Letter to Isaac Aluko-Olokun and Gbolabo Ogunsanwo
I was having some introspection on the state of the nation at the weekend when a ‘small still voice’ nudged me on and the implications of the demise of these two great Nigerians, Ambassador Isaac Aluko-Olokun and Pastor Gbolabo Ogunsanwo hit me like a thunderbolt. I remember their impact on my career progression. They were significant to me. I always remember them at such a time like this. I haven’t deleted their names and telephone numbers from my contact list. I have always forgotten that they are no longer on this side of eternity. I always remember how I used to borrow their brilliance. One was a technocrat, a well informed economist while the other one was a journalist, a fantastic editor who once made the Sunday Times of Nigeria to be the best seller in the then Daily Times Group. Yes, an editor who elevated views to be respected and read as news. These two great Nigerians enhanced my career as a journalist because they both adopted me as their mentee despite the age and stature difference.
By listening to the late Aluko-Olokun, an avid reader and buyer of good books, I learned a lot about why Nigeria might continue to disappoint the world. From the former technocrat in the old UAC and close friend to the late Ernest Shonekan, I learnt a great deal about the world of economists and how the global system and indeed the West would continue to bamboozle the gullible developing world leaders with their wealth and economic hit-men such as John Perkins. Nigeria’s former ambassador to Spain with concurrent accreditation to the Vatican would always call me by 7a.m after reading some bizarre stories about the global system, Africa and Nigeria. The former Minister of National Planning would always telephone me from his Abuja residence and conclude with this: “Martins, I have always told you that the black man hasn’t dealt with the dilemma that Areoye Oyebola deconstructed in his book: Ah, Martins, it is really ringing true that the black man cannot handle complexities that can lead to greatness….yes, the black man can’t handle complexities…’
I also remember that giant, a great content producer and supreme intelligence on public affairs, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, a great seeker and keeper of public documents. A columnists’ columnist, Ogunsanwo would always like to read any document of any breaking news items before commenting robustly on them. He would always ask me to look for him even gazetted bills from national and state assemblies. He would always seek ways of accessing even old documents cited in classical writings. He was one deep journalist and cleric who could call to the deep at any time. Not many people would believe that until his death on November 28, 2020, he was always seeking to know what was going on inside the presidency and its cabal. He would always ask who-ever he could disturb. He would always like to be well informed as a commentator, writer and preacher of the word. I remember them at this time that our great country of anything-is-possible is in a state of anomie.
Here is the thing, I had a dream at the weekend and I saw the two giants who had a hand in my growth because I called them father. They jointly demanded a letter from me about the state of the land of their birth. Clearly, I saw in each of their glorious hands a copy of Chinua Achebe’s classic: ‘The trouble with Nigeria’. They hinted me that they had deposited a copy with the King of Glory. I asked them why that copy? They were in a hurry to show me the first sentence in that remarkable book. It was Aluko-olokun who first opened it to me: there it was ruthlessly expressive: The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership…’ They smiled and said nothing again and they disappeared as they asked me to furnish them with the state of affairs in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. And here is an executive summary of what I have sent to them as they intercede for the country whose ‘politricians’ have begun another leadership recruitment –project 2023. I know Uncles Isaac and Gbolabo would not sleep well until they settle with God the Almighty the challenge they have tabled with Him: ‘The Trouble With Nigeria’.
‘THANK you my Big Brothers. I will always appreciate your relationship with me despite the age and class gap. You all loved me till the last call by the One who gave you to us and called you to be with Him when we needed you most here. He knows better and we are always consoled by the fact that glorious life was worth the while. After the last encounter, His spirit directed me to the ever true, ancient word, which consoles us all the time in 1 Thessalonian 4:13-14:
‘…But I do not want you to be ignorant brothers and sisters about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him….’
We always console ourselves with those words and message of hope as espoused by the Great Paul of Tarsus.
I just want to give you some short takes on the great country God Created to be the most populous black nation on earth. First, you need to tell the One who has made heaven His throne and the earth His footstool that the people in authority at all levels in the country have betrayed the people they have sworn to provide security and welfare. Tell our Father in heaven that our leaders have become dealers even in oil and gas industry He created for our growth and development.
Please, tell our just God that most of the executives in various sectors have become unscrupulous execu-thieves. Tell Him that most of the people we (s)elected as legislators have been tagged ‘legis-looters’ because of the wonderful works of their hands in their hallowed chambers.
Elder Gbolabo, you were an orator while you were here. You are now an oracle. Please tell the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, that he should help us to touch the hearts of our leaders, sorry dealers so that they would learn to number their days even in office so that they could apply their hearts to wisdom. Please, big brother Isaac, you need to tell our Great God that his creation, the late Lord Lugard’s wife named Nigeria has become a tragi-comedy, a scene of great jokes where a brand new coach from Lagos-Ibadan axis of a brand new railway could not find diesel to run its course to the extent of resorting to a roadside black market to refuel last week when the locomotive stopped in a wilderness along Ibadan track. Tell God that is a measure of fuel scarcity and even energy crisis in a country He created to be an oil and gas producing country. Please, help us to remind Him that the Electricity Generation, Transmission and Distribution companies can’t cope with managing electricity in the country. Remind the God of all flesh that a non-governmental organisation has already written a researched document on the intricacies of electricity grid sorry, greed in the country they aptly tagged, “From Darkness to Darkness”.
Remind Him that in the beginning He had commanded, “Let there be light” and there was light. But nudge Him, as He knows that, that light has been callously switched off in Nigeria, no thanks to the power of darkness that ‘politricians’ have become. Help us plead with the Father of Light in whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning that He should open a door of Light he did in the beginning.
Pastor Ogunsanwo, you know one of His names as The Merciful’. Plead with Him to show us His mercy, as we know it: His mercies never come to an end. His steadfast love never ceases: they are new every morning.
Great Is His faithfulness.
OUR good man, Aluko-Olokun, have you seen that man, Barnabas the Bible calls ‘a good man’? You know you are a good man too. Recall that you once showed me a story through a business newspaper interview. Yes a farewell interview in which a departing chief executive officer (CEO) of Nestle, Nigeria specifically said that the trouble with Nigeria was not corruption but functional education that could deliver graduates the industrial sector would not have to be training for production. You showed me that great story some years before your departure. It isn’t my pleasure to tell you, Ambassador that the education sector remains a huge challenge to the country you left since January 20, 2011. At the moment, most of the lecturers of public universities, more than 90 out of the more than 177 universities are on strike. Tertiary education is in crisis. And so the future of our development has been arrested. And sadly those in charge of our security and welfare, our duty bearers, I mean our dealers who call themselves leaders don’t care a hoot about university education. They can’t care as they always send their wards to schools abroad. So it is with public healthcare delivery system. As I was chronicling this, our leader, who was introduced to us some seven years ago as ‘the new Sheriff in town, was receiving some big party men and ministers who had gone to consult with him in a London guest house where he has always been receiving medical examination since 2017. It would have been gratifying to note that God has touched his heart in London to get back to Chatham House where he promised in 2015 that medical tourism abroad would not be part of his government policy if he was elected to rule Nigeria.
All told Sirs, in the name of everything that is noble, don’t forget to remind the angels assigned to watch over our potentially great country that they need to remind the God of all flesh that the political class that forged this present darkness are organising again to sustain their fundamental objective – to sustain loot the treasury with all their strength from 2023. So, God needs to help us to sustain the confusion that has enveloped their platform.
Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to do this contextual report about our great country.