By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, please permit me to thank all those who have responded to this serialised analysis of what we need to do as a nation to move our great country forward. What makes our country beautiful are the majority of the people who have demonstrated how endowed we are globally. It is one of those ironies of life that the giant strides of Nigeria worldwide are not easy to replicate at home because of the many man-made obstacles deliberately erected by those who profit from confusion and backwardness as well as the manacles we’ve been chained down with like dogs.
I’m glad to note that most of the commentators appreciate this modest effort at throwing up a robust debate and proffering solutions to gargantuan problems that have defied all permutations. True we all know what should be done but lack the will and determination to make it happen. We must continue to educate and remind ourselves about those ideas that rescued other places from our type of madness. Many countries had walked this route before and there is so much to learn and emulate from them. We cannot continue to maintain a monopoly of bad manners. Even if we were cursed, we should have exorcised the evil spirit by now.
There is nothing too difficult about fixing our problems, as I have noted repeatedly. The problem lies in the unwillingness of our leaders to compromise and downgrade their personal comfort. We have given a new nomenclature and meaning to the idea of governance and service in Nigeria, and no one, including the former radicals, is willing to risk or alter that new status of a privilegentsia. The situation is now so bad and tragic that Nigerians have written off every critic as a hypocrite waiting to partake in the orgiastic despoliation of Nigeria. Can you really blame the cynics when none of the members of the so-called progressive parties has ever rejected the atrocious funds being distributed like a bazaar in a church harvest?
The National Assembly that should check the excesses of our reckless and lawless executive cannot in good conscience speak up against the profligacy at the highest level because their self-awarded budget and personal emoluments are beyond reason in a country where most of our youths are practically jobless. Where lies the hope for a better tomorrow when civil servants are owed for months but the fat cats at the top, including those in the same civil service, still find the means to live big in the middle of indescribable poverty and frustration? The solution is simple and straight forward. Our leaders must strive to redistribute the wealth that it has pleased God to grant our nation.
I have watched, and listened to, our President. He speaks like someone who really wants to succeed but lacks the courage to fight the cankerworm that made others before him to fail. You cannot use the same fake methods and strategies and hope to record monumental success. It requires vision, determination, total commitment, the courage of a lion, selflessness, sacrifice, all rolled into one. It is not the type of psychedelic and discofied enjoyment that our leaders are addicted to. We must show the world that we are ready to change the way we run things here. Our champagne lifestyle must give way to the simplicity of an African village. There is elegance in simplicity and a poor man cannot continue to live in denial and false grandeur. Until we cure ourselves of this malady Nigeria is going nowhere but ultimately down the slope.
The key to building a modern Nigeria is in our ability to change the heartlessness of those who see power only as an invitation to treat. We can take all the loans we want, both foreign and local, it will never improve the lives of our people, if we do not know what to do with it. We have enough resources to turn things around for the better but it will never be sufficient for the greed of those who want to own the heavens and the earth. The way our governments are amassing loans as if it is going out of vogue suggests we’ve not learnt useful lessons from the past. These loans, I’m certain, will never be judiciously used to transform a nation that’s badly in need of restoration and transformation. It is so sad that a few people can hold their country by the jugular, strangulate it and as it is dying, rape it so mercilessly and repeatedly.
I pray and hope that the Head of our Economic Team will find the voice to tell her colleagues about the stupidity in mortgaging the future of unborn Nigerians by the latest rash of raising all manner of meaningless loans. Why do we announce budgets in trillions if we have no money to fund it? Why do we award contracts in billions to irresponsible people who have no intention of carrying out the work to acceptable standards, if they do it at all? Why can’t we put an end to this obvious drift to perdition? These are questions begging for answers and which must be addressed by a leader who hopes to succeed.
The promise of stable electricity by 2013 remains in the realm of mirage and fantasy because government has not shown the capacity to discipline recalcitrant agents that tend to thwart all efforts as well as the cartel that makes incredible fortunes from our collective misfortune. When our leaders begin to exhibit evidence of seriousness, things will begin to fall into place. For now, let’s continue to delude ourselves like the quintessential loquacious dog who can only bark but cannot bite. The issue of power is so central to our problems and it takes more than wishful thoughts to solve it. Thirteen years on, and trillion Naira investments down the drain, it is a big shame that we are where we are.
Rather than be penitent about this cruelty to mankind our leaders are warming up for another round of electoral malfeasance and disasters. It is obvious they can’t see anything wrong with the way they have mismanaged our lives and betrayed our trust. They have the temerity to insist on continuing the barstardisation of our nation because we seem to exist in the Dark Ages. No ruling party would survive 13 years in any modern world with the level of abysmal failure recorded by our own.
Unfortunately, the opposition parties have not given much cause for joy. If truth must be told, we must show ample proof to our people, especially the youths that we are much better than those we want to upstage and replace. Until we do that, we should not expect the electorate to abandon the devils they know for the angels they can’t see. We have a rare opportunity to cash in on the non-performance of the ruling government at the centre to form a broad coalition of more serious-minded people (I hate the word progressive in its present form) across party lines. It is obvious they won’t be saints in the first instance but we can manage to build something out of nothing through them. All our efforts to build a modern Nigeria will come to naught if we continue to have the snail speed administrators but fleet-footed looters we have at the moment in power. It is obvious they see no reason to be in a hurry when they can do nothing and still exercise their constitutional rights of running two terms whether they perform or not.
As I told Chief Bisi Akande, the National Chairman of ACN, two weeks ago, it is not an impossible mission. His party already controls most of the South West and part of the South South. The PDP States are shrinking. CPC is very popular with the talakawas of the North West in particular. The North Central is floating and waiting for the best suitor. The North East has been badly decimated by terrorism and needs peace that PDP does not seem able to guarantee. The South East is practically split down the middle. Therefore, the next election has become anybody’s game. President Goodluck Jonathan has more powerful enemies within PDP than outside it. I have no doubt that it is not going to be a smooth-sail like before.
The opposition can take PDP on by poaching some of its powerful guns. I predict a winning combination of Aminu Tambuwal, the Honourable Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives and Babatunde Fashola, the Governor of Lagos State, in no particular order. The House of Representatives has the largest spread of middle-class politicians nationwide. This gives the popular Speaker a chance to spread his wings everywhere. He comes from the Caliphate and his affable attitude has helped him to build bridges across the country. He emerged against all principles of zoning to become the Speaker against all odds. The President and his acolytes could do nothing to stop his glorious ascendancy and his date with destiny.
Lagos State is a microcosm of Nigeria. It is the heartbeat of commerce and entertainment. Lagos alone controls more than ten percent of the fortunes of Nigeria. The Governor of Lagos is a mini-President in his own right. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed of Tinubu was able to run Lagos even when the Obasanjo-led Federal Government illegally stopped all subventions to Lagos. By the end of his tenure, Governor Fashola would have activated one of the most modern systems of government in Africa. I’m under no illusion that it must of necessity come with a heavy price.
It is in nature of change to cause a lot of discomfort. You can’t modernise without inconveniencing some people. And the victims are usually the poor. But after rain comes sunshine. We need many more brave men and women of Fashola’s ilk to build a modern Nigeria. Fashola and Tambuwal are only one of the possible configurations. There are several others that may emerge but not those being currently touted as sure banker. We cannot continue to live and cohabit in this animal farm like pigs. Only a new set of enlightened leaders can make this happen. Say what you will, some of these modernists exist in all parties but they must realign to achieve this tough goal.
Something tells me that other aspirants would have to bury their personal interests and ambition if Nigeria must enjoy a semblance of peace and progress. I’m confident to say that I’m not desperate for power but I’m desperate for change. Any leader who claims to love Nigeria must bury his ego for the sake of our children.
God bless Nigeria. God bless its people! Amen.