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Is Nigeria Irredeemable?

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Kenya Presidential Election: Comparing Notes

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

We have one week to the end of this year. In eight days from today, we will be in another year, 2023. I know some people, or should I say many people, who have vowed not to still be in this country by the time new year starts. Some will have that goal fulfilled within these next few days before new year. Many will be disappointed. And I can imagine how devastating that would be to them. The kind of desperation you see in Nigerians doing everything to leave this country is palpable. Why so?

To many people, the country is lost, ruined, damaged, irretrievable and irredeemable. Why so? When one thinks of everything happening on daily basis, one may not really blame these people. By the way, it is not only the poor or wretched ones who feel like this, many well-to-do’s feel the same way. That is why someone could leave a banking job as a manager in Nigeria and go to the United Kingdom to do cleaner, househelp or messenger. We saw the viral picture of that lady banker, sometimes ago.

In the face of all these challenges, is the country truly irredeemable? If the answer is yes, why are we here then? Where are we heading? What is next? Sincerely, majority is frustrated, including my humble self, but we cannot give up. So long the country has not broken down into pieces, we can only continue to push, hoping it will survive. We can only continue to hope for the better. We can only act in the way we believe might lead us to “miraculous resurrection” of the country from comatose.

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Why will anyone feel Nigeria has failed? In theory, Nigeria is not failed but already exhibiting attributes of a failed state. But, to every Nigerian whose dreams and aspirations have been stunted, shattered or even killed by the socio-economic and political conditions in the country, Nigeria has failed them. So, to them, Nigeria is a failed state.

In truth, Nigeria can be a dream killer. When talented individuals who have done some amazing things, recorded and posted on social media, are seen, many knew that might be their end. That could be as far as they would go; developing a prototype. Their dreams of breaking through and bringing such novel ideas to fruition on large scale might never materialise. They might die with their talents, like happens to many regularly. The country does not provide the enabling environment for talents to be discovered, nurtured and blossom.

We saw this in the last Commonwealth games in Birmingham, UK. Many, if not all, of those who represented Nigeria were not based in the country. So, they were not nurtured by Nigeria. But Nigeria reaped where it did not sow. The glory of their successes was shared by Nigeria. Like they say, “success has many relatives but failure is an orphan”. They were quickly and gladly embraced by Nigeria after they had succeeded. They were rewarded after success and given National Honours. Few were given appointments by their state governors as ambassadors. They were given hero’s welcome. But these were people who might have been rejected, abandoned and cast away in their early years.

There are millions of people like them all over the country, wasting away. Not only in sports, but in all spheres of our society; education, entertainment, arts, and so on. Was it not Chess that has now turned around the life of Tanioluwa Adewumi and his formerly “struggling” family in the United States of America? A small boy of 8 in 2019, who is gifted in the game of Chess, who was discovered in USA with his homeless parents, was adopted and nurtured to greatness by the country of their residence. He has now become a New York State Champion, from a remote location he was discovered. How many of such prodigious children are wasting away in Nigeria?

Is the country truly irredeemable? I don’t think so. Nigeria is a country we keep talking about her potentials. But those potentials have never been explored to fullness. We have everything; human and natural resources, but we failed to harness and translate them to success.

The general public like to blame the failures on leadership only. I understand. But I disagree. Followership has their sizable portion of the blame. Nigeria is a place where people love to blame every other person but themselves. When all the problems bedevilling the country are highlighted, they are heaped on the leadership. Who are these leaders? Where are they from? Who put them in positions? Who are their dependants? When they steal, who are they stealing for? Who do they spend their loots on and with? When they leave office, where do they return to? Who welcome them back?

These are salient questions. A sincere introspection will reveal that every answer points to the followership. Leaders are Nigerians, from among us as our parents, siblings, relatives, friends and families. They emerged from among us. They live with and among us. We put them in positions of authority, whether voluntarily or by inducements. They steal to finance us, support us and our lifestyles. We share in and enjoy their loots together. Like Yorubas will say; “eni ifa o kan, lo n pe ni aramu” (he who doesn’t have opportunity to loot calls it corruption). Many Nigerians don’t really hate corruption, they only hate that it is not them participating it. Most people who criticise leaders for their corrupt actions are only hoping and waiting for their turns.

As a consequence of our bad leadership which emerges from our bad followership, we have corruption all over the place, with public officials stealing public funds blindly, with impunity. The latest scandal is one in which the Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor, Godwin Emefiele, is ensnared. While the allegations against him concerning some N89.9 trillion is very exaggerated in my opinion, there is no smoke without fire. His tenure has been messy with all kinds of malfeasance and misadventures he gets involved in. The mess that our forex market has become, the criminal ways and means, and the aberration of his political involvement while still in office.

They are more than enough to have had him sacked. But those who are keeping and using him know why they have been doing so. The N89.9 trillion stamp duties allegation is way too unrealistic. How can he answer for his crimes now, if he ever committed any, when he has adopted the criminal style of politicians to evade justice by claiming to suddenly be ill and suffering from heart-related ailments? Well, he is actually a politician, having attempted to contest for the presidential ticket of APC this year. What kind of a country is this? Anything goes? Why won’t citizens feel it is irredeemable?

However, all hope is not lost. Or should I say “all hope should not be lost”. Nigeria is a country to reckon with in the world. Nigeria is the most populated country with black people in the world. We have the biggest economy in Africa. We are the 7th on the OPEC scale of countries with largest deposit of crude oil. Nigerians are some of the most educated in the world. Nigerians are some of the most hardworking people in the world. That is why when they go abroad, they work multiple jobs, doing extra hours, just to “make it”.

A friend and business partner travelled to Republic of Benin and Togo recently. In Cotonou, he lamented how everything was so expensive, even bottled water. There is the absurdity of their currency, Cfa Franc, being stronger than Naira now, but it did not make things cheaper than in Nigeria. Imagine buying a 150cl bottle of water at N500 equivalent. 50cl coke at N400 and 33cl of beer at N550. Yet, in our “failed” Nigeria, same water is N150, coke N200, and beer N300. A 50kg of cement is about N6000 in Cotonou while it is sold at “very expensive” price of N4500 in Nigeria. In the whole of the West Africa, Nigerian petrol at N250 (unregulated high price), is the cheapest. Even all over the world, it is one of the cheapest, unrealistically actually. Same as so many other things. Yet, Nigeria is the worst place on earth to many. And they will do anything and everything possible to run away from here.

I am not saying we are where we are supposed to be or that there are no far better countries than Nigeria, especially in Europe, America and Asia. No. What I am saying is that, all those other countries too, were built by the people there. If they had abandoned their own countries and ran away from them, Nigerians won’t have places to escape to or be eager to go there. This is my point. I believe we can also start rebuilding ours, starting from somewhere. But, are we all ready? The leaders and the followers?

Although, I believe leaders have more responsibilities to shape and guide how the society should look like. It is far easier for the leaders who are few, to change for better, if they genuinely love their country, and resolve to change the tide of things for better, than expecting the mass populace to change their ways. Leaders must begin the sacrifices and discipline from themselves. It should be leadership by example not precept. When such happens, the followers are more likely to be guided in the same direction. But, are our leaders ready?

This is why as we approach 2023 elections, it is critical that we get it right. I have been criticised by friends and readers for my position on the choices before us. They begrudge me for my choice. They expected that I should have been “neutral” and just be a “moderator” instead of supporting any candidate. “Na me be INEC?” Lol! How can anyone who genuinely loves Nigeria be neutral about what should happen in 2023 elections, especially the presidential?

I am a stakeholder in Nigeria. I have many things at stake and have sacrificed to be around in the country till now. Why should I now allowed it to go to ruins while I feign “neutrality” because I am a public commentator? Is it not in an atmosphere of peace and in a country still intact, existing and functional that I can strive? So, I can’t and won’t be neutral or quiet. I will always take a stand on national issues.

It is also ironic and incredible that these same people who demand this of me now, were quite happy with my opinions on many national issues for years, especially in the last seven years of this administration. I have critically analysed situations in Nigeria, raised questions where I felt the government has not been doing well and could do better. I have not spared anyone, including the president and his party, APC. All these were fine by these my friends and readers then.

Based on my assessment of where we are today, and the kind of person we need to change the direction of the country among those presented to us by the political parties, which we are constrained to choose from, who has the capacity, experience and pedigree, who had done similarly before, and has any chance to win a presidential election at all, I have chosen Tinubu. Subsequently, hell was let loose. I have received more than enough sermons, attacks, abuses and condemnations for doing so. I was told I shouldn’t have taken a position or supported him but be “neutral”.

However, in those years that I have written hundreds of articles, many of which were considered critical of Buhari, his government and APC, was I not taking positions? Was I neutral? No. I was against bad governance and poor performance. That was not neutrality. I can remember how many so called “Buharists”, hailers, APC members and supporters used to criticise me then. They called me all kinds of name, while “wailers” hailed me. Now, reverse is the case. The “Atikulates and Obidients” are my new critics now. It is their turn to criticise me. I am used to it. But, I will not stop, or keep quiet.

Nigeria might not have failed yet, but it must be rescued from going down. With many damning socio-economic indices, we need visionary leader to make this happen. Nigerians should go out and vote for the candidate of their choice. The government should provide the enabling environment for free, fair and credible elections in 2023. Let the candidates, who the people want, win at all levels. We are already here, we can as well see it through, despite all the reservations with regards to our flawed constitution, unwieldy governance structure, and misnormer federalism. We must start from somewhere.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: lateefadewole23@gmail.com
Whatsapp: +2348179512401

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December 24, 2022.

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