Skip to main content

Before We Call For His Head

April 17, 2010

Dear esteemed editor: First, i must commend you for your bravery and contributions towards building our great nation Nigeria. Your unbiased reporting in a harsh environment has become the beacon of hope and inspiration for countless Nigerians who have the privilege to use the internet in a country where truth and information are luxury enjoyed by few.

Dear esteemed editor: First, i must commend you for your bravery and contributions towards building our great nation Nigeria. Your unbiased reporting in a harsh environment has become the beacon of hope and inspiration for countless Nigerians who have the privilege to use the internet in a country where truth and information are luxury enjoyed by few.
As we collectively strive to build a great country we can all be proud of, it is important that we do not tread the path of criticisms and sentiments without regards or recourse to truth. We cannot claim that all our leaders who have governed our great country with limited success are wholly responsible for the current quagmire challenging the existence of our unity as one nation and people under God.

There is no reason for us to ignore the great contributions of the great men and women that have served our country in various capacities.
It is easy for us as spectators and supporters to complain and criticize, but the motivation for our complaints and criticisms shall be patriotism, truth, facts, and not sentiments.

I am neither a supporter nor a beneficiary of any past or present government. Rather i have been a victim just like countless other Nigerians. I am presently undergoing treatment for the trauma I suffered while in Nigeria where I was shot by criminal elements in the Nigerian police force. Yet I will not label the entire Nigerian police force as evil nor will i blame anyone person for the decay in our nation’s institutions of government. We are all victims as well as guilty of any failure.

We have all collectively supported this decline by our individual actions knowingly and unknowingly. We have allowed the blame game to consume all positive inclinations rooted in our diverse cultural heritage. We blame our leaders for encouraging tribalism yet in our homes and domestic lives we promote tribalism and religious bigotry. I have witnessed homes where parents refuse to bless their child’s marriage to anyone from a tribe different from theirs. I have seen Igbo’s from Imo State refuse their child marry another Igbo from Anambra State. I know a man from Ogun state he married a woman from Anambra State before the civil war that tore Nigeria apart.  He told us the difficulties he faced just because he was from a different state. I know a young girl who wanted to marry an Ibo man from the same state as hers (Imo) yet the wedding was almost cancelled because he is Anglican and she is Catholic.

 I constantly witness the deep distrust between ethnicities, religions, and individuals. The violence and decay in our institutions of learning is not a result of bad leadership or neglect. They are the manifestations of events that occur in our individual homes. I have heard people complaining that the power supply is erratic yet they have never in their life paid any form of tax, I see Nigerian’s complain about environmental degradation yet they litter everywhere with what they consume. I see Nigerian’s blame government for lack of roads yet they dig up the roads to lay cables without restoring it to its original state.

These are different instances where our individual clandestine activities have contributed to the present state of despair prevailing in our great country. We fight good battles in a bad way thereby compounding our situation.

I am not claiming to know nor do I claim to have the divine powers to change the perception and attitudes of over a hundred million people who call Nigeria home. As patriotic contributors to the growth of our dear country we must encourage dialogue that will criticize, acknowledge and encourage our citizens who have tried to serve and have contributed in building the country we love so dearly. The constant attack on our past leaders is very healthy but genuine patriotism must be our motivation and not passion derived from sentiments built on canards.

I have read with dismay several articles regarding a great Nigerian patriot, and I am piqued by the venom and falsehood published through your medium. As a devout Christian I am governed by the teachings and commandments of God my creator; one of which is “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” yet most of your writers write as if they know everything about events that they are not party or privy to. I must ask why we all act as if we are without sin. I challenge any one who must condemn others to show patriotism not by criticizing but by engaging in activities that would promote positive change in their locality. We must individually promote unity and love for country. It is wrong and unpatriotic to ignorantly criticize and vilify our fine men and women in uniform retired or serving.

I will not support any of their conduct that is criminal yet I cannot see them as any less a Nigerian just because I want to follow the bandwagon. It is pertinent to remind ourselves “every personal desire must be subordinate to the objective of building a strong Nigeria ready for the challenges of an increasing complex world”. No single leader destroyed Nigeria, we are all culpable and the burden of that culpability is all that we need to wake up to our civic responsibilities. It would be a dangerous trend if we present fallacies as facts.

General Babangida did not destroy Nigeria. This is a fact that will not change with time.

 He has been out of power for over sixteen years now. During Babangida’s tenure as president oil that is our major source of revenue, was selling at around eighteen dollars per barrel. Today oil is selling at almost a hundred dollars per barrel yet we have not built a new bridge the size of third mainland bridge. We have thirty-six States but none of their capitals can compare with the standard set by General Babangida in the Federal Capital Territory. To criticize this great patriot objectively, it is important that we juxtapose the quality of infrastructure, and leadership during his tenure with what is obtainable today.

Is there any Nigerian who is not proud of Abuja? Has any successive government been able to do better? Are the state governors today not getting nearly as much as the entire Nigerian nation received in the eighties yet which State in Nigeria can compare with Abuja. Is the Nigerian liquefied gas project not part of his numerous achievements? Yes, he failed in some areas of his responsibility does that justify the ingratitude we show our great general. Before you shout me down remember that it is our individual responsibility as humans to always seek the facts and promote truth. Mixing truth with lies taints its purity thereby destroying its substance. Yes, a lot of wrong is been done to our country. It is our responsibility to proceed on a platform of equity, equality and truth while shying away from the temptation to become the judge and complainant.

All who shout crucify at the mention of the name Babangida should remember that it is not that simple to govern a country so deeply divided like our beloved fatherland. There is always someone somewhere trying to bring the house down. Corruption is a vicious malignant tumor rooted in most of our cultural practices. From the way we celebrate births to how we send forth the dead, our dominant cultural practices celebrate wealth. We still live in a society where majority look down on certain professions even though our eventual survival and growth as a developing nation depends on our ability to master and pioneer advances in these professions; Farming, carpentry, mechanics, and police, etc. Majority of Nigerians see carpentry as a profession for the poor and unemployed because they are not aware that for any furniture we import we create employment for the country of manufacture and that our money makes it possible for their technological growth whiles ours remains stagnated.

In an earlier publication titled A-posteriori (page 86), I highlighted a quote from the Encyclopedia Encarta regarding the tenure of General Babangida and his economic policies. “These actions set the stage for negotiations with the international monetary fund (IMF) for aid, a new round of austerity measures and better relations with the country’s creditors” “For a time Nigeria achieved a measure of economic recovery”. This is a synoptic analysis of the purpose and desire of the Babangida administration to steer Nigeria towards growth and global integration.

All those calling for his head must remember the respect Nigeria gained in foreign relations is because of the activities of ECOMOG. Do they ever write about his successes in bringing peace and stability to West Africa? Do they write about the role Nigeria played under his leadership in ending apartheid, or the contributions of Nigerian soldiers to United Nations peace operations? I am not saying that General Babangida is without guilt or fault. That would be very misleading I am simply saying that he like all the brave Generals that ruled Nigeria is a patriotic Nigerian like you and me. If we want good leaders, we must objectively criticize and highlight the shortcomings while acknowledging and extolling their successes.

Corruption is a universal disease affecting every country in the world. As patriotic Nigerians, we must resist the temptation of fighting ours on foundations of mendacities and cheap political blackmail. In recent times, we have witnessed bank executives looting banks of customers and shareholders funds. Are they military officers or police officers. We are privileged to have programs like W.A.I, MAMSER, NAFCON, etc. It was during my days as a student that the Babangida administration launched the national tree planting exercise and I am not aware of any other administration that has embarked on such a rewarding program even though the entire world is just realizing the effects of global warming and the benefit of trees in reversing the trend.

I am not expecting accolades or rewards for speaking out but hope to broaden the debate being aware that there are two sides to a coin and to appreciate the beauty is to see both sides as part of the coin. “As academics, and writers, we must carefully and honestly elucidate our views and opinion not by dwelling on wrong but by exposing the truth”
Nigerians are resilient and intelligent and I am convinced that if we put out the facts as they are they are capable of making the right judgments. We do not have to heat up the polity with perceptions and fabrications because we would be denying them truth, which will in turn, sway them to choose wrongly.


googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('comments'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content1'); });

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('content2'); });