NIGERIA: WHERE ARE OUR HEROS?
“Some people are so good that nothing a leader can do will make them better; others are so incorrigible that nothing be done to improve them. But the great bulk of the people go with the moral tide of the moment. The leader must help to create that tide”- Anonymous
As I write, the details of the burial arrangement of our late Elder statesman Chief Anthony Enahoro is not public yet. But suddenly, most writers pen have run dry courtesy of the fact that most of today writers never had the singular honour and priviledge of interviewing, reading an address of or visiting the late indefatigable Chief. So I am not surprised.
Pens can easily run dry of ink these days when ever one seats down to think of a true Nigerian Hero. I have persuaded myself to write on this issue now else, we would all be adrift as individual, corporate or in our national life.
With my little sense of history, I remember people like Late Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel who, in face of defeat by the Palestinians vowed “You cannot decide whether we will fight or not, you can only decide one thing; whether or not we shall be victorious.” That was the only capsule needed by Israelis to recover all their occupied territories by Palestinians it worked after a fast in the trying times of Israel. Today, Golan Height is still a subject of world attention many years after that successful strong will of a leader.
Winston Churchill, another leader who was disappointed at the poor performance of the parliament during his tenure as president, busted out and said “It is no use saying 'we are doing our best', You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Another leader Marcus Aurelius told his people “Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for any one to accomplish.” In India, the story of Mahatma Gandhi is a repeat class study yearly. Still going on the lane of history, now at home, of cause we have those without whom, our independence would have taken longer to achieve. But at what age did they begin the fight? What was their achievement then and, why is it that the values they beheld then have all vanished and replaced with greed, greed, self! self!! and Self!!!?
All over the world we have national hero's dotted everywhere. Some are celebrated with annual lectures others like Martin Luther King are honoured with public holidays or Mother Theresa.
In Nigeria, Alhaji Aminu Kano died at a ripe age of seventy-five with just a house to his name. he, for all his useful life, was a front burner in the political renaissance of the northern down trodden. At what age did he start the fight? Where are his successors? Alhaji Bello Maitama Suleto date has remained the lone voice constant in the entire north. He could not afford a house of his own even as a Federal Minister in his era. His is aged today. How many of the learning Nigerians go to his palace in Kano for wise advise? Where do todays' politicians of Northern extraction get tutored in leadership matters? None go near him because his postulations are to them, mundane! We had late Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo in Nigeria. He was a lawyer though, but history remembers him more for his political exploit and successes. He choose education as the main tool to take the West to the world. Awo (as he was fondly called) knew the dictum : if you want to feed a man for a year sow a seed; if for ten years plant a tree and if for one hundred years, educate the man. It certainly was a hard torturous journey, but today, the south west as it is called is home for the best brains in Law practice, Industry and Commerce Communication, political awareness etc. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe-the great Zik of Africa, on the other hand, stowed away to Europe and Americas to acquire education. Done with a doctorate degree, he returned to join in the forefront of our fight for independence. He took the white man by storm with his mastery of their language and while many of us were yet unborn, he founded, published and edited the Nigerian Pilot Newspaper which was used to disseminate information in the difficult days of the fight for our republic. These efforts put the freedom of Nigeria on the driving seats of the colonial masters and fast pasted our independence. And until l mention him l will not rest. The live wire of nationalism, the real Awoist, the core leftist, NADECO Chieftain the indefatigable but now late Chief Anthony Enahoro. How old was he when he moved the motion for Nigeria independence in 1956? But for that right move early in Nigerian history how would we have been able to fight for freedom in the face of British Petroleum who did not know then that oil was just few meters away? Ask late Steve Biko of South Africa, Savimbi, Sam Nujoma, Ian Smith – oh our dear Bishop Desmond Tutu or ever green Nelson Mandela. They know the history of freedom fight and what it is to be called hero of the moment! For Chief Enahoro, the struggle was his meal, his Psalm, his work, play and leisure, yet he died unsatisfied. Who are our heroes?
Apart from the names mentioned above, we had late Tai Solarin, who in his quest to produce a clean society, set up and ran May Flower College Ikenne. He lived and died fighting the course. Late Dr. Babs Fafunwa in his quest to promote selflessness donated his houses in Jibowu Lagos, to the Federal Ministry of Education in his time as Minister. Remember, he promoted the “mother tongue” era. What with late Chief Michael Ajasin, who though was older than Chief Awolowo, joined the fight for free and quality education and handed over his schools in Ondo State back as Governor of the state, ditto Chief Adefarani of today Afenifere. All because of unity of purpose, but in this same era, current rulers in local government councils, State Governors and wives Presidents and wives have made a mince meat of these examples and gone away to set up their own private Colleges and Universities to rubbish the public schools all for personal gains. What a shame!!! What a country. I can go on and on the list is endless. But where are we? The property and family of all these mentioned names are with us. Other than modesty, what again do they have tied to their name? How many of their children are spewing the street now with exotic cars and home? Muritala was head of state, where are His children in the scheme of things? What about Buhari? Or King Diete Spiff, Idiagbon etc?
Since the departure of Chief Anthony Enahoro, I have focused on what is now the remains of the true progressives in Nigeria and found none from the age of sixty-five (65) down!!! I stand to be corrected.
Nigeria turned 50 years the other day, but no one could boast of ordinary Touch Light Battery as a made in Nigeria product. The nation has not produced any hero since independence! That is the shocking truth. Even sectional leaders are vanishing! Those who attempt to be real are mocked to no end because they have chosen to stand the test of time. Show me a man/ woman who think Nigeria today in any of the six geo-political zones, l am likely to tell you why. But I make bold to say that they are not in our National Assembly current and immediate past and I am not sorry. If Chief Enahoro at less than 40 years of age was in limelight enough to force the white man feared in his time to give us independence, who among those parading themselves as my representatives in the National Assembly has ever lifted a pin? If they have, let any of them show to the public just what they did with their constituency allowances year in and out since 2007. If there are any near the tape, who at 40 in any of the two arms of the National house has dared paltry 10% of success of all the mentioned leaders earlier? Have integrity and transparency gone out of fashion?
I am doing a study on who can represent our own Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in character and learning, if you have any name please forward same by text message or email to me. We must fix Nigeria.
Frederick Douglas said that “The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that … if there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favour freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning and they want ocean without the awful roar of its many waters”
Our remaining heroes are all on the line with a date with our Father in Heaven. They have made efforts to bequeath to us knowledge and character worthy of emulation. But most are choosing money which will, like most other things perish. Chief Gani Fawehinmi died few years ago and even the likes of his tormentor in IBB had great comments to make of him. He was lucky that Tai Sholarin did not die on his way to Campos square, his usual place of testimony.
The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes. Are we ready for the soon coming wind of change? Do we even recognize the change? If we do, then let us concentrate our energy, thoughts and capital upon the things we are engaged. Let us not stop but resolve to fight it out on that line and lead in it. Change comes in attire called coverall and it is called work. Little of it daily will take us to the journeys' end. If we cannot work to be one of the heroes of our time, let us work during the next election to be one of the heroes of the moment. If you are not crowned by man, God who sees the thoughts and attitudes of the heart will reward you. The struggle continues.
Mike O. Akpatiis a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt
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