Today’s article with the above title was published about four years before our last election. In the coming weeks leading to my 85th birthday in six weeks, I will be publishing some of the articles that were published in the column so many years ago concerning the state of our Nation, the Leadership crisis, the mismanagement of people and resources, the instability leading to insecurity, the massive corruption and the neglect of the young that will shape the future. Also for the journeys that I have made through the length and breadth of the Nation that I love, my good age makes it imperative for me to continue sharing my concern about the direction the Nation is moving. Therefore, the republishing of these articles, some five years ago, and some a few years is my way of not giving up but continuing to search for the right answers to the many problems and crises that would have been avoided because I saw the rot coming.
I find it very difficult to keep repeating myself because we seem to have learnt nothing from history but I fear that history will come back to haunt us. So allow me once again to refer to the above title and a few more that were published almost a decade ago.
The political and ruling class that has emerged over the last five decades and more may have rescued the nation from many struggles and catastrophes such as the struggle for independence, the political radicalism that followed the independence; the coups and the civil war. They may even have also rescued the country from religious apathy, financial mismanagement leading to bankruptcy and many more disasters that would have befallen the nation far before now. For such great service, I often feel that the ruling class particularly those from my generation must believe Nigerians and Nigeria must still be largely indebted to them even though some of them went away with choice national honours. How else can we explain their refusal to give up power and retire from the battleground that is Nigeria’s political scene? To ensure the sustainability of their staying power, these ‘warriors/heroes of the country have developed a system of God fatherism on one hand, to fund and endorse their campaigns while on the other hand, they have employed agents of no-change whose key role is to maintain the status quo until such a time as when the chosen ‘heir apparent’ takes over from them. This keeps power in the family.
It seems that until we find out what exactly we owe and pay up our debts, these ‘creditors’ will continue to hold back the country in bondage for the next 50 years and the development of the nation which we have continued to promise our children, grandchildren and the next generation of leaders will never happen. I recall that my generation and the generation before me used to sing a song about youth with the first line that goes thus “We are the leaders of tomorrow …” but over fifty years down the line, we have not only become leaders of tomorrow, we are now even the future leaders as well. The same leaders of those days remain the leaders of today. Leaders and I use the term lightly, that have continued to truncate and slow down the emergence of the nation despite the human and natural resources that abound in the country. I have come to discover that this generation of leaders continually slows down the growth of the nation by investing heavily in unproductive sectors while neglecting more productive sectors such that instead of regenerating the country, these leaders end up regenerating themselves.
In one of the columns, I discussed the difference between a fractured nation which I believed was Nigeria’s diagnosis and a serious head injury which J.K Randle believed was affecting Nigeria. According to J.K Randle, what the nation has been experiencing is a severe head injury but in my article, A Fractured Nation (Part 1 – 3); I argued that a severe head injury could lead to a coma and possibly death which would be the end of the nation but a fracture can be repaired or renewed if necessary attention is paid to it. I still believe the latter is true and Nigeria isn’t beyond redemption.
You see in my almost 85 years in this wonderful nation, Nigeria, I have been fortunate to have travelled and lived in almost every part of Nigeria. I have also travelled and lived in almost all civilized nations of the globe. I have explored mountains, almost all deserts of the world, seas and oceans and having seen how beautiful our planet earth was, is and can be, my dream then and now is that I must make this planet a better place than I met it. The generation before mine did the same and made it possible for me to experience this wonderful world. Therefore, writing this weekly column has turned out to be one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to me because I now have the opportunity to share my experiences and ideas on how we can achieve this dream of a better world.
I digress slightly because I felt it was important to explain that many of my writings come from a place of hope and frustration because I have lived in a world that worked and a nation that fitted well in that working world. I am also in the process of preparing a succession team of warriors and writers who have sometimes travelled with me and shared with me the deplorable disintegration and insecurity into which the country is gradually slipping.
The Nigerian situation as it stands today has recorded many failures; some of them have been mentioned and discussed in the numerous articles that have graced this column from the origin of the herdsmen crisis, leadership and legacy, A Fractured Nation – already previously mentioned, The Three ‘Rs’ and more. With our many failures, it is time for a revolution and sadly that revolution cannot be led by the same people who have been a part of the rot. Hence today’s title: Beyond Buhari and Atiku. I have met both men and have the utmost respect for them but since the return to democratic rule in 1999 our elections have been a case of the devil and the deep blue sea. Considering that we have been misruled for the last 50 years, my question is can we have anything different from the same party despite different names especially when they have been a part of this misrule?
At the same time, if we are to have a new generation of leaders for the next eight years; is there enough time for them to emerge? This is because contrary to the current style for prospective leaders, emerging happens way before becoming presidential aspirants. Prospective leaders need to travel around the country to be seen and heard. Serve in numerous capacities that will build their portfolios of a proven track record both in public and private sectors.
I once read a profound statement in an opinion piece of a daily newspaper and it has stuck with me ever since. The statement goes thus: “Love for one’s country is a primordial affection that does not hinge basically on anything substantial, simply an intangible essence with no physical substance, yet vicariously glorious.” The writer in that article was asking if Nigeria deserved our patriotism explaining that Nigeria, over the years, has had a deficient and decadent political class and leadership elite that robbed the nation of its well-deserved chance to sport among its peers and superiors as an eminent member of the comity of nations, both in terms of development and prosperity for its citizens.
Beyond “Buhari and Atiku” lies our nation’s future; a future we need to seriously prepare for so that it won’t be a replica of the past. Millions of Nigerians are fed up with the status quo that only benefits the same select few over and over. These budding leaders need funders that won’t demand for kickbacks like the ‘God-fathers’. Funders from the people who would eagerly contribute towards a better nation like were done in America for Bernie Sanders. If these young vibrant people tired of the rot in the nation can come together, mobilize themselves and begin to sensitize the people towards thinking of a future without the present leaders, albeit a process that may still take some years, then Nigeria stands a chance of escaping the cycle of corruption and mismanagement that has plagued her for decades.
Now tell me, has anything changed since the publication of the above four years ago?