Very unique title yet very important and the strategic message it contains, especially for the committed patriots who are sold out to changing existing order wherever they step into. No matter the nature of any existing order, there would always be those who benefit from it. A friend shocked me not quite long ago when he told me, “I thrive best in disorder.” Those who know how the world works will not be surprised at such an admission. Most of the crisis, everywhere happen, because a few people or group stay behind the scene and push buttons that precipitate conflicts which offer them the atmosphere to gain undue advantage. It has been so from time, so it’s nothing new. What could be new in such circumstances would be experience thrown in to beat the odds and overcome negativity.
This is very important. Every change, be it in small units as in family, associations, village, or larger ones as in states and nations will dislocate some people once it happens, sever them from advantages they hold very dear. That is why those who push for change must proceed from the standpoint that resistance is inevitable; if not in the beginning, it could come in the middle or end. It could even come long after the change agents have consolidated their positions. Change agents often run on pure goals and think because their intentions are noble that is all they require to win power and keep it. The truth is that winning power is a herculean task whichever way a group desires to take it but staying alive and keeping power when won is far more difficult. It is in staying alive and propelling change unhindered that the sacrifice produces meaning.
In March 2021, the need to reexamine the change agents and their ability to survive machinations of the opposing groups became urgent with the sudden death of President John Magufuli of Tanzania. The president had gained worldwide attention when pictures of him attending church services, playing alongside the band and collecting offerings began to make the rounds across the world. Those gestures attracted close scrutiny and people began to understand he was one of the few leaders who believe public office should make occupants truly servants and not lords. He had the common touch. In five years he had done so much than many who had had the benefit of full two terms in office .
In 2020 while the COVID-19 threat forced countries to shut down, he refused to close down Tanzania. The year had barely ended when he passed on in a manner suggestive he may have been a victim of the virus he refused to take seriously. Everywhere the insinuation was, «the white world has killed him.» The truth is that in the wild game of politics and economics of virus and vaccines, he could be «taken out.» His position on the matter would never have pleased the world of imperialism. The West never takes kindly to anything that under cuts their influence or capital flow. They usually will react overtly or covertly. The question is, did Magufuli know this? If he knew, what safeguards did he put in place? If he did, his manner of transition did show it.
Last Sunday our society woke up to a rude shock: former Deputy Governor of our Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailaifia was reported dead. The initial reaction from citizens was, «they have killed him.» Dr Mailaifia has been into the civil rights campaign and more recently, took on the managers of the Nigerian system in very strong terms. Later, accounts began to emerge to show he took ill and was first taken to a clinic run by the Central Bank of Nigeria where he was not given proper attention. He was then taken to the National Hospital, Abuja and subsequently General Hospital, Gwagwalada where he was confirmed dead.
A friend who made a remark somewhere his death was was reported gave the title of today›s discourse. He queried Mailaifia›s reliance on the same forces he fought against for his survival. His contention which I find very reasonable is that those who fight the system must be wise for them to be in a position to survive. I read that and what came to my mind was the naivety of the change agents not just in our society but the world over. The survival strategy of a man of the caliber of Mailaifia would have been sophisticated and elaborate. From the health perspective he ought to have his personal hospital. This hospital will go extra mile to offer him cover whenever he runs into stormy waters and when he needs critical medical attention as was the case last Sunday. If he had gone to his clinic whatever was the issue, he would have received first class attention including sound professional referrals if need be. He didn›t get all that because he left those critical decisions to chance. This is the bane of most change agents. They leave serious and critical matters including issues of their security to providence. In the seventies, one recalls the military Head of State, General Muritala Muhammad wanted to change everything, yet he was careless to drive on crowded Lagos streets without armed military escorts. Head of State? In six months they took him off.
Olusegun, Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, who came much later, who knew how to consolidate and manage power stayed far longer. In Congo in the sixties, young Dr Patrice Lumumba came to power with great ideas and drive, but his naivety proved very costly. He didn›t know he should tinker with the army and give it a new face, that omission became his albatross, they overthrew and brutally decapitated him including using acid to dissolve his body. His unceremonious exit affected Congo till today.
Someone spoke about the good not lasting. Yes there is a tinge of philosophy, yet it is no substitute for the truth that those who hold dear to the principles of change and good governance must themselves be wise and sensible if they must survive. Wise to know things to do and wisdom to know how and when to do those things. Most importantly in personnel choices. Many clean people choose people who turn round to do them in. Nothing can be as devastating as a leader taking unto himself an enemy. In the process of midwifing change, ability to use the nuisance value of some people and groups is key. Understanding the season is vital, it will regulate activities, speeches and movements. Fidel Castro of Cuba is my man in this regard. He was austere, not given to showmanship, he offered few words, even when his group won power no one could say with exactitude where the leader was per time. The world of imperialism came against him, yet Castro survived and lasted out because he knew the first law is self-preservation, followed by system survival. He got this done by massive indoctrination and building of a strong, ideological army. He knew the issues.
Many change agents are armchair well wishers, they desire to be friends of those they want to supplant, wishing by stroke of fortune they will be invited to share in power from where they make positive contributions. This part can be time wasting and may not offer one the kind of opportunity envisaged. One was talking about new bloods and young people but I educated him that it was not essentially about young people but a system where those called up to serve can have opportunity for full expression. This is the pathway to very limited change, the one with widest scope happens when a group of change agents agree as one to go for power. When they win can they last? They should know power and issues surrounding it are not a tea party, you ascend with all the seriousness it requires and this includes personal survival.