THAT ILL-ADVISED TRIP TO LONDON
The recent planned trip to London by President Goodluck Jonathan, some Ministers, state Governors and National Assembly members, purportedly for Nigeria’s 50th birthday celebrations, is ill-timed and ill-advised. It is an embarrassment to Nigerians home and abroad as the message it sends is grave on our national psyche. It simply shows that we cannot stand on our own or that we are still much tied to the apron strings of Britain. It is inconceivable for an American President, some state Governors and Congress members to go on a jamboree to London to celebrate America’s independence and waste tax payers’ money in the process.
Most actions of our governments in Africa leave us baffled most of the time as we always try without success to find justification for them. It also shows the quality of advisers of governments and the character of leadership in third world countries like Nigeria. My initial reaction to the news was that the trip could not be true but when I read the following day that the Nigerian delegation was actually on its way to London, I knew we had been made a laughing stock again.
Why can’t we get serious for once? Shortly before the trip, our legislators at the National Assembly engaged in fisticuffs in the full glare of the cameras. Are we going to London for constitutional conference like in 1958? Are we going to Britain to beg them to solve our problem? The trip is interpreted to mean we are indirectly submitting our sovereignty to Britain or begging them to come and colonize us once again. The nauseating excuse that the trip is to woo investors is better told to the marines. Which investor will invest in a country in whose leaders have lost confidence?
Our world cup disaster is a reflection of our other facets of life. So unimaginative and not ready to take risks politically or economically. It is only oil we depend upon just as we depended on our old overfed and rich Super Eagles players for whom diminishing returns have set in. How many Nigerians want to sell their cars to invest in another business? As we have recycled our players over the years without any replacement, so is our political space that parades old recycled politicians. It is our way of life to be complacent and everybody goes on with life as if nothing happened. We do the same thing all the time and expect different results. A whopping ten billion naira was budgeted for celebrating Nigeria at 50 but the question to ask is, what are we celebrating?
South Africa’s perfect hosting of the world cup should make us sober and we should ask ourselves, what is wrong with us? If Nigeria were to hold the world cup, I am sure the stadia would have been thrown into darkness while matches were in progress. Somebody would have deliberately tampered with the generator in order to by fake spare parts to make money in the process. After the competition, all the cars and generators used would be shared among government officials like they did during COJA games in Nigeria.
I have said it many times that we are in spiritual darkness and it is because we are not getting it right politically. Our next door neighbor, Ghana, started getting everything right including sports when they got it right politically by successfully concluding a free, fair and transparent election that ushered in the present regime. The regime enjoys the support of Ghanaians and so does not suffer legitimacy crisis. The implication of this is that spiritually, Ghanaians are in agreement with the government they truly put in place by their votes. In Nigeria, over 3 years after the conduct of an election, much litigation challenging the victory of supposed winners are still in various tribunals.
I am tired of writing negative things about my country but I cannot help but say it as it is. When Nigeria turned 49 last year, I catalogued our woes but unfortunately as it will turn 50 in about two months, the woes have increased. No good news except that one of our electoral cancer, Maurice Iwu, was removed from office and replaced by a radical, Professor Attahiru Jega, who Nigerians are looking up to for the conduct of a credible election. There are plethora of problems to be addressed by those in government and which they are supposed to be sober about. To most of those on the entourage, it is nothing more than another opportunity to have their own share of the national cake while they are less bothered on the shameful and servile nature of the trip. That is how about 65 Nigerian legislators packed themselves in an aircraft to watch the world cup in South Africa on the bill of Nigeria’s taxpayers.
If President Jonathan, state governors and the ministers scheduled for the trip to London needed a resort, why couldn’t they go to historical sites in places like Badagry, Calabar or Kaduna? Why are we so unimaginative? For example, the historical building of the District Officer in Calabar, now turned to a beer parlour, could be turned into a resort centre and made conducive for a conference on how to solve Nigeria’s problems. But for now, it is a very sad story for Nigeria at 50.