Without being a prisoner to sentiments, events in the global village should be a source of worry to any sane mind. From Yemen to Syria; and from Bahrain, to Iran; the wind of revolution continues to blow and there seems no end in sight. In China, Xu Maiyong and Jiang Renjie, two former local government officials were recently executed on allegations of corruption. And, in India, Anna Hazare embarked on hunger strike to force government to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption legislation.Here in Africa, Libyans’ uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s forty-two-year dictatorship has brought indescribable hardship on Libyans. And, in Nigeria, Boko is seriously Haraming us even as our leaders watch with pitiful amusement as if they are on a picnic where beer-parlour tales are a way of life. Rome burns; Nero fiddles! Goodluck Jonathan is sheepishly presiding over Nigeria’s affairs even as “our dear native land” is dreadfully gridlocked by acts of ineptitude.More than half a decade after our celebrated exit from the comity of colonized climes, Nigeria remains a dependent nation reluctantly inhabited by independent people. The nation has virtually broken down and nothing seems to be working. Fifty one years on, Nigerians groan under the yoke of political and ethno-religious cataclysms; youth unemployment remains embarrassingly unaddressed; ‘omiyale’ and other environmental disasters stare us in the face; and one is touchingly worried that the world’s tenth largest producer of crude oil oddly finds it difficult to refine its crude even for domestic consumption.
It was in this sympathetic mood about a nation in dire straits that I stumbled on Dele Momodu’s piece, ‘Before Good Luck Turns To Bad Luck’, published in Thisday, September 3, 2011. In the piece, Momodu expertly catalogued Nigeria’s many woes and warned of darker days ahead, unless some concrete steps were taken in the right direction.In his autobiography, John Stuart Mill wrote: “No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.” That Nigeria is at crossroads is no longer news; and, that we have as a country lost it is no longer a surprise. Likewise, that President Jonathan still pretends not to “see the conflagration ahead” but continues to behave as if he is just a spectator in the midst of all these “sad tales” should not catch anyone panting. After all, our president is one of us – a typical Nigerian, always at home with the aura of power. Even when his subjects are frenziedly enmeshed in hopelessness and helplessness, he gets himself conveniently immersed in the puerile passion of platitudes and the theatrics of a disappointing elixir of tenure elongation. What more? Jonathan is only a victim, not product, of a fated accident termed good luck! And, as a man who has gone this far on the munificence of luck, no one should expect any miracle from him, especially, at a time like this when the nation is deliriously reeling in the gloominess of “terrible tragedies” and grasping gluttony. Added to the sadness of these tales is a passive opposition which miserably fails to understand that wars are won in the map room, not via “tales by moonlight” on the pages of newspapers; and a docile followership which has simply resigned itself to fate.Undeniably, our major challenge as a nation arises from the short supply of visionary and purposeful men to help dear country chart a purposeful future. Unlike the founders and the fathers of Modern Nigeria who valued social order far above individual rights or satisfaction in their pursuit of happiness, our “accidental tourists”, mischievously tagged democrats, are propelled more by lust for power than by quest for service. They depend more on dints of luck than instincts of gut. Sad: ‘Fellow Countrymen’ champions, ‘twelve-two-third’ loyalists, and “opportunistic contractors” are leading dear nation and the led are merely siddon-looking as if their fingers are sorely clipped.Momodu should realize that the morale of all Nigerians, not only that of “our security agencies appear to be low and depressing.” After all, injustice to one sector is injustice to all sectors. Before our very eyes, the “privileged ones” continue to insult our collective intelligence with selfish definitions of service when, indeed, ‘we, the people’ are already familiar with the contents of the Common Good. Politically, Nigeria is challenged! Economically, she is hemorrhaging! Socially, she has derailed! Ethnically, she is deranged! This is why even as political gangsterism, religious extremism and other avoidable conflagrations continue to threaten the bedrock of our existence as a nation, answers to posers which ordinarily needn’t consume our energy remain as products of “sheer ubiquity of our chaos, failure and decay.”Basically, since the leadership has failed to lead by example, the followership has had no example to follow. In this entire self-inflicted dilemma, we continue to delude ourselves with stateliness when, indeed, we are quivering in the litigious propensity of historical convulsion. That is why even, “if every serious Nigerian” becomes “worried about the direction we are heading”, Jonathan may not have to! Perhaps, that is why our leaders have rarely weighed the import of greening the streets without a corresponding greening of the stomach, forgetting, essentially that ungreened stomachs may one day de-green the streets. After all, Nigeria is not Chile where an Eduardo Gordon would quit an exalted position over a ‘mere issue’ of a teenager’s death.On Momodu’s expression of fears a la “symptoms of the end-times and that of a failed state”, matter-of-factly speaking, ours is a world of hate where the fury of power and the lust of pelf have defied the logic of reason. As we speak, available indices rates Nigeria as world’s 134th most corrupt country, some thirteen steps above its status in 2008. Now, dear country is world’s 14th most failed state, in addition to its 2nd position in newborn deaths! On the Happy Planet Index, she is placed 115th; and, on the Global Competitive Index, she is ranked 127th. Enviably, however, she has moved up to the 59th position, from its 161st in 2006 on the Ease of Doing Business Index. In all of this, even as Nigerians continue to “live in perpetual fear and hopelessness”, the situational reality of our nationhood is that we are a peculiar people. Little wonder then that ours is a peculiar situation. In our politically-janjaweeded enclave, there is no marked difference between a peck and a log. Rather, it is more about self-service, not altruism; it is about backstabbing and brickbats, not solidarity and satisfaction. Here, might is not only brutally right, it is also terribly brutal. In a peculiar fashion, we self-praise, shift responsibilities and rationalize excuses for our incompetence and failures. We talk glowingly about efficiency and delivery without taking into cognizance the spirit and the suitability of the equipment with which to deliver on our promises. While the bosses are extremely too bossy, the bossed are simply too timid. The resultant effect is a highly-unproductive gamble that leaves all disillusioned. The fateful truth is that Nigeria’s cult of critics is the worst culprit. Hence why “there is hardly any consideration for the Common Good of the people”; why, even when “impossible promises were made” all the “victims of this mass hypnotism” could do was to wildly jubilate in unrivalled ecstasy as if promises and actions were of equal potency.
Momodu’s plea with Nigeria’s “privileged ones” to “begin to downgrade their own lifestyle” and show “support for the poor of our society” is a welcome development. One can only pray that Nigeria’s men of means would heed the sermon according to one of their own. In any case, have our “privileged ones” forgotten that though “poverty is no disgrace to a man, it remains “confoundedly inconvenient”; that Jesus Christ empowered His disciples even as He sent them out into the world to become fishers of men; that Elijah empowered Elisha, which appropriately prepared him (Elisha) for the battle ahead; that the battle at the Valley of Elah did not end with David and Goliath; and that that Great Prayer did not end with the mere extension of King Hezekiah’s life? Here in Nigeria, Action Group’s Obafemi Awolowo reportedly empowered the United Middle Belt Congress, UMBC’s J.S Tarka. History even has it that the late sage at a time demonstrated to the late Lamidi Adedibu the meaning and the essence of empowerment.Normal Vincent Peale has said it all: “Every problem contains the seed of its own solution. If there are no problems, there will be no solutions and progress will stop … Good outcomes are rooted in the fertile soil of tough problems.” May God save us from ourselves!