‘Let’s keep Nigeria together for Mandela’ – Part 2
‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence…’
This concluding part of my anniversary article titled, ‘Six years of excuses, 22 years of locusts’ seeks to appeal to the elders in the land to wake up from their deep slumber because Nigeria that Nelson Mandela identified as the only source of pride and confidence for the black people of the world is really on the brink. We do not need a clairvoyant John Campbell anymore to repeat that to us that the country can disappear sooner than later from the world map unless urgent steps are taken to save her. There are indeed visible pieces of evidence of trouble from the way things are happening fast across the country. And sadly, the Western powers would be the first to hail any harm to Nigeria as ‘democracy in action’. The same West will tell us triumphantly that we told you so. But our greedy, callous and mentally lazy leaders in Abuja and 36 state capitals should note that the 2023 they are plotting to manipulate again may not come to them inside ‘One Nigeria’ if they do not face the urgent task of nation building.
Because our careless leaders and the avaricious power elite have primitively accumulated enough wealth without work, they keep quiet and feast as the nation is fast bleeding to death. Now things are falling apart from Owerri through Makurdi to Maiduguri. And the dealers, sorry leaders who have been eating sour grapes since 1966 do not care a hoot that their children’s teeth are painfully set on edge. They came gingerly in 1966 with their deceptive correcting fluids. We were amused at their guile and we allowed them to stay. They ruined our democracy and federalism. We were naïve. We hailed them – until 1999 again when they also sold to us another dummy called a “leader we can trust”. We trusted him from 1999 to 2007.
And then he too saw our naivety and cognitive decline: he imposed an invalid he knew on us as a leader. What was worse, the man who wears nationalism as an emblem of strength and character got another white elephant to be the deputy to the very sick one. And the unprepared deputy had to be the leader later, no thanks to obnoxious ‘doctrine of necessity’ in a curious presidential system (2007-2010). And 2011 to 2015 became the years locusts began to eat up our land. But it came to pass that while we dozed off again, the man who sacked democracy in the wee hours of 1983 brandished his powerful weapon of mass deception called integrity. That landed the lanky soldier in the seat of power where his body language alone was to be the magic wand – to improve the economy and provide critical infrastructure including uninterrupted electricity. And Corruption was to be ruthlessly dealt with. But here we are today on May 29, 2021 still agonising about those things promised. Now we know that after all, integrity can be massively overrated!
Verily, we can say it loud and clear today that democracy has been remarkably demonised in Nigeria. After the so-called uninterrupted 22 years of practising democracy, where are its concrete dividends beyond freedom of speech we are fast losing to the ‘militricians’ Nigeria’s leader has authorised to monitor public service journalism to detect hate speeches and possible terrorism within the construct of agitation for democratic freedom? Never in the history of democracy has a state been so run down and looted by those elected and hired to run it like Nigeria.
So, if we the people consider all these burdens that 22 years of disruptive democracy has wickedly unleashed on us, we would not hesitate in joining the bandwagon of agitation for Nigeria’s disintegration. We are talking of Nigeria that has failed and keeps failing as a state.
Let’s Not Break Up Nigeria Because Of Buhari
BUT let’s organise to isolate all these dealers who masquerade as leaders, especially since 1966. We the younger ones who have tolerated them thus far should not allow the destruction they have callously unleashed on this beautiful country to provoke us into break-up warfare. Yes, they don’t care if Nigeria comes to harm. We elected them to improve the economy.
Our leaders, sorry our dealers looted the treasury and then cried foul and set up anti-graft agencies to search and try mainly petty thieves. They have ignored what a foreign policy expert and journalist, Sarah Chayes, calls “thieves of states”. We elected them to improve education standard but they destroyed the schools and set up their own schools and universities with their loot that anti-corruption agencies can’t detect. We elected them to provide good roads. They have looted road infrastructure funds to buy private jets to fly over our bad roads. Nigeria’s wicked power elite know that Nigeria can work, but not under them. The world powers too know that Nigeria can be great and become a big player on the world stage. The seven big men in suits (G-7 powers) know enough to know that Nigeria has inestimable brainpower that can be harnessed to be one of the greatest powers on earth. They all know from White House through Kremlin to Whitehall that Nigeria is Africa’s Power House. They have not forgotten that it was Nigeria that (spoke for Africa) in January, 1976 looked them in the face and told them point blank, ‘Africa has come of age…’ Yes, they know more than Mandela that Nigeria is the face of Africa and indeed the black race. That is why they can sell even deadly weapons to insurgents that can fast track Nigeria’s failure.
It will be recalled that in 2005, the National Intelligence Council, (NIC) an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence in Washington D.C, published a report that raised the spectre of “the outright collapse of Nigeria.” The scary news had echoed an earlier council report on global trends through 2015 that was pessimistic about the future of the world’s most populous black nation. This is not our story. Africa’s authentic leader, Madiba, is (permit the historical present) the one who knows the story of why we should keep Nigeria united to fulfill destiny – as a strong, united nation and leader of Africa and indeed the black race.
Reliable data shows that Madiba’s romance with Nigeria began strategically in 1962 when he made a stop in Lagos during an African tour to drum up support for the anti-apartheid cause. Since he was visiting so secretly, he came with an Ethiopian passport, bearing a pseudonym, “David Motsamayi.”
And in 1963, to evade arrest by the apartheid regime and their British backers, Mandela again came to Nigeria, where Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, a former Nigerian aviation minister on the order of the then President Nnamdi Azikiwe hid him, according to reports. The activist was said to have returned to South Africa after six months in Nigeria. As soon as he got home, he was arrested and jailed.
After he was released from his 27-year long incarceration, Mandela travelled to some African countries to express gratitude to all those who had supported the African National Congress (ANC) and their struggle. Mandela recalled Nigeria’s significant role and visited Nigeria in 1993 and among other things, asked to see Amaechi and Azikiwe to say, ‘thank you, big brothers’.
Mandela who had dared Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha over the annulled June 12 election, incarceration of Chief M.K.O Abiola and execution of the nine Ogoni leaders, including Ken Saro-Wiwa once pressed for and secured suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth over the tyranny and excesses of Nigerian dictators.
But the clincher in this article came in 2007, when a Nigerian top bureaucrat Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who served as Permanent Secretary in different ministries, visited Mandela privately in South Africa. Mandela reportedly used the occasion to speak about his disappointments with, and aspirations for Nigeria. Ahmed reminded the icon that Nigerians generally held South Africa in high esteem but many citizens had wondered why successive South African government and people despised them, especially given Nigeria’s frontline role in fighting apartheid. Mandela responded curtly: “Yes, Nigeria stood by us more than any nation, but you let yourselves down and Africa and the black race very badly.” He added:
‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence….’ Mandela continued:
‘Your leaders have no respect for their people. They believe that their personal interests are the interests of the people. They take the people’s resources and turn it into personal wealth. There is a level of poverty in Nigeria that should be unacceptable. I cannot understand why Nigerians are not angrier than they are. What do young Nigerians think about your leaders and their country and Africa? Do you teach them history? Do you have lessons on how your past leaders stood by us and gave us large amounts of money? You know I hear from Angolans and Mozambicans and Zimbabweans how your people opened their hearts and their homes to them. I was in prison then, but we know how your leaders punished western companies who supported apartheid. Nigeria’s elections are like wars. Now we hear that you cannot be president in Nigeria unless you are Muslim or Christian. Some people tell me your country may break up. Please don’t let it happen….’
After his impassioned criticism of Nigeria, Mandela proceeded to suggest the way forward:
‘…Let me tell you what I think you need to do. You should encourage leaders to emerge who will not confuse public office with sources of making personal wealth. Corrupt people do not make good leaders. Then you have to spend a lot of your resources for education. Educate children of the poor, so that they can get out of poverty. Poverty does not breed confidence. Only confident people can bring changes. Teach young Nigerians the value of hard work and sacrifice, and discourage them from crimes, which are destroying your image as a good people….’
Dr. Baba Ahmed, former Secretary to INEC reported that Mandela’s remarks on Nigeria, though very critical, were “the product of genuine concern that one of Africa’s greatest assets was being frittered away.” He concluded in his historic report, “As he shook my hand to say goodbye, he (Mandela) assured me that he would love to see Nigeria grow and develop into a world economic power under a democratic system.”
Again, I have no doubt that the best way for us to honour Mandela is to stop agonising and then organise to ignore what even President Buhari and his rudderless party and disorderly government are doing at the moment. We should work hard to defeat them at the polls in 2023 so that Nigeria’s broken walls can be rebuilt to prepare her to assume office as the authentic King of Africa and the Black Race.
We do not need to break up before we can restructure to develop. Yes, we can emerge as a world power only if we can sacrifice to defeat current political class that continues to rule and ruin our efforts to get the world to respect Africa through Nigeria, yes Nigeria that can earn that respect.
***This slightly edited article first appeared here on September 17, 2017.
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