Two scores and ten years ago, Nigeria secured her independence from the United Kingdom with pomp and pageantry. Like a nation destined to reach the stars, the homeland took off with the agility of an express space-shuttle.

She soon became the undisputable shimmering star of the continent, with the corresponding tag of the “Giant of Africa.” From Abeokuta to Zaria, Aba to Zungeru, Azare to Zuru, the nation earned herself the finest appellation, approbation, and adulation reserved for the best. The world had nothing but reverence for the new continental power christened Nigeria. The West understood it cannot ruffle Nigeria’s feathers without garnering some consequences in its wake. With her newly acquired splendor and eminence, Nigeria became the liberator of fellow African countries from the colonial European powers. That was our nation’s finest epoch.

Today, the corrupt, inept, avaricious, visionless, and mission-less military dictators and quasi-democrats, who have cloned and recycled themselves in power for decades, have succeeded in making Nigeria the yardstick for measuring everything that is wrong in the modern world. The embarrassing truth is that our nation traded her greatness for hopelessness because we allowed that to happen. We tolerated the surreptitiously stealing cabal that brought Nigeria from the “Giant of Africa” to the “Charlatan of Africa.” We mortgaged our own future and those of our offspring – now, we are reaping the wild oats of complacency we sowed years ago. A nation, they say, gets the kind of leadership she deserves. A truthful nation gets truthful leaders, and a corrupt nation gets corrupt leaders. The leadership of a nation is an antecedent of her character, because the nation usually tolerates the leaders whose moral fibers reflect those of the people.

Real Nigerians are outraged by the humiliating slide of our Fatherland from the fountain of hope to the fountain of despondency. We can recall with nostalgia how the world once treasured and honored Nigeria. Back then, the erstwhile resilient naira compared favorably to Western currencies; unresolved political assassinations were limited; the green passport was respected abroad; we had presentable healthcare facilities; and there were fewer hungry Nigerians. We also remember that electricity outages were bearable prior to the arrival of the bungling kleptocracts in power, major cities had potable water, Nigerian roads were tolerable, and our schools had value. It was typically those who cannot secure admissions into the nation’s competitive ivory towers (or those who loved to travel) who opted to study abroad.

The equation has changed since the misappropriation of power by the unpatriotic elements. It is now the children of politicians who study abroad because schools hardly function at home. The nation remains in darkness without electricity, but the unabashed politicians and their “yes men” (and women) in the ministries and parastatals are satisfied with unpatriotic deals with generator dealers. Children are dying of treatable diseases, and women are expiring during childbirth because our hospitals have become death-consulting facilities. Yet, the crooked politicians and their families go abroad for medical care. Scores of Nigerians die on the road day-by-day because some fraudulent officials pocketed the money budgeted for road repairs.

Corruption, nepotism, sectionalism, idleness, and religious bigotry were institutionalized in the erstwhile oasis of comfort called Nigeria. Unwarranted assassinations, a la Dele Giwa, Mamman Vasta, Bola Ige, Kudirat Abiola, and many others, became the order of the day in our land. Nigeria fell from grace to grate and we started irritating the world. Electricity, potable water, and travelable roads became enigmas in the nation that produced the largest quantities of oil on the continent of African. Men and women in uniforms started abusing ordinary Nigerians with impunity. Our hospitals turned to synonyms for execution facilities. Naira began its epic journey of devaluation. The barefaced politicians demoted Nigeria, the former continental power-house, to a browbeaten regional power. Our nation was turned into a joke.

While elderly Nigerians lament the depressing state of the Motherland, younger Nigerians have nothing to be proud of. A growing number of our youth thrive on the notorious “Nigerian Scam.” The rest of the world identifies Nigeria with “scam,” as they identify America with the Statue of Liberty, Egypt with the Pyramids, Greece with the Parthenon, France with the Eiffel Tower, Rome with the Coliseum, and India with the Taj Mahal. The poverty rate of a nation that produces two million barrels of oil daily and the seventh largest natural gas reserve in the world has moved from 46 to 76 per cent in a little more than a decade. To patch the leaking balloon called the Nigerian image, the corrupt politicians in power blackmail, arm-twist and cajole whoever talks about the nation’s woes. Those who tell the truth about Nigeria’s despondency are labeled “unpatriotic.” It is disheartening how the unpatriotic politicians, who know nothing about the common good of the people, continue to disgrace the nation.

This is our moment of moral crisis. More than ever, the abused, tired, and worn citizens of Nigeria have the civic and moral obligation to rise and help build a new nation devoid of corruption, nepotism, sectionalism, idleness, and religious bigotry. We need a fearless leader who can stand up to the pathologically shady “leaders” in power. Surmounting corruption in Nigeria amounts to eliminating the nation’s number one problem. Who can do it? NUHU RIBADU IS THE ANSWER. As the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ribadu fought corruption in an unprecedented manner – even without an executive power. Imagine what Ribadu will do with the executive gavel in his hand. Fellow Nigerians, allow Ribadu to bring CHANGE, HOPE, and ACCOUNTABILITY to the land. Let the patriots heed the sobering call of our Motherland. Let Ribadu start the ethical revolution now!

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