The trouble with Nigerians (3)

This means that the President will make more decisions that, in his own calculations and those of his ardent supporters who are benefiting from the present situation, will bolster his reelectability inspite of how Nigerians will vote in 2015. Now, if the promises President Jonathan made to Nigerians when he was campaigning for election in 2011 are compared with his actual performance, campaigning for a second term would be suspect because he has not delivered on most of those promises.

But trust members of the ruling cabal in the PDP whose controlling ideology is the Machiavellian principle of “the end justifies the means.” They will use all necessary means to get Jonathan “reelected.” However the President and his party should not be overconfident that “business as usual” will work in their favour in the next elections, especially if the other relatively strong opposition parties organise themselves into a formidable political force before 2015.

According to an Igbo aphorism, “Tomorrow is pregnant. No one knows for sure what it might bring forth.” President Jonathan should know by now that Nigerians are tired of the hackneyed shibboleth that he is a “nice person” who wants to work for the people but whose efforts are being hampered by “enemies of progress.” What the suffering masses need are not excuses but concrete actions that can change their lives for the better and ensure the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Perhaps Jonathan is trying his best. But despite the florid linguistic acrobatics of his subordinates, he still has a long way to go if he really wants to be reelected. Up to this point the current leadership has been the focus of analysis because the core problems hindering Nigeria’s progress stem from bad leadership. Nevertheless there is need to identify certain character traits among Nigerians which not only breed poor quality leadership but also perpetuate it.

Of course, I am not claiming that all Nigerians manifest these traits all the time or that they are peculiar to Nigerians alone. The point that needs to be underscored is that, given certain entrenched habits and mind-set encapsulated in what is sometimes called the “Nigerian factor,” there is a reciprocal relationship between malignant mediocre leadership and an indifferent citizenry lacking in social conscience and patriotism.

Delinquent corrupt leaders who have been messing up the country are Nigerians, which means that certain bad attitudes and crooked habits which they had internalised before ascending leadership positions are precisely what they manifest and are still manifesting in the exercise of power.

The near total absence of social conscience in a significant percentage of Nigerians has resulted in a feeling of alienation. For instance, Nigerian youths in general feel that they do not really have a stake in a country in which political power is recklessly used for primitive accumulation by a powerful cabal, a society controlled by leaders who shamelessly subordinate the future wellbeing of the youths for instant gratification and in which opportunities to earn a decent living are not expanding in proportion to the number of people willing and able to work.

Therefore some of them try persistently to leave the country by any means possible in pursuit of a “better life,” while others engage in nefarious activities either for survival or to satiate their greed. Moreover the youths, in the frenetic quest to “make it,” are steadily jettisoning important moral values that promote nation-building.

This crisis of values can be seen in the insane drive for material success and lack of consideration for others. There is, increasingly, tendency to disregard merit, excellence and quality, an attitude which, as already indicated, harms the society. The deplorable and abominable qualities routinely manifested by Nigerian leaders, such as gross indiscipline, extreme avarice and egoism, as well as sloppiness and dormant social conscience, are ingredients of the “Nigerian factor”; that is, they constitute what may be called “the Nigerian character.”

There is a very important component of the Nigerian factor which deserves serious attention. The generation of Nigerians born before the Biafran war may justifiably be described as a wasted generation for failing to deploy wisely Nigeria’s tremendous human and material resources to transform her into the leading black nation in the world.

Sadly Nigerians currently in the age group of twenty-five to forty-five appear not to have learnt any lessons from the mistakes of their elders. Consider this: Nigerians often complain that politics is a “dirty” game, that well-educated, imaginative and creative young Nigerians with the right mental habits to lead Nigeria aright have abandoned politics for thugs and undesirable elements.

To a large extent this complaint is justified. But what are Nigerians born from 1970 onwards doing about the situation especially given that some of them have what it takes to out-perform the elders who have misruled the country for too long? The answer, in most cases, is nothing, for the simple reason that they are playing too safe in a fundamentally unsafe environment.

They are satisfied in their little comfort zones characterised by selfish and indulgent individualistic materialism, to the extent of being completely indifferent to what happens in the political arena. At any rate this siddon look attitude is counterproductive, since it creates room for glorified touts and moral pygmies to seize power for self-aggrandizement.

Thus unless Nigerians of goodwill and genuine patriotism deploy their collective talents and work tenaciously together to displace pretenders from leadership, Nigeria would continue moving three steps forward, seven steps backwards as it is moving presently.

It is time for serious-minded Nigerian youths with the appropriate intellectual, emotional and moral qualities to step away from their little cozy ego-centered world and reclaim the country from the current group of unserious, sybaritic and morally crippled leadership which lacks bold ideas and will to pull the country out of the quagmire of arrested development.

From the way things are going at the moment, Nigeria’s leadership today is incapable of transcending inadequacies and weaknesses of the system to provide the kind of exemplary leadership Nigerians need so badly. Constant armchair complaints and criticisms will not bring about the desired change or motivate the ruling cabal to dump its entrenched bad habits.

The way forward is for committed, determined, courageous and imaginative young patriots from all parts of the country to come together and strategise on how to inaugurate a paradigm-shift in the leadership. Such a group of sincere and determined young Nigerians sufficiently disappointed with malignant misrule and genuinely desirous of positive change can trigger a moral and political revolution capable of dismantling the dysfunctional shambolic system in place right now, which is a necessary prelude to genuine national reconstruction. As the title of one of Prof. Achebe’s works proclaimed, “it is morning yet on creation day.”



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