in this regard.

Iftah Ramadan as different from Iftah, according to Fieldhouse Paul, ‘’is the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.’’ It is one of the religious observances of Ramadan. It is often done as a community, with Muslim people gathering to break their fast together. However, having Iftah in this form is not mandatory because of economic depravity of some people. But the rich who can afford to have people invited believe feeding someone at Iftah is a form of charity and it is in emulation of Prophet Muhammad SAW. The ‘’villa Iftah Ramadan feast’’ fulfills its religious end no doubt! Whether it was accepted or pleasing to Almighty Allah is not mine to judge obviously.

However, in my musing, it would have been more pleasing to Allah if those invited to the villa Iftah Ramadan were poor Nigerians who could not decently participate in holy Ramadanbecause they had nothing to eat at the pre-dawn meal of suhur and at sunset, no futoor; the poor people whose human dignity have been bastardized by actions and inactions of governmental irresponsibility and corruption; families of those displaced from their home land by terrorists; people battered by hunger and the scourge of the socio-economic and security unrest especially in the North East and South East. If her Excellency’s celebration of Iftah Ramadan had included parents who have been bearing thebrunt of the adverse effect of the heinous activities of terrorists in Nigeria, in the likes of the parents of Leah Sharibu, I think the villa Iftah Ramadan would have been more pleasing to God.

Contrarily, Aisha’s Iftah Ramadan was strictly for politics! It was meant for all presidential aspirants from across political parties and the big wings in the All Progressive Congress. Many of those who were invited and those who honoured the invitation have being stake holders in plundering our common wealth; they have at one time or the other contributed to why Nigeria is almost a failed country. Yet they were invited as usual to feast sumptuously on tax payer’s money at the detriment of the poor masses who everyday stare through the tiny rays of sunlight from their gloomy windows nudged on by the expectation of a better Nigeria. The Villa Iftah Ramadan was nothing short of using religious ritual purposely for a political meeting. If Aisha Buhari wants to dabble into politics she should register to join a political party and vie for an elective post and she would weld the power to summon-as many opined that her invitation was-political meetings to discuss the inclusion of women in politics.Of course I would vote for her because she would be a great leader!

I am very driven to feminism; but for her Excellency to have invited politicians to Iftah to discuss about total inclusion of women in politics by instructing presidential hopefuls to include women as their vice is something that I find absurd. It speaks somuch of how aloof and disconnected the First Family is from the realities and happenings in Nigeria. Who should even be talking about electioneering at a time in Nigeria when every facets of our life is deteriorating? I expected the gathering to have been a brain- storming one; to access how these aspirants would proffer solutions to the lingering insecurity crises rocking the country; what are the economic plans to rescue Nigeria from the present economic doldrums that have bedeviled her collective existence; discussion on solutions to unemployment crisis that has become an enigma; how to end the senseless killings happening geometrically mostly in the Northern parts and elsewhere in the country; how to rescue the victims of the Kaduna train kidnap and talks about urgent steps to be taken against the persistentAcademic Staff Union of Universities strike actions  destroying Nigerian public tertiary institutions, et cetera, and not to dwell in idealism. 

Education is the bedrock of national building and development. In Nigeria, education is not given the value it has. The truism of this assertion is not far-fetched. Since 2009 the government has not been able to keep to the agreements reached with all the university based unions. Many Nigerian universities are structurally misfits for any institution of higher learning. University staff both academic and non-academic are poorly incentivized. This no doubt has consequential long damaging implications in the Nigeria university system. The frequent strike actions that have become hallmark of the university system in Nigeria no doubt has become headache for so many parents and school children. The uncertainties and the disruption in academic calendar could be said to be one of thereasons many graduates coming out from Nigeria universities are ill equipped to face workplace challenges and some are unable to find employment, not necessarily because there are noemployment opportunities. Yet issue that is as serious as this is not given the pride of space it deserves. Aren’t anyone justified to call successive governments and this particular Mohammadu Buhari cum Aisha government Boko Haram governments? Because one of the core values of the monstrous terrorist group is its hostility to education and annihilation of anything that represents westernization.

It is now a well-established fact that this present government is disinterested in education. I cannot still digest the fact that the Minister of Education had walked out on some members of theNigerian Students body at a meeting when they brought up the issue of the reopening of schools. This singular act shows the audacity this government displays its cluelessness in situations it should proffer suiting solutions to down escalating situation;how it nudges everyone out that has a contrary but superior idea on burning issues affecting the state of the nation. It is rather sad that those who should be resolving the strike are busy buying nomination forms for elective positions. The same leaders who cannot govern or ensure that the present government in which they serve in deliver on their promises to the people are aspiring to take leading roles. Little wonder then when we expect our country to be better after a bad government exits, the new government ends up becoming a nightmare.


The disarray caused by this ongoing ASUU strike has multifaceted effects. It has sent students out of their learning halls and the consequences of this is felt on almost every neighborhoods. It has made a lot of people unemployed, especially those who do business around the school environment, like shuttle drivers, food vendors, messengers who run errands for students and teachers. Imagine towns that have become hubs for economic activities for the past years only because of students’ presence! Your guess is as good as mine as to what these towns and businesses are now without students. The ASUU body should stealth its sword and return to school to manage with the conditions available to them, at least depending when this government will end its unpopular reign. The frequent monthly extensions of the strike have proved nothing significant. The federal government is not serious and ASUU should save its name from being brandished as playing politics because they are not politicians.  

When Aisha Buhari was beaming with great smile, enjoying cozy ambience with the movers and shakers of Nigeria, there were women, most especially in Kaduna who were groaning in pains for the loss of their loved ones to some callous and ruthless terrorists who blew up a train en route Kaduna in the heart of Ramadan. The Villa Iftah Ramadan feast took place in the midst of this sad reality and it never bothered the First Lady. Patience Jonathan would have cried and invoked the wrath of God in her now mimicked comic voice on those terrorists, and would made sure there is mourning in the Villa and not host a feast. This was the same attitude when Nigeria almost closed down during the heat of the fuel crises in February, the First Lady was in Dubai and an ‘Association of First Ladies’ flew to present her Excellency a birthday cake. The audacity to damn every harrowing conditions Nigerians are passing through by these occupants of today’s villa is consistent and it speaks so much of ineptitude, insensitivity and I don’t care attitudes. 

The Buhari’s administration is frost with daily news of killings; the dignity of human life is not sacred anymore, that for any flimsiest of reasons someone’s life could be snatched and the government would do nothing about it, as far as it does not bother them they do not care about it, they always pay deaf ears to the cries of people but when they want to aspire for elective positions the come to our knees and read out manifestoes which they do not fulfill. It is so unfortunate that we live in a country where our lives and wellbeing are worthless to the people we entrust them to. The death and birthday of a president or senator is well celebrated, but no one cares about the poor masses who are starving and dying from cholera; every day we hear about killings and deaths of innocent children, kidnapping, bomb blasts, ritual killings and so on, but the government feels unbothered and at best claims ignorance.

The Iftah Ramadan in the Villa was indeed politics taken too far by Aisha Buhari, in a bid to be politically relevant. I do not understand the desperation that has made our beautiful Aisha convey a politicized Iftah Ramadan while a large number of children she is supposed to a mother to her languishing in idleness because their schools are shutdown, when somemothers like her are groaning in pains for losing their loved ones in the den of terrorists now holding Nigeria hostage. Muslim fanatics would not interpret this as blasphemy obviously! However, they would easily spot a poor and innocent Deborah Samuel and lynch her to death all in the name of blasphemy. This is another kettle of fish, by the way.

The First Lady’s actions, no doubt, represent the attitude of our insensitive politicians, especially those who have contributed to the rot Nigeria is passing through at the moment, and thosewhose intent is to seek power in order to further their plunderingand self-aggrandizement motives, for hosting a religious feast to discuss frivolities in the midst of precarious times in Nigeria. The first lady has become a simile for nonchalant politicianswhose goal is to plunder and embezzle public funds and do not care how deplorable Nigerian roads are, how bad the country’s health care sector is.

Nigeria is on the verge of another general election and the APC has the fortune of a very large array of presidential aspirantsmost of whom contributed to run aground the polity of Nigeria campaigning to become president, governors and senators et cetera. One would wonder what they have to contribute to the betterment of this country that they did not help Buhari to do as ministers, governors, members of the House of Assembly, party leaders and others. Of course it has to do with something of the ego. Many just want to be president of Nigeria without a corresponding preparedness to roll up their sleeves and work for the development of the country. It is only the opposition parties that should have the audacity to campaign and talk about elections at the moment. This is why I feel the Villa Iftah Ramadan agenda is appalling and should be considered a blasphemy.

Nigeria cannot continue to be governed by bunch of leaders who are selfish and unbothered about the plight of the masses. The APC government superintended by President Mohammadu Buhari scores excellently in this regard. The president is too high up, too aloof, and completely out of tune with happenings around the country. This fact is buttressed by the President admitting about countless times, of not been aware of some abnormalities taking place under his watch. And before he reluctantly addressed the ASUU strike palava, he expressed his oblivion about the lingering strike. Those who are saddled with the responsibility of leading Nigeria should take it as a serious job, not just seek to answer names and adorn themselves with the paraphernalia of their offices which to a large extent is the governing propensity of many of those who jostle for political offices in Nigeria.

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