By Bisis Lawrence
Within the past four weeks, I have read reports where some Nigerians suggested that revolution may yet be the way out of the mess in which we have found ourselves floundering as a nation. Some of them were well-meaning citizens too.
At first, I found the idea downright ludicrous from anyone over forty years old. Such a person must have been affected by the Civil War, or its aftermath. With cries, or maybe echoes now, of “marginalization” still ringing in our ears, the song may be ended, but the melody lingers on. Not even the most demented sadists would contemplate a return to that.
Of course, a revolution does not necessarily mean an armed insurrection or revolt, or even a civil unrest. It could also signify a successful approach to the solution of a problem by a novel method, or an unconventional means.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo always made that distinction when he spoke about the fault not being in the system, but with the operators of the system, who could not see beyond it for the solution to their problems
Consider the system. It is a presidential form of government as different from the parliamentary system which we inherited from our former British colonial masters. It is a system that is top-heavy and therefore unwieldy.
Its operation allows for too many advantages in favour of the ruling party and the constitution of its executive council sidesteps valued democratic norms. Little wonder that ministers in ranking positions are often victims of their own outrageous gaffe.
The benefits accruing from being in this system are so phenomenal that people who should know better have been caught describing the exertion to acquire even an elective appointment, as a matter of life and death. What is more, this is a system that pays lip service to the balance that would result in a free electorate.
That, in itself, negates the loud clamour for a fair election when the people are themselves not free. In all, it classically illustrates one of the failings of democracy in an alien setting. The dictum of “majority carries the day” erroneously suggests that the majority is always right. Could that be true if the majority is a self-serving bunch of crooks
Well, look at those who make our laws and tell me if they are legislating for us or for themselves. Think of the scandals that have emerged from the “hallowed halls” of our legislatures.
Think of how many governors have been unseated, and usually from the leviathan party – where the majority is.
Think of the untried and untested Speaker who, all the same, earned one of the highest national honours of the land; or the tried and detested one who straightaway earned a national accolade.
Think of what they are earning up there, cheek-bulging allowances and all, while the academic staff members of our universities are groveling in the dust.
The civil service and the private industries operate from one strike to another industrial dispute in a chain of perennial labour unrest throughout the country. The doctors are on strike; or the nurses are on strike; the civil servants are on strike; or the petrol tanker drivers are on strike.
My three-strong household staff suddenly appeared in my study the other morning. “Ah, well, you too want to go on strike”? I asked them. They fell apart with laughter.
“No. no sir. We just want to arrange about our off-day tomorrow.” It was on the eve of “Id-el-Kabir.”
How do we get out of this murk? It seems a daunting proposition. I have been thinking about it. Should we breed a new generation of leaders? Maybe, but from what stock – angels?
We can only use what is available. We might as well be thinking of rearing a fresh race of voters, and that might work as long as we could wangle some sustainable emancipation for them.
Not the political freedom, fifty years of which we have been celebrating, but freedom from want, from fear, from oppression, from judicial murders, from the shackles of ignorance and disease. I am talking of the freedom to be able to make simple choices out of life, especially those we all accept to be part of God-given rights.
You might call it empowerment – that is what the ladies call it. They have set their sights on it for decades, without realizing that until the men folk have it, it will always remain an ambition for them, rather than a reality.
What do you think about that – empowerment? The first thing that empowerment does is to remove fear and return the human being to his confidence. He is equipped with the knowledge of his rights; he knows the score.
He can take his stand on most issues and make up his mind unaffected by the petty inhibitions engendered by the anxieties over employment, or social services. And it gets better because the more empowered he is, the more emboldened he becomes to reach for higher heights, while raising the society at the same time to loftier concepts and enviable standards.
And don’t snigger at my thesis, because it is coming – in fact, it is almost here already. The people are casting off the shackles of the trepidation that was a vestige of our colonial past.
Rather, they are listening to the echoes of he great minds of the past – those who were born into the servitude of imperialism, but lived to break its back. Particularly, they hear today the penetrating voice with its stirring twang, of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe: “Yes! Strike! You have nothing to lose but your chains!”
That is what it’s all about – empowerment.
The Honourable Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission has declared that the indictment of Dr. Amos Adamu, by FIFA over the ongoing “cash-for-vote” scandal came to him as a surprise.
Curiously enough, that statement by the Minister came to ME too as a huge surprise. Perhaps he has forgotten what he has been saying about Adamu. It did not reflect a towering confidence in his erstwhile Director-General. It is too late in the day to drum up any spurious surprise.
We who have had any connection with sports within the past two decades hold our breath from the stench when passing through the corridors of football administration.
That was where Dr. Adamu made his “cathedral” – his seat of office – though his connection with football is not expected to be stronger than that with other sports. But that was not really peculiar behaviour n a man of his position in Nigerian sports.
Even ministers, who are directly charged with the even development of all branches of sports, comfortably wind up as “Ministers of Football”. After all, that is where the action is.
Adamu, even without this recent scandal, has toted up enough questionable episodes to make a new-born babe reject its mother’s breast. I have written suggesting his removal from sports administration to enable sports to thrive in this country.
In some ten years’ service in that very office, he had calmly, even ebulliently, watched the grand heritage handed over to him by Abraham Ordia, Jerry Enyeazu, Awoture Eleyae and other fine administrators, drip down the drain. It was no secret, but he stayed on.
He has been a master of stratagems. He knows whom to surround himself with, and smoothly gets them involved in his doings. They are either his minions or people of unimpeachable character who innocently accept his invitation to be part of a national celebration. Who wouldn’t?
But the wily operator always had some unwritten agenda. In that manner he was reported to have got the wives of the two most important gentlemen in the nation, among others, involved in some aspects that had to be kept hush-hush about the Abuja episode.
But Adamu had a perfect milieu for his shenanigans. The Ministry of Sports is one big circus of the bizarre, staged I a cess-pit. The “maestro” gets re-cycled into the seat of power almost as of right.
The National Sports Commission has a Chairman who operates without a known council. Stadiums that would be the pride of other nations are left to rot in the sun.
That was why I had to disconnect myself from sports writing and administration after over thirty-five years. Since they can’t, or won’t let him go, Adamu and his cronies are welcome to all that. Only worms find a perfect habitat in filth.