By Emma Nwosu
Nigeria is nowhere near the spot Africa and the black race and the world at large expected it to occupy on global economic, technological, industrial and military ranking, despite her intimidating human and natural endowments. Instead, it has been bedeviled by all shades of corruption, poverty, disease, fundamentalism, crime, terrorism and unmitigated economic failure, owing to the bastardization of her original Constitution and federal structure and poor leadership selection, which are all inter-related. All her mates at independence in 1960 are light years ahead.
Perhaps, no one has captured the disconsolate situation better than Dr Nelson Mandela (the late iconic President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison, in pursuit of the liberation of the black citizens of South Africa from apartheid) although nothing has changed since his upbraid of 2007:
“You know I am not very happy with Nigeria. I have made that very clear on many occasions. Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, but you let yourselves down and Africa and the black race very badly.
Your leaders have no respect for their people. They take the people’s resources and turn it into personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that is unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not more angry than they are. What do young Nigerians think about your leaders and their country and Africa? Do you teach them history . . .? What about the corruption and the crimes?
Your elections are like wars. Now we hear that you cannot be President unless you are Moslem or Christian. Some people tell me your country may break up. Please, don’t let that happen.
Let me tell you what I think you need to do. You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then, you have to spend a lot of your resources on education . . .”.
Indeed, no one is happy with Nigeria except our deaf rulers who convert public resources to personal wealth and, like Nero, are living in an opulent world of their own while the people languish in abject poverty. They do not even reckon with the impending doom of the nation while subjugating and manipulating the hapless populace.
In this Fourth Republic, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in particular, are most liable for the disconsolate situation. None of them deserves to smell the Nigerian Presidency ever again. The only opportunity, in Mr. Peter Obi, who met all of Nelson Mandela’s primary conditions for sound leadership, which God opened for the PDP to rebound and change the narrative, has been bungled to parochial scheming.
But every disappointment is a blessing. Maybe, the development will now force the original Eastern and Western Regions to work together, seeing the plan to ultimately enslave them, in the country they have the greater sweat equity – from the struggle for independence to everything that has helped Nigeria to survive to date – before it is too late. May the Holy Spirit empower them to embrace this imperative.
Clearly, it is for the prospect of converting public resources to personal wealth that our elections are like wars. Most of the belligerents looted public funds as civil servants or political office holders and cannot account for their wealth outside the permissive Nigerian governments. Most of them had been indicted locally or abroad but were saved by technicalities. Serving governors and other political office holders freely use public funds for the gamble. In all cases, the aim is, simply, to remain in that stratosphere of opulence or to ascend its ladder. You can check the current contenders in the APC and PDP one by one.
Hardly do you find people who sweated for their wealth throw their hat in the ring in Nigeria. But where they do, the difference is clear: most of them bring leadership and enterprise and firmness and fairness, from the corporate world, to bear on governance, turn things around and leave with their integrity intact. They do not transmute to senators for continued breastfeeding. Hardly could any of them be indicted by anti-graft agencies. Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, is an example, but the PDP, like people under a spell, forced him out. Fortunately, he has replied as a man and the fighter that he is, in the face of that winner-takes-all war which has begun again, for the 2023 elections.
The primaries of the APC and the PDP have been slated for May 28 to June 1, 2022. But the strategy has not changed. From the horrific application fees for participation in the primaries, to the swaying of delegates with foreign and local currencies, to the campaign against rotation of the Presidency (so that power can remain with the oppressive oligarchy) it is still a matter of cash and parochial interests.
Unfortunately, Nigerians, in general and the mass media (which should guide them) in particular, hardly examine this angle of precedents and track record, for improved leadership selection at the polls. As a result, they are easily bought and taken for granted – rather than respected – with perilous results. This laxity must also go. We cannot continue with the same practice and expect a different result. There is the desperate need to turn Nigeria around before it is too late.
This is a clarion call on all well-meaning Nigerians to put pecuniary interests aside for once and go only for tested candidates with impeccable integrity and track record of performance and who can account for the sweat and origin of their wealth, unlike those throwing their loot about. They are the only ones who could be expected to bring leadership and enterprise and firmness and fairness to bear on governance for the journey to recovery to commence.
No one can fault the advice of Dr Nelson Mandela to encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making wealth. “Corrupt people do not make good leaders” he adds. Otherwise, you would be selling our birthright and the fate of future generations, just as it happened between Esau and Jacob, in Genesis 25: 29 – 34 of the Holy Bible.
Chief Emma Nwosu wrote from Lagos