Suffering and smiling and dancing to the tunes of jangling change in your pockets is not the deal that anyone would anticipate and buy-in to as necessary social change. Selling that old and tired HOPE for a better tomorrow will not elicit praise from the masses either. Politics is all about marketing (surprise?). It’s about the Marketing of ideas and causes, and luckily too, to a relatively well-defined market. It should then be easy to tailor the political messages and meanings in order to attract and keep the loyalty of the customers – voters. That should be based strictly on the merits of the ideas and socio-political solutions on offer right? but, fortunately or unfortunately, the political brand, especially here in Nigeria, carries with it a lot of unsolicited and sometimes solicited appeals to Tribe, Religion, Color and Partisanship, such that, the real message is buried deep in that emotional miasma.
Tribe, Religion, Colour are constants and will not change, but they do overshadow the important social variables that should form the core of political message and the service package on offer to the constituency, for example: National income trends, levels of corruption, fairness of wealth distribution, the status of social services and developmental infrastructure etc. At the end of the day, the voter casts his vote (buys) and the politician wins (earns), and tables the real wahala and rudely awakens his customers to the harsh realities. When a buyer purchases a service or product and is not really convinced that it was the right choice and, especially, if trusted friends and allies think so too, then, the buyer is left with that cloying, bitter taste of ‘post purchase cognitive dissonance’ as my Prof would put it. Worse still, this particular customer is left with that festering purchase and the lingering feeling of having been sold a pink elephant, of having bought into a political phantasmagoria, for the full political term.
The politician must be an interpreter and sense-maker to his constituency, especially when managing disruptive political change and, moreso, during an economic downturn. The hungry must be made to understand but not coerced into the understanding that hunger is required in the transition. He must also see that hunger is shared equally between the ruled and the ruler, but, when members of the change-management team are not even convinced about the kind and character of the change that they are selling then the change agenda will be a perceived as a farce.
The fight against corruption is a legitimate one but whilst you go about exorcising that malevolent spirit do not forget to feed the possessed.
So are politicians making sense right now? If the people are complaining so loudly, wrongly or rightly, then the answer is no.
Manage change so that the people are not just left managing change of the jangling kind.
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