Nigeria: Where Cometh Our Help? (2)

The jarring din and cacophony from the “MANDELAMANIA” almost ran all other aspects of our lives into a halting ditch as Nelson Madiba Mandela’s journey into the deep of the ages got our leaders comparing, contrasting, self-examining, and self-assessing what their probable places will also be in history when it’s all over. Who among our leaders, past or present command equal worth and weight with Nelson Madiba Mandela, the departed warrior from Mvezo, was the question? The conclusion was unanimous. Born small, raised obscure, but died a colossus of clout, Mandela will be equal to none in a longtime. Great man he was, but this piece is not about the dead, it’s about the living, and it’s about Nigeria.

In the words of American chemist and author Henry Eyring, great men are those who can catch hold of men’s minds and feelings and inspire them to do things bigger than themselves. Great men are those who stir feelings and imagination and make men struggle toward perfection. I agree with Henry. Great men are those who are passionate about making others great, they are those who make help available for the helpless, meet the essential needs of the needy, and give hope to the hopeless. Great men are those whose words are trusted, who mean what they say and say only what they will strive to make happen. Great men entrusted with the gavel and authorities of government don’t rake in for themselves inheritances meant for making ordinary people’s lives worth-living. Great men don’t necessarily have to solve all of humanity’s problems; they just have to do their part. These and much more are what we are looking for in men and women who should control government in Nigeria.

Our nation is blessed with great men and women scattered all over the world and across all endeavors. These individuals are in medicine and astronomy, aeronautics engineering and space science, business and Law, sports and politics, and they are making Nigeria proud. Great men and women also dwell in big Nigerian cities and tucked away in small remote Nigerian towns and villages. They are men of integrity and women of unquestionable values who we would have been proud to call “His Excellency”, “Her Excellency”, “Honorable Minister, Senator”, only if they had showed up in the political arena. They have however chosen to take off their fighting gloves, left the rest of us in the ring, while some uncouth and crude pugilists on steroids hitting the people below the belt are assigned to daily determine the future of a nation as great as NIGERIA.

For these great individuals, the dirt and stench that have enveloped the Nigerian politics have kept them away, and the banditry, massacres, thuggery and turpitude are caution lights for them. This is understandable, but they must remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Good people are the deliverance that Nigeria needs to confront the head-wind of all that threatens to decapitate and incapacitate us as a people. Evil and heartlessness have taken over every crevice and fissure of our society, and good people’s most convenient option is to keep complaining about what’s wrong with Nigeria, and not campaigning for a change.

I believe government is life, not a game. When good people stay away, it becomes a tacit sanction of the ills perpetrated by opportunists and nincompoops who are at the command-and-control centre of government. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it. The retreat of good people is a tacit approval of the insalubrious acts of ogres at the top. What we have now in government across the board (except for a minuscule exception) is a combination of tyranny and idiocy. Great Edmond Burke once said that those who will say nothing in the face of tyranny must endure the rule of idiots. How long can we endure when good people have become bystanders and spectators in a game that no one is cheering the players?

With a population of roughly 170 million people, we are Africa’s most populous country and the 9th most populous country in the world. With our vast oil wealth, the majority of Nigerians are poor with 71% of the population living on less than one dollar a day, 92% on less than two dollars a day, and about 64% of households are considered poor. Life expectancy remains low and infant mortality rates are high. Only 10% of Nigerians are living above $2 a day of income, and 70% of Nigerians are not employed or totally jobless. This is what I call the statistics of the stagnant brought about by the rule of idiots. People are angry and many are hungry! This malodorous odyssey into the abyss of uncertainty did not start yesterday. How long does this continue?

Good people are our hope and deliverance from the jaws of killer-whales called politicians in our midst. They have muzzled us with fear and as a result of our quandaries, they keep getting away with murder. My jaws dropped Monday when a sitting governor admitted that all politicians are thieves who qualify for death by stoning. And no one has picked up the first stone yet! Was that supposed to be a satirical blab or the governor was stating the obvious? I really want an answer so Governor Amaechi should please contact me. Terrible human beings are controllers of government conveyor-belts that convey your money into their bunkers. If you have good ideas and the urge to run for office, you must do so, and you will win.

The fears and concerns of good people who want to run for office are undoubtedly real. There is the fear of loonies who are ready to kill opponents without batting an eye and the fear of godfathers who fight you tooth-and-nail with stolen money and cow you down with thugs. These fears may be real, but when you know your enemies and their strategies, they will be defeated only if you put up a challenge. There was a time in US history when politicians were more violent than the prevalent situation in Nigeria. Congressmen brought guns into the house, and violence was normal in Washington DC with lawmakers physically beating up reporters and each other. Guns, knives and canes were freely used in political campaigns and crudity was part of the polity in the US. But when good Americans invaded the polity, it gave birth to the US we have today. This may be that time in Nigeria’s history.

We must not be afraid to challenge those who are bringing challenging times to our doorsteps. We must let them know that we are too conscionable to be bought over by money, contracts, jeeps, and promises of positions. We are all part of how we can make good governance happen. If you are reading this, someday you may be the president that the world will call the greatest, you may be the governor your state has been praying to have, the senator your district has been expecting, the ambassador the nation has been preparing, and the minister that the people have dreamed to have in their corner. You may be the one through whom Nigeria’s help will come.

Nigeria is presently lying helplessly on a stretcher and the grave for its interment has been dug. Mourners are wailing and adversaries are waiting. But on that stretcher is a nation with weak but still palpable vital signs. Its major organs may have been damaged, but remedy is available only through good people.


Written by
Fola Ojo
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