IT’S only a matter of time before Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president-elect, becomes prayer points in churches, mosques and other places of religious worship. After all, here’s a man whose name almost entered the infamous ‘Book of Perennial Contestants’ before providence smiled on him: President Goodluck Jonathan failed to redeem his campaign promises and the electorate expressed their anger with their thumbs.
That some people once wished Buhari dead and that he’s an ‘unelectable illiterate’ who’d not win the March 2015 presidential election is no longer news. Be that as it may, that God, in His infinite mercies, turned the counsel of their Ahithophel into foolishness is Good News to all lovers of a just and egalitarian society. In a desperate bid to return to power, President Jonathan acted King Rehoboam but God again demonstrated the ‘bringing down one and exalting another’ power that is His exclusive preserve
Brandon Sanderson, in ‘The Alloy of Law‘, wrote: “The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” In my humble view, one good quality of a great leader operating with the led on a plane pane under a “we” kind of agreement. Another is living by choice, not by accident; and exerting influence, not authority. Impliedly, a true leader is a product of anointing, not annoyance. He is patient, humorous, courageous, flexible, resourceful and stubborn. He doesn’t necessarily have to go along with huge crowds or lead by hitting people over the head. Instead, he goes his own way without caring, or even looking to see, whether anyone is following him. In addition to possessing a keen sense of reality, he also has the ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. The leader who holds power in trust for the people neither wanes in his duties nor delights in the extinction of those over whose destiny he presides. To him, leadership is not a language of ‘how far‘ but ‘how well.’ In short, a true leader, to quote Kenneth Blanchard, does “not make people into followers, but into other leaders.”
As we all know, future history is always a baby of today’s pregnancy. For a fact, one major pitfall of the outgoing government was the myonization of the Jonathan presidency by a section of Nigerians who only helped him to increase the nature and number of his enemies. To these people, it was as if votes cast by our brethren from one or two geopolitical zones alone were enough to win a second term for their preferred candidate. Like typical men with artificial intelligence, they were stubbornly hitting out with dangerously inflated egos without caring a hoot about what the shape or size of the consequence would take.
Another factor that led to the president’s dismal outing was the calibre of politicians his party paraded as leaders. Bode George! Buruji Kashamu! Asari Dokubo! Government Tompolo! Mohammed Abacha! Alli Modu Sheriff! Chris Ubah! Gbenga Daniel! Iyiola Omisore! Godsday Orubebe! Adeseye Ogunlewe! Ayo Fayose! Doyin Okupe! Gani Adams! Godswill Akpabio! Femi Fani-Kayode! Politricians with no charisma and no followership! All hay; no bacon! The People’s Democratic Party, PDP failed to interrogate the political values of its foremen and the outing has never been this bad for the party. For instance, in the activities leading to the Year 2007 General Elections in which Musliu Obanikoro contested as PDP governorship candidate in Lagos State, I remember his invidious exploits on the Ebute-Metta-Oyingbo axis of Lagos where guns and other dangerous weapons were freely used during one of his campaign rallies. Again, I am sure – and, Obanikoro knows, too – that history will never forgive him for the roles he played in last year’s governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States. Now, the chickens are back home, roosting and PDP’s loss is yet another in the series of payback packages that await troublers of Nigeria’s Israel.
Put succinctly, it’s President Jonathan’s inability to act presidential when and where need be that led him into being such a disappointment unto those who voted for him in 2011. The threateningly interesting aspect of it is that the president failed to understand that ‘good governance’ is not synonymous with ‘good luck’. Added to this was his inability to know when to die! Nelson Mandela learnt the trick of dying when the ovation was still ascending and he remains celebrated even in death. Murtala Muhammed was luckier as he left the stage, possibly, before his true identity became revealed. Olusegun Obasanjo embarked on a ‘Third Term’ misadventure and he ended up making a complete mess of his previous achievements.
Breakdown of governance! Betrayal of trust! Perverted dispensation of justice! Nigeria is an interesting country, inhabited by wonderful people who, in their wonderful splendour, take with kindness anything imposed on them by their rulers. Things are with each passing day falling apart and, since we lack the spirit of applying caution with courtesy, the centre has refused to hold. Liars are leading liars and the results have been undeniably pathetic. Here, we relentlessly demonize non-thieves as armed robbers but resiliently celebrate robbers as saints. In our country, riggers shamelessly accuse others of rigging; riggers probe others of rigging; and riggers expel others under the guise of rigging. And when an endowed race devotes so much time to praying for light, water and other things, which are, in sane climes, given, they end up hardly having time to pray for things that are naturally spiritual.
Tragically, under Jonathan’s leadership, Nigeria became so ‘great’ that all her great potentials lay prostrate, courtesy of failure of vision, failure of action, failure of governance and failure to accept responsibilities. In Jonathan’s Israel, there’s no king. So, everybody was a king in his own right! Not unsurprisingly, Nigeria, under him became a conflagration of desperate and adulterous politicians; nothing but super-idiotic representation of fallacious innuendoes in a precarious reciprocity of pomposity that impressed no one. Dear country was socio-economically depressed, ethno-religiously fractured and geo-politically destabilized. The president presided over the affairs of a ‘Power‘ government comprising domain defenders and reluctant reactors who hid under the cloak of darkness to activate hatred but explored the openness of daytime to commiserate with their victims. Probably not a man primed for great accomplishments, Jonathan could neither dream nor act; he could neither plan nor believe. Ironically, while the president and those who surrounded him were seeing ‘all things bright and beautiful’ in a dying nation, all that those outside the perimeters of power could do was bemoan the Jonathanian’s sycophancy, showiness, showmanship and shallowness.
With Jonathan at the helm of affairs, frustration became the best description of the state of most Nigerians. It was such a throwback into an ugly past that our policies, rather than mirror us, mocked us; our state, rather than being an ideal one, became nothing but an ordeal; and the individual components of the polity, rather than be in concord, were in discord. Coincidentally, the crowning of Ahab as king over Israel led to the elevation of Jezebel as the de jure controller of the affairs of state in Israel. There and then, decency took flight and lasciviousness took control. Corruption and self-adulation suddenly took over the affairs of Nigeria and, rather than give to Peter what was Peter’s, the Jonathanian exploited almost all the rules under the sun to rob Peter in order to pay Paul.
Thanks be to God for the lives of those who made ‘Change‘ happen; for ‘if Columbus had turned back, no one would have … remembered him.’ The timely turn of events has again shown that we cannot continue to do things the same old way and expect to get a different result. With regard to the incoming government, expectations of Nigerians are high. But that’s not unexpected! With regard to Buhari, there is no doubt that the people expect this spectacularly striking, enviably erudite, bravely beloved and giftedly gracious blueprint of integrity to deliver on his promise. Without doubt, there is a basketful of options placed before the Daura-born politician: he may choose to idealize the vibes of truth or glamourize the thrills of deceit. Like Jonathan, he may opt for puffing and huffing. If he likes, instead of lightening Nigerians’ harsh labour, he may also put a heavier yoke on them. The truth is that each option has its rewards and Nigerians can only wish him well!
As things stand, there’s no denying the fact that we are living in a country that thrives in contradictions. Nigeria’s common men have, in their commonness, been shouting but, since there are some invisible hands somewhere, nobody has deemed it fit to listen to the common men’s common voice. Our long aim of technological advancement has been that of mere illusions: emotions, instead of reality; and romance, instead of realism. We have in power men who possess power without principles and, since they did not pass through any test before they were foisted on us, it has been difficult for them to deliver unto us their testimonies of performance. Our leaders are quick to respond to Nepal in other climes while we have on our hands a gestating Tsunami. When it is time for them to defend their shortcomings, they go a-sloganeering: “we are in a learning process”; “ours is teething or home-grown democracy”; “every patriotic Nigerian must support our democracy, no matter its imperfections”; and “we will soon get there”, even when they are already on a road to nowhere. But that is where integrity comes in. Without doubt, a nation without men of integrity is like an enclave in crises.
Essentially therefore, until Nigeria’s market men and women realize that, even, illegal hiking of the prices of foodstuffs is jailable under the relevant laws guiding corruption, we may continue to move in circles.
And as the once-shoeless Goodluck returns to Otuoke, may Nigerians have Good Governance in return!
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (email@example.com)
abiodun KOMOLAFE, AMNIM,
020, Okenisa Street,
PO Box 153,
Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.