By Bayo Oluwasanmi
I tried to shake off a rush of anxiety. The progress so far jarred my confidence. My stomach was knotted with fear.
The memories of Nigeria’s immediate political history of a leaderless country cut like a knife at my soul.
As I contemplate Nigeria’s future, fatigue swept over me. Over the years, the confidence I had for Nigeria is quickly fading back into skepticism.
Economic prophets with gloom forecasts and political seers with doom predictions are working overtime warning us where Nigeria is headed.
The unanimity of their prophecies is summed up in one ominous and frightened sentence: “A failed state.”
The image of a comatose nation in a stupor of its former greatness in the intensive care unit of rogue nations is having a kind of negative psychological contagion among Nigerians.
The profound dilemma of Nigeria has been a permanent leadership vacuum.
I thought of a man who might have had a chance to bring relief to our people.
I thought of a man with position, training, natural ability, and the desire to help.
I thought of those who had the unique opportunity to rescue Nigeria but in foolish act after another, they forfeited all the advantages they might have used.
Ninety-nine percent of those who run the affairs of Nigeria needed complete reconstruction. All the three tiers of government – local, state, and federal – there is leadership deficit. They seek to bring about the right thing in the wrong way.
The abhorrent mediocrity of the elected representatives at all levels of our government disqualifies them from the service of the people.
Nigeria has been turned into a football game in which millions of spectators in need of exercise are watching a handful of players in need of rest.
The unending recycling of ill equipped, witless, and myopic technocrats, bureaucrats, and other political appointees guarantees imitation of the barbaric past of their predecessors.
They have become silent enablers and co-conspirators in defrauding the very people they’re supposed to serve and save. They find so much pleasure in watching the slow agonies of poor Nigerians.
The socially and economically induced misery caused by the corrupt representatives results in deforming and depleting our humanity and love for one another.
The meaning of events taking place in Nigeria defies worn-out vocabulary. It leaves us intellectually debilitated, morally disempowered, and personally depressed.
There is pervasive intellectual impoverishment. There is collapse of meaning in life – the eclipse of hope and absence of love for others.
No one, nowhere is safe in Nigeria today: suicide bombers, armed robbers, abductors, rapists, hired assassins, exhorters, swindlers, defrauders, ghost workers, robber-barons, jet pastors, corrupters, child molesters, looters, and leeches.
What we’re witnessing today in Nigeria are the consequences of a lethal linkage of economic decay, cultural decay, and political lethargy in Nigerian life.
What is to be done?
What shall we do to foster or generate a new spirit and vision to meet the challenges of post-democracy, post-industrial, and post-party politics?
First, we must accept that the critical power, help, and hope lie within us and our commonalities. We must search for a new paradigm to bring into the fore our understanding of multifaceted crises and overcome our despair.
Second, we must shift our attention to the common good that focus on how much we care about the quality of lives together.
The neglect and non-existent in most cases, of our infrastructure – roads, highways, water and sewage system, streets, bridges, hospitals, schools, airways, airports, electricity, safety and security must be terminated forthwith.
The lack of these basic infrastructures reflects (a) our myopic economic and social policies, (b) impediment to productivity, and (c) the low and primitive priority we place on our common life.
Third, the tragic abandonment of our children and the elderly clearly reveals the type of people and nation we are. It also shows our deep disregard and lack of compassion for the weak and the most vulnerable.
Majority of our children are born and raised in poverty. Parents who are overburdened and overpowered by poverty are ill-equipped to provide lives of spiritual and cultural quality to their children.
A way forward is for the government and patriotic Nigerians with private initiatives to assemble a large scale public intervention that will ensure provision and access to basic social goods: housing, food, health care, education, transportation, child care, jobs, and social safety net.
Last, the most important and major challenge is the need to generate and nurture new leadership. There is paucity of courageous leaders.
The mangling, bungling, and manhandling of policies and programs by the crop of present leaders demand that we look beyond the circle and recycle of old, backward, worn-out, burn-out, tired horses, close minded ancient thinkers, and blind as bat elites.
We need leaders who can plunge themselves into the oppressive and unresponsive socio-politico-economic narrative of our country and craft a rewrite that will correct the malaise.
We need leaders who possess the acumen, integrity, intelligence, foresight, and fortitude that will grasp the complex dynamics of our ethnicity, differences, and with creative imagination chart the future of a new Nigeria.
We need leaders, who will strap themselves with ideals of freedom, democracy, fairness, and equality that will shield and shelter the shoeless, homeless, landless, luckless, propertyless, and the marginalized that perch on the fringes of poverty and penury.
We need visionary leadership that can and motivate “the better angels of our nature.”
We need a new leadership grounded in grass root organizing that emphasizes democratic accountability and service. We need leaders who will serve and not to be served.
We need leaders who are givers and not takers.
There appears no alternative route to the above. Either we swim or sink, or the turbulence this time we consume us all!