Who will stand for my people? Who will rescue them from the poverty, the despair that has been laid to their claim? Who will resuscitate the comatose in spirit and the hapless in their labor? Who will love them and concert a future for them that would imbue in them the pride of self and family and country and cause them to raise their heads up, again? These are philosophical queries underpinned in the practical drama that is unfolding before Nigerians these days. Who will stoop for Nigerians and let the pride of Africa conquer?
My people are the multitude of Nigerians, both educated and those who pretend to be; illiterate and ignorant; the cowed and oppressed; those submerged in hyper religiosity, including many of their charlatan leader class; the uninspired observers who are witnesses to the political theatre of the absurd; the students in a forlorn hope; the aspiring political class, who are in industrial training in imbecility and juggernaut stealing; and the like — all belonging to the disappearing Nigerian middle class—the mainstay of any developing and developed economy.
My people are varied with multiplicity of tongues and cultures, but all with one aspiration: That their Nigeria would truly become a land of hope, of opportunity, of immense blessings to them and their children; and a country of immeasurable potentials, most important of which is the resiliency of the people. We are the people and Nigeria belongs to us, but our beloved country has been hijacked by pirates who have vowed to plunder her jewels and the aspirations of the people. Having almost wrecked the ship, the pirates think that their salvation lies in London, Dubai, New York, Los Angeles, and the like. Little do they realize that their succor is in Aba, Abuja, Benin City, Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Oshogbo, Yola, and the like. “Nigeria is where everybody knows your name and they always knew you came!” This land is the only one you can truly call your own.
The “talented tenth” of Nigeria, who should liberate their people and lead them to the promises land, is the opportunistic political and intellectual class that has continually failed their own people, dampened their hope, and mortgaged their collective future. They have betrayed their calling and have abused their mandate and stolen the future of their children.
We sloganeer our claim to be Africa’s giant, but politically, economically, and philosophically, we are simpletons! We turn out graduates in droves and do not pretend to have jobs for them; we exhort imbecility without qualms; and we have a penchant for stealing money without creating wealth. The Nigerian elites are philosophically and spiritually bankrupt in that they are ignorantly arrogant about life. Little do they realize that the purpose of wealth is in commonwealth and not ‘my wealth’ and they brazenly are consumptive without realizing that those who envy them in the Nigerian environment do so out of ignorance and perhaps out of hopelessness.
Ostensibly, the fate of a people is in their hands, that is, if they can control the appropriation of their suffrage in a political contraption we label as democracy. By implication, the future of Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians in a dispensation whereby they are aware of their political rights and desire a good future for themselves and their offspring. But the power and opportunistic tendencies of the ruling class is wanton, dehumanizing, and disenfranchising– this has left the country with a duality of a fattening upper class and a kwashiorkor stricken underclass, albeit amidst economic growth that is bereft of development. This is what turns hope into despair for millions of Nigerians, who deservedly expects a modicum of concern from their rulers, but in return are rewarded with self-adulation, insensitivity, crass plundering and self-aggrandizement.
Instead of forming coalitions for our collective survival, we are busy separating and tearing down our peoples, and their ambitions—this can only spell our doom. If Nigeria should become a failed state, we all will suffer from and for it. While it is easier to fracture, it may be impossible to build any of the splinters into a meaningful, workable entity. Therefore, our salvation rests squarely in our hands; only we can rescue ourselves and, believe it or not, out of the maligned political and economic class of Nigeria will arise a voice of reason, a hand of duty, and a divinely appointed true leader of the people.
Yes, out of all the negativity narratives of the Nigerian polity shall emerge a good, capable, benevolent leader, who will deliver the nation and her people from the oppression of its ruling class. Nigeria is our Nazareth and out of it God has ordained a leader for His people.
That General Buhari has emerged the presidential candidate of the APC is a resonate chorus that out of their ilk, an instrument for change will emerge. Even in all of his imperfections, he has a timely mandate to sow a seed that in due course will bring forth a good seed in Nigeria. And that a legal luminary and philosophically and spiritually astute persona, Osibajo, has also emerged as Buhari’s running mate for Nigeria’s presidency is a permutation by forces beyond Nigerians’ comprehension, but that which seems to signal an intervention akin to that of a people who were in slavery and bondage for over four hundred years in Egypt and of whom the Bible refers that “when the Lord shall remember the captivity of Zion, they were like they that dreameth.”
The Buhari and Osibajo candidacy excites me tremendously, even with the measured excitement one would want to measure the prospects of anything good proceeding from Nigerian politicians these days. The stars are in the antecedents! Buhari has had a stint at the helms of affairs in Nigeria and did command the respect of many in the country—that is a rare commodity. That was Buhari’s down payment for the position he’s about to assume again in Nigeria. The evidence we have of Buhari’s service is of a man who loves his country and wants the people to have some self-discipline and respect and to expect a better life for themselves as a result. Though the framework of Nigeria may prove impractical to organize in line with Buhari’s dream, hence the perceived mishaps of his regime, but many now desire what they criticized Buhari for in the past. From all indications, now, Nigerians applaud his second coming as a form of anointing and praise as a masterstroke the choice of Osibajo as his deputy.
The sum of the attraction of Buhari is the knowledge that among his ilk, he’s the one who has not unduly enriched himself; someone who has not a penchant for collecting women in the passion of unbridled libido; someone who has the presence of mind to resist foreign pressure and blackmail in order to protect his country’s economy; someone who is not a megalomaniac and narcissistic and; someone who is willing to employ the counsels of intellectuals and technocrats and not scoff at them. Even our dear Professor Wole Soyinka will agree with all of these, even if he’s philosophically at odds with the General. I remember the lyrics of the Prof’s song which I paraphrase here: “I love Nigeria I no go lie, na inside am, I go live and die, If he push me, I push am, I no go go.” The litmus test is: Which of the current leaders in Nigeria has displayed enough patriotism and love for the country and her people, as espoused by this song? The sum is credibility!
The choice of Professor Osibajo excites me even more because foremost, he’s a man of faith and integrity, imbued with the fruits of the spirit! Secondly, his distaste for corruption and self-aggrandizement is apparent in the recordings that I have watched about him. The fact that he had acted in the capacity of a State chief legal officer, coupled with his philosophical and spiritual grounding as a Christian, would lead him to defend the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of Nigerians—all too needed ingredients in today’s polity. I understand that he’s a good planner, thinker, and a detribalized man, who would not fan the embers of tribalism and religious jingoism. I am excited about the prospects of this gentleman that I submit to the reader that the antecedents of Osibajo, his trainings, and his recorded and witnessed actions portend greater ideals for the country. Remember that an apple does not fall far away from its tree and that by their fruits we shall know them.
Credibility is the virtue of the Buhari/Osibajo ticket and this uncommon commodity cannot be earned by the number of houses and expensive cars one has in Abuja, Dubai or London, or the millions of dollars one has stolen from the coffers of the country, that has earned one political platform or misplaced importance among the minions, who for all intent and purposes must hate their own country, their children, and themselves. Measurement of credibility does not include religious affiliation, but one’s trustworthiness, character and integrity. It does not include self-importance and delusion, but the strength of one’s intellectual capacity and expertise. It does not include stomach infrastructure and façade of apron string well wishing, but genuine deployment of goodwill through self-empowerment and independence.
The pronouncements of the Buhari/Osibajo ticket is a good start to understanding the mindset that would guide the actions of the coming administration. According to Buhari: “My nomination is not because I am better than any of the other contestants. I see it as a tribute and mark of confidence to carry the torch as we all join hands to rescue our dear country Nigeria, from those who have led us into the current state of insecurity, poverty, sectarian divide and hopelessness among our people.” He called on Nigerians, regardless of creed or religion to join in pursuing a “common cause,” not aimed at realising the “personal fulfillment of one man.” He identified the common cause as “the love for our nation and concern for its present condition by resolving to make things better for the country. “What I say today is for all Nigerians: Christian and Muslim, Southern and Northern, rich and poor, young and old, man and woman. We are all citizens of Nigeria. There is no dividing line among us that I care to honour. Either we advance as one or fail altogether.” These are my sentiments about Nigeria and Nigerians and the primary reason for writing this article.
The conditions that Nigerians are groaning under are not lost on General Buhari, who genuinely noted that “Nigerians are faced with harsh realities like general insecurity, decay in epileptic infrastructure and other harrowing experiences” He resolutely quizzed that: “Shall we at home continue to live in a condition where the Power Holding Company and its successors seem only to have the power to hold us in darkness? Shall we continue in a situation where 250 of our daughters have been abducted and the government has been unable to rescue them or provide credible information about what steps they are taking? Shall we live in a nation where several people were trampled to death in search of jobs in a stadium and yet no one has taken responsibility for the tragedy?” Let me add what the General did not include in this rhetorical quizzing: What nation would fail to investigate the attempted assassination of one of her esteemed citizens, albeit a former Head of State?
Buhari further laments that: “Shall we live in a nation where the ranks of the poor swell and their poverty increase while the consorts of the powerful enjoy unprecedented wealth? The lives of the poor are bled dry while those of the powerful soak in excessive abundance? My answers to these questions are “No, No, No, No!” It is time to close this demeaning chapter in our nation’s history.”
I believe the future of Nigeria is staring us straight in the face and its success would not come by happenstance, but as a concerted result of patriotic, informed, and workable action plans.
Now, while the campaign is in full swing, the work of planning to govern should also commence in earnest. Nigerians are full of hope and cannot wait for their lot to change immediately after the new regime takes office. There will be no excuse and the opponent would not waste time in planting the seed of psychological remorse in the minds of the voters. Smart is what smart does! Now is the time to have a working committee on anything and all things and to appoint selfless individuals who are more than willing to work for their country to liberate their people from the shackles of shallow minds with money—the bane of many Black nations on the planet earth.
This is not the time for long-drawn position papers, but a set of short action papers to drive the coming era of restructuring and refocusing. Many serious-minded Nigerians have dissected and documented the problems of the nation and have suggested useful and workable panacea to them, but for the insular governments that we have been unfortunate to have. For example, even a simple mind would know that what is happening on the Lagos/ Ibadan expressway is costing Nigerian workers, businesses, vacationers billions of dollars in lost man hours due to stress, depression, insanity, unfavorable business decisions, family disaffection, death, and many more. The action paper should read: Fix it and find equitable ways to pay for it! The analysis would include the egregious policy of the duality of Federal and State roads and its attendant tribal politics, etc. Save all the rhetoric. The patriotic question is: How many more of our people must die before we fix this 110 kilometer-highway? What about uninterrupted electricity? Fix it in one year!
The Buhari/Osibajo mission as elucidated by the General in his acceptance speech in Lagos, is the fulcrum of the new Nigeria framework. The team pledges as follows:
a.” We will govern Nigeria honestly, in accordance with the constitution.
b. “We will strive to secure the country and efficiently manage the economy.
c. “We will strive to attack poverty through broadly-shared economic growth and attacking corruption through impartial application of the law.
d. “We will tolerate no religious, regional, ethnic or gender bias in our government.
e. “We will return Nigeria to a position of international respect through patriotic foreign policy.
f. “We will choose the best Nigerians for the right jobs.”
These pledges are transformable into action plans that all Nigerians can rally behind and by so doing, all will buy into an agenda of transformation that will serve all. The accruing benefits will not only be enjoyed by this generation of Nigerians, but they would serve as the foundation of an equitable and just society for future generations of Nigerians. This is a Nigeria that all Black people can be proud of and such that our future generations would credit to the monumental change that will occur on February 15, 2014. This is the day that Buhari and Osibajo will be elected the President and Vice-President of a renascent Nigeria. This is in spite of all of the argumentation, theses, and the syllogistic premises against their candidature; the reality is that the prevailing variables in Nigeria today point to their suitability. The good of Buhari far outweighs his bad and comparatively or relatively speaking, the choice is above the pack by any measure.
Who will lead my people out of the doldrums? Who is the one who will lead my people to the Promised Land? Only my people can lead themselves out of the quagmire by standing strong and firm to exercise their voting rights judiciously and never allowing anyone to steal their mandate for the umpteenth time. Vote your future and unleash the potentials of the Nigeria of your dreams. You the people have the future of Nigeria in your hands. You let her down this one more time to your own peril.
The writer, Daniel Olawale Awodiya, is a communications professor who writes in from Delaware, USA
DANIEL OLAWALE AWODIYA