By Abiodun KOMOLAFE
There is a need for a society to exist, to be conscious of its existence, and to have a vision. The values of the society determine the type of politics it gets. The type of politics it gets determines the profile and approach of governance obtainable within the given society. And the kind of governance determines whether or not a nation will be built. To put it bluntly, while a society’s vision determines its development, the society dictates the type of politics that is doable, and the kind of governance pattern feasible, because politics is not something that serves itself. Rather, it is to create a phenomenon of development.
Obviously, the problem with Nigeria is that there was never a time when an idea came that was nationally acceptable. Not a single one! So, it’s either a policy came to favour the North or appease the South. In other words, there was nothing that the people identified with. And so, that Nigeria has not been moving in unison towards a goal has been her trouble. Of course, that’s why she has remained more of a factionalized society; nothing but a recipe for chaos!
Provincialism, parochialism and underdevelopment
One funny truth about politics in this part of the world is that it is at times a product of tricks, intrigues, resurgent pedestrianism, incensed screeches and incurably incomprehensible extraterrestrial distractions. It also involves some essential concoctions of backbiting and missed bullets. In our clime, politics becomes more interesting when a tinge of godfatherism, hypocrisy, betrayals, complacency and complicity take a comfortable seat. In most cases, fake personality, unremorseful manipulations and collective thievery have continued to serve as the lubricant for the bogus political machinery of public administration, which has left the people so viciously and virulently divided.
The late Muammar Gadhafi was once quoted as saying that he would not give his father a house until all his peers’ portions would have been served. And he achieved it! Somewhere, somehow, the world became afraid of the man who loved his people and the only ‘solution’ to the problem was to get rid of him. And he was assassinated! Thenceforth, the seed of discord took a tap root in Libya, and the country has remained in turmoil ever since! At any rate, sincere Libyans would have by now found out that they were fooled! But then, why did Libyans allow the dream to die with the dreamer and why has Libya not been able to find her feet, years after Gadhafi’s murder?
When former Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State reportedly told Nigerians that he was going to be greater than Chief Obafemi Awolowo, some people took offence! But, instead of asking what the man had to offer, he was shouted down. Talking seriously, ‘Ogbeni’, as Aregbesola is fondly called, ought to have been encouraged to be greater than Awolowo so that somebody else would someday come and aspire to be greater than Aregbesola!
The hood does not make a monk! Again, whither Nigeria’s dyed-in-the-wool Awoists? Besides the donning of ‘Awo cap’, what else have they done to replicate the late sage, or surpass him? For instance, Awolowo died and the lofty ideals embedded in his ‘Free Education’ safety net went astray! He wrote books for posterity; yet, the so-called Awoists could not walk a man through his philosophy! And on Aregbesola, what eventually became the fate of ‘Opon Imo’ which, in saner climes, would have helped in revolutionizing the education system? Had the innovation been conceptualized and promoted by Awolowo, wouldn’t Nigerians have also allowed the ‘Tablet of Knowledge’ to die?
“Nepotism! Favouritism! Federal Character! I have argued repeatedly that fixing the society, or the structures of the society, is not just about the structures of the society but about the society itself!”
It is no longer news that Gboyega Oyetola also led an unusual government in Osun State. He did not borrow a dime to run his administration. He also did his best to block leakages, which no doubt made a lot of people very angry. Under Oyetola, life became something else for the kingmakers, the hangers-on and the entitlement syndrome promoters even as those who had been looting our common patrimony with demonic affection were sent back to the labour market to look for jobs. As we can see, the ark of Osun’s destiny has been moved into the house of new owners and controllers. So, Nigerians wait to see how events unfold!
When the veteran journalist, Dele Momodu, stated that anyone aspiring to become Nigeria’s president must have started at least 30 years ago, he was no doubt interrogating the attributes and the determination of a would-be Nigerian president. Momodu was referring to a man who must always be watching his investments even as he must also be watched by the people. Politics aside, Bola Ahmed Tinubu knew where he was headed. So, he started very early in life! The presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) knew that he’s a man to watch; as such, he started very long ago! He knew he would need money to realise his dreams and he created structures for making money! He knew he would need the people on his way to attaining that height and he has for long been building quality people!
Safe for some storms in a teacup which, in any case, cannot but be, it remains a fact of life that, while Tinubu was busy imagining the future that was to come, others were either sleeping and snoring, or, at best, “carousing in the midst of women of easy virtue and men of low morals.” When he was spending money to ensure that it’s well for dear fatherland, some men thought that the ‘Jagaban of Borgu’ was one rash, wasteful ‘money-miss-road’ individual whose financial contributions were only meant to serve the best interests of groundnut and popcorn. Is it any wonder that some 10-for-10k naysayers are now using shadowboxing to explain the strategies of the sturdy realization of the ‘Emi Lo Kan’ dream?
Nepotism! Favouritism! Federal Character! I have argued repeatedly that fixing the society, or the structures of the society, is not just about the structures of the society but about the society itself! Take for instance, how can an admission seeker into, say, Ahmadu Bello University pass JAMB entry examinations with high grades, yet he’s denied admission because he is from Lagos or Ekiti State; that he can’t be offered admission because a certain percentage of the admission seekers, whether they pass or not, must come from Kaduna State and other so-called educationally-disadvantaged states of the federation?
To deal with the challenge on our hands therefore, what Nigeria’s handlers need to do is identify the pendulum and the complexity of her problems; then, come attacking them at the same time. It’s only when all hands are on deck that the systemic approach can work. Since the weakest link in the chain is actually the de facto status of that very particular system, all one has to do to disrupt an entire system is to hit the weakest link; and the whole system will give way. In other words, until we strengthen the resolve for a central goal, to which every other part of Nigeria can subscribe, it is better we forget about development. If we like, let the next president come with magical powers from heaven. The best feat achievable will be like the one achieved by Awolowo. But, immediately he leaves office, everything will fall flat like a pack of cards. It’s like a vision dying with the visionary!
May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
*KOMOLAFE wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State ([email protected])