IBB, Dictators And the Rest of Us
There is a colony of the Nigerian populace which stock in trade is to incite hatred. Some of these hate-mongers have started the insult they call the campaign for General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Rtd. One issue I have deeply thought-through is the knotty challenge of leadership failure in Nigeria . If Nigerians could campaign for a man who inflicted a mortal injury on democracy, it is then necessary for the progressives to work out strategies to free Nigeria from the stranglehold of the cabal and move to the next level. It is the less intelligent populace that would forget the havoc caused by the IBB phenomenon, and for those who have not lost their humanity, they can only vote for any acronym associated with these odd Roman alphabets - IBB.
It is not just lack of democratic credentials that make IBB not eligible to contest, it is the atrocities committed by the man. I could still feel the cold shudder that ran down my spine that woebegone day, my auntie announced to the elders that her husband, a major in the army, from Ijaw of Nembe extraction and an intelligence officer had died in a plane crash. With the bread winner of the family summarily dispatched, the family was thrown into mourning and suffering. That was exactly the way Dele Giwa's family might have felt when their bread winner and ace journalist was abbreviated by that monster of a letter bomb carefully packaged to do violence to robust journalism.
Again, Nigerians said nay to the IMF loan, but IBB took that loan against all conventional wisdom. It was the loan that culminated in the anti-SAP riots that led to bloodletting and chaos. At this critical moment, Nigerians need leaders whose hands are not stained by corruption and any other iniquity. Prove I'm corrupt IBB asked. This is a challenge thrown by former Military President - Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida to Nigerians. I think IBB is right. In the eyes of the law, a mere accusation is not sufficient to convict a person, and in this case, those who assert that the self acclaimed 'evil genius' is corrupt. I buy into IBB's argument with the conviction that his challenge is one too many for our learned men. Apart from the Late legal icon Gani Fawheimi, it is not to my knowledge that any Lawyer or Activist for that matter has taken IBB to court. Every where, and anytime, IBB is tried in the mass media and the court of public conscience. Why persecute a man who can be tried under our municipal laws, who has indeed not been tried? Better still, why has the array of legal engineers not tried IBB in the law court who is believed to rank among one of the most corrupt leaders in Africa ? In this matter, I do not apportion blames to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC).
What is common knowledge is IBB is one of the most corrupt military rulers Nigeria has e ver had. In terms of primitive accumulation and kleptocratic tendencies, IBB may be comparable to other primitive dictators like Eyadema of Togo, Mobutu Sese Sekou of Congo Democratic Republic, Sukarno and Suharto of Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines . No sane nation no matter how under-developed and ideologically leprous can tolerate a kleptocrat like IBB who, more than any leader damaged the ship of state. In CDR, the children of the expired maximum ruler are still being attacked. In the Philippines , Ferdinand Marcos' estates were converted into the State's coffers, but in Nigeria , dictators not only walk free but have the temerity to step aside and inside politics.
Every democratic nation seeks to move to the next level- a level where people enjoy basic socio-economic rights and effortlessly manage their own affairs. Nigeria needs to move to the next level because there is now controversy whether Nigeria is developing, stagnating or even retrogressing. Economically, Nigeria can be said to be retrogressing because The next level anticipated is a level where Nigeria would embrace good governance, economic development and social progress. Nigeria is harassed by bad statistics.
Is it true that Nigeria is an unfinished State? If yes what is left to be finished and for how long shall our leaders squander the opportunities at nation-building. Nigeria runs around a vicious circle of poverty and bad governance because the leaders, at every turn of events defy the higher laws of politics. Nigeria is perhaps the only nation that has defied the organic concept of growth. Every passing day people make reference to the past as a glorious past and the present as years of missed opportunities. The future is visualized as bleak. About fifty years after independence, the nation still wrestles with the same problems she inherited from the colonial masters. Such basic problems as water supply, power supply, job creation, health and education infrastructure. For the youths of Nigeria who were denied the benefit of seeing yesterday, the future does not exist.
Nigeria is a strange nation that is not underpinned by universally accepted norms of civilized existence. The nation also lacks ideology because it will be counterproductive to vested interests and emasculate the overwhelming forces of tribalism, regional diversities and cultural chasms arraigned against the nation. In place of a national ideology, there exists intense devotion and adherence to primordial allegiances of ethnic chauvinism, religious bigotry and other centrifugal forces. This explains why Nigeria has remained a captive State that is dominated by powerful ethnic social forces constantly in conflict over material reward of State power. In spite of efforts to fight corruption, Nigeria has remained a victim of high-level corruption, bad governance and cyclical illegitimacy.
It is not surprising that we honour those who make money without questioning the means yet we preach morality in State Houses and the pulpits. In fact most people who received the 2010 National Merit Award are people who, in sane societies should have been in the gulag, but in Nigeria they are the Some pulpits have been transformed into money spinning centres where the prosperity preachers desecrate the temple. As a nation we have not realized the catalytic role of education in development hence we have not accorded it a priority. We have deleted the concept of social justice and sacrifice in our collective lexicon, and any nation, which fails to enthrone social justice, is marked out for self-destruction. Public officers at all levels of government are dominated by powerful mandarins who use their positions for empire-building and cultivate personal militias to secure their estates acquired with public resources. It is then understandable why f ifty years of independence have yielded largely stagnation, regression or worse. The result is that, over the years, tragic consequences of this are increasingly clear: a rising tide of poverty, decaying public utilities and infrastructures, social tensions and political turmoil, and now premonition of inevitable drive into conflict and violence . Our cherished values are fast fading. Values such as honesty and hard work, probity, accountability and community spirit are being replaced by dishonesty, greed and individualism and the leaders are all too happy to allow the system to run its full cycle.
Over the years, the nation has been striving at good governance in principle, and good governance has only remained a good intention. Political office holders do not sufficiently adhere to the basic tenets of constitutionalism and the rule of law. Our electoral system is far from transparent and even Prof. Maurice Iwu, whose tenure expires in June does not make any pretence about it. He has admitted that INEC has failed yet he would want to sit-tight in office. President Jonathan should make haste to overhaul the electoral system sooner than later, for Nigeria to conduct credible, free and fair elections.
In the foreign policy theatre, critics argue that Nigeria 's domestic ecology does not support her foreign policy posturing as ' giant of Africa ' . Nigeria has been benevolent to other nations while Nigerians are humiliated even among the contiguous States, subjected to xenophobic attacks abroad amidst apathy on the part of the Nigerian government. Nigeria exhibits false generosity abroad in order to create a wrong impression that the political economy is healthy. In Africa , Nigerians suffers rejection and even maltreatment wherever they go. Nigeria 's foreign policy suffered severe misfortune under Chief Ojo Maduekwe of the Citizen's diplomacy fame. Nigerians expect a better under Odein Ajumogobia. Nigeria is better positioned to pursue a more pro-active diplomacy.
The President has to take five bold steps to reposition the nation. First , since the nation's resources are controlled by a few buccaneering compradors, these people must be dispossessed of the resources of the nation. The privatization exercise in Nigeria past Presidents passionately supported were clever tricks to transfer the ownership of public corporations to private investors, but the Dangote's and Otedola's will argue strenuously that their aim is to make such corporations work. This class must be resisted by any means necessary. Now, by their greed the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, has changed batons, putting rest speculations that the body is insolvent. Verily, some of those who have caused the economic carnage will pretend to campaign for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Secondly, government has to pursue the Amnesty Programme with zeal, as peace in the Niger Delta Region is key to the development of the country. Oloibiri the symbol of crude oil in Nigeria has a spiritual significance and the non-development of this cradle of Nigeria 's oil economy bodes-ill for the whole nation. The Federal Government has to make frantic efforts to ensure uninterrupted flow of crude oil to lubricate the economy, lest the economy gasps for breathe. The President should honour Oloibiri with an Institute of Petroleum Technology and not a museum. This is not too much to do.
Thirdly, apart from fixing power, the present administration should re-brand those at the top echelon of government. The challenge of governance rests squarely on the shoulders of the leaders-whose duty it is to chart a road map for moving the nation forward. The Power Holding Company Plc constitutes another demon harassing this blessed nation. If a government is incapable of providing the basic social amenities, then there should be no reason why the people will continue to tolerate mismanagement, ineptitude and squandermania. It is not enough for the President to take the saddle but to be conscious of the fact that there are people who reap enormous benefits from the poor state of power supply. The President has to watch out for saboteurs and fifth columnists even in the Presidency and the Ministry of power.
Fourthly, the present strategy of rebranding favours the 'brown envelop' and bazaar paradigm, with a chorus of ' Nigeria , good people, and a great nation'. For the masses, rebranding efforts should that poverty alleviation paradigm abolish hunger in the land? Certainly not, because in the cause of distributing the envelops, so much would be stolen by the same class of kleptocrats. In fact, kleptomania has been so entrenched in Nigeria that it is near impossible for any public officer to live without one form of peculation or another. Kleptomania has become a brand name for Nigeria . The Nigerian political landscape is tainted with near absence of ethical values and common public morality among public officers. This attitude must not continue and it has to start from the Presidency. Finally, If Nigeria were a great nation, why has the nation spent 50 years visioning without any concrete result? Why are we visioning in the dark without power supply? Why is poverty so endemic and pervasive that the youths who should constitute the 'locomotive' of development are emigrating to greener pastures abroad. Who then is quarreling with Ghaddaffi about the disintegration hypothesis put forward by the strongman of Tripoli ? The present administration understands that the Nigerian masses have been cheated because most of the several missed opportunities and unfulfilled promises. This trend will continue to harass the collective conscience of the nation. Whether any body likes it or not, Nigeria is a failed State and only a surgical operation. President Jonathan should not fail to remove the nation from the unenviable list of failed States as Nigerians get set to give him their mandate come 2011. Idumange John, is a Senior Advocate of the Masses