Japheth Omojuwa: The following class and the face of hypocrisy

If Nigeria has a leadership challenge, it must conversely follow that we have a following challenge. Great leaders are scarce in Nigeria, not because of the excess demand of the following of such leaders but because the Nigerian masses have not particularly called out, in the way they ought to, for great leaders.

As a people, we seem to be a lot certain about what we do not want than we are about what we do want. And those that genuinely care about this country have left those who do not care about our collective progress and prosperity to determine its reality of politics and governance.

My last three articles on this column have focused on critiquing the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the reactions have shown a few things. There are those who just do not care, they want this administration to fail by all means. To them, praising the government for what it gets right is wrong, knocking the government to make it do better is wrong, in fact, one’s very existence is wrong all because these people feel Nigerians should have stuck with the last administration of Goodluck Jonathan. Some of us continue to be hated because we continue to be seen as partly responsibility for why the administration was deservingly voted out.

Let us take a look at Nigeria going into the elections; unprecedented years of oil boom marked with unprecedented borrowing, depleted foreign reserves, monumental corruption, Boko Haram ascendancy marked with territorial occupation of parts of Nigeria, outright failure of government. That was a government that deserved to be voted out, even if it was running against a vacuum.

At least, a vacuum would run like an auto-pilot without borrowing an average of $1b/month, not to mention the now discovered dasukieing of resources.

That the administration that succeeded the above named disaster has not found its feet can never be an excuse to wish we stayed on the path of the supposed “transformation agenda” that was characterised by a weak President and bold rogues with endless power. I need not beat the issue about Buhari’s 10-month-old administration, my last piece did enough to express its shortcomings and why it is condemned to succeed if for nothing but for the trust Nigerians reposed in the President.

Do not mistake a critic of the administration like myself for one of the so-called “Wailing Wailers.” In truth, those are irrational haters of Nigeria and everyone who supported Muhammadu Buhari to become President. Haters of Nigeria because their wailing indeed has nothing to do with whatever the current government does or does not do, it has everything to do with April 1, 2015 when their so-called hero was finally shown the way out of power as Buhari was announced duly elected by then INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.

Some of us have thrived through the venom of their hatred online since that day and more of it will come. Critics of the administration are different in that it does not matter who they voted or who eventually became President, they are about Nigeria’s interest and the collective prosperity of the Nigerian people.

Irrational followers of political leaders have one thing in common; they will always justify their leaders no matter what. Let the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission get a conviction against them, you should not be shocked when they come up with twisted rationalisations of why such persons should never have been tried in the first place. They are also the type to insist things are going perfectly well even when it is apparent to the President himself that things are not. They are two ends of the same coin; they could care less about Nigeria, they just do not want to have their leaders questioned.

The rest of us have allowed that to thrive and now the conversation on governance and politics in Nigeria has come football-esque in the sense that you must take a side and stick to your side no matter the argument against the same. It is why football thrives, but it will be the greatest undoing against the need to question our leaders.

The rest of us can watch and have Nigeria reduced to the whims and obsessions of irrational followers who simply are about individuals or we can raise our voices and become the force that sidelines such irrational gangs so that Nigeria alone takes the centre stage of our collective interest.

We have a responsibility to keep Buhari and co on their toes. It is important to project that responsibility as citizens of Nigeria so that the clear line of separation between those who are just angry and pained about losing out of power and those who just want our country to progress will continue to be defined. If anger over an ordinary election loss has not subsided one whole year after the same, I guarantee a lot of these folks will remain angry for as long as they are out of power. They have a right to be angry, they are in their right to be pained and well in their right to let their existence be defined by a loss that was well-deserved.

We, as rational Nigerians, have our own rights too and we must not let the irrational voices of such angry mob crowd out ours. If it does, we will leave the national conversation in the House of Irrational Anger that cannot be pleased either by progress or development.

We have neo-activists who were beneficiaries of the old ways and the old guard, whose silence in the days of monumental corruption could have woken the long dead heroes of activism. We have them today preaching hypocritical common sense that would not survive even the heat of their own establishments where the ACs do not work and rats share space with cinema goers to watch foreign movies while seated, ready to munch on expensive pop corns reserved only for the rich.

The new soldiers of the poor who fly private jets but would insist on their public profiles they only do economy on local airline brands. The lovers of youths who when the time came to prove their love decided to relegate the same youths to the backwaters of their celebration, only worthy of cheap drinks even in the midst of plenty to drink and eat – but only for the rich.

We can do better than listen to those who insist we must buy Nigeria to grow the naira but would swim through oceans of hypocrisy so they have a book preaching such common sense printed in the United States dollars. Let us be gone with such hypocrisy. We cannot let our voices be that of people who when they got the chance replaced local content on our TV network with foreign shows long forgotten in the countries that made them.

Hypocrites are free to be hypocrites, only we must be careful not to swim in the direction of their hypocrisy. We cannot allow those who kept quiet for 16 years and have now replaced the same with 10 months of loud, ignorant and persistent hypocrisy – like one with a badly bent and bruised sense of morality – define our agitations or become our voice of reason.

We can be our own voices; we should be our own voices. We should call the system to order, we should scream in the ears of our leaders but we should never let the face of our voices be projected by those who are only about the pain of losses they deserved or the joy of those who just want power and do not care about doing the right thing with it. Those whom these caps fit are free to wear them!

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