Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Nigeria: We The People And Our Impediments
Habu Dauda Fika
May 8, 2005
We must stop this constant adolescent fight to identify ourselves as the South, the North, the South-south, the Middle belt, the West, and/or any such other regional dividers. We are Nigerians first! The fact that Nigeria has different faiths and we have been touted as the most religious nation on earth cannot be lost on any of us who cares about our spiritual health. It should actually be a measure of our strength. However, religion as our politics is dangerous to our continued unity. There are three very important aspects of our lives that cannot be changed or thrown out. They are normally also in this order, our faith, our family, and our job. These three elements are so cardinal to our lives that we must feel satisfied in all of them for us to function rationally. In today’s Nigeria, we are divided more by religion than by anything else. We need leaders as well as dialogue that can unite our people of different faiths. Our past leaders of the first republic were able to unite us along regional lines. What we need today are leaders who can unite us as Nigerians.
There is no future without the present. Alas, Nigeria of today has lost or forgotten the past, has no present to speak of, and has mortgaged the future without real ownership for the people. The issues that concern our nation are so elementary it begs restating over and over again. There is a constant drumming by the pundits who are always quick to take sides and point fingers at everyone else but themselves. We Nigerians have refused to come to grips with the reality that the problem is with us. We are quick to point out the failures of our leadership without assuming any responsibility for their shortcomings.
Remember when the list of delegates for the National dialogue came out? What was your first reaction when you read the list? Did you see the list of qualified candidates? Did you see a representative list of Nigerians? Did you see a list Muslims vs Christians? Did you see a list of the North vs the South? What did you see? Really? When we honestly begin to answer these questions, then we are on our way to a united Nigeria. I for one was swept up by the irrational argument that the composition of the delegation was unrepresentative of Nigeria, and for a few minutes I was indignant, until the bigger picture emerged. The perceived failure of the composition of the conference is not in the amalgam of its delegation but rather it is in the nexus of its creation. Who selected them? Why did we let him? And what are we going to do about it?
In a nation of over 135 million souls, one person or one individual and only ONE cannot and will not know what is best for us all. There is injustice everywhere and we are just standing by with folded arms. No one is going to come and do our dirty work for us. If you are truly opposed to an idea, action, or law, then you must stand up and be counted in the effort to defeat such an idea, action, or law. Nigerians must defeat this cabal of dictators clothed in the present democratic mirage. There is nothing national in any Idea that is espoused and hoisted on us by one single soul, even if that soul happens to be the un-elected president of Nigeria.
One of the problems that prevent us from reaching a united Nigeria is a leadership that is soaked in corruption. It is heartening to note that the scourge of Bribery and Corruption in the highest chambers in our land is beginning to abate, even if it is through the selective victimization of a few characters that have fallen out of favour with Aso Rock. We will surely take anything we can get if it will help stop corruption in high places. It is also noteworthy that the miniscule avalanche of heads rolling, over the past few weeks, is beginning to shorten many long fingers that have lived with tips stuck in the national till. That said, a little bit of self examination is also in order at this point. Corruption is not just going to go away when most of us know that the wages we collect every month (if paid on time) is not nearly enough to sustain us for one good week, let alone one whole month. How do you convince someone to forego the lure of bribery and corruption when in reality that is the only avenue left for anyone to make ends meet in his or her household? The inflationary index that dominates our economy has rendered any wage increase a worthless effort. The past “Udoji’s” and the likes are painful reminders of the misguided policies that rendered our middle class doomed.
Thus, we cannot just sit back and expect corruption to go away with a few ignoble speeches on national TV. The corrupt system that exists today is symptomatic of deeper economic woes that are easy to identify but hard to tackle, nevertheless, there must be a willingness to bite the bullet and begin to learn behaviors that will bring about change? Our leaders are a good representation of who we are and we must not fool ourselves into thinking that we are better than they are. The solution to the pandemic of corruption begins with us all. What are we prepared to do about it?
One thought is we should learn to obey the rules of good citizenship and play fair at all levels in our society and sincerely begin to make changes in our personal attitudes toward corruption. We all cheer when one of us is caught, but most of us – repeat, most of us, not all! - Will behave the same way in the same position because we all believe that we can either get away with it or that we are justified because others in the past have done it and gotten away with it. It is common knowledge that what our people see as success is a convoluted image of reality. If you are able to steal and share the loot with your family, your neighbors, your hangers on and your couture of friends, then you are viewed as successful. No one who benefits from your ill-gotten wealth ever cares to ask how did you manage to become so successful. Some will even go as far as claiming that God must have looked kindly upon you. These attitudes and the resultant dependency on the corrupt amongst us will always keep our people ignorant and in denial of the true corruption that we all condone. As with all crimes, ignorance is not a defense. If you benefit from a criminal enterprise, then you are just as guilty as the perpetrator.
Recently, a report from Thisday has this to say;
Police call it "a kola nut." Journalists call it "the brown envelope." And politicians call it "a welfare package." Whatever the name, the almighty bribe long has lubricated Nigerian society as it has few others on Earth. Corruption is so rampant that when the nation's education minister, Fabian Osuji, was caught giving $400,000 to Nigerian lawmakers for favorable votes, he formally protested that such behavior was "common knowledge and practice at all levels of government." Besides, Osuji added, he had struck a good deal; the lawmakers had asked for twice as much. He was fired from the government.
Still, with all the ills that afflict Nigeria, most of us still love our country and are proud to be Nigerians. Let us build on that patriotic passion so that one day we can tell our children and their children the sacrifices made for them to live in a proud Nigeria.
There are Islands of good governance and true accountability in Nigeria today as we begin this difficult journey; Look at Kano state today and you will see there is light at the end of the tunnel. Let our leaders learn from those amongst us who are leading the way on the fight against corruption.
This quote from one writer on the net sums it all up. “The nation is searching with a lantern in broad daylight!” Let us hope we will all open our eyes and see better soon!
H. Dauda writes from Washington DC.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.