• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Resilience – forging ahead (2)


At the appropriate time (perhaps in his memoirs) he will avail us of his candid opinion of his leader and President. Hopefully, he will match Chief Bola Ige’s candour:

“I can’t be Chief Awolowo (my leader). Let me just be Bola Ige. When you talk of Awolowo, you are talking of a man who ate only when he was extremely hungry; and who measured the amount of water he drank. A man who cannot be moved by the nakedness of women of easy virtues. Nothing moved him, yet he moved everything in his way! A man who believed that thinking of the greatness of his country is a full-time job. He once told us:

“Think inside your dreams, start thinking again when you wake up but if you did not wake up, you are a hero if you died thinking about the greatness of your nation.”

My leader was exceptional. He was like nobody else. So, I can’t be like him.”

History is on the side of Professor Gambari as virtually all the problems he is contending with have been with us for a while. Some even go back several decades.

A case in point is the generation gap which the late Professor Tam David-West (an unrepentant Buharist) addressed about thirty years ago:

“The generation gap is actually a fall out from the fissure in our social structure which is under considerable strain from our obsession with millions i.e. ruthless materialism.

It is instructive, to stress the point that, the means by which such millions are amassed is never called to question. For instance, it could be by cheating; stealing; by lying; by killing; by bribery and corruption; by manipulation; by contract inflation; by ‘pushing’ (cocaine); by ‘trafficking (in foreign currency), by irregular and illegal crude oil transactions; or similar self-serving smart practices. In a word, it could be dirty or godless millions. In a word it is apparently, totally irrelevant and uninteresting.

The end must justify the means. And in Nigeria, the cheer-raisers, the crawlers, the sycophants and the touts are never in short supply, to regularly dose the vanity of our soft millionaires, with the necessary adrenalin. There should be a new culture of reverse snobbery against these soft Nigerian millions. Such a psychological and social re-orientation will eventually cheapen these questionable millions as mega status indices in interpersonal relationships. I am worried because to the best of my knowledge, history has not known of a system that survived, operating the ethic of pockets of tremendous personal affluence living side by side with mass hunger and deprivation.”

Perhaps we should refer to the book: “The Duke and the Soul Princess” by J.K. Randle

“On the subject of the generation gap, we should acknowledge the incisive observations of Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, SAN, (ex-King’s College, Lagos; and Cambridge University) the Deputy Premier of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria who recently (at the Annual Dinner of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, at the Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island, Lagos) lambasted the nouveau riche for not only coming into wealth and power through brazenly dubious means but also exciting the envy of the poor through their ostentatious display of such wealth and thereby compelling many (the deprived) to take to robbery in order to share in the free-spending but unproductive life-style which is the new vogue.

According to Chief Fani-Kayode: “This phenomenon was unknown in the 1930’s; 40’s; and early 50’s when integrity, honesty, intellectual achievement, class and style (not money) were the standards of society. The society cracked, the elite was subdued, the old standard was destroyed and a new class of unprincipled characters emerged, which increased from year to year up till today. All the old virtues were discredited; wealth, lies, and cheating became the accepted norms for the struggle to the top. Mediocrity became an asset and the nation’s path to degeneration commenced without reaching the heights of excellence most nations attain before falling.”

Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, Q.C., SAN, CON died in October 1995.

Professor Gambari is keenly aware of virtually all the grievances and fault lines in our social tapestry, political fabric and economic misalignments as well as financial misadventure combined with sheer folly and recklessness. They have been lingering for far too long. Now, we are hovering at the precipice.

The new Chief of Staff has been presented with a unique opportunity to make a significant impact and epic contribution.

Living is learning and through the process of accepting every challenge as real we may succeed in changing the perspectives of the Chief of Staff and eventually the lens and prism through which the President, with the rank of General in the Army, draws up his battle plans

We must join hands with him in the pursuit of the “Common Good” which simply translates as what is good and common (beneficial) to all of us without prejudice to race (tribe); gender; or religion. It all boils down to: What those with power must render to the powerless.

After all, all pain is personal. Indeed, all lives must have a meaning and purpose (even those who are trapped in the grief of survival in the camps meant for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons).

Living is learning and through the process of accepting every challenge as real we may succeed in changing the perspectives of the Chief of Staff and eventually the lens and prism through which the President, with the rank of General in the Army, draws up his battle plans.

On the raging issue of structure and restructuring, we are entitled to remind ourselves of the encounter with Chief Ufot Ekaette, who was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation from 29th May 1999 to 28th May 2007 under General Olusegun Obasanjo. Incidentally, Chief Ekaette was in Payne’s House, King’s College, Lagos (same house as Professor Gambari, although they were not contemporaries). The current National Security Adviser to the President, the dapper Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) was also in Payne’s House!!

All it took to convince Chief Ekaette (and we do not have any reason to believe it would be any different with Professor Gambari) was to remind him that regardless of whether you were a science or arts student, in the Sixth Form at King’s College, the tutors – A.J. Miners and T. F. Doust (both of them ex-Oxford University) would insist on introducing you to philosophy. They enjoyed the active support of the Principal (Headmaster) P.H. Davies (ex-Oxford University).