Erudite human rights advocate and columnist, Rev Ladi Thompson is the Founder and Pastor-in-Charge of Living Waters Unlimited Church. He was a discussant at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, which held a forum on a very important subject concerning the solution to the path of evolving a better Nigeria. After the event, he had a brief chat with Sunday Sun and spoke on what should be done if the country must move on the path of growth and genuine development.
In the view of Thompson, Nigeria has been programmed to be the way it is and that it requires leadership across its generation to put things right. He asserted that unless there is a synergy of leadership where the youth are ready to learn some salient leadership lessons from the elders and then search out their vision and aspiration and build upon it, there may be no headway for the survival on the present Nigerian foundation, and explained why the fight on corruption will be a colossal failure among other issues.
You have always canvassed for a need for synergy of leadership across generations in Nigeria. Can you throw more light on it?
Absolutely yes, that is what we need if we must grow and release the potentials that abound. The challenges of Africa will never be solved until we begin to respect some of the strengths of Africa. Africa is generational, there are lessons to learn from the founders of African nations, lessons to learn from our liberators and you need to transfer those lessons from that generation. In fact those lessons must be transferred to the next generation of leaders, right down to the young aspiring leaders so that we won’t miss anything but rather articulate and achieve better. This is a very African model meant to enrich our leadership heritage and it’s something that we need to think about how to establish. Once you put that in place you will find out that it will be easier to solve the problem of Nigeria.
The younger generation threw away the wood without learning the lessons both good and bad; they will have to learn to re-invent the wheel all over again. And one thing we find out is that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat them.
At what point did we start getting it wrong?
I don’t think there is any point of departure like I said to you; no nation can do better than the architecture of the fort, the foundation always matters and when you get it wrong you will continue to wobble. Nigeria if you listen to what late Chief Obafemi Awolowo said in 1968, if you listened to what Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe said in 1962, if you listened to what Tafawa Balewa said on October 7, 1960, you will find out that we are a product of what is called deterministic chaos, we are designed to be who and what we are right now, the way we fight, the way we do business, the way we run around, the way we disturb ourselves, etc are all based on the programmes that were put into Nigeria at the foundation level. Let me put it this way: we are still running in the illusion that the Nigeria’s future will be in independence, inter-dependence is what makes a nation move forward. So when we change our thinking and re-format the programme then Nigeria will move forward.
What I am saying and have always said at any public engagement that concerns our country Nigeria is that there is an urgent need for synergy across generations of Nigerians so as to transfer leadership lessons to the younger youth who will then take the country to where it is expected to be. The truth is that we never had founding fathers rather liberation fathers. We must get that truth straight rather than deceive ourselves and that truth is that we never had founding fathers that had the same vision on our unity rather they had a different picture on how to run the country.
We do not have an acculturation programme for a Nigerian leader that will emerge rather we have different ethnic enculturation, Igbo, Yoruba Hausa, Efik name them. We have a perfect Hausa/Fulani enculturation programme in Nigeria, we have a perfect Igbo enculturation programme in Nigeria, a perfect Omoluwabi enculturation programme but a very weak Nigerian enculturation. The method by which you produce a Nigerian leader already is corrupt, but the method that turns a baby into an Igbo man, Yoruba man, Fulani man, Hausa man, Efik man name them is excellent. What turns a baby into a Hausa person is excellent but what turns a child into a Nigerian is wrong, so it’s a programme. That is why I said we have been programmed to think and behave the way we do. There is a need to search for active talents and empower them for the leadership of the 21st-century demands which is knowledge-driven, technology-based, where merit is not sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity.
You said that the war on corruption was dead on arrival. Please explain your position on this.
For me, the much talked about the war on corruption is dead on arrival because unless you consider the fact that the greatest form of corruption is when you corrupt the value of human beings and that is actually what we are fighting. You see, the average Nigerian environment is like that of a jungle: lion versus lamb. You can see the inordinate competition, so you are dealing with a concept that is in itself so toxic, predator/prey and once you have devalued the human person you have corrupted him and the corrupted person can only produce corruption. What we have is the devaluation of human worth that is worse than corruption and that in itself will drive corruption, making it difficult for you to fight. As I have always argued and which is the obvious, the greatest form of corruption is when you corrupt the value of human beings. A corrupted person can only produce corruption. Our condition as a people will even make corruption to thrive because the essence of life is reduced and depreciated. What Nigerians are subjected to, I mean what Nigerians go through, is so dehumanizing and the best you will get is also a corrupted process and environment. You can’t say you are fighting against corruption when merit no longer matters, where the majority of those that made it did not go through the right way, where honesty is not rewarded, where people rise to the top through any means and nothing happens. It is said that he that goes to equity must go with clean hands but what of where the enforcer is himself corrupt? There is the need to re-programme Nigeria.