Before the bell tolls! Nigerian elite at the crossroads

Posted by News Express | 13 August 2020 | 1,372 times

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•Victor Ikhatalor


Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Caesar Rodney, Josiah Bartlett. For many these names will no doubt immediately resonate as historical personages and indeed among them were President’s of the United States of America, but significantly these men had the commonality of sharing historical immortality for being amongst the 56 signatories of the American Declaration of Independence.

What these men and their fellow signatories also had in common was that they were once King’s men and part of the elite of their time. At the crossroads, choosing between manifest injustices of upholding and perpetuating a despotic order that benefitted a few to the detriment of the majority, they made a choice fraught with dangers and pitfalls, the scorn of other elite and the definite unleashing of the power and might of the entrenched system. They choose to build a society founded on social justice where the will of the people counted.

Historically, theirs was a choice that has been faced by the elite at the crossroads in different times and climes. In their example, this breakaway elite took hold of the narrative to shape a significant part of the Americas. A polar example is that of the elite of Imperial Russia, - the Czar and the nobility who lost the chance to shape the narrative of their time. 

With insurgencies, terrorism, separatist movements, banditry, kidnappings, cultism, - increasing and more wide spread restiveness, allied by wanton and unbridled paralyzing corruption across the polity, Nigerian elites are losing the narrative of our time! History could be objective or subjective depending on who does the recording, however history is eerily consistent in the depictions of the fate of presiding elite in places where they lose the narrative.

As was his wont, the master writer and storyteller, Chinua Achebe, was a masterful exponent of African proverbs. Achebe said; “People say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck.”

It is fair to say that – the water has since risen past the ankle of the Nigerian body!

It is critical and of urgent imperative that some breakaway members of the elite step forth with fanatic determination to take hold of the narrative. These unparalleled times of COVID-19 create a unique opportunity for members of the elite who wield power and can influence power to press the reset button. A very conscious and deliberate paradigm shift must be engineered to stop our slide downwards the road to perdition.

I have fierce and unshakable belief that in the sum of our parts we are better, richer and ultimately will be a greater Nation. If from the far North there lived an Aminu Kano, from the Middle Belt, a Joseph Tarka, from the South-west, a Gani Fawehinmi, from the South-East, a Chinua Achebe, and from the South-south, an Anthony Enahoro, then I can still hope that a few progressive thinkers and men and women of vision from the elite can still be found in these lands to join hands in deliberate mindedness to take ahold of the narrative.

The manifest injustices of a society not anchored on the principles of social justice is increasingly intolerable. The Nigerian social oppressive system, where the few benefit astronomically, while the majority are hopelessly stuck in poverty is unsustainable – a ticking time bomb, and it will be said of us one day that it went one way or the other.

Are Nigerian elite uniformly so far gone, so set in their ways, so everlastingly captured in the web of cupidity that they cannot extricate themselves even from the self destructive prophecy as expounded by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States of America, when he said; “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

For one who staunchly believes in the principles of non-violent struggle, it is my fervent hope that members of the elite propelled by conviction or by even base self preservation can rise up to reset our country. Surely some must have the vision to see that if not them, their heirs and assigns will one day not have the choice of being at the crossroads.

  • Victor Ikhatalor, Ambassador of Nigerian Industry and Business. Twitter @MyTribeNigeria

Source: News Express

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