this is written after a sober reflection on goings on in Nigeria. In the early sixties when we were undergraduates at the University of Ibadan, Malcolm X an American Muslim Minister and a civil rights activist gave a lecture at the Trenchad Hall. It was a surprise that hall did not collapse considering the sheer quantum of students and staff that filled every available space. Some of us had to hang in there by the window literally by a thread. Even the famous Havana dance did not attract such a crowd. Malcolm X was literally on fire and jolted our spirits greatly.
One of the takeaways from that event is that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Every nation that has made change has activists. Nigeria achieved independence on October 1st 1960. Ghana had her independence on March 6th 1957. Ghana’s independence was facilitated by a visionary leader Osajefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who was not just a nationalist but also a Pan Africanist with a vision for a great Africa – having with Ghana – Guinea and Mali as the nucleus of a perfect union. That was also the birth of the Black Star which is up till today the Ghanaians image.
Ghanaians bestrode the world donned with their Kente – gloth come winter or summer they stood very tall in the committee of nations. There is a yawning gulf before a country can transform to a nation. 63 years after independence, Nigeria is yet to take that giant step. At independence Nigerians knew that a country was born but a nation was not born.
Every true leader must have a clear road route map of how to do this. When Lew Kwan Yew came to power in Singapore, he recruited a group of men who abolished family ties, sectionalism and petty tribalism. They swore to a certain set of principles. Anybody who derailed was immediately sent packing.
Their first action was to go back to school in the best universities in the world. Lew went to Cambridge and Harvard and got additional certificates. He was already a lawyer.
To produce a nation from a country a certain minimum level of education is a sine-quan-non. A minimum level of education is unavoidable and this must be borne by the state.
Out of the many bills I introduced to the parliament, one makes education compulsory and mandatory up to SS3 for all citizens. Any defaulting parents risked immediate imprisonment. It is only after this that we can start talking of nation hood. This may take another twenty-five years. The second bill which is equally important is that elected legislators cannot flip-flop on the floor of the house without going back to their constituencies to renew their mandate. Only the brave can accept this gauntlet and they alone must be allowed dancing places in the public square. Let us just have one example;
An American G.I. Soldier was arrested in Paris for an infraction. He was taken to the police station and was placed behind the desk. After being behind the desk for 45 minutes, he walked to the desk officer and demanded to know what was going on. He shouted at the desk officer; “Washington is watching with interest what you guys are fu**ing up around there. Meanwhile, the American State Department was exploring every avenue and before midnight the G.I. was released. That is what citizens of a nation expect.
Every mass shooting in America has attracted Joe Biden’s physical presence. If he did not visit, the next day he will ensure that a high-powered delegation was sent to provide succor.
In the last eight (8) years, thousands of Nigerian citizens have been abducted, murdered, raped and rendered homeless. That essential soothing balm called empathy almost dried up 8 years ago in Aso Rock.
The goddess of good governance failed to install people who can speak naked but blunt truth to power. The goddess of good governance unfortunately missed Nigeria when distributing empathy. We demand this be rectified.
Another area where Nigerians were denied good governance is in the area of corruption. One does not steal from one’s self. The amounts of money people stole and converted to their personal use is mind boggling. Rasheed Bawa who is the EFCC boss has a daunting job. His early training at the Government Secondary School Owerri must have strengthened his broad shoulders.
The courts trying corruption cases are excruciatingly slow and one sometimes wonders if Jerry Rawlings style in Ghana will not help sanitize this festering rut.
The 10th Assembly should look holistically at the entire election before a potentially great country is destroyed. They must undertake a forensic audit of the entire electoral farce.
There have been occasionally flashes of leadership brilliance but they are far too few to produce noticeable change.
A narrow snap shot must mention the likes of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa whose simplicity is out of this world. Murtala Mohammed but his regime was truncated too early so we cannot have a proper assessment. Tunde Idiagbon who introduced WAI (War Against Indiscipline). This would have been the foundation to build a Nigerian nation and a step to good manners. Again Tunde died in circumstances still unexplained.
This author knows that KARMA is real and does work. Those who think they can go scot-free with all the stupendous wealth hidden in secret places should plant this in their psyche and have a mental rebirth.
If karma by-passes you accidentally now, know that your future generations must pay the price. That is fact. As with Karma everybody writes their epitaph on a daily basis. The choice you make depends on you completely.
Jega wrote his and it is not flattering. After the sham circus of Mahmud Yakubu’s election which Nigerians still have to recover from, Mahmud’s epitaph will be very difficult to write.
Post script “Franklin Roosevelt who suffered from polio but still made such impact on America, I leave you with his words; “Unless democracy is based on the principle of service by everybody who claims the enjoyment of any rights it is not democracy at all”.
Rt. Hon. Dr. Eddie Mbadiwe writes from Abuja.