Speaking Truth to Power: Generation of the Sixties Our Time Has Come!

by Olu Ojedokun

“We choose to go to the Moon….. not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

These were the words In this 1962 speech given at Rice University in Houston, Texas, President John F. Kennedy reaffirmed America’s commitment to landing a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s. He was dwelling on what seemed like a fairy tale and impossibility of monumental proportions.

Today’s Nigeria is enmeshed knee deep in corruption and it is in danger of strangulating us. This is a land where corruption is intractable, it thrives, and the corrupt are feted by the press and their justifications and rationalisations are splashed daily in our faces from the pages of various electronic and print media al la Alamieyeseigha

In the past few decades in Nigeria, many of the best and brightest of a generation departed the land, including the writer of this article. We escaped and emigrated abroad on different aeroplanes. This was for a number of reasons, some fled to escape economic hardships, others to advance studies and enhance their skills while others simply returned to the ‘places’ of the birth. Whichever way we left and travelled into the Diaspora, today, we are on the same boat, the same flight with the same destiny and the same issues, our future is inseparable.

The brain drain has led to deficits in many areas of our national life, where the absence of these best and brightest is noticeable. The governance of our land has suffered greatly and the vacuum left has been replaced by Goliaths of failure, corruption, ineptitude and lack of ambition in our body politics. While the Davids and the rocks which should be the sources of inspiration, progress and the basis of renewal of society are simply scattered around the globe. They are lying around in the Diaspora, frustratingly idle on the Nigerian front. They are absent from the front, not being put to constructive use but developing the nations of respective residences. Yes, few have trickled back into Nigeria but its not nearly enough to change the landscape.

This moment I choose, on the promptings of many respected colleagues from across the globe, not to indulge in continual lamentation over what I have not got but to utilise what I have to achieve great things.

I am convinced that rather than what obtains in President Yar’Adua’s Nigeria today, government can and should be a place where everyone comes together and where no one gets left behind an instrument of good. We have had bad governments in Nigeria by default by allowing the past and present rulers to operate on the margin of despair and apathy. They won power not because they were geniuses but because we were asleep and the coalition of progressives was fractured. But today I am convinced that the many masses, the impoverished, the committed within and the educated out there, across the globe, your time has come. I am convinced that from Sokoto to Lagos, Kwara to Taraba, Borno to Imo, Cross River to Kano, your time has come!

I remember, the analogy Jesse Jackson tried to draw from scriptures about little shephard boy, David who took the rocks that God gave him and a sling shot. Today, many of us are rocks simply lying around. It was with this improbable weaponry that David changed his generation; it was with his unlikely size that David defeated the giants of his age. We also, though scattered, in Diaspora, facing a confounding enemy called corruption, vicious in its appetite for the destruction of Nigeria can and will win by the margin of our hope inspired by courageous leadership. Now is the time to come together out of our comfort zones, of course we will debate, deliberate, agree to disagree but whatever our positions we will be the same flight. The flight of progress, meritocracy, the enthronement of good, the flight of the future.

It is time for a new course, for a new coalition, a new way, a new leadership, a new choice to emerge. From Sokoto to Lagos, Kwara to Taraba, Borno to Imo, Cross River to Kano, your time has come! We must pick up our rocks (ourselves), our sling shots (our ideas) and slay the Golaith.

I submit today that Nigeria cannot continue to survive as a collection of competing special interests but only as one great special family. Many would argue with this submission and suggest some amount of naivety, however, I remained convinced and believe in Nigeria’s great potential.

Yes many Nigerians are born daily in a slum like environment but the slum was not born in them and we together can make it. Nigerians can hold their chests high, can stick their chests out and we can make it. It is dark now, but soon the morning will come for all the suffering our leaders have brought upon us has bred our character, made us stronger and with the many rocks about and the sling shot we will make it.

My story bears witness, my circumstance speaks to this. Over 30 years ago my family was plunged into despair, when my father a rising star was cut down at age 35 years. In our midst of uncertainty, want, poverty and the shadow of sadness, through God’s grace, my mother’s sacrifices and the support of the extended family we made it. Simple as this story is, the truth is Nigeria is in the midst of despair and uncertainty today, with a clueless leadership, a confounding enemy and a people filled with apathy but I say Nigeria, your time has come.

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