Shopping For a Tried and Tested Nigerian Leader: A Call for Movement Permit!

by L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu

My ancestors lived in a peaceful land. They led very simple lives, which is desirable even today if it were possible. They were largely farmers, fisher folks and herdsmen. There were learned men amongst them, some artists, some musicians, some poets, carvers, wood workers and historians. But they were happy with their lot. There was food shared equitably and there was shelter, whatever the quality.

The system of leadership was unique, and the quality of leaders evolving from it was good. It sought the general good of the people. Of course the system had its own weaknesses and shortfalls but it generated leaders who always rose to the occasion. Then came the foreigner. He came first to trade, and then to colonize and enslave. But then as always, he brought many things with him, some good some bad. He brought his religion, his way of life and his values. In upholding his values, he downgraded what he came to meet. In glorifying his way of life he degraded and ridiculed what had sustained my forefathers for centuries.

At a point in time, my old elites decided to fight off the dominance of this foreigner. Many true sons of the land emerged and displayed their excellent leadership qualities, their zeal for African values and sought to restore the pride of the African. Those were good times for us, for the leadership was duty bound and had a passion to prove the critics wrong. This passion drove them tirelessly, sometimes ruthlessly to establish a point – That we are capable of managing his own affairs. These sons of the land were not without detractors and critics. There were vested interests, and others had a stake in seeing this experiment fail.

It was a bold experiment, for the setting had by then changed dramatically for the people of Nigerian. The foreigner, as mentioned earlier brought with him many other things. First, He brought a religion, a faith he failed on many occasions to practice but which offered a credible alternative to existing ones. Then he brought formal education and literacy, a new approach to health care and medication. The reality on the ground shows that these were all good developments and had the potential to raise the standard of living of the Nigerian.

The new generation government has imbibed the values and way of life of the foreigner to such an extent that he has in the process ridiculed and even abandoned his own values. The foreigner has encourage, facilitated and sometimes coerced him to do this. He has ceased to be his brother s keeper, a quality that distinctly identified him as an African. Today the government has become mean, materialistic, selfish and inhumane. It is each for himself and God for us all. By following foreigners blindly for so long he has lost his sense of direction and his self-confidence. What happened to your innovation, your originality in ideas? Why are you helpless in the face of myriad challenges, challenges that your fathers faced squarely? Why do you look to foreigners to help you solve your problems when they are busy solving theirs by adding to yours.

Is it true that every society deserves the kind of leaders they get? To the new generation Nigerian leader, power is an end in itself and not a means to an end. He seeks power to glorify himself, to enrich himself, to satisfy his vanities and is prepared to destroy even himself to attain it. It is said that power corrupts, and I hasten to add that even more corruptive is power obtained by sinister maneuverings, dishonest means and by political conspiracies. It becomes a social cancer that eats away the very fabric of society and defeats the purpose for which power is sought.

What will prove to be the Nigerians’ undoing will be the final legacy of the foreigner the modus operandi for choosing political leaders. He introduced Multi-Party Democracy. The setting in which this system was introduced was debatably not ripe for it, it was an innovation that will start a new wave of hitherto unknown sinister maneuverings, social and political violence and sow the seeds of discord amongst the leadership and also among the general populace. If such discord travels along tribal lines, the recipe for social chaos becomes complete.

Democracy has been defined as the rule of the Majority. Well, in the Nigerian setting it is the rule of the crafty. How does one expect the average Nigerian to choose a good leader, when the basis for his choice are party symbols, the looks of candidates, the extent to which a candidate makes noise, the level to which he discredits other contestants, the tribal card, the empty promises and on how rich one is. Why do aspiring leaders, who indeed are partners for development, see themselves as enemies. Why would they run each other down, discredit each other and sometimes physically harm each other when in actual fact they have a common goal! Only one thing separates them, the means to that goal!

The facts speak for themselves. With the exception of just a few, all those who got elected to be leaders in Nigeria succeeded in improving life for themselves and their immediate families and friends. Party politics has become a dirty game in post-colonial Africa. Improving the lot of all citizens is no more the agenda, but rather improving the quality of life for a select few. What a mess! No wonder aspiring leaders are prepared to even sell their souls to the devil and destroy everything in their quest for power.

The time has come. Tell me, for how long must one tolerate such a situation? For how long do the poor folks of the land wait for their lot to improve? For how long must misguided, selfish crooks play this game on their terms? The suffering masses every now and then place their hopes on a select few to change the situation for them, but as a rule the first pre-occupation of this select few is making life good for them. What do you say of a father who cannot pay the school fees of his children but can afford to pay for a vacation abroad! The time has come for things to change.

With all the formal education, knowledge and skills, with all the PhD s and intimidating titles, why on earth do you look on unconcerned whilst failed lives take over and mess up the educational system, the health system, the agriculture of the land and the economic setup? Is that all you can offer to the DESPERATE masses? Is there no sense of accomplishment in improving the lot of the majority? What is the purpose of education if this is the outcome to be expected? Where are your problems solving skills? Are you all that powerless? The masses are looking up to you to deliver, and if you cannot then do not be surprised if in the final days they take the matter into their own hands and solve it the way the know best. Please help stop the inept leadership in the land.

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1 comment

Olawale Taiwo Bankole October 29, 2008 - 3:03 am


I am impressed by your simple and indepth analysis of the cankerworms that have snucked into the Nigerian culture, values and existence. Inspite of this decay, it is encouraging that few Nigerians like you within the society are not unaware of these ills. In response to your title, it is obvious that the leaders we seek are not only citizens with insight like you, but also citizens that are ready to learn and serve, and my sincere belief is, he or she is amongst us. Please, lets continue to educate and inform ourselves.

Olawale taiwo Bankole

New Jersey. USA


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