Cheta Nwanze: This is Nigeria’s major problem

by Cheta Nwanze

Let us begin this by acknowledging that our leaders are terrible. In doing that, however, we should also acknowledge the fact that as followers, we are awful as well. We should also bring out the oftentimes overlooked fact that our leaders, to a large extent, emerge from the followership. So, as a random example — Peter Odili of the perpetual injunction, was a normal Nigerian boy who had to gather his pals together to raise funds when he was getting married to Mary. Suddenly, about twenty years later, he had become governor of his state and became very wealthy. In his eight years, how many people, within his inner circle in Rivers, told him where he was going wrong?

So let me tell two stories.

The first one is about a friend from my UNIBEN days. He’s the first born in his family, and naturally, he left their base to come to Benin for his university education. Shortly after Obasanjo came to power, his father, a career civil servant, was appointed to head his parastatal. All good yeah? Now, it so happens that this parastatal is one of those that contractors and all sorts of appointees besiege, because of the power in it. My friend went home to Abuja after our first semester, and upon returning to Benin, described how the family had been moved, on the bill of the Nigerian state, of course, to better-appointed surroundings. Then the whole monetization thing happened, during our second semester. When my guy got home to Abuja after our first year, he met a changed family. Everyone around his father had taken to calling the man “Daddy”, and his mother, “Mummy”. His younger ones had developed an arrogance that he did not know they were capable of. From that point, he took it upon himself to provide his father with feedback about what was really happening. You see, given his father’s position, we all talked about what the man’s agency was doing, which gave our guy some genuine feedback that he passed on. It aided the man in his work tremendously.

The second story is one I observed. In May 2011, I was Managing Editor at Daily Times, at the time-based in Olosa, VI. On the strength of this, I was invited to the event, Youth Lunch with GEJ. The event was to happen in Eko Hotel. Now, at the time, the entrance to the hotel was from Olosa Street, and that road was atrocious. Then days before the event, some characters came and fixed Olosa. Some of my staff were impressed by the government’s responsiveness, but me, cradling my invitation to the event, knew better. And I told them.

The point of these stories is that sadly, the feedback loop in Nigeria is broken. Our leaders, to a large extent, and at all levels, do not get briefed on the true position of things. We saw an example of that when Buhari returned.

A large crowd went to welcome the President back to Nigeria from 103 days of being Away WithOut Leave. I am betting that not one of them reminded the man of his campaign promise to end medical tourism. I am betting that not one of them told the man that our economy is still in recession. I am betting that not one of them told the man that we still have up to six different exchange rates. I am betting that not one of them told the man that Boko Haram is back. I am betting that not one of them told the man that we now have kidnap incidents, all over the country, on average of twice a week. I am betting that not one of them told the man that this week, the NBS released a survey that indicates that corruption may have become more widespread under his watch.

If he is not told all of this, and sees how “happy” people were to have him back, how then, would he believe someone who comes to tell him that things are not well?

What I saw during Buhari’s return tells me that those of us who like to think that we state the facts,regardless, have lost out to the artists who like to paint pix of Nirvana. While the man himself, has proven to be a decidedly incapable ruler, that the feedback loop around him is clearly broken, gives him less chance of righting himself, than a snowball has in a lake of fire.


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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