Opinion: Arise o compatriots… which compatriots?
by Dipo Dosumu
“Conscience is an open wound; only truth can heal it.” – Uthman Dan Fodio
Where are the compatriots? Are there a few still left in our nation? If so, will they please stand up? Can we all, in good conscience, state that all is well with the Motherland? Of course not, except if you are the Special-Assistant-to or Senior-Adviser-to. Must things be allowed to degenerate further than where we have reached now?
In those dark days of the military, they were the conscience of the nation. Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Femi Falana, Tai Solarin, Olu Falae, Lam Adesina, Bola Ige, Abraham Adesanya, Peter Enahoro, Adekunle Ajasin, Baba Omojola, Olisa Agbakoba, Balarabe Musa, Chima Ubani, Arthur Nwankwo, Lanrewaju Adepoju, Abubakar Umar etc. Many have passed away now. There were also Anthony Cardinal (then Archbishop) Okogie, Bishop Sunday Mbang, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ben Nwabueze, Itse Sagay. They stood tall on moral grounds. They spoke truth to power. It was a tragedy of monumental proportions that most of those who fought for this democracy did not struggle sufficiently enough to gain power in the emergent civilian government.
In the light of serious leadership and followership challenges we currently face, we must strive to enthrone a system which brings forth the best, and shuts out kleptomaniacs or law-breakers, or those who cannot provide basic security of lives and property (against Boko Haram or kidnappers) as requested by the constitution, provide infrastructural amenities (electricity, refineries) or create enabling environment for job creation for the massively unemployed populace. We must give room for the people with vision and knowledge. That is what every successful system does. We are not equally gifted, so we must identify and promote visionary people. The scriptures says “Where there is no vision, the people perish”.
According to Chinua Achebe, ‘The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership. However, the followership is equally as guilty. We do not hold our leaders accountable. Sycophancy is often the order of the day. Our ‘brothe’ can do no wrong!
We know or have heard about them. They are in our midst. Great Nigerians like Ken Nnamani, Aminu Tambuwal, Donald Duke, Sullivan Chime, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Bukola Saraki, Oby Ezekwesili, Adams Oshiomhole, Babatunde Fashola, Chris Ngige, Nuhu Ribadu, Audu Ogbeh, Fola Adeola, Femi Falana, Dele Momodu, Olisa Agbakoba, Bamidele Aturu, Ebun-Oluwa Adegboruwa, Festus Keyamo, Rochas Okorocha, Dora Akunyili, Segun Mimiko, Nasir El-Rufai, Buba Marwa, Tunde Bakare, Shehu Sani, Sam Nda-Isaiah, Pat Utomi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Jimi Agbaje, Monday Ubani amongst hundreds of others, must be greatly encouraged and considered for executive and legislative leadership at the federal and state levels in the next dispensation. They are not saints but from their antecedents, they would be much better administrators and efficient managers of men and resources, and to a great extent, not clueless or wasteful. I will be exceedingly glad, and I believe we will be better for it, if debates on where each of them will be most suitable, can commence in earnest. Desperate situations require desperate solutions.
The party system, as currently practised, has failed us. The leading parties offer little or no choice to the discerning voter. Only that one is clearly worse than the others by a few miles. A zero-party or comprehensive independent candidate system is thus urgently advocated. In the absence of this, I especially urge Falana-led NCP and NLC/TUC-led Labour Party to identify and reach out to responsible people and encourage them to aspire, particularly at local and state levels for now. Elections are generally expensive but wisdom should be applied in reaching out to the masses and educating them. With modern technology, especially through the social media, more people could be reached and cheaply too. Change is therefore possible!
There are many great young Nigerians like Omoyele Sowore (Saharareporters), Dr Malcom Fabiyi, Fela Durotoye, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, Chimamanda Adichie, Temitope Fajingbesi (United for Kids Foundation) Cheluchi Onyemelukwe (Centre for Health, Ethics, Law and Development), Tolu Ogunlesi, Feyi Fawehinmi, Japheth Omojuwa, Chinedu Ekeke, Dino Melaye (Anti-Corruption Network), Elnathan John, Ogunyemi Bukola, Abimbola Adelakun, Kayode Ogundamisi, Adeolu Akinyemi, Praise Fowowe, amongst a legion of others, who are quietly revolutionising and positively impacting the landscape. They give a ray of hope that there is future for Nigeria. They deserve to be celebrated. It behoves on these young people and their older compatriots to become public opinion moulders and shapers. They also have contacts and indeed know many other young people with great leadership skills. They must mobilise and educate the rest of us. They should start getting ready to aspire to executive and legislative positions too. We must all scrutinize vigorously anyone who presents himself for executive and legislative positions starting immediately. Our choices must not reflect either tribal or religious sentiments. Until we do these, I am afraid, we are not ready for progress.
The current federal and presidential systems need urgent reviews and reforms. There are simply too many ministries, ministers, ministers of state, senior special assistants, special assistants, senior advisers, etc. They are the ones that should be immediately halved, a la Lamido Sanusi’s controversial recommendation. There should be an agreed cabinet size at federal and state levels. We have too many legislators as well. And the remunerations of both the executive and the legislature must be slashed significantly and the numbers pruned down as well.
The zoning nonsense must be done away with. How logical is it that leadership skills are shaped by accident of birth? How many travelers book flights on the strength of the race of the flight crew? How many patientsm choose specialist doctors on the basis of tribe? Why do they go to German and India and not to their tribal conclaves for effective medical attention?
So should state of origin, indigene settler issue be reformed. One’s place of birth or residence, rather than ancestral roots, should qualify someone to vote and be voted for. If Obama, with a Kenyan father, could be elected and re-elected the US president, how come a Ben-Murray Bruce with a Jamaican father is ineligible for Bayelsa gubernatorial contest? But then why should he contest in Bayelsa and not even in Lagos where he resides and pay taxes? How sweet will it be when the popular Barrister Monday Ubani aspires to be Lagos State governor on Labour Party’s platform or a Jimi Agbaje on NCP’s platform?
We need to shake off our docility and fight for our rights. The fuel subsidy brouhaha showed what the power of the people could do. If we stay united, purposeful and focused, a new Nigeria of our dreams will emerge. We all have equal stake in the Nigerian project. I look forward to that day that a leader will publicly declare his assets, state categorically that he is not corrupt, and challenge anyone with contrary proof to give to the law enforcement agencies. We are tired of those who neither give a damn nor cannot say “Amen” to anti-corruption prayers.
Proverbs 31: 8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”. Will the compatriots arise or not? Time is running out. For the sake of the suffering masses of Nigeria, let the compatriots arise TODAY!
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.