Mindset of our politicians
The greatest minds are capable
of the greatest vices as well as
of the greatest virtues.
A family of five perishes in one night because their old generator caught fire at midnight and before neighbours could offer any help, the soot suffocates them. A professor of engineering dies in a general hospital due to poisoned intravenous injection he received. Famine is ravaging several villages because the indigenes can no longer engage in productive farming. The villages are now the den of robbers, kidnappers, killer herdsmen and marauders. The road network linking several villages, towns and communities have degenerated and disintegrated. Some of the roads that were repaired are also quickly being eroded systematically.
No doubt, the situation in the various levels of our societal life may not always be as sordid as earlier portrayed but in some occasions it is or even worse. Our society has reached a negative tipping point. We are on the edge of the cliff and if no systematic and determined positive steps are taken by the citizens and the government, the result will be an imminent and inimical descent into catastrophy.
From the forgoing, we notice that all the events relate to lack or abuse of public utilities. The provision and maintenance of these basic human services namely, road, health, security and power are the primary responsibilities of the three arms of government. The case of total lack, provision of poor quality and abuse are eloquent proofs of the quality and health of the psyche of the government and the governed. Nobody can produce any results beyond the state of his or her mind. An unhealthy mind will make unhealthy decisions as well as carry out unwholesome actions. The converse is true too.
Let me quickly note that the degradation, degeneration and decadence which characterise our public utilities today are the product of an evil connivance and conspiracy between the citizens and the government. In the words of the irrepressible Professor Wole Soyinka, the Man dies who keeps quiet in the face of oppression.
For almost 20 years that Nigeria returned to democratic rule (1999-2018), we are yet to show any significant evidence of the dividends of development or improvement. We are like rats that missed their ways in the maze; like charmed monkeys who are doomed to serve the whims and caprices of a wicked witch doctor; like terrified and confused cows oppressed by bloody rustlers.
Think of our national contradictions and complexities. A nation so blessed with great and diverse human resources but is short of good leadership. A nation of aggressive and intelligent citizens who normally acquiesce to the oppression of an inept leadership.
A nation that has numerous profitable natural resources but more than three quarters of her populace belongs to the poorest of the poor. A nation that helps foreigners to develop but destroys some of her own citizens. A nation that imports what she has in abundance but exports what she lacks.
The electioneering season, is here with us again. Who are the politicians seeking for our vote? What is the predominant mindset of these men and women? What are their goals and aspirations for the citizenry? What targets do they want to achieve if voted into power? What significant positive differences are they ready to make towards improving the lives of the ordinary Nigerians?
Of course we all know that campaign promises, political jingoism and gyrations can’t be equated with practical action. The Nigeria electorate and populace are inundated with numerous proofs of the incongruent relationship between electioneering promises and practices. The Nigeria populace is tired of being pauperised by political puppets and pundits.
Ironic and capricious as it is, sometimes in Africa and particularly in our nation, we have political leaders who are neither mentally prepared nor qualified to perform their leadership roles. They are foisted on the populace by political god-fathers, malpractices, malfeasance or monetary manipulation. All these flow from a degenerative and dangerous mindset. Truly our works are reflections of our mindsets.
John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of America was credited to have made this crucial statement. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” This profound statement signifies a cluster of virtues like sacrifice, nationalism and patriotism which contradict the predominant mindset and attitude of greed, avarice, nepotism and despotism that characterise the greater number of our politicians.
Selfishness, egotism and self exaltation are yet another set of despicable mindsets which characterise many of our leaders. These terrible mindsets are manifest in the huge lacuna which exists between the socioeconomic lifestyles of most Nigerian leaders and the citizens. For many, the one week budget used to maintain a pet in their home is better and bigger than the one year earning of several Nigerian homes.
The Nigeria society is replete with abuse of religious affiliations among our political and economic captains. We manipulate religion to our own advantage in order to gain favour while at the same time, we sacrifice the lives of the common Nigerian. This is contrary to wisdom. Consistent with this, Shannon L. Alder said, “Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist or Muslim, Hindu or any other theology, learn to be human first”
Consequently, one asks, where is the proof of humanness among the rank and file of our leadership? Where is the place of service in our pursuit for leadership roles? Do people in Nigeria and Africa get into positions of influence for the purpose of helping or harming, lifting or limiting, improving or impoverishing the populace?
Descartes rightly noted, the human mind possesses a limitless capacity to pursue great virtue or vice, nobility or ignobility. Nigeria deserves leaders in politics, commerce, religion and every sphere of life who will develop virtuous mindsets such as sacrifice, patience, justice, fair play, integrity, patriotism and the fear of God. In this forthcoming election, we have a great opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that, we are truly free from bestial passions and vices. We need to recover from mental decadence and degeneration.
The great Zik of Africa once said that no condition is permanent. This is the appropriate time for Nigerian leaders and citizens to embrace this wise advice and decide to come out of the wood. Change begins with our taking quality decisions such as participating in the election, voting the right candidates, refusing to sell our votes, mobilising others to vote candidates who have integrity, etc. The parties should insist on presenting candidates who are honest and humane, diligent and dedicated to development.
The ball is now in our courts. May we rise up to the occasion and conquer primordial primitive and pervasive mindsets. May we be inspired and instructed by nature, the success of others and a deep sense of humanness to become beacons of national transformation.
Dr. Amaraegbu, a clinical psychologist, wrote from Lagos.
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