In a totalitarian state, where the debauched will of a few rides rough shod over that of the many, there comes a time when the destiny of the people lies in their collective resolve to rise up against the forces of evil ravaging their lands and depriving them of their fundamental rights and freedoms; a time when former slaves decide that they have had enough of the bestialities of their tormentors and move to cast off the shackles holding them bound; a moment of epiphany – that rare moment of self-realization – when the human senses suddenly kicks into full gear and doggedly decides to confront, in order to defeat, the forces of oppression; a time when common sense takes over from emasculating fear; a moment when reason takes over from rank stupidity; a time when conviction of the need for the overthrow of an unpopular system gives rise to a popular uprising for change. It was such a conviction that gave rise to the popular movements that overthrew the unpopular regimes in the Philippines in 1986, South Korea in 1987, the Soviet Union prior to its balkanization, the Arab Spring uprisings, and upheavals in other far-flung corners of the earth – ancient and modern – where people power spoke up for change.
If you sample the opinions of the so-called “most enlightened” segment of the populace as to what constitutes the most formidable challenge – out of a multitude – militating against Nigeria’s development and growth, the major answer that is likely to emanate from such an enquiry is “bad leadership”. In juxtaposition with other equally culpable issues of general significance – such as corruption, insecurity, improper distribution of resources, ethnic and religious bigotry et al – the leadership question is often cited as the dominant pitfall impeding the country’s march to greatness. Even the most apolitical members of the society concur with this notion.
Nigeria, is obviously a country where everybody knows it all; a country populated by rare species of men and women; a society of exceptional minds who have solutions to every problem, no matter how formidable; a land of Cognoscenti – a league of extraordinary gentlemen and ladies of substance. That is why whenever challenging issues of national significance rear their heads, several plausible solutions are put forward by the numerous apostles of moral correctness inhabiting this part of the globe. No problem is too big to tackle for this national intelligentsia – these walking encyclopedias that have remedies to all the country’s several debilitating problems, including its leadership deficits.
That Nigeria has a leadership problem is no longer breaking news. The country’s checkered history is a sad litany of avoidable leadership pitfalls; a sordid past of unmitigated failures by the sailors of the ship of state to navigate her to the shores of Eldorado. From being a country that promised so much at independence, to becoming one at the brink of total collapse, due to the indecencies of the controllers of her administrative machinery, Nigeria qualifies as the classic case of a country that is 180 degrees out of control – a country in dire need of redirection amidst the calamitous blunders of its past and contemporary leaders. All thanks to decades of clueless leadership, Nigeria, one of the most naturally endowed countries on planet earth, is – if I may borrow the words of elder statesman per excellence, Honourable Josef Omorotionmwan – “a nation in search of itself”; a King Kong trapped in a makeshift cage; a Gulliver being taught the art of giant hood by Lilliputians; a potential world champion still sparring with rookies; a rich farm soil without the feel of roots; a country entwined in a Gordian Knot that has stalled her onward transition to greater heights.
Nigeria’s gross leadership failures are glaring facts that cannot be contested by any objective observer of developments in the country’s political theater from antiquity till date. Rather than being a blessing – as is the order in saner climes – leadership has constituted a curse to the Nigerian State and its people. Nigerians have being at the mercy of a marauding horde of Barbaric Huns who have waged an uncensored war of attrition against them for years; demonic usurpers of authority who have led the country off course in their morbid quest for the vain pecks of office; neurotic slave drivers whose language is fire and brimstone, which they consistently hurl upon those that are brave enough to stand up to their obduracy; a pride of proud, pompous, ravenous beasts, whose penchant for the asinine, inane and bizarre are well documented.
Nigeria is a country where leadership positions are seen as the birthright of some supposed special species of humans – those who are supposedly born to rule; a country where all leaders are aspiring emperors. This is a society where violence in its physical, psychological (and even spiritual) ramifications has become a currency of interaction between the rulers and the ruled. This is a country where rulers masquerade as leaders, and where the processes of political succession are manipulated to suit the whims and caprices of a Mafia that has held this country captive since 1960.
Of a truth, Nigeria’s leadership deficits are largely to blame for the unenviable position she currently occupies on the global development index. It is Nigeria’s leadership failures that have made her a laughing stock in the committee of nations. It is Nigeria’s leadership woes that have turned Nigerians into the wretched of the earth in the midst of the plenty the almighty has extravagantly blessed her with. It is Nigeria’s leadership shortcomings that have turned a Canaan Land – a land of milk and honey – into a scotched land; into a country where beggars beg from beggars. It is Nigeria’s leadership incongruity that makes her one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It is Nigeria’s leadership deficiency that makes good governance a utopia in these parts. It is Nigeria’s leadership shortfalls that have turned her into one of the most dangerous places on earth to live in. The conundrum of poor leadership is an indisputable reality that stares us all in the face – the most outstanding marker of Nigeria’s rancorous evolution as a political state. Off course, most Nigerians are aware of these things. We are aware of so many things.
There is a common saying that “a problem known is already half solved”. Thus, since the informed ones among us claim to know what the country’s problems are, one wonders what they have – individually or collectively – done to bring about the much needed change they keep yapping and yammering about. What have this national think tank done to question the depraved leeching of our commonwealth by those whom we have supposedly mandated to manage our welfare? What have these “special ones” done to checkmate the unbridled impunity that has embarrassingly become the national pastime of those occupying public offices? What have these wordsmiths done to bridge the yawning gap between the minority haves and the majority have-nots in this pristinely blessed land? What have these self-styled Illuminati done to mitigate the debilitating deficits of democracy that have thrown the country back to pre-historic times?
Again, where are our highly loquacious, self-appointed political activists in the midst of the debilitating effects of the prescriptions of the quack physicians misruling this pseudo republic? Where are the mouthy champions of the rights of the Nigerian people in the face of all the poisoned darts that have being ceaselessly shot at Nigerians by the cruel drivers of their vehicle of state? The shameful, but undeniable, truth of the matter is that Nigerian activists are mere newspaper and television celebrities. These self-styled activists by associ
ation only bark, but seldom bite; individuals who merely talk the talk but have consistently failed to walk the walk; boasters who can do but very little; cowards who stay pigeonholed in their hellish comfort zones, afraid to confront, with intent to transform, the system for the better.
What about the hapless Nigerians – those at the lower rung of the food chain – who daily whine about the pains of living in this hellfire of a state? What substantial moves have they – together with their sophistic brethren – really made to move the country forward beyond her niggardly state? Your guess is as good as mine. Thus, in the face of all the hues and cries about Nigeria’s deplorable state of affairs, the obvious fact that stands out like an ugly goiter is the fact that no concrete steps have so far been taken, by those who should, to remedy the avoidable tragedies bedeviling the country’s progress several decades after political independence. We – both the enlightened and lay observers – are collectively guilty of complicity in the whole squalid affair. We were there when all these absurdities reared their ugly heads. We are as guilty as those we habitually blame for the current absurdities running riot in our country by keeping mute in the face of all the evil, man-made machinations we daily whine about. We looked on while evil thrived; watched as a black cloud grew into a destructive squall; watched the various convocations of the ugly ones… the several Sabbaths of the witches and warlocks in our land; encouraged the spread of the pandemic, despite seeing the early-warning signs. Yes, whether we accept it or not, our silence constituted consent! We have unwittingly aided and abetted the destroyers of our country. Our stillness and tameness in the face of danger, in concord with all the inanities that have sadly defined the history of this country are responsible for our current pains. We failed to question the brazen disregard of our rights by the state and its operators, failed to check the irrational wastage of our resources by the hijackers of our country, looked on while the vampires sucked our blood… failed to act when it really mattered. Thus, we all qualify as casualties, all victims of our collective actions and inactions.
According to my late father Mr. Joseph Obuseh of blessed memory – one of the few Nigerians who still believed in the feasibility of the Nigerian Project – during one of our several chats before he passed on, “in any political society, the citizens are the real leaders, not the political office holders” (emphasis added) – that is, real power belongs to the popular sovereigns, not the political sovereigns who owe their stations to the collective will of the people. It is the citizens of a country who, through their collective actions, decide the direction they want the ship of state to sail. The citizens decide those that should govern them, how these chosen ones should act while in office, and when there is need to change the operators of the machinery of the state, especially when they begin to act contrary to their terms of office. Indeed, the collective power of the people is truly omnipotent if well utilized. That is in societies populated by individuals with common sense.
All in all, common sense demands that we jettison the defeatist mindset that makes us tolerate the most dehumanizing forms of oppression. Common sense requires that we throw off the slave mentality that makes us surfer and smile at the same time – that mindset that makes us turn the other cheek whenever we are slapped by our common tormentors – the desperately wicked members of the political class. Common sense demands that we no longer tolerate the most extreme forms of deprivation our leaders subject us to by consoling ourselves with the fatalistic phrase “e go better”. Common sense demands that we rise up in one accord to defeat, peacefully and democratically, this unjust system that dehumanizes all within its reach – this violent apotheosis of evil where dogs feed on dogs. That is what common sense requires of every Nigerian. Accepted that this kind of sense is not common, it remains our only hope for freedom from this vast slave colony of a state called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Freedom cannot be acquired by fools accustomed to foolery; freedom is reserved only for sound minds who value it. A word is enough for the truly wise!