👤By Dele Momodu
A man with sunken eyes must start his crying long before he gets to the home of the bereaved. The reason is simple: His tear glands are far from the surface. This makes it mandatory for him to overwork his eyelids, or he can’t weep when others are. Such is the situation of Nigeria.
Nothing could be more abnormal than the state our leaders have kept us today. Education is one of the worst hit sectors. And it seems deliberate. Poor governance reigns where ignorance thrives. Rather than clean up our educational system, our leaders have chosen to create endless private schools. Worse still, most of their kids don’t even school in Nigeria.Our own Obama must make it compulsory that children of government officials spend some time in Nigerian schools.
Their kids would be allowed to school in any part of the world only where such kids have displayed exceptional brilliance, and have gained admission into prestigious colleges and universities abroad. Ordinarily, no public servant can afford to send his kids to school outside. It is part of our incurable corruption that has made it possible for them to do so with impunity.
Many public servants obviously live above their income, yet they remain arrogantly untouchable. Like the man with the proverbial sunken eyes, our new leader must set a new tone early, and set personal examples. The failure of leadership usually stems from the hypocrisy and double-standards of those at the top.A good leader must believe in his system. Nothing works in a country where the leader has already given up on his own country. Why must a leader offer to serve when he knows within him that he lacks the ability to create a positive change? Nigeria desperately needs an Obama, a man/woman who believes in the Nigerian dream. A Nigerian obviously stands out in any crowd. He walks with his head held high. His swagger is pronounced, like Obama’s, and not for nothing. He’s self-assured, and knows his onions in most cases.
We are among the most talented human beings on earth. We are born leaders. Everywhere in the world, Nigerians are making their marks. We are on top of every profession and career. The Okonjo-Iweala that we could not tolerate here simply moved on to greater heights. The Ezekwesili that worked tirelessly on our educational system, institutionalising due process, moved on to a bigger platform. We prefer to overload government agencies and parastatals with near illiterates. Our new Obama will make use of our best brains. These brains are available in every part of Nigeria. The North of Nigeria, contrary to the impression created by some leaders, parades some of our best intellectuals and public servants. Say what you will, Nasir El Rufai cleaned up the city of Abuja. He brought his intellectual vision to bear on what should ordinarily be one of Africa’s most beautiful cities.
Everyone I know is bemoaning his absence today as the city collapses in stages. It is sad that such an outstanding performer, and a cereloral Northern star is being hounded, while those who stole the country blind, and did nothing to uplift her to glory, are permanently in government. Another Northern star, Nuhu Ribadu, is on the run. Though I openly disagreed with some of his double standards, Nuhu did his best for Nigeria. Why do we drain our best brains? Every new leader tries to cast his predecessor in bad light, and in a hurry to forget the adage that the whip with which we trounced the senior wife is always kept in the ceiling for the new wife.
In due course, the wife-batterer would show his true color. Our new Obama will put an end to the wanton destruction of those who have served Nigeria meritoriously. There will never be a country of saints for saints. Disagreements must be settled in civilized ways. The leaders of the North would have to return to the era when agricultural products fed our nation and build on the great legacy of Sir Ahmadu Bello, The Sardauna of Sokoto, a legacy built on profound service to the people. The new leadership must use government appointments for the common good of their people, and not for personal aggrandizement. There is nothing to suggest today that the North has produced most of Nigeria’s presidents. This is where the much-touted zoning formula has failed, and our own Obama should come from any part of Nigeria.
Let every region field her best material, and not the usual weaklings that sink our nation deeper into the odoriferous human cesspit. The East of Nigeria parades some of the most fertile brains in the world. If the greedy godfathers had left that great region alone, the Igbo of Nigeria would have transformed their landscape into a silicon valley. Nigeria would have witnessed spectacular inventions similar to the wonders we see in China, South Korea and Japan. Unfortunately, those who have hijacked power in the region have behaved like infidels. Money is their God, and they are willing to serve this mammon. Our Obama would have to inspire a major revolt against these institutionalized gangsters who have held down their own people for donkey years. The true elders would have to leave their comfort zones and return home to help in the search for great and inspirational leaders.
Providence could not have given the Igbo of Nigeria all those superlative talents for nothing. The time has come for the Igbo to rise above the political rascality of its carpetbaggers.The South -South of Nigeria is a major source of disgrace to our world. There is no oil-rich nation with the level of deprivation that we see in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. The environmental degradation here is second to none. What should be an Eldorado is a vast wasteland. There is nothing to show that this is where more than 90 percent of our wealth comes from. Some of our leaders in the Niger-Delta have perfidiously worked against their own people for a mere pittance. The Niger-Delta should be our own Mecca, Dubai and Doha rolled into one.
This should be the dream of our incoming Obama. This is not a flight of fancy. It is a realistic dream that can only be made possible by a new crop of ambitious leadership with the determination to transform our nation into a wonder to behold. Our region must be recaptured from the bush men of the modern times who have forced many of our youths into terrorism and acts of brigandage. All the palliatives being offered are incapable of creating the much required malfeasance. The tragedy of the Niger-Delta is the abysmal failure of leadership. This has remained a ticking bomb waiting to explode.
It is impossible to have a feel of the stupendous wealth being currently wasted by our leaders.The Yoruba nation is in serious crisis. The garrison commanders have dealt it a fatal blow from which it is not likely to recover quickly. The region that recorded many firsts is now a poor shadow of its old self. It has recorded no known physical development since the take-over of the prodigal sons. Meanwhile, the old structures built by their fathers are collapsing with amazing rapidity. Lagos is battling hard against many of its daunting problems. Ibadan, once the pride of Africa, has virtually collapsed in a labyrinth of filth and chaos. Ogun State would do well by working at building new and modern townships along the Shagamu-Lagos motorway before being totally swamped by illegal structures and mushroom churches.Our Obama has a herculean task ahead. He has to work with a new set of leaders and a few of the serious older ones still standing.
The infrastructural decay is such that would occupy substantial time and attention of the new leadership. The egocentric political bickering of the moment would have to be sidelined for the people to witness true meaningful progress. Fortunately, this is the home base of the Nigerian media and it should position to wage a major campaign for the re-awakening of a people that did Africa proud with its Cocoa House, Liberty Stadium, Western Nigerian Television, many housing projects, water-works, and so on.
Politics has crippled everything that was once known to be good. The search for our new Obama would help to reveal those who have the love of their people at heart.Many have asked the question, how would this Obama would emerge in a country as complex as Nigeria? But it is not as difficult as it seems. When the people are tired of being misled by incompetent and kleptomaniac leaders, they are usually forced to react against the oppressive system. At that stage, Nigeria has arrived, and nothing can stop the force of this movement. The media would have a major role to play in the actualization of this dream. It is true that we’ve not lived up to the expectations of our people in recent time. The reasons are not far-fetched.
Journalists are poorly-paid, advertising revenues are dwindling, there has been a proliferation of titles, purchasing power is dwindling. No reading culture, high production and distribution costs are prevalent. And many other debilitating societal factors are at play. Salaries are difficult to pay. Yet every member of our society expects the media to perform miracles.Publishers are forced to develop new methods and strategies for generating income. The masquerade is a human being after-all, not a visitor from heaven. Yet, at the most critical moments, we always rise up to defend our country. There would have been no Obama but for the unrelenting work of the American media and the showbiz community. Nigeria’s case won’t be an exception. As soon as our inspirational leaders declare their interests, we shall witness sporadic endorsements from the true leaders of the youths.
The youths have been shortchanged for too long, by leaders who started early but have refused to quit as octogenarians. We shall make effective use of our movie stars, super comedians, musical raves, sports ambassadors, style icons, and others who are capable of rousing our populace from their somnambulist state.The youths would be encouraged to troop out in their millions for voters’ registration. Our potential Obama must give it all it takes. Thereafter, all those who love Nigeria must join forces to reclaim the mandate of the people. The battle will be fierce. But it is winnable. (To be continued)When to Say Thank YouPlease permit me to give little space to those who have been most kind and generous to us. The price of ingratitude is heavy. I must thank the King of Oke-Ila Orangun, in Osun State, Oba Dokun Abolarin, his chiefs and wonderful subjects for the great honor bestowed on me and my wife, as the new Basorun and Yeye Basorun of Oke-Ila Orangun.
For us, it is like being knighted by Her Majesty the Queen. Our thanks also go to the organisers of the National Excellence Awards of Liberia for giving me a most beautiful continental award last Saturday in Monrovia. I was thrilled to have been handed the heavy crystal personally by His Excellency, Joseph M. Boakai, the vice president of the Republic of Liberia. As if that was not enough, the National Traditional Council of Liberia, through the traditional chiefs, elders, and the Queen of the Republic, Ambassador Julie Endee, bestowed on me the title of a paramount chief, and the status of an honorary citizenship of Liberia, at a beautiful ceremony which was attended by former First Lady, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor. I’m to be addressed as Chief Momodu Kiazolu of the Ground Cape Mount Country.
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As if that was not enough, I got a mail from the publishers of the African Times in Los Angeles, inviting me to receive an award in Beverly Hills, on May 22, six days after my next birthday. I’m overjoyed by these various recognitions, which can only encourage me to work harder in the service of Africa, and that of Nigeria.