By Asoro Abubakar Olatunji
It was the weekend, the night before, I had planned to have the longest sleep, the holiday has also been declared for the inaugurations, and I want to have a restful Saturday, but my sleep was cut short by calls from my people, I am a youth leader, and when I say my people, I mean youth. Three calls but the last one brought a memory and the concerns I have always felt for followers of politicians, my grandpa whom I lived with since I was 6 years old was a political leader, and my mum too was one, so I understand the pain of most of these people when they talk.
My grandpa had been in politics for as long as how old Nigeria’s independence is, he was a staunch follower of Pa Awolowo. Politics at the time was seen as a community service, what matters was not their gain, he never complained, he was only happy for the gain of his community. I once see him reject money from politicians, from an erstwhile Minister who was the Governorship aspirant, my grandpa will simply promise his support and ask them to reciprocate by doing this and that for his community, that was it. At the time of the Awos and Jakande, if people expected something, they got compensation from good infrastructural development and that was enough, for most of them the followers, politics was not a source of livelihood, it was a patriotic service to the nation.
My mum regretted all her years of service in the political realm, she died of partial paralysis a consequence of high blood pressure caused by an uncontrollable depression, she could not overcome the thought that she has served some people and she got nothing for it. Was she wrong to think that way?
Things changed, the politician of her generation and some of the leaders she inherited from her father were now after personal aggrandizement, and nepotism took over, it was a time when politics has become a tool of enrichment, people they call leaders suddenly become millionaires, and fixing their biological children into various political offices leaving only the role of cheerleader to their followers.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a good student of Pa Awolowo ideology and for his “grow and let grow” spirit, he wouldn’t have ascended to the highest political office in this nation.
This young man (last caller) complained about their service and how politicians neglect them after the election, I reminded him of the politics of the 80s and 90s but he has genuine complaints.
I have come close to political office holders to understand their plight too, the perspective of the public on political office holders is also putting a lot of pressure on them. Society has made some of them spend beyond their legit salary and has justified embezzlement in many ramifications. People who did not belong here nor there but are just Nigerians also want equal opportunity as Nigerians, to balance the equation is a whole lot of burden on leadership.
The debate is on, we need to bring back our values.
Asoro Abubakri Olatunji is a Lawyer, Administrator, Youth Development Expert and Coordinator, NYCN Ikorodu West, writes from Ikorodu