The pages of Nigerian newspapers and some online Nigerian media outlets which seem, almost always to ponder on Nigeria and her interminable, sometimes preposterous, most times distressing teething troubles are a fantastic tidbit for anyone seeking an outlet to egress from any infuriating state of mind. Anytime I seem to become gloomy, all I would do to remediate myself is to look at a typical Nigerian newspaper or better still log in to any Nigeria-friendly online media outlet.
Just these past few days again, our media seem to toss into air, a new story – one in which two retired army Generals have taken on to belittling each other. If it were a war between any two regular citizens, only few would have been astounded. But this is no ordinary war since it’s not about any hoi polloi; it’s about two failed Nigerian leaders, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo.
It is said that on the occasion of his 70th birthday, Babangida, while analyzing and opining to imperative issues of national concern, he gleefully articulated, amongst other things, that if he were to have the favorable conditions that Obasanjo got while he in power between 1999 – 2007, he would have seen Nigeria gone nuclear. In the eyes of Obasanjo, this was Babangida’s crime – the willpower to confront!
From Obasanjo’s quarters in Ota farm, we came to know that as a reaction to Babangida’s critique, Obasanjo said, Babangida is only but a fool. Undoubtedly, as the Constitution of Nigeria gladly bequeaths, any citizens have the so-called unalienable right to freedom of speech, and even more unassailable, the liberty to say it however one deems fit. But even with such indisputable rights, it is only pragmatic and courteous that as elderly people, much less leaders, that they express themselves and their miens in the most civil of styles and the most ethical of traditions.
Taken from an essential point of note, it feels utterly irksome to see two national figures, the likes of Obasanjo and Babangida, trading words with the most maledictive of lingo. One shudders to wonder, where our morality and decency as a nation is. Has Nigeria been stripped off its mores, so much so that even those whom we should’ve looked up to for comfort and succor have gone so gaga to the point of public affront?
It comes into view, clear that Nigeria is the way it is, muffling in its rusty state simply because of the category of people it spawned as leaders. With people like Obasanjo and Babangida as followers let alone leaders, no country would march into modernity. As a rule of modesty, a serious country, any serious people, ought to choose from amongst them, people of rectitude and honesty in order that they progress. Not just rectitude and honesty, but leaders and ex-leaders – which the young generation watches and emulates with all solemnity – must also, behave ethically. This is because leaders can be honest while still being law breakers or exhibiting irrational conducts. All these Nigeria is lacking.
True leaders also are those with a dogged commitment to culturally accepted values. With this, it compels them to do the right thing at all times even if they displease their own personal interests.
All these qualities of leadership and statesmanship are ones that Babangida may be lacking, but then again, Obasanjo lacks even more – since he barely comes across as anybody better than an ex-president, who, to make matters worse, a septuagenarian that enjoys having a good time in bed with his daughter-in-law (thanks to his son’s give away).
As we continue to hope and yearn for the ideal leader who would come and lessen our ordeals instead of compounding our already compounded national afflictions, let us all strive and do our utmost to see that we trim down the number of puerile people in our high places. We are not asking for a heaven-sent leader; for we know that heaven-sent leaders may not practically exist. It takes a human to comprehend that being human; virtually no one can be completely sage.
Both Obasanjo and Babangida have had the rare privilege to preside over our nation’s affairs, but what is the result – they’ve only proved short of veneration for societal ideals. The duo, under their respective commands has taken too much only to arrange for too little – with Obasanjo’s administration even shoddier.
Nigerians have been ireful and disappointed by people like Obasanjo and Babangida. If only they knew, Nigerians alike would understand and ask themselves that aren’t their reactions to these leaders related to the strengths of their expectations? If only we had expected little from them, knowing the type of people that they are, their shilly-shallying would neither take the wind out of our sails nor matter much to us.
It is high time we worked towards the realization of improved leaderships, one that we can actualize by ingathering, through our educational and social systems, a new harvest of value-conscious leaders. We can also check the current putrefaction in our system by implementing and encouraging more transparent monitoring processes. But by and large, our culture must be set to reward honesty, dignity and morality as much as it does to the quest for selfishness and self-centeredness.
Ultimately we should try and put effort to identify and isolate the likes of Babangida, but all the more, we should exert more energy in finding and ripping up the many Obasanjos in our midst. When we do this, even if for nothing, we would have achieved two things: one, we would be done with uncouth, foulmouthed citizens that posture as leaders or ex-leaders, and two, we would have no more of those leaders or ex-leaders who sleep with their daughters-in-law.
A final prayer, May Nigeria depend less on people like Obasanjo and Babangida in order that we might prosper as a people and as a nation. God save Nigeria!
Mohammed Dahiru Aminu, wrote from Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached at [email protected]