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These days we have well qualified graduates with one or two degrees starting businesses by buying and driving their own taxis, danfo and buses. Those who are industrious, with profit and soft loans buy more. If they later decided to go into politics, we can rely on their qualifications and experience. There are also ambitious men and women in Armed Forces as professionally trained nurses, lawyers, doctors and accountants but they hardly make it far. It is the illiterates amongst them that seize power without any qualification or license to excel in war, forget about ruling a country. The only experience of the Baby Generals was in loot in the Civil War.

Nigerians would not enter danfo without a licensed driver. But, as one of the African countries that started with the prospect of becoming a world leader, we have succumbed to the power grabbers less qualified than the nice danfo driver to pilot our Country. They influence militants, appoint experts that danced to their whims and damage leadership qualities of a generation. Indeed, wannabe leaders in Nigeria today are failed leadership of the past. They have ruled, they have failed and they are back promoting their past failure as experience. They contest all the time so “winner” can negotiate member of his cabinet and major contracts with them.

A prominent ambassador, Jubril Aminu told us that is how it is done in America, eh! They create political and economic leadership from a few high school and college drops outs that can easily identify with populous working-class. The whole concept of failure in leadership comes from desperation of the working class looking for solutions out of dire situation from underachievers parading themselves as guru that appeal to their emotions, not their heads. Those who have votes use it against their interest and those without votes welcome coups by military boys that have no idea of economic track record in leadership beyond their noses and self interest. They cannot balance their checkbook at home without stealing, yet vie for leadership of a country.

There is a cultural war worldwide between the educated middle-class and the undereducated working-class that must be resolved. It has worked to the benefit of the greedy rich without any conscience. They are not different from the lords of those days. Billion of cash is funneled to a privileged few within the working class to trumpet closed opportunities only open to a few that will push their interest. That is the reason talikawa in Africa or uninformed Joe the plumber abroad without broad education, skill and provision of good environment can never get to their level, but always hoping against hope. It is like window shopping but without the money.

Human behavior is so complex, it leaves some of us panting for answers why those that are dispossessed vote for or welcome power grabbers that possess everything and promise it will trickle down when they so wish. Our pride in Africa is that you can be born in poverty and still rise above it since poverty is not born in human. Some would argue that the soldiers that were discarded to war and back streets in yesteryears have become the rulers of many African countries as a realization of that principle. However, their long reign has outlived its usefulness of shock therapy. Instead of curbing selfish greed, they have perpetrated it, diminished hard work and the armed robbers have become armed leaders in civilian clothing.

When we are in desperate economic need, in distress, in unpleasant and dismal situations, we look for salvation in unusual places. There is no other way we can rationalize trusting important positions to men and women less qualified in town because they promised what we cannot honestly deliver. In order to understand predicaments, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of a well qualified physician stricken by sickness, who sought the only quack option left; or hungry families buying lottery tickets. So, they privatize government assets to cronies as jobs creation, we are impressed and when we are promised voodoo economics we lost to bankers and stocks.

Which way out? It is sheer delusion to say a country of so many million people have no answer. Nigeria has more solutions than any country in the same situation but as long as it is not in the interest of those in power, it may not be implemented and if it is implemented, it will displace those in power. So there is a self interest to keep the status quo. All they need is their cronies who benefited from their orgies to enforce their self interest, propagate news by cash in brown envelops and rebranding in foreign countries. The call for bloody revolution from unusual quarter and those well-informed cannot be surprising because of the choking effect on masses.

Africa before Independence had some of the greatest political and economic thinkers in the world that dreamt big and mighty. Africans and friends returned home after rediscovering themselves and realizing they were neither Europeans nor Americans that had to chart their own course. Along the way Herbert Macaulay, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Jomo Kenyatta became radicals of their time fighting for their countries' freedom out of political and economic exploitation. Joshua Nkomo, Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela fought both bush and psychological wars of nerves until they lost their claws. These men have been replaced by drivers without license, character, courage and foresight.

Ask most Nigerians about the most skillful manager we ever had, they point to Awolowo. Yet he never had the opportunity to rule the Country. There must be many skilful managers like him all over the Country trying to demonstrate their competence. Until we face realities, appoint or elect some of them from our cities, towns and villages; that selfish interest will always mire us. We got into the worst situation we could ever dream of when an illiterate that cannot hold a pen, signed Structural Adjustment into law. We have never recovered. Hundred and thousands of naira turned into millions and billions of naira without buying power wiping out our vibrant middleclass. A man, who had more than all his predecessors, cries every day that he never had as much as those after him in SAP money.

Farouk Martins Aresa

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Farouk Martins Aresa