Here I sit on my desk deeply disturbed by the deteriorating and devastating situation in my beloved country-Nigeria centring on lies, greed and dishonesty.
Just this morning, I read of the use of thugs by an alleged pension fund thief in our court to molest and intimidate journalists who were taking pictures for the prints. I must say here that since we ever hardly convict individuals who LOOT public funds and kill innocent citizens and offer presidential pardon to those who have been convicted elsewhere, the media alias the journalists are the only unbiased tool that can be used to instil the smallest feeling of shame for their actions. But even this I see is no longer enough to abate their unending thirst for swallowing huge chunks of the Nigerian oil money.
I will not be tempted to use big words, write eloquently or analyze the continuous declining state of the country but to say what is on my mind. After all the freedom of speech is my constitutional right or so I was made to believe but with the recent “arrest” of some journalists from the LEADERSHIP newspaper maybe I too will be invited for questioning at the police force for writing this. I hope not. With the zero conviction rate for public officers LOOTING public funds, consideration for the establishment of the “Boko Haram Commission” and failure of key government officers from Ministers, Governors, Senators, and Local Government Chairmen to do what they are paid heavily for, there is no break of dawn for us anytime soon.
More frustrating is to have a man who has the mediocrity mentally like most Nigerians head the state of affairs. Yes, I mean the President. I do not agree that he is clueless or frustrated by the “almighty cabal” but I see a man who will not go the extra mile; as we would say in pidgin “Him no go kill himself na”. I see a man who is far more interested to be called Mr. President-GCFR and accorded the benefits accruable to the position but not a man willing to lay his life for his people. I see a man ready to possibly run for a second term, a man that “freestyles” his way through his term. I see a man who walks in like Jesus did in the temple but instead of throwing out the “buyers and sellers” in the temple, he sets up his own corner. After all who wants to risk crucifixion? Definitely not Mr. President; certainly not me and most assuredly no Nigerian is ready to have his/her blood used to restore law and order, equity and fairness, accountability and true leadership. There is no one.
Here is a question; can our President recite the national pledge and anthem? Does he even still remember the words and the meaning? Perhaps if he does and recites it every day, it might sink in that he is here to right the wrongs, give justice to the people and make their lives better and not just draft a superb transformation agenda that only looks good on paper and takes forever to implement. While I agree that the piled up decay cannot be cleared over night, I must say that further dumping of dirt should be prohibited by severely punishing offenders while clean-up process is on-going. Even this he fails at.
Let me say this, There is no “Messiah” coming to save us as widely believed and postulated by many Nigerians. Clamoring for a man of honor, integrity, vision and gut is all good and hopeful. Maybe if we call long enough, the universe will bless us with one. But doubt this with my whole being. Why do I say this? Because there is no prophesy to support the fact that the Nigerian Messiah is nigh; we are left to our own devices. We are responsible for our change.
Does this mean that Nigeria will never recover from this terminal disease? Does it mean that the end has come? No, it doesn’t. It only means that if today Mr. President wakes up and decide that he is ready to change the affairs of the country or die trying, he would have taken the first step in history that will heal the land. There is no perfect leader; only great leaders who against all odds put the people first. It would seem that this article is targeted at the president and it sure is; who else is the first person to blame for failure in a country? Of course it is the number one man. He agreed to the terms and conditions of the office.
I’m reader of Femke Van Zeijl’s blog and had read her article on “Widespread Celebration of Mediocrity” before it made it to the Guardian’s front page on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013. Her views were enlightening and true. The “reply” by the Guardian’s editor Martins Oloja titled “In the beginning was ‘celebration of mediocrity” got my motor running. He is right on providing us with the Genesis, but I think we should know that change must start from the elect and not the grassroots as often proposed. Here is my opinion.
While most discussions and Martin’s article certify that corruption or mediocrity in Nigeria started from the military government and transferred to the new, unprepared, inexperience and shanghaied democrats aka “circumstantial beneficiaries” who are in the seat of power and hold everyone ransom; it highly irritates me when we turn around and demand change from the grassroots. This is Preposterous! Nonsense!! Unfair!!!
It is common sense for the man who eats from the plate to clean it; a man who uses the toilet should flush it. Who does a child look up to but his elders? The reason why corruption trickled down to the grassroot is because they learned by watching the government short-change them on everything. But alas our culture of reverencing elders has made it into our political arena also. The fearful, inexperience and failing power holders demand “admiration” be given to them whether they perform or not. Talk about washing the filthy plates and flushing totally messed up latrines by our so-called elders alias leaders. I will not subscribe to the talks on demanding change from the grassroots! No! I say that the ones who have soiled the Nation should clean it up. Is this attitude the way forward? My disposition at the present does not allow me to think critically; perhaps another article to answer that.
Why do I say this? It is because I am sick and tired of good intentioned speakers brainwash the populace with the phrase “change is not demanded but inspired”. In other words, if you want things to change, you have to change and look inwards. While this is the true, I submit that the target audience is wrong. It will surprise some immoral persons that there are some Nigerians that I know that would rather starve than short-change their “Oga’s at the top”, they would return extra change to a seller of a product than to declare it their lucky day and would return large sums and items to the owners than to say that the Gods have rained down manna. How have these people’s change affected the LOOTING going on? How has it translated positively to economic transformation? How has it changed the senseless killings that have being tagged “Economic, Political and Religious Boko Haram?” For God’s sake, Boko Haram is Boko Haram. People are dying!!! Nigeria is dying. Too much analysis is humorously said to lead to paralysis. Giving names and creating awareness is just an exercise in futility. It keeps us preoccupied-going round the mountain without making any head way. The youth are coming up with innovations that will expose the rot in the system, improve their lives and impacting their world positively yet the rot seems to bring more worms each time we wake up to new headlines. This is no longer a case for grassroots change but the need for change in leadership mentality at the seats of power.
Here is another way to look at it; leaders who manipulated their election or won their election on merits are there to first and foremost serve the country. A good leader is the servant of the people and as such they are at the bottom of the chain and have within their power the ability to cause positive change in the country. If indeed the corruption and rot in the system started from the government, it should be cleaned from there. A cancerous cell has to be cured to stop the rapid cell division that causes the terminal disease.
Till the elect do something right by changing the way they handle the affairs of the nation, the entire system will keep decaying and the next president might as well as not make Nigeria a better place. As appropriately said by Elie Wiesel, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. This is not the end.
Ranting from a dissatisfied mind. This is only the beginning.
The Grassroot is not Responsible for Change is written by Unen Ameji. She is @UnenAmeji on twitter.