Falling short of the glory of Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO: SEYLLOU / AFP


If you can find a federal/state civil servant at his desk at 8:00 a.m. then Nigeria can fight the war on corruption. Not before. Most leave their houses for work at 11:00 a.m., if they go to work at all.

A political recruiter looks at policy compatibility, ideological compatibility, competence, and loyalty. Loyalty is an essential commodity that doesn’t last long for most Nigerians.

The present government seems to be losing steam because of the people the president surrounds himself with. Most aren’t loyal. A president who isn’t fortunate to have loyal foot-soldiers certainly won’t succeed at delivering many positive results because their thoughts wouldn’t be positioned for nationalism. Knuckle-politics.

I recall an article, “A president without balls” written by someone who later went ahead to work with that same, “president without balls.” That happens only in my country.I watched him struggle with the job. He was not as fluent as he was in his columns before he became an agent of government. Many releases did not show a healthy respect for the opposition and critics. Spirited criticism necessary for nation building was seen by him and his team as the handiwork of spoilers on a mission to destroy the credibility of his principal and responding to critics became the major aspect of his job description and he used that chance without fail to vent sour grapes.

Nigerians find it convenient to work for people whose policies they don’t subscribe to. How could we ever assume that we would enjoy working for people whose ideas did not inspire us before we accepted the offer?

Pseudo campaigners don’t find it queer to make derisive statements against elderly establishment players and run them down to the gutter. These elders are branded as selfish and Quislings unmindful of how old most of them are. The lampooners think they know more than elderly Nigerians.

He was a PDP stalwart, then he moved to ACN, back to PDP, then APC and again PDP. Is that politician still as powerful now as he was in the recent past? Interest-politics. How does his movement inspire youngsters wanting to consider politics as a profession?

Years ago, I gave lectures from time to time on behalf of civil society organisation. We knew the mission statement of the NGO. No one coached us on what to say. As advocates, we weaved the Nigerian tapestry into our talk when we were handed topics to discuss in a public forum. But one experience which made me stop volunteering efforts was really unnerving. I started my lecture by thanking the government for an initiative which was laudable and the highest of its kind anywhere in Nigeria.

I dwelt on this, “thank you government” for a while and moved on to explaining why the programme may run into troubled waters, if proper plans were not put in place. The “thank you government” got me into trouble. The coordinator (a non-national) at the end, took me to a corner and upbraided me for giving the worst talk ever in close to a year. I asked him what the problem was but he couldn’t answer. I looked him in the eye and asked him if his NGO had a hidden script that contributors on Pro-bono basis must follow. He dodged the question. Subsequently, I gave excuses why I couldn’t attend the next meeting and the next and they got the hint. No need using me to justify anyone’s meal ticket.

Was his outfit trying to make me an attack dog so he could get the heck out of it to win praise from his paymasters for showing that Nigerians are at the forefront of solving their problems? Could this be the reason I see many people working for NGOs attacking governments, starting Kentish Fire, here and now in the name of activism?

I ventured into a seminar to learn the ropes on activism. This was initiated by a donor organisation, with zero tolerance for corruption. People were asked to give strategies on how to fight corruption. One fellow suggested that an entourage of concerned citizens waylay the local council chairman to demand accountability for various projects in his community that had been abandoned. The chairman would then be exposed as a corrupt official. The suggestion was loudly applauded.

I was surprised. Waylay? Knowing how brutal the state is with unresolved murders and that one could be shot at with too many reasons given to justify death? Waylay? When chairmen in Nigeria are escorted by police officers who see their posting as a blessing from The Heavenlies? Nobody told the fellow the meaning of perceived corruption which can’t be proven and actual corruption with facts which can be proven.

Now I see why people shout around me everyday. I understand why some people use battering rams against specific people and regions. I see why some people denounce the state and challenge the government and the police; and do so knowing they risk taking a bullet to advance humane causes. I know why some activists work with imaginary lines.Abah sent this piece from Abuja.

How many people do you see promoting chaos in the name of activism in civilised countries? They engage governments in civilised harangue, appealing to that sense of right and wrong, stirring patriotism in citizens to demand accountability impacting on welfare. All within the ambit of reasonableness. My son asked me once:”why do people love to shout when they talk?” He saw an activist shouting on national television. We have all become a shouting people. It seems that our effectiveness for causes is measured by how much we shout I wonder why. The life of the Nigerian is worth less than that of the Asians and the Arabs in Nigeria, a country where citizens can be beaten by law enforcement agents in the bid to protect Asians in this country.We may get a good country when we become disciplined as a people. I am also in the guilty party but on a mission to transform self for the good of all.
Abah sent this piece from Abuja.

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