The year 2016 is the year of the unexpected, the year when the expected might have been the most unexpected thing of all as Nigeria continues to oscillates precariously between bad and worst governance. It’s an expression of a failed government that remains dominant in our political experiment. It’s also a reflection of the manufactured maladies that Nigerian rulers are known for.
It’s been a year that proved anything – and nothing – Nigeria belongs to all and belongs to none – but belongs to some. The slogan “smiling and suffering” coined by the multitude of poor and forgotten Nigerians, assumes a bitter and biting meaning resulting from life of hopelessness and helplessness, of poverty and pauperism, of barbarism and cruelty, and of hate and hunt.
It is amazing how the brain capacity of Nigerians is able to withstand the extent of sorrow and suffering that cripple their lives to a screeching halt. Nigerians have all lost sense of meaning, sense of living, self-realization, and sense of purpose. Even the Pentecostal faithfuls of brand names such as the Redeemed sect, the Winners Chapel breed, the Mountain of Fire fire eaters, and other disciples of other generic denominations felt they’ve been left out by God. It’s that bad!
In Nigeria, you’re not sheltered from the brutal man made disasters and elemental forces. They all come for you. We’re no more a nation that roots for men and women whose morals, integrity, probity, excellence and achievement are not up for sale or for debate. Men and women whose dedication, fortitude, broke leadership handicaps, leveled false gods, and showed us what greatness, sacrifice, and leadership means and look like.
A Person of the Year is the person that had the greatest impact on Nigeria and on the lives of Nigerians this year for good or ill. Choosing the Person of the Year will always be controversial. A week or so ago, I called for nominations on the social media, Facebook to be specific. I wanted to feel the pulse of Nigerians who they believe merits the award. I wanted to know if I’m on the save wave length with my fellow Nigerians. Well, the verdict is in and my choice was overwhelmingly confirmed by the choice of majority of respondents.
Certainly, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened to Nigeria and our people in 2016. The poor only got poorer. The legislators go home every month with more money in form of salaries, allowances, and looting than they would ever need. The infrastructures forever remain decrepit and dangerous. The army of the unemployed swells, bursting in the seams. The healthcare system long consigned into the intensive care unit has been certified dead.
Freedom of movement of persons, goods, and services continue to be hazardous, risky, and restricted. Thanks to bad roads, kidnappers, abductors, and armed robbers. The political climate remains porous and poisonous. Justice is delayed, denied, expensive, corrupted, compromised, inaccessible, and out of reach of the poor. Our retirees and other senior citizens are still being treated as inmates from a leper colony. Our youths are left behind, excluded, forgotten, marginalized, and stuck in a bleak and hopeless future. Corruption has not only fought back. Corruption is now in control and in charge of it’s own investigation, prosecution, and trial.
We’ve been told not to expect regular and uninterrupted electricity for the next five years. At last, electricity has now been moved to the obituary column with other basic amenities of daily living. Some of the utterances, behaviors, and opulent display of our stolen wealth by our legislators and governors make you weep for the future of our nation and humanity. Sure, it will be a mistake to romanticize all these any more than is strictly necessary.
The year 2016 provides a marvelous case study of leadership amidst difficult situation. It is the year that the leadership failed to cast or catch any vision for leadership. In 2016, Nigeria needs a leader with patience and perceptivity to look into any troubled situation, discern the problem, and then do whatever it takes to remedy the situation. In 2016, in order for us to grow, develop, and be a prosperous and healthy nation, Nigeria needs a troubleshooter not problem manufacturer. Nigeria needs a leader that recognizes suffering and opposition come with the territory. A leader that will hold up and not fold up. A leader who will face and work through trials and difficulties. A leader who knows what kind of “workout” he needs to turn Nigeria around. And trials and the seemingly insurmountable problems facing Nigeria may well be part of the “workout.” We need a leader with connected brains.
Visions make leaders passionate, thorns keeps them authentic. What’s the vision? What’s the passion? And where is the thorn? The year calls for a leader who will not administer justice selectively. A leader who will not protect his own by all means necessary. A leader who sees a dramatic contrast between the vessel and the contents – whether the container exists for the sake of the treasure. A leader that would bear the weight of over size expectations of Nigerians in solving our ancient problems. A leader that will wage the war on corruption swiftly that will yield results with casualties permanently locked up in federal penitentiary in Kuje or Kirikiri. A leader that will demonstrate the ability and foresight to move this reluctant nation forward. The list fills pages.
For squandered opportunity by the leadership to rewrite history of Nigeria and make lasting revolutionary changes, failure to restructure Nigeria and make it a true federalism, missed opportunity to jumpstart the economy, failure to reform the judiciary and the criminal justice system, missed chance to slash bogus salaries and allowances and criminal perks of the legislators, failure to reform education, agriculture, health, power, aviation, and failure to revive the dead industrial sector, and scrap the ragtag NPF and replace it with state and local government police. So many failures. I can go on and on, and on.
For the leadership not been able to see far into the future, let alone embrace the prophecy of clear vision, lack of survival skills and inadequate preparation for the journey ahead, for too slow, too aloof, too detached, too distant, too unresponsive to complaints, concerns, and expectations of our people. For failure to break the jinx of collection of bandits that had ruled Nigeria since independence, failure to break the protocol and erect a sharp departure to the past and reject business as usual as the standard of governance. For successfully submerged Nigeria and Nigerians into a distressed and disturbed nation under the direction of a confused, clueless, constrained and castrated leadership and much more, President Muhammadu Buhari is my Person of the Year.