Too many beautiful ideas, too many dreams, too much passion, but the road to implementations remains rough and uncertain. This is the atmosphere of Nigeria’s revolutionary minds. Here is a country where patriots who had advocated the praxis of good leadership, and had even adopted models whose achievements they aspired or expected incumbent governments to match, ended up as a bunch of our problems when given an opportunity to serve. And we ask ourselves: where did we go wrong?
Last Friday I listened in on interesting rhetoric of Nigerian youth at a discussion circle, and their theatrics actually got me worried and thinking even though it was not the first of such experiences of anger over a dysfunctional government. The consensus of the majority was that mere individual declarations to stand out, easy imitations of America’s Barack Obama’s “Yes, We Can” gimmicks, are enough motivations for rebuilding Nigeria. Sorry, I find that proposal for rescuing Nigeria from this gang of thieving and under-performing leaders who were once like us, ambitious and honest, rather impracticable.
It is as misleading and fraudulent as many motivational books marketed as “New York Times Best Seller”. Obviously we have followed the happenings in the West for too long, we have lost tracks of our realities. Ours is a diseased system deserving a streak of surgeries, and in which an individual contribution is just like a placebo. Calling for surgical operations on Nigeria is asking for adoption of strict measures to deal with whoever tampers with national resources. Unless our legal system can resist bribes and issue a writ of execution for the hanging of, say, corrupt public servants, the temptations to misappropriate public funds may possess us all.
There is another delusion that suggests that Nigeria needs qualified leaders, and by these they mean intellectually sound politicians, to oversee the affairs of government. Proponents of this idea are the intellectual elite still confused by years of theorising the tragedies of Third World countries; their intellectual delusion is as a result of attempts to copy the ways of their hosts, American and European governments whose policies are not models for a people in need of Bread and Fanta to stay alive.
To be very frank, Africa doesn’t need more education – outside the technical, that is! – nor leadership training to build viable nations. There is a PhD-holder almost per-family across Nigeria, especially. We have everything: Harvard-trained, renegade, elitist, visionary and whatnot intellectuals, trained overseas, all strutting to become change agents. But what’s missing is a system wherein to exist, a law to check them, to stop them from becoming corporate rogues, an institution to inspire and breed them.
I always assure myself that everybody is indisciplined in the absence of rigid laws, everybody is potentially corrupt where penalties for misappropriations of public funds or compliances therein are not stiff or impunity is a sure gain. We have the political think-tanks, everything necessary to build a nation of functional institutions but our system is built on the foundation of steal-and-let-steal philosophy. This philosophy has accomplices not because Nigerians are genetically criminal, but because…”Why suffer when nobody appreciates?”
Calling for a political reform based on a delusion that African leaders have insufficient leadership training is an error. Bring Barack Obama to Nigeria, and he will turn into Goodluck Jonathan II in less than a year. I give you my words. Our institutional collapse and indiscipline is that infectious. We underestimated the statistics of our influential human capitals. Perhaps we may return to the records of Petroleum Technology Development Trust Fund (PTDF) to get an estimate of our citizens on its oversea scholarship scheme, and ask the Nigerian “big men” and politicians to send us the CV of their many children to appreciate the vastness of our human resources.
See, I patronise this hangout where some children of the “financial elite” ally to pass the time, and one idle day I awakened to a certain realisation – that I was actually seated among people who ought to have been celebrated on the basis of their academic credentials or should have been engaged in a functional institution here, for among them were graduates of Yale, MIT, Princeton, name it, and the least educated actually has an M.A. I can count many Nigerians from our infamous politicians to those unknown patriots of that hangout who had had training in Leadership at Harvard, and like-minded Ivy League and Red Brick institutions.
But how has theirs affected the fortune and political realities of this structurally diseased nation? My governor, for instance, was trained at Pittsburg. He holds a doctorate in Public Policy and Strategy Studies! But, well, you may need to compare him to his contemporaries to understand the analogy I don’t want to draw in this brief piece. Why couldn’t these leaders abide by the lessons of their trainings? Because they exist in a system where they get away with their frauds, where their private interests are more important than public trust. May God save us from us!