Thinking outside the Rock
THERE must be something about the rock.
When you remember that Moses in the Bible got it wrong when he was asked to speak to the rock and he mistakenly struck the rock bringing an abrupt end to his glorious ministry, you would agree with me that there must be something about the rock which defies reasoning and logic.
Our own Aso Rock in Nigeria appears not to be an exception to this puzzle.
Tracing the nation’s journey to Aso Rock is interesting and intriguing. Recall that it was the self-styled military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda that took the seat of power in Nigeria to Aso Rock shortly after the Okah Coup.
Before then, Nigeria’s seat of power for the many years under military dictatorship was somewhere in Lagos called Dodan Barracks.
However, before then, Abuja had been earmarked as the new Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the country. This was courtesy of a panel headed by the late jurist, Akinola Aguda. Whatever was the logic for the decision, Nigeria’s fortune has since then been tied to Abuja and an enclave in it known as Aso Rock.
Going down memory lane, it would appear that everyone who has been a tenant in Aso Rock has been beguiled by a sort of spirit (principality and power, if you like) who rules over Aso Rock.
I hate being superstitious; but for all we know, it appears it was only General Abdusalami Abubakar that went to Aso Rock and came out with his head.
It may also be argued that the reason was because he did not unpack his things when he entered Aso Rock and, as a result, had little time to imbibe the spirit of the rock.
Other than that rather exceptional leader, everyone who has been a resident of the rock has behaved as if they were completely out of touch with reality, thereby taking decisions that have no bearing with what happens in real life.
That is the reason we are making a point in this write-up for our incoming leaders to please not allow the spirit of Aso Rock to get into them. It is idle to discuss each leader who has been in Aso Rock and ended up with inglorious status in this work.
But you would agree with me that it is not turning out to be the best of residence for our leaders. It is a place of deception. If you live in the rock, feed with about N1 billion a year, it is very difficult to remember that you were once shoeless.
Living and thinking inside the rock will often engender jaundiced view leading to weird insinuation that there is constant power supply in the other parts of the country when the contrary is actually the case.
The rock-view of someone who lives in the rock may blur the difference between stealing and corruption and I think we should understand the predicament of the protagonists of that theory.
The women who live and think inside the rock are not likely to know how to behave with modesty and carry themselves with decorum. Those who are the mouthpiece of the rock-dwellers cannot speak with dignity because they are far from decency. Imagine great Nigerian heroes of the public domain ending up in Aso Rock to become the enemies of the masses writing statements and opinions that challenge all they have been known for.
That is the reason that when they come out of the rock, they are able to write their memoirs trying to explain what is inexplicable. That is the danger of living and thinking inside the rock.
The delusion of our seat of power often beclouds the sense of reasoning of our leaders. Aso Rock is where the sycophants, the greedy, the mischievous and the predators find a rallying point. It is the place where a saint can become Satan himself. It is the place where the angels of light can turn into angels of darkness in a jiffy.
That is the reason we have to appeal to our incoming leaders to beware of Aso Rock. I wish General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) would stay back in Daura and Prof. (Pastor) Yemi Osinbajo will operate from a more serene place in Ikenne where people can have access to him and he can be touched by what pains them.
If you have the misfortune of meeting those who have been there and you engage them in discussions, often, such discussions would end up in: ‘well, you don’t understand.’
No. We cannot understand why one person would want to control about ten private jets when majority of the citizens are struggling to put food on the table and many go hungry in the night. I cannot understand how a leader can sleep comfortably and even go dancing at a rally when over 200 girls have just been abducted.
It is embarrassing for a nation that its economy is in tatters to have leaders going about distributing dollars to buy worthless endorsements in order to retain positions. Such things can be sensible only to those who live inside the rock.
The message we are passing across is that the change must get into that rock as it is inevitable that our change agents will have to move in soon and live there.
To move the nation forward and have a real change, the thinking in Aso Rock must be completely outside the rock (just like we have to think outside the box).
Those who would operate from the rock need to have more interactions with the public and know that the yardstick to measure economic success is not the number of private jets parked at our airports when the nation has no national carrier.
Those who live inside the rock should stop going about attending the graduation ceremonies of private universities when the federal universities are under lock and key due to bad educational policy and performance.
The rock dwellers should endeavour to take some time out from the deceptive life of private jets, banquet halls and exotic lifestyles that are completely out of touch with the realities in the country and constantly feel the pulse of the people.
Little wonder they have the morbid fear of quitting the rock when their term is over.
Our current tenant believes that he was caged. I have no hesitation to agree with that viewpoint.
• Tolani is Chief Executive of Lagos-based Charity Aid and Development Foundation for Africa (CADFA).