• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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A word on Nigeria’s deadly enemies

But Nigerian leaders don’t see serving the massesin the light of sacrifice, of self-abnegation, of self-abasement. For them it is to gain weight, enlarge harem, add so-called side chicks, cultivate sybaritic habiliment, change wardrobe and eating habits to match new patrician status and gargantuan tastes, wire money abroad in savings and for indulgence homes and, finally, move into the phase of h

Not given to altruism, these leaders don’t also subscribe to the law of the power of example. This is the golden rule insisting that rulers aren’t graded great until they exhibit selfless, sacrificial and Spartan conduct that sparks same virtues in the citizens.

But our leaders, elected, selected or ‘dictated,’ believe in the precept of the example of power. Here, the goal is, as you grab power, you must dig in, you must live in itand flaunt it and extend its frontiers like you’d be in its embrace forever.

They invest their all in it, nursing it with a lusty affection that outlaws competition or regard for other existential concerns. They bequeath a depressed economy after fattening theirpersonal bank accounts and acquiring more propertythan they had at the point of entry.

They exploit the led and desecrate theirsacred office. They arrange a superannuation that glides them into a lifetime of cloying affluence and luxury. It’s the reason our rulers disengage from public office into private opulence. In retirement, they become epicurean billionaires in a land rated as the global epicenter of poverty. When they drop out of public office, they boast of 50-room palatial mansions, yachts, exotic vehicles, private jets etc., forming oases of their ilk here and there.

Yet, the leader humanity would honour must leave office a poorer man than when he comes in, even if he’s bearing the tale of one born with the proverbial golden spoon.

When you’re ruling the overwhelmingly poor, you don’t take sumptuous meals while they feed from the trashcan. You’re not to play the dandy in the midst of those in rags, as it were.

Whether in your closet or in the open, you must relate (acclimatise) with their indigence, regardless of your aristocratic background or the lifetime harvests from your depthless severance benefits. That’s the price of genuine leadership.

But Nigerian leaders don’t see serving the masses in the light of sacrifice, of self-abnegation, of self-abasement. For them it is to gain weight, enlarge harem, add so-called side chicks, cultivate sybaritic habiliment, change wardrobe and eating habits to match new patrician status and gargantuan tastes, wire money abroad in savings and for indulgence homes and, finally, move into the phase of hedonistic hallucinations about life in an idyllic future.

These engagements put our leaders in an alien and broken world. They deliver great homilies on nationalism and religion and sacrifice. But alas, they won’t drop their ornate robes to reflect their oration. They copiously quote the Scripture; but they fail to follow its teachings. They read of the abstemious lives of the prophets; but they don’t take after them.

They don’t duplicate the noble life of a personality called Nehemiah, a governor in Bible-time Israel. He rejected the legitimate dainties of office because he met a people in the arms of death, the same forlorn conditions in which our current administrators met us last year. He declined the offer of ‘’the bread of the governor’’ together with daily provision of ‘’one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine.’’

Nehemiah said he couldn’t live in such splendor when his compatriots were locked in squalor. He said: “The bondage was heavy upon this people.’’ His pillaging, parsimonious and parasitic predecessors had pauperized the land with their avarice. It was the suffering masses’ blood-robedtoil that provided for the masters’ table. Sadly, the leaders’ conscience didn’t quake as they gobbled the product of the poor!

Read also: Delusional Leadership Perspectives 2

If our leaders don’t read the Scriptures, wouldn’t they have read about a Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and foremost Pan-Africanist?

After the coup of 1966 displaced him, his traducers turned local and international commercial banks inside out to bring out evidence that Nkrumah was a corrupt leader who deceived the people with his socialist ideology. They got none, because he didn’t have any.

Like Nehemiah, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah led a Stoic life, to serve his people. He rejected so-called personal allowances, even if there were legalized or admissible excuses to use them. The revolutionary has been quoted as saying: ‘’I refused to accept, as a political gesture, any of the expense allowances allotted to the President by law…If my Will had been published…, it would have shown that I left nothing even to my own family but bequeathed everything I did possess to the Party and the State.’’ The money he had after office was royalties from his numerous books, which were paid into a bank in the UK.

When he died in exile in April 1972, more of this austere life came to light. His remains were to be interred at his hometown, Nkroful, a small village in southwest Ghana.

The military regime of Ignatius Acheampong was horrified to learn that the road to the home of this revered African statesman wasn’t motorable. Worse, what passed for the abode where Nkrumah’s aged mother lived was only ashade above ashed. The junta wouldn’t stand presenting these ‘eye-sore’ scenes to the world leaders who would be attending Osagyefo’s funeral in July 1972.

So, hurriedly, within weeks, they ‘civilized’ the access routes to Nkroful and gave Madam Nkrumah’s home a facelift, to enable it face the VIPs coming to honour a greater VIP.

The late Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, the remarkable Nigerian Sunday Times editor and columnist, once returned to Lagos from a visit to Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere in Dar es Salaam, with the report that the home of a middle level civil servant in Nigeria had more totems of civilization and luxury than that of the man who has blazed into history as one of Africa’s greatest leaders.

But Nigerian leaders are exemplars of power. This is our chief curse. Our leaders, bereft of the power of example, have poured themselves into the citizens, teaching us to follow their lifestyles of corrupt enrichment, in public or private.

We’re all reflecting our leaders’ materialisticpenchants: greed, corruption, power-snatching for oppressive rule for keeps and illicit and exhibitionist wealth etc. It’s the reason all the society has gone under. Whichever way you turn, the singsong is, The beautiful ones are not yet born. (AyiKwei Armah).

The bandits, kidnappers, assassins, yahoo boys and girls, ritual killers, armed robbers, embezzlers, fake prophets, raiders of the national treasuries, compromising security personnel and civil servants are all perfect replicas of those in power. These leaders, whether in politics, security sector, traditional institutions, judiciary, religion, industry, academia, the professions, etc. are Nigeria’s deadliest enemies because they recreate citizens larger than their own image who turn in gratuitous violentvengeance on the people.

They entrench a rat-race system that encourages a destructive lust for power and wealth. They make room for those succeeding them in office to seek to outdo them. Therefore, the malcontents of the society in the name of bandits, unknown gunmen, prostitutes, online fraudsters, false prophets, prostitutes etc. are merely the outcrop of gaudy leaders who give more time to addressing their leviathan tastes than to caring for the majority poor in the land.

Meagre fundsare released for strategic infrastructural development and welfare of the masses, because a larger chunk is retained exclusively for the leaders, leaving the society impoverished, unsecured and at the mercy of marauders unyielding to reason or patriotism.

The wealth of society is headquartered in the rulers through a corrupt wage structure that ensures those in government and their cronies are richer than the creators of wealth. Thus, the state is rich, but the citizens are rendered miserably poor.

One way out this national conundrum is to abolish salaries and allowances altogether for political office holders. Let those coming into office and their families be cared for by the state. They should make use of public schools and government hospitals. Only acute medical conditions would necessitate overseas attention at state expense. There should be no wardrobe or vehicle allowances for them; nor should there be vacation abroad for those who opt to govern us. Public office shouldn’t be where to make money. It’s not where to invest N350m for a seat in the House of Representatives and seek to gain some billions of naira at the end of four years or so. Public office is where you give to the public, not where you take from it. You leave there a poorer person.

Secondly, we must get those who want to lead us to submit to the scales. We must record their weight as they come in. As they exit, we take the stats again. Have they lost weight to suggest they’ve been toiling sleeplessly for the people? Or they’ve put on furbishedflesh to tell the tale of tainted integrity and failed leadership?

These measures should help sanitise the system in three ways: big money would be freed for more of society as we wouldn’t have a humongous and bottomless wage bill for government; two, only selfless and patriotic citizens would be attracted to the hallowed business of serving the nation; three, we would no longer be having a venal class generationally giving birth to its own small class of preyinggourmands.

.Ojewale is a writer in Ota, Ogun State.