Progressivism by definition is the political orientation of those who favour progress towards better conditions in government and society. From this definition, it follows that “a progressive” is one who strives for the betterment of government and society irrespective of his or her political affiliation.
Progressivism is a term that encompasses a wide spectrum of social movements that include environmentalism, labour, agrarianism, anti-poverty, peace, anti-racism, civil rights, women’s rights, animal rights and social justice. Political ideologies such as anarchism, communism, socialism, social democracy, and liberalism among others. It is therefore ridiculous to infer or assume that political affiliation alone is what confers an individual or group with the “progressive” tag as some would have us believe.
The term ‘progressive’ has become a word that has suffered much misuse in Nigeria particularly as it relates to politics in the country so much so that no matter how hard working, welfarist, people-oriented, selfless and lovable a politician is within his or her political sphere, as long as they are not members of a group of self-acclaimed “progressives” they are considered otherwise. On the other hand, a politician can be as detestable and corrupt as can be, yet his or her membership of this “Pseudo-progressive” political group gives him or her a halo of sainthood. Only in Nigeria!
Unfortunately, a section of the media that have abdicated their primary role as watchdog of the society to pursue filthy lucre has helped propagate the errors of these “419 Progressives” whose only interest to progressivism is to feather their nests.
Perhaps, there is nowhere this anomaly is more pronounced than in Oyo state where Senator Isiak Ajimobi holds sway. The governor has brought untold hardship upon the entire citizenry of his state through policies that could only emanate from a leader who lacks compassion.
Education is at its lowest ebb, health services and agriculture are in a comatose state, the morale of Civil Servants are down as salaries come in late and the people are in a general mood of depression. If the previous administrator of the state had chastised them with whips, the present one is doing same with Scorpions.
Despite all of the above, Senator Ajimobi is branded a “progressive”. Would a true progressive provide water for flowers and lawns while his people thirst ? What type of progressive would spend hundreds of millions of Naira building motor parks while public schools are in dilapidated conditions?
The “Progressive” in Senator Ajimobi has constrained him to the reconstruction of few roads in just a federal constituency in Ibadan municipality (North-west and South- west LGs). The much-celebrated over-one-billion-Naira state beautification project is limited to the Ring road in Ibadan.
In contrast, Dr Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo state who has positively affected the lives of his people through quality and quantitative infrastructural development in health, agriculture, education, public transportation and general beautification of his state is not adjudged a progressive. Another example: The Osun state governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, is tagged a “progressive” even though Osun state is largely underdeveloped. The governor busies himself with such inanities as changing the name of his state, creating an anthem, a new coat of arms and a flag. He also pursues an educational agenda that has increased religious tension and may likely necessitate a clash between the two major faiths in the state who have been tolerant of each other hitherto. His government wastes valuable time dwelling on grandiose ideologies and philosophies that cannot bring succor to his suffering people. In spite of this, the Ogbeni is labeled a “Progressive”. Curiously, a governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom who has turned his state into one of the most beautiful places in the country is not regarded as a progressive just because he does not belong to a particular group so-named. Is this not a misnomer?
Our pseudo-progressives oversee governments that give considerable attention to the needs of the environment at the detriment of its people. From Lagos to Oyo, from Ekiti to Osun, the story is the same. Their imaginary achievements are known by the propaganda the public is fed with daily. The water taps are not running but the Flowers and lawns enjoy state-of-the-art water supply. Is this progressivism? These pseudo Progressives preach moral values and ethics that they cannot abide with. They profess to be democrats but they do not believe in the tenets of democracy. They are champions of rule of law only when they get favorable judgments from the judiciary and when its otherwise judiciary has been compromised and no longer hope of the common man.
No single group or association should lay claim to the appellation of “Progressive”. Everyone who works for the promotion of good governance and a better society is a progressive irrespective of their political persuasion. These include members of all known political groups, NGOs, human rights activists etc.
Our run-of-the-mill democrats and self-styled progressives who, perhaps, are only “Progressively Proficient” in increasing the suffering of the masses should desist from boring us with their “progressivist” mantra. We know the true progressives.
Omolere Omoetan is a Public commentator Resident in Awotan Ibadan.