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Is there one thing that must be done?

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It is a pleasure always to listen to the solvers of National problems when they propose that all that needs to be done is just one thing. And all the problems of the country would be solved! A subtle reference to six blind men seeking to understand what an elephant looks like would not damp their enthusiastic for the one thing that must be done.

There was a time when the one thing that needed to be done was tribalism. Get rid of tribalism and Nigeria would be on the highway to economic development and social cohesion and material bliss. The old national anthem alluded to it and left it severely alone.

“Though tribe and tongue ma differ
In brotherhood we stand
Nigerians all
And proud to serve. . . “

The civil war, partly a product of “my tribe first” put a stop to such wish-washy sentiments. At another time the one thing that needed to be done was for all Nigerians to have religious tolerance. Once we can tolerate each other’s religious choices we would prosper and happiness will be the lot of the country. There would be no denigrating one another’s faith, no comparing one another’s shape or form of the after-life. After all didn’t Muslim clerics resolve the puzzle more than a thousand years ago? Did they not insist that we humans should postpone the discussion of whose deity is best until the after life? Especially since it is a matter dealing with the after-life?

Then after some time there was the demand for a strong benevolent dictator to whip the country into order! It was shouted loud and clear that Nigeria needed a dictator, albeit, a benevolent dictator. Such a ruler would be fearless, property-less, tribe-less, his faith would be his private business and he would not have a family and no friend, just a ruling benevolent dictator.

One of our most brilliant mathematician, Chike Obi (1921 – 2008) even campaigned to be voted in as our dictator! Of course, Nigerian voters did not oblige. The country is still yearning for a benevolent dictator. Such a one would be in the image of Kemal Ataturk of Turkey (1881 – 1938). He was the one he began Turkey’s journey into modernisation and industrialisation by getting Turks to wear hats with brims! That way they would stop hitting their heads on the ground. And today? Turkey wishes to both be more Islamic and at the same time be more European.

Such a Nigerian dictator would be like Stalin (1878 – 1953) who force-fed Russia industrialisation and collectivisation at the cost of millions of lives? And today? Russia is neither this or that, just good old Russia! Such a dictator would be like De Gaule of France, Chairman Mao of China, or even Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. In fact, rumour has it that that personage did inspire one person to seek a third term to be like him!

But to got on with the one solution drift of our collective mind.There was a time when it was decided that what Nigeria needed to get right is the nature of political parties. Immediately Fela begged to differ insisting that parties were for jollification, he would rather have movements. There was a case made for no party, let’s all be party-less, then we would all vote for the correct whatever. But there was a suggestion of a one party state. We are all one guided by the party under the one dictator.

Which party would it be, pray?
There was a time when two parties were suggested, debated and decreed. There would be two parties, one a little to the left and the other a little to the right. And Wole Soyinka asked what happens if he wanted to be in the centre? That seemed to have put an end to the two party system. Today nkọ? There are so many parties to go to and not a movement any where!

The national craze now is corruption. Corruption this and corruption that. It is every where and no where. It exists and it is denied existence. It is not corruption but stealing and stealing is not corruption. At home, in the Market, in the company and in the place of work private or public it is there and it is not there. It is even claimed to be in government and not in government, in the church and in the mosque and not there. Nothing has been more denied before cockcrow than corruption. Hardly has anybody been accused of corruption before the person denies it. And challenges the accuser to prove it.

In South Africa a powerful investigative journalism did exactly that, proved corruption against a great number of people including the head of state. For months, nobody said anything about the evidence now made public. The police did nothing. The law enforcement system did nothing. Those accused laughed with their heads thrown back and denied every corruption you can think of. Then, one day, there was a change of guards. A new president was elected. The former president was promptly marched to the court to face what? Corruption charges! Finally, the prosecuting system woke up to its responsibility of enduring the rule of law and the possibility of an accused having his or her day in court.

Which is all well and good. What if there is a counter system that ensures there is never a day in court? What if human right lawyers claim that the one accused of corruption is being victimised, his human rights being abused and can democracy come and save him or her?

Any way, whether corruption exists or it is denied, Nigerians want corruption uprooted from Nigeria. Only then will the country prosper and the economy develop and unemployment defeated and happiness would ours forever. Just get rid of corruption. And everything in life will be hunky-dory!

Really? Like the elephant to the blind men Nigeria’s problem has many parts. Some are flat, like the ears of the elephant. Some are as thick as a tree trunk like the leg of the elephant. Others are all over the place like the small tail of the elephant. And others are one inch skin thick and even thicker than the skin of the elephant and as still as its tusks. Until they are broken!
bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


In this article:
Kole Omotoso
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