Yesterday was meant to be the day when Nigerians voted for the next Nigerian President. The choice before the nation included the incumbent President and more than 70 others – well, over 70 on paper; perhaps just one or two feasible candidates in reality. I say “meant to be” because the elections were not held as scheduled. They were postponed for a week with only a few hours’ notice! Only possible in a country like Nigeria!
I do not intend to make any political analysis or comment on the present situation. I simply want to ruminate on the race these 70+ hopefuls are running and how one person’s race can impact the lives of many. After all, we say they are all “running for President.” Many, though, are running, but only one will be crowned.
By the way, why do we say they are “running” for President? At most, they get driven or flown from one campaign venue to another. They wave and smile for the cameras. They give speeches, make promises and try to persuade people to vote for them. The masses who are not “running” cast their vote for those who are “running” in the hope that the “runners” will do all the things they promised to do. If the “runners” fulfil their promises to the non-runners – so is the perception of non-runners – everyone will enjoy the bountiful dividends of “demo-c-racing”. Well, more often than not, the “winners” of the crazy race often forget their running promises. They scoop all the dividends to themselves and leave the non-runners with crumbs. Yet, when next they “run” for public office, the non-runners gulp all their false promises and repeat the cycle of mindless voting!
We need a better postulation! There is nothing wrong with the crazy race for public office. What is not right is hinging all our hopes on sweet-talking runners! What is also wrong is this runner/non-runner societal divide. We should ALL be runners! We should not leave the running to the cabalistic few. Everyone should RUN for something. No, we cannot all run for President, but we can all run for significance. We can all run to make a difference in the lives of those around us. No one should run just for personal benefit. We should rather run for communal, social benefit. The question is: are you running? If so, what are you running for?
I am looking for the day when running for collective benefit becomes the norm in my country and continent. Starting from those running for President, to local government officials, down to every single person in the country, we should ALL aim to add value to society and not just grab value for ourselves at the expense of others. This is the kind of race we should be running, not just in words, but also in deeds. When we, the masses, make this kind of race, the race of significance, our normal culture (the race that seeks to benefit and bless others), we will have the authority to hold those who run for public office accountable if they do anything less.
The question remains: What are you running for? Who are you running for?