Imagine if I sold you a piece of equipment which malfunctions while still under warranty and when you return I tell you that I can’t help you because I am not the manufacturer!
Imagine if knowing fully well that I am drunk, I picked up a bunch of kids in my car and then crashed into a trailer. I survive, they die but I insist I was only trying to help them and so should not be liable.
Imagine if I knew of a plan to get my friend raped because I saw some guy add a substance to her drink but I said nothing. After she gets raped I claim it’s not my fault because I did not drug her.
Every choice we make has a consequence. Every action we take begets a reaction. We are liable for the consequences of our choices and the reactions to our actions.
I often wonder whether when the terrorist group, the Black Hand sent groups to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand, they expected that their action would lead to WWI. Or when the soldiers struck January of ’66 they knew they would set off reactions that would lead to the Nigerian Civil War. But can either the Black Hand or the coup plotters of ’66 honestly absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of their choices?
No gainsaying that the Nigerian political atmosphere has taken on a toxicity that many never envisaged. When the wind of black propaganda and outright lies were being sown, the planters perhaps never expected to reap the whirlwind of intolerance, discord, and arbitrariness. If they did, there probably will be less talk about rights to pick a candidate who is turning out much more flawed than envisaged, hoping this will somehow free people of responsibility for their actions.
Yes, it is an indisputable fact that by design, every election presents an opportunity to make a choice.Each choice is valid and the supporters have a right to sell their candidate any way they deem necessary within the ambits of the law. What then happens after elections have been won and lost?
Let’s pause for a minute and talk about the spirit of sportsmanship. A person is said to have the spirit of sportsmanship when he imbibes fair play and respect for self and others in his conduct before, during and after play. When competitors shake hands before a game or after, exchange shirts, pull opponents up when they fall, show empathy when the competition is hurt we smile because we are seeing sportsmanship in action. Sports is of course first of all play.However, when the competition cheats in order to win or is foul in word or action, we do not think much of them as individuals. The same applies to politics. People should be magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat.
Your “right” to victory gives you the “responsibility” of not gloating about your victory, mocking the loser, making him feel like he is scum for choices rationally made.
In the same way, your “right” as a loser, gives you the “responsibility” of not being a sore loser, exhibiting pettiness in explaining why you lost or accusing the victor of cheating without tenable evidence.
But what happens when the winner gloats? Or the loser whines?
For every action, there is a reaction. You have a right to free speech but you cannot scream fire in a crowded theatre and then refuse to take responsibility for the ensuing stampede.
Right after the 2015 elections were won and lost, there was a noticeable gloating by the victors. Everyone could testify to considerable improvement in the quality of life of Nigerians after. These improvements, we have come to know, were a fallout of the policies of the previous administration. They were, for lack of a better metaphor, what one would term ‘aftershocks from Tremor Jonathan’. But they were explained away as vibrations from the Buhari Bounce. The direct result of the Bounce Theory was added derision not just of the former president but people who voted him. And if anyone is wondering who fueled this disdain look no further than the President’s July 2015 interview. While fielding questions on running an inclusive government, President Buhari said, “Constituencies that gave me 97% cannot, in all honesty, be treated equally on some issues with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities. While certainly there will be justice for everybody, everybody will get his constitutional rights. But while the party in constituencies that by their sheer hard work they got their people to vote and to ensure that their votes count, they must feel that government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place. I see this as fair.”
Earlier, July 1st to be precise, the phrase “Wailing Wailers” had been released as a teaser to the enshrining of the 5% from the 97% dichotomy. By September 2015, in an article celebrating milestones of “the new sheriff in town’s” 100 days in office, the President’s media aide presented the Buhari Bounce, as an official economic policy.
Any calls for better governance by the 5% was greeted by phrases like “you are pained”, “GEJ is not coming back” and the like. When the 5% mentioned that no provision was made for the Second Niger Bridge in the 2015 appropriation bill, they were reminded that they did not vote in the current administration and so technically had no rights to demand anything.
Did these supporters have a right to express their views? Of course, they did. Free speech is a right that no one should even contemplate taking away from anyone. But remember responsibility?
Two years on, the Buhari Bounce has dropped, lost its velocity and rolled to a halt. But those who predicted the disasters we are now seeing are again being denied the right to gloat. I say let them gloat. I say you cannot take action and still dictate reactions. I say let people say “I told you so” for as long as they wish. I say let them remind you of all the signs you ignored. I say let them remind you of errors you should not make again. This is really a small price to pay for your lack of sportsmanship.
Granted, people of the I-told-you-so gang were sore losers as well. You would have been well within your rights to remind them of the mess they wanted Nigeria to remain in if things have turned out different. But they didn’t. And here we are.
Some are insisting that the present gloaters profer solutions. I don’t think it is their job to save the country. The president and his team swore to protect and to serve, let them do their jobs. It is not the job of the “opposition” to govern. If the ruling party think the kitchen is too hot, they should step out and let someone else take over the cooking.
Same goes for those who were at the forefront of selling a candidate who has turned out very flawed. They cannot decide not to take responsibility for their actions now. If I came out to tell you that God showed me something about Nigeria’s future and it turns out wrong, I owe it to God and man to confess that maybe I did not really hear the voice of God lest I make God a liar. And if I decide not to, then I should be ready for whatever backlash I receive for my stance.
When we begin to assume responsibility for the actions we take, when we understand that every choice we make has consequences, maybe we will be closer to making the world a better place. This itwasntmeism and dontblamemeism can only breed a nation of selfish irresponsible individuals. No nation ever moved forward with this type of thinking. In fact, this is the very thinking that created our problems to start with.