My friends have always criticized me for my hard posture on the social and political situation in Nigeria. Particularly, they criticize my tendency to castigate the political class for their contribution to the Nigerian story of political banditry. My response has always been that the political leadership in Nigeria has failed the country.
You do not need to look too far to confirm this assertion: Fifty years after independence, we are still groping in the dark. Like the several Nigerians scattered all over the world, I have to rely on the West for the core of my budding academic scholarship. For those who are not in the West, they have found refuge in smaller African countries that looked to Nigeria for inspiration in the years after independence. For these and other atrocities too obvious to chronicle, I have lost hope in the political leadership, except for a few fine models, like Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos and Adams Oshiomole of Edo. In these leaders, I find the examples of the brand of leadership we need.
The kind that, Chinua Achebe, laments its absence in The Trouble with Nigeria.
Unfortunately, these charismatic and pragmatic leaders are in the minority. In the majority are the political prostitutes who lack any form of ideological orientation. These set of politicians are only interested in filching from the nation. This irresponsible collective added a new convert to their fold today.
Ken Nnamani, the Senate President, whose vote put paid to the third term ambition of former President Obasanjo, is the new addition to the Nigerian hall of infamy.
In a discussion thread on an internet listserv yesterday, a commentator drew attention to the news that Ken Nnamani was scheduled to chair the occasion of Ibrahim Babangida’s presidential declaration in Abuja. Like several other commentators, I argued that Nnamani would not condescend to such heights. I argued instead that the Babangida camp was seeking credibility and would drop any name to achieve that.
To my disappointment, Nnamani showed up to give credibility to the Babangida show of shame. But why am I surprised? Isn’t it the characteristic of Nigerian politicians to seek personal aggrandizement instead of the interest of the collective? Is the quest for the personal by our politicians not responsible for our present season of anomy (apologies to Soyinka)?
But I am disappointed because I thought Nnamani should know better. He might be broke having left the lucre of office since 2007, but he should have paused to ask where Babangida got the wealth he is enjoying today. Nnamani should have asked what happened to June 12. He should have asked why millions of Nigerians have vowed to vote for Babangida with stones. Our retired progressive should have wondered about what happened to Dele Giwa and why the widow and children of Mamman Vatsa are pained by the mention of Babangida. This list is not exhaustive by any means; it is only representative
But since other commentators (more qualified than I do) have written on the tragedy that was Babangida’s first coming, I would not say more about that.
Instead, I continue to wonder why our politicians cannot resist the trappings of money and power. In 1993, it was Babagana Kingibe and others who jumped ship to the lucrative part to hell. Raymond Dokpesi did few weeks ago and today, it is the turn of Ken Nnamani to epitomize the failure of our political class. Who is next?
Cajetan Iheka is a graduate student in the United States and the Convener of the Young Nigerian Professionals in the Diaspora Network.