This is the leadership narrative of Nigeria. The all-round over-endowed country is so complex that she neither knows herself nor her citizens, and vice versa. Nigeria and Nigerians don’t understand each other. There’s no telling for sure if this is a function of the monstrous size of her landmass or the monumental complexity of our Nigerianness. Or both. What’s obvious, however, is that not being able to explain away the puzzlement, citizens have resorted to raising the bar of our sense of hyperbole. We overhype everything!
That accounts for the tailor or seamstress in Nigeria being now better addressed as fashion designer; the trader, exporter/importer; the herbalist and sundry medical quacks, doctor. And the beat goes on. Plus the ‘superiority complex’ trend that we all seem so comfortable with; where every master of ceremonies iconises or ‘veteranifies’ just anybody while society applauds away in ignorance. Suddenly, our brothers and sisters who are stars because the mass media sold us their voice, face, body and ad hoc wizardry have become icons, legends, veterans just like that. Of course, this is the fallout of the full monetisation of society. The more money you have (forget how you made it); the more respect or awe or worship you get in Nigeria.
Please, don’t puke yet, or you would have no other befitting reaction when you are reminded of the more horrifying reality that even with dirty money, you can buy just about everything in Nigeria: Power, titles, politics and, saddest of all, people. Welcome to Nigeria, where the people hold noisy, costly coronations to panel-beat thieves into chiefs; solemn ordinations so known agents of the devil could be consecrated high priests of God; elaborate matriculations to garbage in cheats, and even more elaborate convocations to garbage out graduate scoundrels after a few semesters at so-called ivory towers. Amazingly, in all of these cases, we have developed sweetheart names for everything and everyone. Euphemism is our second nature!
From the foregoing, you can see that what flows in the veins of Nigerians is not blood, but power. There’s too much craze for power (or position or title) in Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is an almost commensurate propensity for abuse in that these power grabbers decimate our humanity while simultaneously growing their animality. This has been the Nigerian story. It will remain our lot for eternity, except we decide going forward that our big power shall no longer be in the hands of small men, nor small women, let alone small children; the set of our compatriots responsible for leadership in small doses that we have endured since 1960. Men, women and children completely overwhelmed by their very office!
Now, you can explain why some holders of high offices are guilty of lowly crimes, such as hate, falsehood, pretence, blackmail, gossip, victimisation, divide and rule, thievery, bitterness, nepotism, vindictiveness, bribery and – the most popular or notorious – corruption. How do you reconcile the fact that someone who was governor or minister just yesterday is in prison today for – wait for it – stealing? How? Why? How can a governor with all that excellence or minister said to be as honourable as they come be a thief? This is one aberration one hopes the Buhari/Osinbajo war against corruption would address. It will redound to our global credit to see serving or future public officers who steal nothing and, therefore, after their tenure aren’t accused let alone found guilty of stealing.
Next, let’s talk about time and how it suffers in the hands of these small men and women and children of power. First though, there’s the need to understand that time is the very epitome of life, of society, and of development. What this means is that man is, and can do, nothing sans time. Man is born by time, lives by time and dies by time. Time is fundamental and inevitable. In fact, time is God. This is the perspective to take if you don’t want to blame voodoo for the sorry state of affairs in our country. Nigeria remains stranded in the minor league of leadership and development because the little people, like them and you and me, occupying jumbo offices engage in daily misappropriation and misapplication of time. Go to workplaces or wherever leaders hold court in Nigeria, and you’d weep the way time is abused. We cannot embezzle or squander time as we do and hope not to be abandoned by it where we are; far behind the rest of the world. We cannot idle away or dawdle, or show no respect for time in our private or public setting without paying dearly for it. Our country sits right at the extreme back of the global class because we toyed, and continue to toy, with time.
But, it is easy to overtake and overcome. Nigerians only need to reassess our time sense and use. When leaders – at the top, in the middle and from the bottom – (all of us) stop our illiterate abuse of time and start to clockwisely and appropriately sleep, wake, eat, learn, aspire, work and enjoy, the results that have eluded us as a people and as a country for over a century shall pour in. The answer is not in big men holding big power. No, that would be even more disastrous. The answer is in these men and women and children of power growing up but remaining human and humble. God bless Nigeria!
Golden Citizen Award & Booby Prize of the Month
The virtual twin awards arranged by this column for purposes of motivating, persuading and reassuring Nigerians that someone is watching, will now hold monthly; that is every last edition of this column for a particular month. This announcement is in reaction to a flurry of enquiries. Please, rest assured that the awards have not been discontinued!
‘Protestant’ Tu-Baba Vs. the police
Imagine all the unnecessary toing and froing between the music star and the police high command over something as ‘pedestrianly’ routine as mass demonstration. Nigerians just love to dissipate energy and resources in typical Shakespearean ‘much ado about nothing’ fashion. This columnist is not for protests, but how else do you communicate to an administration with the resentment-extractive snobbish body language that many see as the trademark of PMB and Company? Whereas Tuface Idibia should have engaged first in personal physical and verbal protests for a while to see if the authorities would ‘shake body’; whereas mass protests should be a last resort especially with our alarming tendency for combustibility; whereas the police can do and undo in this country, even if the Tuface protests don’t hold as planned, the objective has been achieved: government has heard what has not been said. Enough of the hardship!