Ethiopia is presently facing strong headwinds from different directions. The challenges confronting us keep getting more complex and thornier by the day. Even as we struggle to plug problems on the political front, the economy starts to leak. And when we turn our attention to the economy political turmoil ensues and sets us back. Everything seems to be heading south. To make matters worse we are exacerbating the country’s fragile situation by creating a new set of problems though we have barely made a dent into the tons of home works that have accumulated over the years. We have put Ethiopia in a bind instead of steering it on the path to prosperity; the apparent irresponsibility with which everyone acts and speaks has gotten us into the mess we now find ourselves in; and the values which we cherish and have kept us together as a nation are being eroded from time to time, threatening our continued existence as a cohesive polity. As such it’s incumbent on all Ethiopians to think long and hard about the consequences of persisting with our current course of action.
We have always been vocal whenever we feel that Ethiopia’s survival is in jeopardy. Given that the irrationality punctuating the way we think and act is sure to lead to unpleasant consequences we will deeply regret, it’s incumbent on each and every one of us to display calm and level-headedness. As Ethiopians we all have a stake in the fate of our country. Nothing justifies turning a blind eye as a bunch of inept and myopic individuals dominate the political landscape and take the country backward. More damaging than the havoc wreaked caused by these individuals though is inaction on the part of well-meaning Ethiopians. That is why all citizens that have their country’s best interest at heart have to demonstrate in action that they do so. True, it will not be a bed of roses for anyone desirous to do what they can in service of the nation and its people due to the toxic political environment prevailing these days. Nevertheless, watching on the sidelines as Ethiopia heads down a perilous road has more downsides than benefits.
Ethiopians have always led a life of ordeal and misery owing to the fact that we have consistently squandered the host of opportunities which had come our way. Despite this, though,we must not give up. The sea change that has been underway in Ethiopia for some 18 months now is a result of our unflagging faith in Ethiopia as well as our fervent desire to see it genuinely grow and prosper. We would do well to ensure that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity does not slip through our fingers because once it is wasted things are liable to go in an unwanted direction and derail there form that many had pinned their hope on. Just as the change was not engineered by one side only, all of us need to contribute our share on charting the way forward as opposed to leaving everything to someone. Otherwise, the future will not bode well.
The genesis of change goes back to the widespread public protest that arose soon after the 2015 general elections in which the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) and its allies swept all parliamentary seats. The outflow of public grievances that had accumulated for decades forced the EPRDF to shake up its leadership and embark on a reform. Although the change was enthusiastically received initially by large swathes of the public, the developments which have unfolded since than have elicited grave concern. The steps taken to broaden the democratic space, which enabled the expression of hitherto suppressed views, were deemed to herald the start of a journey to build a truly inclusive nation. While ever person has an inalienable right to freedom of thought and expression, the deliberate or otherwise disregard of the responsibility that comes with the exercise of this right has spawned a breakdown in law and order in some parts of the country. As a result, the government is finding it difficult to carry out its foremost obligation, namely to enforce the rule of law, which is challenging even in times of relative stability owing to the non-existence of strong institutions. The sad truth is we are harming our vital interest by undermining the values we built over centuries and unraveling the ties that bind us together instead of building on them.
A bevy of testing challenges are staring us in the face. For instance, there are only months to go before the 2020 general elections. Leave alone at a time the nation is divided holding elections is fraught with its own set of difficulties even during a stable period. The dire straits in which the economy finds itself makes the job of conducting elections that much more difficult. This is why it’s imperative that we deliberate at length on where we are going. It’s quite obvious that there are individuals and groups with competing and sometimes conflicting interests on the train we are riding. If we fail to accommodate our differences peacefully through constructive dialogue the train is bound to derail. As long as we are riding the same train it’s in our interest to agree on the path we ought to follow. If each of insists that we take command of the steering wheel or go our separate ways, the train will veer off track and eventually overturn. It’s precisely for this reason that we must use the opportunity that the ongoing change provides us with to focus on the issues which unite us and build a nation we can be proud of. Let’s extricate Ethiopia from the political quagmire it’s wallowing in!