Imagine a ship at sea that is in trouble. The lights keep going out. The engine is faltering. The rudder is unreliable. The first mate is drunk. The crew is demoralised. The service is appalling. The passengers on the ship are very dissatisfied. Then, a new captain and a first mate are brought in by helicopter (one out of jail). Very quickly, everything changes. The morale of the crew is “lifted”. “Service improves”. “The engine fixed”. “The rudder is fixed”. “The lights stay on”. “Everything is fine”. But the ship is still heading in the wrong direction.
The troubled ship is Nigeria my beloved country. While Mr. President keeps telling us that everything is fine, we look round and notice senselessness and madness in every action and inaction of his administration. In the current face off for supremacy between the Lagos state government and the federal government over the sized local government fund, the rule of law, and the supremacy of the constitution is once more called into question. With the ruling by the supreme curt on the matter one would have thought that a democratically elected government would have simply obeyed the ruling. Instead the president in once more is reinterpreting the supreme curt ruling in his favour, thus, is playing the role of the executive and the judiciary. This is with total disregard to the principles of separation of power. This has left me wondering and searching for the democracy and the rule of law we all had hoped for.
The failure of many leaders begins when they are unwilling to admit to themselves that they have done something wrong. Our president has demonstrated this before on many occasions. One of which is in the failed civilian coup in Anambra state and the unwanted destruction of properties and arson by Chris Uba and his boys supervised by the disgraced IG and the presidency from Abuja. We are still waiting for an apology on that.
It is the job of our leaders to accept responsibilities of their actions and inaction. In our president’s case, he is the captain of a ship that is going under – fast. Unfortunately, in this situation, he isn’t the only one going down with the ship – he is taking the crew (we) with him.
When OBJ first came in, some people regarded him as the model of integrity. But as he consolidated power, he began to lose touch. His recent growing sense of self importance has made it difficult for him to admit the truth and do the right thing. I am even concerned that he may have lost sight with what the “right thing” is.
Any problem we have spins out of control the minute we avoid dealing with the truth. I moved to Lagos recently and have been following the developments. In the last three weeks, I noticed the hardening of position from Tinubu in his public speeches and the resounding ovations he is getting from the Lagosians. This morning, I had him referring to the Works Minister who is believed is warming up for the Lagos State government house come 2007 as miscreant, warning him to steer clear of Lagos and that his (Tinibu) construction work for the third mainland bridge in the state cannot be stopped by anybody including the presidency. My concern here is that with the crop of “Area Boys” behind him, the battle for Lagos State will be the bloodiest come 2007. By then, the “Area Boys” will be reminded of how they were starved of fund by Ogunleye and his PDP administration while the powers that be will try to rig their way as usual, thus, setting Lagos on fire. And when Lagos is set ablaze …
This why we urgently need an apology from the presidency for the suffering they brought to Lagosians. While I wait for the apology I know we not definitely come, I will love to remind our president of what Abraham Lincoln said “As I would not be a slave, so, I will not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever defers from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy”. By refusing to obey the Supreme Court ruling on the dispute with the Lagos state government, I defer with my president for his undemocratic approach. He should be reminded that while the light is still on, as they want us to believe, the ship is still heading in the wrong direction.
Mr. President has to recognize that what he did or failed to do is wrong and is inconsistent with who he want us to believe he is. He has to know that apology has the potential to not only correct the wrong but correct the confidence others have in you. That’s why an obvious change in behaviour is so important. By admitting you are wrong, you deal with the cause of the damage, instead of the symptoms. The National Reform Conference currently in disarray in Abuja is the symptom not the cause of the restiveness and uncertainty staring us in the face.
Finally, he should be reminded that honesty is telling the truth to ourselves and others while integrity is living that truth. He has to live the truth knowing fully well that the longer you wait to apologize, the sooner your weakness is perceived as wickedness. We are waiting.