2023: Before We Miss It Again – By Emeka Alex Duru

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It may be difficult to situate the Nigerian leaders without referencing them to the antics of the maximum ruler of the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), Josef Stalin. Like Stalin, they are deft and deadly.

For the record, Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee from 1922 until his death in 1953. He was good at intrigues and deceit with which he factored himself into the Bolshevik hierarchy, in the years following the death of Vladimir Lenin, and rose to become the leader of the Soviet Union.

Stalin’s strategies in manipulating his country men and women are quite instructive. In one instance, he was said to have presented members of his Politburo (ruling council), with a fowl that he had plucked off its entire feathers.

Thus incapacitated, the chicken could not stand properly nor fend for itself. But in a mischievous manner, Stalin, threw some corns before it and the poor chicken fell for the show. After the gory display, Stalin told his audience that the lesson in the whole thing was that to get the people and commandeer their loyalty, they needed, first of all, to be emasculated and disempowered.

Nigerian leaders have bought into this absurd practice. They have this tendency at pulling the wool over the eyes of Nigerians, using and discarding them as it suits them. And the people are falling in.

In the last few days since some members of the political class began to creep out to announce their intention for the presidency in 2023, the people have started falling for them. Groups are springing up or being propped to promote their aspirations. As usual, Nigerians are being divided on who to back, driven, of course, by the petty considerations of ethnicity and religion and other mundane considerations, not what each of the aspirants represents.

At a forum the other day, I watched some young men arguing vigorously on who among the aspirants that deserved their votes. Their criterion for choosing the better candidate was not on the basis of proven integrity or capacity to deliver but on the presumed size of the war chest and the ability of each to dispense favours.

Of course, it may be easy to dismiss them as not knowing what they wanted. And indeed, they did not! Beyond that, however, is that they are hungry, disempowered and dislocated, hence they seek any straw to cling on. They are ready and willing to fall for the highest bidder, incidentally, usually for the crumbs. The system, as it is, does not have room for men and women of ideas without deep pockets.

This accounts for the surge of the politicians, relatively, of the old brigade for the high office, so far. At the last count, Pius Anyim, former Senate President and Sam Ohuabunwa, foremost industrialist, have signified their interest for the office on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

From the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor, Dave Umahi, Ebonyi State governor ad Orji Uzor Kalu, Senate Chief Whip and erstwhile governor of Abia State, have shown interest. Kingsley Muoghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has also declared his ambition to run on the platform of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

There are indications that the list would expand in the days ahead in the PDP to accommodate former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and former Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Suspicions are equally high that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, of the APC, has eyes on the job.

A particular strand runs through all of them. None is below 60 years of age. They have been in the system at one time or the other. This, ordinarily, should provide grounds to assess each of them and estimate what they can offer. For some that had been in executive positions, the point of assessment should commence from the level they met their various states or last positions and how they left them after service. Those in the legislature should be able to tell Nigerians the quality of laws they enacted in their days and how such acts have helped the country.

More than the trivial considerations of religious affinity and ethnic affiliations, conversations on 2023 presidency should centre on antecedents of the aspirants, their capabilities and preparations for the office.

Karl Meier, former West African Correspondent of the Independent of London, could not have chosen a better title for his book on Nigeria than, “This House Has Fallen”. Nigeria, is currently on its fours, truth be told. What is needed is a leader with the vision and verve to bring it back.

But if we allow history to be our guide, there is no how we can discuss Nigeria in its present piteous state without recalling the ignominious role of some of those presently angling for the presidency. One way or the other, they contributed in enthroning the current lethargic leadership in the land that has set us back, more than 30 years.

Chinua Achebe, in ‘The trouble with Nigeria’, was right that “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely the 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”.

For Daren Acemoglu and James Robinson, authors of the encompassing book, ‘Why Nations Fail’, the most common reasons why nations fail is because of parasitic political and economic classes. Nigeria has had this extractive elite over the years. For them, what matters is what they derive from the system, not what they add to it. This is the time to halt the slide.

Earlier last year, a Non-Governmental Organisation, the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI), ranked Nigeria as the third worst governed country in the world. The report judged the country very low in governance, leadership and foresight

The ranking, which was the first in the series,  scored Nigeria 0.44 on leadership and foresight; anti-corruption 0.45; long-term vision 0.47; strategic prioritization 0.41 and innovation 0.4.

The verdict is damning but a true reflection of the situation of things in the country. In all indices of measuring good governance, such as rule of law; health services; the social service delivery in areas of electricity, roads, education, employment and ease of doing business, Nigeria is virtually in deficit. Nigeria is presently the Poverty Capital of the World.

We have successively been lumped with Iraq and Afghanistan as the World’s most terrorized nations. Some of the politicians eager to take over do not have the capacity to reverse these ugly trends. They are part of the rot!

This the time for the people to assert themselves and in the manner of the Jews after the holocaust, rise with firm resolve and say, Never Again!

The parasitic leaders must be rejected this time around. That is the only way to go if we don’t want to miss it again.

 *DURU is the Editor of TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos

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