BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

The finger-pointing Nigerian

I have come to realise that my country men and women have a disease. Unfortunately, our online presence has exacerbated it. No one wants to take responsibility even for what they are responsible for. No one wants to be honest as it might hurt their political and executive ascendancy. Everyone points at the headship of the nation for accidents on the road petty theft, 419, fraud and other sundry matters.

In fact, if your boyfriend broke up with you, it has to be the fault of that one oga at the top; if your wife decides to pack and leave, you hold the topmost office responsible. Please note that I am not excusing the leaders, especially where they have failed. But followership is also a major problem. We dance naked in markets for purposes of our stomachs and wilfully put anyone in positions of leadership.

From political class to Chief Executive positions, we have often looked the other way and foisted some unfit people in these positions. Some we know are brigands, pickpockets, frauds and untrustworthy people. We know them but for the sake of stomach infrastructure we position them and swear to high heavens that they are the best. Once they seat in the saddle, we begin our letters to heaven. They are no good. They have shortchanged us...blah di blah di blah.

In a nation where some religious leaders have supported people who have turned out to be the opposite of who they told us they were, this is certainly a the theatre of the absurd

I have seen supposedly respectable people pump up people they will not hire in the lowest position in their homes and swear by all real and imagined gods that they are the best for the country. It boggles the mind.

In a nation where some religious leaders have supported people who have turned out to be the opposite of who they told us they were, this is certainly a the theatre of the absurd. Everyone except us is wrong. We are all good people except for the next man/woman. And because we are so good in the political terrain, our spoilt bellicose children are inheriting our political positions because without our lineage in the polity, Nigeria will die. It is truly absurd.

While we are at it, these newbies have no clue about how to lead a herd of sheep. They are simply self-entitled with the appropriate surnames, deep pockets, money spenders and flashes in the pan. Dynasties are being created where there should be none, and godfathers are riding into town in rodeo style. This means that a certain group of people would ride roughshod over us for a long time.

There are the supporters whose role is to fan them up, line their pockets and dissappear into homes in the US, London and Canada. These are the groups of people who spend time pointing fingers when they settle in their luxury. Bad leaders they shout and there are perhaps five of such at who they helped to get there. From their luxury pads in London, the monthly haulage from these leaders from these persons they used to get as a right has suddenly dried up.

At this time they are no longer the best candidates. They are now terrible people with no leadership skills and have no interest in the citizens of the country. Together with those hoping for appointments, which never came, they begin to undo Nigerians from foreign lands. From one government to the other we know them.

But they have cousins in those who weigh in on everything on line. Be it true or not, they jump on the bandwagon. The story is told of a man who constantly insulted a state leader. One day the leader called for him to have a meeting with him. The naysayer arrived in a taxi. So the state chief executive gave him a large sum of money to give to the taxi driver for his trouble. He ran downstairs to give the taxi driver and returned for the meeting. But the taxi driver was stopped at the gate and asked how much he was given. He told them. They took him back to the main building where it was determined that the naysayer had pocketed three-quarters of the taxi driver’s largesse and given him only a paltry sum.

Remove the log in your eyes, Nigerians. We celebrate on and offline when a thief is caught but our hands are in the till in church, in our homes and in our offices. We are quick to draw blood even as students but we are entrenched in school politics where we are allocated slush money from any means possible.

I find that some of the student leadership in many tertiary institutions are as bad as some truly bad politicians. They are quick to call out lecturers, governments, and community leaders but the story of Nigeria’s deep corrupt cleavage is also within their ranks.

How do you deal with the headship of a market union whose children are tax collectors and who add more money in the tax regime for their pockets? How do you describe a female church leader who imports people from other parishes who do not qualify to vote, to partake in her election? How do you describe a messenger in an office who sells high level information to the highest bidder? How do you describe a man/woman who looks like a saint in the office but who has been found to embezzle all the allowances of staff?

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Those who collect bribe for jobs, visa racketeering, sex for grades, bribes to find a file. Something is deeply wrong with a nation where the next man/woman is trying to cheat you and when caught he/she says they are just being sharp. For some reason, such people are considered smarter than others.

I was certain about two years ago that I was going to miss my international flight. I had an hour and a half to my flight and had checked in. But I had lost my health card. A card without which there were dire consequences in the country I was visiting. I walked back to the checking in counter. Nothing. My bags, nothing. I emptied my pockets. Still nothing. I then spoke to a very senior person in the airport in Lagos who advised that I report it at a Lagos health centre near the airport.

He handed me to a man who was to secure a taxi for me for a quick turnaround. So, we began to walk and walk and walk some more through parking lots and past random buildings. And he was informed of the urgency of my plight. Then I reminded him that I had a flight to catch. We go soon reach the taxi, madam. A lie.

Now we are building a resume around the world of people who cannot be trusted. People who lie through their teeth. There were scores of taxis at the airport that were close by. But he wanted to take me to Kathmandu. As far from the airport as possible so he would get a cut from a taxi driver who was his guy. My flight was in its last 50 minutes before gates would close when I returned with a health card from the facility. I barely got in when final boarding was called.

The man had no business punishing me. He could have saved me the trouble. But Nigerians often only understand man knows man. It would not have mattered to him if I missed my flight as long as he got his cut. But he can point at airport authority, complain about this and that. But he considers himself a clean man.

Until we are accountable wherever we are, shoemaker, tailor, tax collector, politician, student, market woman, governor, and all who hold any position at all to include community and religious leaders, we cannot be pointing fingers. It is time to stop pointing fingers. How about you? What wrong have you entrenched yourself in? Nigeria can only be rescued by all of us, each one playing his/her role for the job at hand. Roll up your sleeves. Do your part!

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