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Who has failed whom: Nigeria or her leaders?

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By Muyiwa Adetiba

The last two weeks have been quite busy in the country. We have witnessed political defections; real and simulated. We have witnessed political mergers; real and simulated. We have witnessed court summons; real and simulated.

Nigerian flag
Nigerian flag

We have witnessed kidnaps; real and simulated. We have witnessed impeachments; real and simulated. We have witnessed political accusations and counter accusations; real and simulated. We have witnessed yesterday’s real and simulated allies become today’s real and simulated foes. It is getting so much that we hardly know what is real and what is simulated in the country any longer.

In the midst of this din, the PDP, a party that ruled us for 16 inglorious and forgettable years, found its voice. It is now gloating at the ineptitude of the ruling party. It is pointing fingers at some of the very things it championed during its years of misrule. The source of its new-found voice is the reappearance of the old nPDP which had metamorphosed into R-APC and is now coming back to base with its National Assembly members and governors. We are to forget all the unpalatable things this nPDP said about PDP four years ago.

We are to remember instead, all the unpalatable things this R-APC is now saying about the ruling APC. After all, we the people are fools who suffer from collective amnesia. These nPDP or R-APC members were the major cause of the PDP implosion in 2014. Four years later, they are the major cause of an APC implosion. They should not be allowed to keep benefiting from chaos and confusion. Besides, I wonder if they ever think of the effect of their actions on the polity they are heating up so mindlessly or the verdict of history. What does it say of the judgement of a wife who leaves her husband with so much vituperations only to crawl back into his bed shortly after?

You now go to the social media where you find educated men and women posting ill-disguised or down right fake stories just because the stories suit their own narratives and sentiments. You find arguments that are more emotive than logical. You find an erstwhile ‘devil’ now being seen as a ‘saint’ because he has cross-carpeted and vice versa. Very few people ask whether propriety demands that they should go back to their constituencies before they cross-carpet or whether they should retain their seats in congress without the mandate of the people and parties that put them there. We copied the presidential system from the United States. This is not how the US practices its own system.  Even fewer people still, ask what the country has to gain in what is now seen as musical chairs. Four years ago, the last Speaker changed his party so he could become a governor. Now that he seems to want more, he has changed his party again. The current Speaker wants certain political assurances to stay in his new party. Ditto the Senate President. A few senators are changing parties because competition is fierce for their slots at home. Some are not liked by their State Governors. Where is the country except as pawns in these chess moves?

A platform I belonged to which was largely made up of media people, had to be closed down recently because of what the administrator termed inciting comments on both sides of the political divide. Most platforms now, even religious ones, have a large dose of political commentaries most of which are regurgitations of damaging half-truths and lies. Those who post them use the posts to reinforce their beliefs and bash the other side. In between, is a healthy dose of Nigeria bashing. Many of these commentaries are divisive. Many are libellous and inciting. Most are irresponsible. And so the polity heats up and the political noise raises several decibels.

Last Sunday, I heard a calm, steady voice rising as it were, above the deafening cacophony around me. It was in the evening and I was waiting for Fareed Zakaria, my favourite weekend programme on CNN. I had a bit of time and I tuned into Channels TV since the sports channels were uneventful. The beautiful face of Adesua Onyenokwe appeared presenting, ‘Seriously Speaking.’ Her guest was a young man I had never met but admired. In this era of Nigeria bashing, I have never heard him utter a negative word about Nigeria. His name is Fela Durotoye and he didn’t disappoint last Sunday.

Every utterance of his concerning Nigeria was positive. He is going for the presidency but kept insisting at every turn that it was not about him but his generation as he is only serving as a catalyst; an enabler. He then made a statement which resonated with me because it aligns with my belief. In these days when the narrative is that Nigeria is not worth saving, he said the problem was not with Nigeria. Nigeria he said, is a beautiful country with everything within it to make her great. Her leaders have been the problem. And when you look at the reason people are cross-carpeting; why people seek power, you cannot but agree. From our nationalist fathers who chose wrong alliances because of tribe and ego, to our military leaders who could have used our then newly found oil wealth to chart a new, self-reliant trajectory for the country, to the present crop of leaders who are just interested in money and power for selfish ends, Nigeria today is the consequence of the choices we made and are still making.

An example is the recent PDP primaries in Osun State. It was a choice between a serious entrepreneur who started life as a newspaper vendor and went on to build a multi-billion naira business and a fun-loving man who is enjoying family largess. A choice between a man who reportedly had a 2nd Class Upper in the university and a man whose school leaving certificate is being contested. You would think it would be a no contest right? Wrong. It was a bitterly fought contest and the man with the rich family connections was declared the winner. As Nigeria has found out time and time again to its chagrin, ‘you really can’t give what you don’t have.’ So don’t be surprised if Osun State sinks further into the mire should PDP win the September election. This is the PDP people who once felt disenchanted by its selection process are returning to. This is the PDP that claims to have learnt its lessons.

Still, the likes of Durotoye reinforces my belief that all is not lost. But first, we have to rid ourselves of this crop of politicians.

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