Who can reclaim Nigeria
by Austine Uche-Ejeke
Anyone who sees anything concerning redemption or reclamation of this country will be fired up to do everything possible to see that it comes to actualisation. And for a long time now, the call for a better Nigeria had been and is still very strident and sustained but unfortunately, several decades after, nothing concrete has come out of it.
Thus, Chido Onumah recently resurrected the issue in his book, Time to reclaim Nigeria, as he chronicled the several ills of the country.
The big question is, where and when the reclamation will start from. Do we start from the government of the day providing leadership guidelines and an enabling environment to kick-start the onerous task?
A country where a government official will conveniently stash away N20bn under his bed and still be walking the streets free is confusing. A situation where simple prosecution of culprits is so difficult for the anti-graft agency and which had made James Ibori a free man in Nigeria and a convict in United Kingdom is shameful. There are other cases yet to come to light.
For more than five decades of independence, no concrete leadership foundation has been laid to entrench good governance that can reclaim the land. But accept it or not, government is one institution that cannot be ignored in this mission of redemption of the country. If we do, we do it at our own peril, as whatever gains we might make in the struggle will be squandered by a ravaging megalomaniac ruling class.
The attention now shifts to the youths and the question is, which genre of youths are we talking about here? Is it the youth that cannot pass honestly the WASSCE and UME? For some time now, we have been clamouring for the inclusion of youths in the affairs of the country, but even the few that we had sampled had, to a large extent, betrayed us.
The incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, and his deputy, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, are young men that can fire up a change of attitude towards governance. So are other youthful governors, local government chairmen, councillors, etc. Maybe the National Association of Nigerian Students would have been a veritable tool in this onslaught. But, are we talking about a NANS that has been bastardised and polarised along selfish and primordial lines such that today, we have countless factions of student movements in the country, each trying to outdo one another in the brigandage of sycophancy and bootlicking. The problem of this country may not just be that of leadership but mostly that of a docile following, as today’s leaders were once mere citizens or followers.
Another hard fact is that it is not just okay to be unrepentantly critical about the ills of the country when many of the so called ‘progressives,’ not quite long ago, were the harbingers of an egalitarian and better country. They have either compromised themselves with filthy lucre or just chickened out of the common good pursuits.
Yes, it is true that the excruciating conditions of the country may dampen their moral, as there are roadblocks and feeling of hopelessness in any angle they turn to; but is that enough reason to abandon the Nigerian project to scallywags?
Perhaps our messianic quest will be located at the doorsteps of the civil society groups that adorn the length and breadth of the country. But how realistic is that when all we have been getting all these years are just rhetoric and long sermons without any attempt at providing platforms that can galavanise the citizenry towards the reclamation of the country.
In the list of reclamation agents would have been the Nigeria Labour Congress, but we all know the state of affairs of labour movement. The history of labour movement has not been so docile and tainted than the past five years or thereabout. All we get to hear of are sell-outs. Even from the religious perspectives, no hope comes from the pulpit to provide a base for a change in the society. Most religious leaders find it difficult to speak out courageously against the ills being perpetrated by those in authority. Attention is focused more on prosperity messages and jihad. In some cases, we hear compromise of some sorts as a result of handouts of filthy lucre.
Do we now turn to the traditional institutions to provide the needed succour?
The media would have been a good recourse to this all-important quest for the redemption of the country. But we all know the state of the media today. Apart from providing platforms for the emergence of independence, contemporary Nigerian media are not doing enough to urgently reclaim this country.
Even the legislature that is supposed to play an oversight and pivotal role in the struggle for a better Nigeria is, to say the least, the worst culprit. Their attention is focused on fund allocation and sharing of money which makes it near impossible for them to lead this fight. Even those in the so-called ‘progressive’ parties partake in the national loot, as we have not heard of any rejection of the outrageous sharing of public money by any member of the opposition.
The judiciary that should be the last bastion of hope for the country is also to some extent messed up. We hear of unsavoury verdicts by some judges, depending on the depth of your pocket. That is why whopping 170 charges against ex-governor James Ibori were dismissed, while another judiciary outside our shores found him guilty and jailed him.
Where then lies the redemptive apparatus that this country needs for a change?