By Tabia Princewill
WE are sycophantic enough to love our leaders (they buy our love so perhaps “love” is the wrong term), but not astute enough to love our country: we must re-examine our conscience.
No one man or woman can define Nigeria, it is the property of all, we must never forget this. I can’t help but ask, why are we so gullible in this country? Why is it so easy to trick and manipulate us? Why do those who, ordinarily, should bow their heads in shame, still find the confidence to pretend to advise us?
The destruction of public education, I’ve always said, is definitely a factor and so is our avoidance of critical thinking, inherited from those dark days under the military.
“Yes sir”, “No ma”, those are our preferred responses to any idea, no matter how wretched, so long as it is presented by the rich and powerful. Everyone in Nigeria claims to be a patriot, to love this country more than anything – until that is, one checks his or her antecedents and finds out their penchant for selling out the common man.
Season of letter writing
In Nigeria, one becomes a cynic as soon as one can reason; disappointment after disappointment, Nigerians, both young and old, are crushed by the weight of their own heartbreak: Buhari what happened?
This is the question on every one’s lips, at least for those who can still be bothered to ponder where it all went wrong. I am quite simply exhausted. Nigeria could make a sane person lose their mind from going around in circles.
Our problems are man-made, very often we know the names of those guilty of perpetuating these issues, we know their accomplices, we know their tricks, how they divide us using religion and ethnicity, yet band together under the cover of darkness regardless of what separates them on paper, but we either make excuses for them or sing their praises. Aren’t more of us fed up of repeating the same mistakes, time and time again?
Elections are definitely around the corner, the season of letter writing is here once more: former President Obasanjo’s critique of President Buhari’s administration conveniently leaves out the part he, Obasanjo, played in getting Nigeria to this sorry state of affairs.
The unresolved corruption scandals under his self-celebrated “watch” echo only his alleged disavowal of MKO Abiola when he was quoted as saying, in response to the latter’s travails, “he is not the messiah”, all pointing to a character who has had his time in office, and used up his own opportunity to try his hands out at leadership.
If one were to search the annals of democratic rule in the United States, the United Kingdom etc. one would very rarely find individuals, except in the case of a monarchy, who are allowed to spend an entire life deciding the fate of others: a CEO’s term has an expiration date and so does a President’s.
We are far too sentimental, in this country, when it comes to assessing who has a right to lecture others or to presume to teach others the qualities they have not necessarily shown themselves. Selective amnesia has always been Nigeria’s problem.
Obasanjo’s choice of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan duo with all its mishaps has had catastrophic implications for the nation of which the current Buhari scenario is only but a consequence. In truth, Buhari might have never been President if not for Jonathan. How far away #FeBuhari does seem now.
The play on words “February”(the month the elections were supposed to hold before the 2015 postponement) and the Yoruba word “(i)fe” or “love” Buhari, showed just how much young Nigerians once saw President Buhari as the answer to all their woes.
He was to be the great liberator who would arrest the cancer of corruption which enthroned injustice in Nigeria. What happened? Corruption fought back, as expected, but it was not met with a concerted enough strategy, one capable of dealing decisive blows to the enemy.
But let us get back to Obasanjo’s letter – it is simply more of the same, more of what we already know, another instalment of the perennial Nigerian political drama: Obasanjo’s letter did not reveal anything new. In fact, virtually all of Nigeria’s leaders have been accused, at varying degrees, of committing the same offences against basic morals and ethics. Are not we fed up?
But there is one aspect of Obasanjo’s letter which we must not neglect, that is the paragraph about a coalition for Nigeria which he says does not absolutely have to be a political party: what exactly does that mean?
Some media reports state that hundreds of politicians, including some governors and members of the House of Assembly, are ready to join Obasanjo’s coalition. Again, this is more of the same. Nigerians have done nothing but exchange one master for another, over the years, with little improvement to their day- to-day lives.
Coalition to banish poverty
To quote Obasanjo: “This Coalition for Nigeria will be a movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair.”
How can this be possible if the coalition features many of the same people who still have pending corruption cases in court and are perceived as being part of the problem?
Until we begin to ask questions of those who purport to lead us, until we begin to demand that campaigns are issue based rather than led by sentiment, we will continue to be governed by men and women without much of a plan for this country.
Despair is too easy, loving this country, on the other hand, doing so despite many of our leaders’ propensity to break all our hearts, is not an easy task. But we often forget it is our leaders who need us and not the opposite. They need us and our votes to exist: we must never forget who holds the true power to decide Nigeria’s fate.
THE former Minister of Petroleum Resources said she only ever acted based on the directives of former President Goodluck Jonathan when she told the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to provide the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, with $1.3billion.
She said she was only an “appointee” and therefore a “delegate” of the President in accordance with the Constitution and could only act on his behalf based on written approval and instructions she received from him.
What next? Will the former President ever be asked to respond? Or will we continue to think that some individuals are simply “too big” to be held accountable or questioned in regards to allegations made by close associates and former ministers no less?
Why is it so easy to channel funds from one unrelated ministry to another? It seems all too easy to move money around in Nigeria.
THE Minister of Education revealed the Federal Government will declare a state of emergency in the education sector this April. However, why April in particular was chosen was not revealed in press coverage.
“We request all the state governors to do the same in their states and we hope that once this is done our educational sector will improve. I will also meet with the governors to appeal to them to give special emphasis to address the problem of low standard of education especially at primary level,” he said.
How curious that when Governor El-Rufai proposed to sack primary school teachers who failed to pass exams intended for their students, the government was not more vocal in supporting such a move.
Instead, the unions were allowed to hold Nigeria to ransome. What a country.
Tabia Princewill is a strategic communications consultant and public policy analyst. She is also the co-host and executive producer of a talk show, WALK THE TALK which airs on Channels TV.