Nigerians now have problems with standard and taste. Salihu Ibrahim, former chief of army staff’s description of the Nigerian Army of his charge fits the present character of the average Nigerian of today.
He had said then that his force was where, “anything goes”. Must it continue? One thinks that is why Muhammadu Buhari is picking his steps gingerly not to land in the same quagmire. Only a poor leader would hurriedly start to dismantle a machine he inherited without carefully examining the faults in it. Fifty-five years after independence, Nigerians’ awareness of their places in the society and their consciousness of governance and how they are ruled have dimmed into a blackout. They are now blacked-out. Only the elderly can appreciate life and how it ought to be in this country today.
The so-called Internet generation is bereft of any philosophy of life. They are only a little better than baboons in their thoughts because they are mechanistic about the politics of survival in an environment without a clear political compass. In their mechanistic approach to solving societal problems, they create more because they forget that humans are capable of changing their circumstances with their brains, defying set mathematical or mechanical rules.
Only a crook will urge Buhari to continue with the neo-capitalist economy fashioned by a greedy cabal that the people have chosen him to displace.
“Chop chop” politics must stop. In the days after independence, Nigerians were bubbling with a spirit to conquer their environment and stand not as the other fellow in the comity of nations. Our leaders then, both in government and opposition, appreciated that foresight because they too, to different degrees at different levels, had glimpses of a Nigeria of their dream.
Even the soldiers that succeeded them latched on to that philosophy and that was why Yakubu Gowon played down self to harp on egalitarianism. It is the lack of egalitarianism and our leaders hooking their wagon to the rapacious train that hauls the national wealth for selves that has ruined Nigeria in the last 16 years. It must stop.
Nigeria cannot continue to import what she can or ought to produce. Man development must be the focus of Buhari’s governance because man creates national wealth, which fairly distributed yields amity, omitted is bound to lead to godless Boko Haram, Egbesu, Bakassi, OPC and what have you that are chimerical in our nation today. The presence of these groups shows how disorganised this nation has become in the last 16 years. They stepped into a vacuum of no direction because our leaders were obsessed with primitive acquisition of the nation’s wealth for selves and cronies. This must stop.
To wade through this formless maze without a compass is to embark on a journey to final destruction.
How do we develop the man that must be the agent of change? The first thing is to open his eyes to a clear future and his place in that aggregation. That should be followed by restoring his ability to contribute to the mission-in-view which is boundless. The third is to win his loyalty for the cause in the interest of the whole, not for selfish reasons. Once he knows that he belongs, the battle is half-won.
Most Nigerians lack self-confidence now. They think one America or China is the answer to their problems, whereas the solution is in their hands. Buhari must now teach Nigerians how to fish, not how to devour the national till as his predecessors, in their baneful demonstration of wellbeing, have bent the people to think negatively.
There is need for moral re-awakening in Nigeria today because the shop keeper, the street trader, the clerk in the public and private sectors, the sanitary worker, the mechanic and the so-called managers, cut corners in their dealings. They all cheat their clients and customers.
No plan succeeds when put in the hands of dishonest men and people without known art of self-confidence. It is like putting the cart before the horse. We have learnt of the saying, “casting pearls before the swine”. When Olusegun Obasanjo launched his poverty alleviation crusade, Tony Momoh and I reckoned that it would end up oiling the pockets of some public officers. And we were proved right because the N12 billion allocated for the project made no dent on the nation’s stress. The programme was conceived without cardinal points. Ibrahim Babangida’s crusade, for the same purpose, tore the ice and produced some petty bourgeoisie who today run their businesses and employ labour.
What has been absent for a considerable while in Nigeria is wealth creation. The state is the engine of wealth creation in any sane society. It sets the tone and tunes all the sectors of production towards achieving targets prescribed in its planning. It is not left to the imagination of some speculators and hustlers; so many of whom have been made billionaires in the last 25 years at a time our industrial and educational sectors collapsed. That is no good planning. The last group initiated by Goodluck Jonathan was ridiculous; some bankers, country boys make good, swindlers and commission agents to plan an economy?
Whereas a retrospective look at the past will show how government carefully planned industrial estates, built dams, developed agriculture and co-operative movements to lift Nigeria to a middle-level, developed status. And Nigeria hardly earned a kobo from oil when she achieved those miracles with the West, North and East in healthy competition in the development of man and material. Even the Mid-west that joined later, in two years started industrialisation and man development. There was that desire by Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Michael Okpara, Samuel L. Akintola, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Dennis Osadebay from the regions to modernise Nigeria without losing their identities.
Happily, Buhari is a product of that age. Buhari, pick your steps gingerly. Don’t be stampeded to commit political hara-kiri because you want to please party leaders. Nigerians trust only you.
Hurrah! Bukola Saraki, Senate president, for your sacrifice for Nigeria’s deserved change. If you purge yourself of some ideological hangover, the sky is the limit. I have always known Ike Ekweremmadu as an agent of change in a wrong group. He is a world away from David Mark.