Nigeria is a nation in a deep crisis and urgently in need of a visionary leadership to pull it out of it self-inflicted problems. On all fronts, a visionary leadership is totally lacking. We have never had big dreamers and transformers who aspire and inspire at the same time; who identify correctly that the country’s governance superstructure – which encourages indolence, lack of creative enterprise and innovation – is at the core of our problem and it is what actively breeds and sustains the monster called corruption.
And that it is this structure that is in dire need of reforms. We have never had a leader with the full grasp and understanding of the issues hindering our development, who can muster the political will to engineer the rebirth of a strong nation out of the cluster of ethnic identities and from the ashes of ethnic loyalty and affinity. This has remained so because successive leaders have been unable to rise beyond the interests of their own ethnic nationalities – to see the broader national interest as more compellingly important. Instead, they allow their ethnic prism to define their actions and begin to take advantage of their leadership of the country to lord it over other ethnic nationalities.
They do this brazenly and an in-your-face manner, wounding the sensibilities of others in the process, while undermining the national collective. To achieve their primordial desire, they surround themselves with those of their ethnic stock. They push through this ethnically motivated agenda in appointments, locations of national infrastructure and resource allocation. Merit, competence and economic rationale are usually and routinely jettisoned by these leaders. This is the root of the challenge of nation-building facing Nigeria. Those who have ruled Nigeria since independence did not only lack the ability and capacity to visualise the broader future in our own corner of this earth, they never cared to consider the implications of their primordial actions on nation-building efforts. They hardly understood what leadership meant other than the delusion of personal self-worth and the grandeur of material corruption to the benefit of their ethnicity or group interest.
We ardour great leaders or change agents of other climes as role models and admire them for their heroism and contributions to their societies, but we have none to give the world to admire except ethnic irredentists to loathe. We have no great monuments and landmarks that identify our cities among great cities of the world because we have no great dreamers and builders. Our leaders can’t build good roads, provide standard health care facilities and electricity for the people. As big as Nigeria is, it cannot boast of a standard airport equipped with modern facilities. The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja is a disgrace to this country. What about the crying shame called the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and other cattle sheds called airports all over the country? The famous Third Mainland Bridge presents a constant danger to lives. Travel out of Nigeria and you feel the shame of our country in its rawness. And you ask yourself, why can’t our leaders build good standard roads to match what you see abroad? They can’t because they think only of today and themselves and not the country or its place among nations.
As if the country is cursed, the baton of leadership has consistently been passed from one opportunist, clannish ruler to another. The result is that Nigeria has practically become a failed state where nothing works anymore. All the institutions of state are practically dead. Government exists only to extort and punish the people who are the victims of their rapacious deeds, but curiously, are happy to be so.
For progress to be made on our way to that tantalising future, we must come together to defeat these leaders at the polls and free Nigeria from their stranglehold. We must reclaim this country from the buccaneers and thieves.
To those who still think President Muhammadu Buhari is the long-awaited messiah, I say I wish. The truth here is that Buhari is part of the problem of Nigeria. He is one of those whose narrow prism and delusion of leadership has held Nigeria down from progress in the last 35 years. His second chance to redeem himself is nothing but a replay of his first, at least going by his scorecard so far. He may in fact be the most clannish president to rule Nigeria going by his understanding of the use of power.
In the run-up to the elections, he was portrayed as the man who had changed and as such, the right person to bring the change we need. He even declared himself a converted democrat: “I cannot change the past, but I can change the present and the future,” he declared at the Chatham House in London before the elections. A lot of people were sold on the illusion that Buhari had changed and that he was the messiah who would restructure and redeem Nigeria. He promised that much. But his antecedents and body language told a different story. And a forgiving nation gave him a chance at self-redemption. Those who should have seen clearly the stark difference between promise and reality, joined the mob hysteria of change. Nearly two years on, the myth of change has exploded in our faces. The man ascribed with the magical prowess to bring about change is fiddling about listlessly in the management of the affairs of the country, particularly on the economy and politics. His honest diehard supporters can’t gainsay the claim that the ship of state is floundering. He has no answers to our problems because he is part of the problem.
In October 2016, at the height of public criticism of its lack of economic direction, this government through its Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, stated that the federal government would release a long-term national development plan that articulates programmes and plans for every sector of the Nigerian economy before the end of December.
Udoma explained that this document would consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad details an integrated roadmap for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy and make it easier for the public to easily access government’s overall economic agenda. Has anyone heard anything again? We are now in January 2017. You see, this government has no sense of urgency; the president is still struggling to shake off that inertia which has been the bane of his government’s decision-making processes.
But to think as some finger-pointing supporters of the president still do that where we are now is better than where we are coming from may well amount to an implausible deniability of our current realities. Maybe those guys require a psychiatric evaluation. The inconvenient truth is documented in the grim economic data coming from Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) about where we are. All this government’s advertised achievements in the last 20 months are as useless as Monopoly money – a hare-brained economic policy that has practically destroyed whatever semblance of progress the country had achieved in the past.
However, this article is a continuation of the naming of those who helped to foist this government on Nigeria so that posterity will know who to hold responsible for the destruction of the economy and the rampaging Fulani herdsmen.
Pastor Tunde Bakare was one of the people consulted by our one and only Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka on whether Buhari had actually changed in the run-up to 2015 election. He either purposely misled Soyinka or was himself also fooled like many other Nigerians by the one who wore pads on his feet and “walked stealthily” to get power. But my instinct tells me Soyinka was merely looking for something to hang on to – that was why he was very willing to rely on biased third party sources to give his endorsement. Bakare is one of those who have been making excuses for Buhari’s non-performance nearly two years after taking office. He will have a lot questions to answer from future generations.
Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka rose to national fame on the back of his accurate prophecy predicting Buhari’s win. Since Buhari won, he has been seeing assassination attempts on the life of the president. He has also been blaming the last government for Nigeria’s myriad of problems while at the same time, making excuses for Buhari. Now with the implications of Buhari’s presidency in full manifest, he is in the classical Nigerian way of living in denial, blaming people around Buhari for the poor state of affairs in the country, while Buhari remains blameless. How convenient for this “man of God”! All the killings being carried out by the Fulani herdsmen all over the country and the loud silence of the president have not attracted Mbaka’s attention. Maybe, it’s Jonathan that appointed the advisers for Buhari to make him fail.
For Rotimi Amaechi, there is a saying in the land of my fathers: you do not sell your head to buy a cap. History will remember him for the role he played in what we now have in our hands.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, where does one start or end with him? Can we ever blame him enough? He has been variously described as the greatest political strategist in Africa by his liveried footmen. Well, maybe, maybe not. How he could not have seen the danger he was wilfully entering into has baffled some of us to no end, given his experience in politics and knowledge of history. Now, the architect of the most consequential change in a generation appears to have been short-changed by the very change he helped foist on the nation. His pet project is in disarray, the country is drifting, as the captain fiddles.
Tinubu’s stature has diminished, and his own “boys” have found new kinship and are now said to be riding roughshod over him. The Jagaban Borgu has lost his swag and sway. He is now a stranger in his own home. Do I feel pity for him? No, I do not. Should I laugh at him? Small relief if I do. But I will allow posterity to judge him. My job is to lay out what happened so that Nigerians can have the insight to come to an adequate verdict. All that will be documented in a book in the fullness time.