Almost 3 years ago in 2016, I wrote an article ( Change at any cost ) discussing the apparent craving for change which was being manifested in many countries in the world at that time. It was in my humble opinion, a truly historic period in our history. A period in which people everywhere seemed to be craving for change from the status quo. I had cautioned that while change was good and perhaps a prerequisite for progress, that change should however not be at any cost. That the change to be decided on, should using the best available evidence, be one that is likely to be for the good of the majority of people, particularly the most vulnerable.
I had used as case studies three examples which were closest to home for me, because I had had the privilege of living in those countries at important periods of my life. The first was Nigeria, which at that time was embarking on a presidential election and the dominant cry was for change. Change from the administration in power then, which the polity saw as the only solution for the pervading corruption at all levels, but particularly at the leadership level. But paradoxically the apparent alternative with some careful considerations did not appear to be a viable alternative. The second was the surprising vote for exit from the European Union by the British – the Brexit. The world and indeed a large part of the British citizens themselves were still reeling from the shock of the result of the vote for exit. At the time of writing in 2016, many negative results of the vote were already being seen. Foremost was the dramatic fall in value of the UK pound. The third was then in the making and was perhaps the most astonishing. The unbelievable and rising popularity of Donald Trump in the presidential race in the United States of America, which eventually led to his unanticipated defeat of Hilary Clinton, and his election as the the 45th President of the United States of America - the most powerful office in the world.
Today in Nigeria, three years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s leadership things have not improved. Corruption continues to be pervasive, terrorist attacks continue, and poverty appears to be on the increase. Nigerians are set for a new presidential election. For Britain and the Brexit, the British government appears to be facing one of its toughest challenges ever. Never has the government been more divided or found itself grappling with problems that appear to be insoluble. Suggestions which would carry the day on how to exit the Union without too much financial loss for Britain and her people appear to be non-existent. But perhaps the gravest situation of all is the unfolding scenario in the US. Where President Donald Trump has surpassed all expectations about unpresidential behavior; where lies are now made to look normal; where the country has become more divided than ever; where government has almost become a battleground for bipartisanship rather than for good governance; and where the people’s common good appears to be the least of the government’s aspirations. But perhaps most serious of all, where America’s leadership of the world politically, economically and ethically, is becoming a thing of the past, with the distinct possibility that it may never be regained.
For each of these three countries and many others in the world, there is now perhaps an urgent need for positive change. Change that would usher in a much needed improvement in the lives of their people and not change for the sake of change.
I write not to waste everyone’s time in saying “I told you so”. Rather I am driven to write as a ‘Call to Action”. There could surely be no better time than now, three years later, to review and reflect on the results of these unprecedented decisions for change. We need to come together and hopefully derive valuable lessons learnt and using these correct the mistakes made where possible. The time for change has truly arrived and this time we must get it right. Our measure for change must be based as far as possible on objectively verifiable indicators for good. The change we must make this time, must be for the betterment of the majority of our people. We as a world must never make these same mistakes again.
Change should never be change at any cost. The change to work and strive for, should be carefully arrived at and not based largely on sentiments.
Nigerians need to turn out in unprecedented numbers to exercise their franchise and vote, based on objective reasons and not sentiments, tribe, or party affiliations. If it is a vote for the current administration, then it has to be because there is convincing evidence that improvements will be made and that they have the capacity to execute as necessary. If the vote is for a new administration, then there again has to be convincing evidence that they are better equipped to deal with the pervading problems in the country.
The British need to come together to work for the common good of Britain and if need be revisit the decision to leave or not to leave the EU.
America must find a way to regain its lost glory and restore the White House and indeed the Office of the President of the United States of America to its former position of leadership, including ethical and moral leadership especially for the sake of the people of America.
Change is important for progress. But change should not be at any cost. The only change worth pursuing and working for is a change for the better – a change which based on the best available evidence, seeks to ensure the betterment of the majority of the people. We have in the recent past made rash decisions that have resulted in the worsening of the situation for many people in our countries. It is our duty and responsibility to get our people out of the resulting quagmire. Posterity will judge us harshly if we do not individually and collectively take bold actions now to effect and ensure the positive changes so urgently required.