WHETHER we like it or not, there is such a sociological landmark in our nation, which in its sheer carbuncular irresponsibility, bluntly refuses to go away.
That is the issue of June 12, an unprecedentedly significant day when our nation Nigeria, despite differing tribes and tongues, despite the volatility of religious differences, in spite of sexual and generational dissimilarity, spoke with one voice through a convergent action of casting votes for a particular eminent Nigerian to take up the mantle of leadership. It was that day that Nigerian for once recognizing worth over sentimental goorie, queued in solidarity behind Moshood Kashimawo Abiola of blessed memory.
Although some “madmen and specialists”, apology to Professor Soyinka came out to say that we erred in our collective choice and wisdom – what with some blithely annulling the freest and fairest and some telling us that our choice of leader was not the expected “Messiah” – the consolation still remains that, at least for a change, the open, wishes and prayers of the whole nation converged in one popular man.
Again, there were Nigerians who saw the centrality of June 12 to our political development. And strove to validate it, with a view to reconciling the refractions in our polity. As a matter of fact, ex-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, it was, who first recognized, as a leader, the indispensability of June 12 to our collective political health by immortalizing MKO Abiola, but, as usual, those vested interests who did not desire goodwill for him in the Southwest dissuaded him from action and indeed frustrated the envisioned political reconciliation.
That is why every Nigerian, forget these bad belle jingoists and kile fliers who must criticize Buharian reforms just for criticism’s own sake, must first and foremost applaud our avuncular President and also queue behind him in solidarity with the late Chief MKO Abiola’s posthumous award of GCFR, Kinigbe and Fawhinmi’s GCON and the reverting to June 12 as the Democracy Day. These are surely steps in the right direction with a view to achieving national healing and reconciliation which is actually overdue.
Expectedly, Nigerians have reacted positively to these auspicious developments. It was pleasant to see the daughter of the late politician, Mrs. Nafsat Abiola-Costello rhapsodize about her father and mother’s positive contribution to the nation’s political development. It was also gratifying to hear the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Chief Ekwere Madu recognizing the need for constitutional amendment with a view to incorporating the change to June 12, as opposed to May 29 imposed on the nation by the Obansanjo Presidency. Others have even gone to the extent of agitating for Abiola’s salaries for four years to be paid to his estate, and for the result of the annulled election be formally announced to the nation.
As it is now I do know that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda, must be kicking themselves and regreting their action, for it was they who stood against the popular will of the masses. How exacerbatingly humbling it must be for the duo to have kissed the dust in trying to superimpose their peculiar wills over that of the people.
An important lesson these political developments are teaching us is the transitoriness of power, any kind of power at that. This is especially instructive to our political tyrants who would have us imagine that they are gods in their own respective corners. Nobody, throughout history, has been able to fight against the people and win. That is the demonstrative moral inferable from these latest Buharian reforms. But a stupendous irony manifests itself in our political acculturation and socialization. African leaders generally, and the Nigerian variety particularly, don’t seem to have learnt anything from history and are still repeating the mistakes of the past.
Perhaps the most heart-warming and doubly significant of all these reforms, to my mind, is the Not-Too-Young-To-Run initiative political blueprint bound to bridge the proverbial generation gap visible in all the dimensions of the Nigerian socio-psychology.
Before this revolutionary impetus, Nigerian political, economic, social, psychological and spiritual leadership initiative have been consciously and subconsciously, willed and zoned to the old men and women of our clime, to the chagrin, of the able bodied youths of the milieu, [perhaps in the decidedly misguided notion that leadership skills and competencies are the exclusive perquisites of the old and senile.
And when we look at the prevalence of the developed world, which happens to be our model, we find the diametric opposite. In Britain, America and suchlike, leaders of the political, economic, social and spiritual institutions are almost always in their thirties and forties.
President Fitzgerald Kennedy for instance became the President at thirty-something. And so was, nearer home now, the late captain Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso who was an ebullient unassuming but charismatic leader and who ruled Burkina Faso most selflessly, not, unlike some uncouth and agrarian individuals, seeing public office as an avenue to line one’s pocket or multiply bed partners.
Of course, and logically too, many reasons jostle themselves for this notional preference.
To start with the gamut of activities and programmes attending to leadership naturally demands that the leader be physically fit. For he/she must of necessity expend energy in their execution, if he is to realize both personal and corporate articulated objectives.
Furthermore, there is also the issue and utilization of mental energy, the faculties for which are at their best and most productive when one is young, free and single. And especially because making rational judgment is almost always the recurring decimal in leadership, the senses are required to be honed to perfection.
What is even more remarkable, handling stressful situations and personalities are the leader’s exclusive and inclusive preserves, which are enhanced with a strong constitution and mind, required in all particularized immediacy.
That is why the President’s latest brain wave- for such it was- is certainly making its grand and opportune entry, particularly as it concerns the youth. It is perhaps an ironic concession to the segment of society which he has considered lazy, maybe inferring that the contextual laziness is as a result of their marginalization in the scheme of things. Whichever way we look at it, the President has pioneered a remarkable initiative, about which our teeming youths could do worse than take up the gauntlet. Yes, the President may have been dubbed “Baba Go Slow”. However, we have seen, slow and steady wins the race.
Ejuwa, Journalist writes from Lagos.