Nigerian leaders are not alone in steering wheels that ruin her; ordinary Nigerians are also as guilty as their leaders. Like they say, the people get the kind of leader they deserve. “How,” you may ask? Today in Nigeria, only those with the deepest pockets get political power. If a politician does not distribute money, rice and other souvenirs, he may not get elected. Often times the ignorant ones in our midst would even gladly collect the souvenirs and say it is the only time they can receive from government. The story was told about a gubernatorial candidate in one of the states in Nigeria. As part of his campaign strategies, he went to the rural areas lacking potable water (as is the case in most rural areas) with water tankers to give water. When the incumbent governor learnt of what his opponent was doing, he also decided to tow the same line with the promise that when he is re-elected, he would give them boreholes. Something he didn’t remember for nearly four years. When the politician heard that the incumbent has started taking waters to rural communities, he changed tactics by going to the communities with trucks loaded with kerosene to distribute free of charge. Those trucks of kerosene and other things he was giving out must have cost him a fortune. He may probably have taken a bank loan to meet those unsolicited obligations, so when he gets to power he must look for means to pay back. Even the position of a local government chairman, ward counsellor comes at a great cost in Nigeria.
My experience in the organisation I work with has thought me that anyone who always want to play by the book may end up being tagged as wicked and unreasonable by subordinates who are used to doing the wrong things. This is similar to what is happening in the larger society. If a leader try to enforce the law, those that it does not favour bring ethno-religious sentiments into it. Sometime, they say it is witch-hunt on a particular tribe or he does not want them to profess their faith. Those religious bigots forget that in professing your faith, you must put people of other faith into consideration. It is the same thing we say, whenever any administration is trying to make those who had siphoned our common wealth to face justice: “It is a witch-hunt on our party”, the opposition party would say. While, most of their allegations could be true, one only wish that they allow the witch-hunting to succeed for now so when other parties take over power they can witch-hunt bad eggs from other parties too; the process may be long but it may eventually clean up all corrupt people in Nigeria.
I came across a headline in the Nation newspaper online of 22 December 2016, with the caption “Delta in festive mood”. I was surprised to read that the people were celebrating the release of the former governor of the state from a London prison. This was a man found guilty of embezzling the state’s money (about 18 million pound sterling). A man Nigerian court discharged from corruption allegations but was found guilty in a country where he laundered the money to. Yet the people went about putting up banners celebrating his release. According to the paper, some of the banners read: “Welcome back home, our national leader,” “The political messiah and his kinsmen,” and “The resource control living legend.” Like the great novelist, Chinua Achebe said, people like the former governor is a man of the People. Well no matter how bad a person is, he is good to some people. No doubt many of those celebrating him were his political benefactors. I’m still wondering how we would make progress as a nation, if the people continue to celebrate corruption.
Finally, I must say that the West has never forced her way of life on us; we are the ones who chose to embrace them. When the administration of President Barak Obama of the United States attempted to force gay and lesbianism on us under the guise of human rights, our lawmakers rejected the idea out rightly and went further to criminalize it, not minding the incentives to be granted to developing countries who accept it; and nothing happened. Therefore, the West cannot be held responsible for our failure. On the other hand, we should be grateful to the West for always coming to our aid every time we embark on senseless killings on the altar of religion and ethnicity. On several occasions through organisations such as United Nations, USAID and others, the West have donated generously to developing countries as they have done in the Northeast and other crisis ravaged countries in Africa. It behoves on Nigeria to do the needful and start saving self, instead of waiting for the west to help her out of almost every problem she gets self into.
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.