Apologies to Ola Rotimi, the pun in the title is well intended. I dare say that I understand the temptation to point accusing fingers at those in positions of leadership; it is much more convenient to slap the blame emblem on them and display them at the market square. Yet, when we develop selective amnesia of our complicity in the ugly state of affairs, we easily forget that leaders come from the general society. From among us. Leaders are shaped by society and are usually a thorough reflection of what majority of the population represent.
The pot and cover relationship between the leaders and the led is what Comte de Maistre described when he asserted that “In a democracy, the people get the leaders they deserve.” Although, this assertion is not absolute in the Nigerian scene where democracy and the election integrity still carry a huge question mark, it will have to do, for this article.
A frank diagnosis of the state of the nation would indicate that Nigeria is suffering from a failure of leadership and followership. However, that is as far as a morally permissible justification for bad leadership can go. A more appropriate spot diagnosis would reveal that Nigeria is suffering from acute leadership failure.
It is symbolic that Nigeria is shaking convulsively in the month of October, a month her people ought to celebrate freedom, development and human dignity.
Three score years after independence, Nigeria is still underdeveloped and her people are submerged in bitterness, unemployment, poverty, disease and insecurity.
Think with me, there is a popular saying that “one cannot plant stones and expect to harvest yam.”
For those who are well tuned into the frequency of things and feel the pulse of the nation, the civil unrest rocking the country is not surprising. It is a situation that has long been expected, unfortunately.
The heat of dissatisfaction has simmered below surface for as far back as the history books on our nationhood go.
Nigeria has been governed in a manner that suits the needs and satisfies the thinking of leaders rather than the people they lead. It is the people who have had to fall in line, even when such solemn processions lead to a slaughtering house. This is why there has been a recurring plan to regulate social media. To gag the people, as with other inadequacies, force them to submit.
Unfortunately, leaders do not like to listen, so they want to string you up and play Puppeteer.
Programs and policies designed for you are felt needs, no leader consults you. The boy who has kwashiorkor will get vaseline just as the other boys. Should he eat the cream or rub it on his mockingly ‘full’ stomach?
If leaders listened, the call for restructuring and servant leadership would be heard and implemented.
If leaders listened, children would be properly educated, young people would be engaged in productive ventures, economic opportunities would reduce poverty to minimum. There would be no army for Boko Haram or the militia. The shameful baton of poverty capital would be dropped.
There’s some blame for citizens too. When we loot and vandalize what little infrastructure we have in demand for better governance, it puts us in a difficult negotiating position. It is even worse when we vandalize businesses and properties of fellow citizens, who are struggling to earn a living and lead decent lives. There are of course bad eggs in our rattled basket, but I have not come to separate them yet, for now I will treat the wheat and tares equally. For now, this rest squarely on leadership.
After several decades of abuse, our mindset has become warped and crooked, and many can no longer separate right from wrong, the only thing they understand is survival. But we are not savages. While we air our frustrations and yearnings, we cannot afford to be guilty of doing wrong. It is time to stop destroying our commonwealth. We must heal ourselves and reform our mindset.
After this rude awakening, the leaders and people must begin to dialogue, and leaders must listen, and this time with intention to implement. It is time to reconcile and rebuild. We must focus on treating the root causes rather than the symptoms.
This is the antidote to Nigeria’s malady.
God bless Nigeria.
Paul Ashibel is a Communication for Development Specialist, Storyteller, Poet and Copywriter. He writes from Calabar.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Paul Ashibel and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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