• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Are you doing your best for your country?

Washington unmasks Nigeria

Why not?—why not the best?—was a turning point in the life of a man. Admiral Hyman Rickover had asked a young cadet in the Navy: When you were in school and in all your life, did you always do your best? The question burned in the young man’s heart. That was what propelled Jimmy Carter to become the 39th president of America. If not for the Blacks, Western literature is overly characterised by eternal principles of life, death, and love (horror and crime). But the blacks, especially Africans, have been enmeshed in a continuous struggle for independence, against corruption, embezzlement, oppression, and wickedness.

Even poets like William Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Keats, Frost, Blake, Morris, and Tennyson meditate on nature, love, pulleys, birches, daffodils, and schoolboys. Come to Africa, all African poets, apart from the Negritude Movement, lament, bemoan, and send an outcry concerning the oppression, impoverishment, embezzlement, corruption, and wickedness domiciled in Africa and her leadership. We have Ambassadors of Poverty (P.O.C. Umeh, Nigeria), Dining Table (Gbanabom Hallowell, Sierra Leone), Ambush (Gbemisola Adeoti, Nigeria), The Leader and the Led (Niyi Osundare, Nigeria), The Grieved Land (Agostihno Neto, Angola), Expelled (Jared Angira, Kenya), and Boy on a Swing (Oswald Mtshali, South Africa).

The likes of Chinua Achebe write and infer as though the salvation of Nigeria would come from efforts by the people in his class, the educated. That has become elusive. The likely question of what the purpose of political power is comes to mind again. The late Chinua Achebe, in his “Trouble with Nigeria,” pointed out that Nigeria, to its misfortune,is an oil-rich country. Oil is a great burden to underdeveloped countries because it fosters the growth of mismanagement, embezzlement, and corruption. 41 years later, Achebe believed that citizens could reject old habits that had stopped Nigeria from becoming a modern and attractive country. Tribalism, lack of patriotism, social injustice, a cult of mediocrity, indiscipline, and corruption were some of the problems then and have now destroyed the country.

Nigerian political leaders,past and present, should assess themselves to see if they have done their best for the country before we turn to their followers and citizens. From 1985 on, Nigeria nose-dived from a rich country to a debtor. A military head of state has collected loans, borrowed millions of dollars, and transferred them to his private account. Nigeria, as the shark swallowed a big net with the bait, which was the IMF, and got choked up. It kicked off the devaluation of the naira. The political statement “I step aside” and “I am strong” killed Nigeria. There and then, we lost N1, N5, N10, N20, N50, N100, and we are about to lose N200. Shehu Shagari did not borrow any funds, and through his political adviser, Chuba Okadigbo, he introduced the austerity measures.

Ben Akabueze, DG of the budget office of the federation, said that Nigeria’s borrowing space keeps reducing due to its inability to service debts. Our leaders could not lead by personal example. The ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign started in 2016 from the Ministry of Information. Nigerians sought out a good leader to emulate. Muhammad Buhari has left the country he built for the UK. Buhari sold Nigeria to China through loans and borrowings, which have less impact on the development of the country.

Oswald Sanders, in his book ‘Paul, the Leader’, wrote, “We form part of a generation that worships power—military, intellectual, economical, and scientific. The concept of power is worked into the warp and woof of our daily lives. Our entire world is divided into power blocs. Men everywhere are striving for power in various realms, often with questionable motivation.” Aso Rock and FCT carry great influence in Nigeria. The government of Tinubu hopes to revive the economy through multiple taxes and overtaxation. The National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, raised the alarm in 2023 that more than half of crude oil is lost to oil theft. Even if a litre of fuel, gas, should sell for N2000, it won’t still be enough. There is not just trouble, but a complete system collapse in Nigeria.

The World Bank and IMF rule Nigeria by proxy. The cyber security levy is reaping where one did not sow, which will soon backfire. Those targeted are mainly traders and importers, who would lose business capital in the millions. The hunger pangs started with Osun State indigenes in Lagos State and would soon spread to other regions. The soldiers, police, and sister security agents at checkpoints are still feeding well, but let’s see how far it will go. Not any reasonable person would want to rule Nigeria, weighing the decay, damage, and collapse. The truth will soon be revealed in the battle between the rich and poor. Hunger, survival of the fittest, and hooliganism have besieged citizens, and the effects will soon manifest.

Africa and her leadership turn back and forth—military rule to civilian rule, monarchy to military rule. Countries like Cameroun, Togo, Senegal, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan, and Burkina Faso are nations where poverty and impoverishment are governed, yet despite their recklessness, oppression, and backwardness,they are far better than the giant of Africa called Nigeria.

The late Emil Brunner once said, “What oxygen is for the lungs, such is hope for the meaning of human life.” As human organisms are dependent on a supply of oxygen, humanity is dependent on its supply of hope. Yet in Nigeria today, hopelessness and despair are everywhere. Leaders are chosen in Nigeria by a blind prima donna, not any of them with a servant spirit. The Roman Caesar of Jesus’ day proclaimed that he was God and demanded worship. Lesser leaders ruled by exalting themselves over the people they governed. Calloused hands were the badge of the pioneer, but a furrowed brow is the insignia of modern man. John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), the 35th president of America, in his inaugural speech tasked the citizens with deciding what they should do for their country and not what their country would do for them.

Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu: St. Anthony’s Catholic Comprehensive Institute, Agulu.