It is confession time! I am an avid consumer of the Youtube on the internet, a medium by which video recordings can be stored on the internet. In my recent consumption I encountered a recorded speech by Omoyele Sowore of the Sahara Reporter’s fame where he outlined the raison d’être for the existence of Sahara Reporters. This was followed up like icing on the cake with an introduction to Mr Sowore by a mutual friend, Hillary Okoronkwo.
I celebrate Sahara Reporters today, for opening up possibilities that hitherto remained the monopoly of the media, newspapers of the broadsheet type. He has made it possible for many around the world to bypass the traditional mode of access to news of investigative variety. Mr Sowore prides himself in the fact that he is no ‘journalist’ and is one concerned with seeking, exposing and speaking the truth. The website corroborates this stating that: “We are citizens reporting the news and writing reports without barriers, oblivious of borders and regardless of frontiers“
The man, Sowore, comes through from a long tradition and brand of militant Student Unionism which has always stood on the side of the majority and not the few. He is one of the few of my generation who have identified a noble purpose and a will to achieve the goal, treating life as an adventure, in which he understands that we get out of it what we put into it.
When he started the creation a few years ago I am not sure he realised the potency which it would become. What began on the worldwide web is now fast becoming an alliance of ordinary people, workers, scholars, professionals, students and the Nigerian intelligentsia in Diaspora, emerging as a formidable alliance for exposing the corrupt and a template for the transformation of Nigeria. This has come at some costs, in the past internet journalists have been arrested and harassed by the Nigerian authorities. But this task is and cannot be reduced to a single individual or isolated websites, for there are many who are sparks. These will ignite change in Nigeria and all together we form the bright light that will liberate Nigeria from our current and cyclical cul de sac.
In the past I have implied that the transformation of Nigeria continues to be confounded by the corruption of our entire value system, compromising the ‘Church’ and our ‘men of God’ of various persuasions. Speaking Truth to Power has been substituted with fraternising with ‘Power’. In doing that many have run away from the Nigerian problem, rather than facing it and chiselling it into smaller manageable parts and dealing with each part separately.
I revise my earlier claim about our greatest enemy to state that our greatest enemy is not the confounding one called corruption but fear. Franklin D Roosevelt, the former American President was quoted as saying in his inaugural address that: “”the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is this fear that has precluded many, the best and brightest of my generation, the 60s generation from getting involved. It is fear that has precluded them from getting their shirts wet as far as the salvation of Nigeria is concerned.
It has always been easy to use our limitations as an excuse for doing nothing productive with our lives as far as Nigeria is concerned. Today I believe God wants us to develop our strengths and to fulfil our life’s purpose. But thousands of articles are being written daily on this theme; words are being spoken without any discernable change. So should we give up, pack our bags and resign ourselves to silence, certainly no!
I think we all owe a duty to come up with constructive solutions of the way forward and in doing so pointing to starting points.
I am convinced that beyond the exposure of the fault lines of our nation, Nigeria, we the social critics, the investigators, the speakers of truth must go beyond that and advance a template of action for the future. I draw from an esteemed friend of mine in stating that we owe Nigeria an analysis which shows the geographical, ethnic and institutional distribution of our current capabilities and current deficiencies that may exist. We must continue to point exemplars of good governance like Fashola of Lagos and Lamido Sanusi of the Central Bank. For it is these little islands of hope that can provide incubatory environments for solutions. Also we should note that whilst the government of President Yar Adua is mostly clueless over the transformation of Nigeria it appears that in the appointment of Lamido Sanusi he may have stumbled on the a right appointment, one that may yet consume and engulf his administration with repercussions that he may not be able to control.
Now I conclude with Lamido Sanusi a scion of the Kano ruling class, a product of the illustrious King’s College, Lagos, whose accent does not betray his heritage. In a few weeks of his appointment he has against all expectations demonstrated his mettle, grasped the bull by the horn and thrown down the gauntlet to the banking sector. As far back as January this year I had in the midst of august company been intimated about the systemic problems of the banking sector. However, I wondered why for many of these characters in the ‘plot’ it was business as usual. Lamido Sanusi my erstwhile senior has shown us that it is not business as usual. It is this uncommon courage that we must demonstrate in other sectors of Nigeria.
To the crooks, the 100 percenters, those who are leading Nigeria to verge of a failed state, I say: It is never too late to change your bad habits, unhelpful patterns of behaviour, fixed routines, or mundane cycles. All it takes is commitment, and a change of perspective.