The real change we need in Nigeria, By Folu Oyeleye

Posted by News Express | 9 September 2015 | 4,725 times

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Shall we tell ourselves the truth, the real truth, and nothing but the truth? Truth that provokes anger? Truth that evokes tears? Shall we tell ourselves the truth? Truth that history informed? Truth that patriotism and intellectualism are engendered?

So palpable is the relief on faces. The wind of hope is blowing. Hope that brings succour to the hearts; hope that fills the stomach than food. So potent is the power of integrity. A school of thought. Even his silence is waging war, waging war against indiscipline. Impunity is fading away, every officer is tightening his belt, buckling shoes into appropriate holes. Oh, my bulb is now significant, rendering my lamp irrelevant. The mystery bedeviling generating over 4,000 megawatts is over. The pipeline vandals have vamoosed, despite the revocation of multi-billion naira pipeline surveillance contract. I now buy fuel at official price. I learnt refineries, declared moribund, are now working at upmost capacity. This is miracle of leadership integrity.

All citizens, even global concerned minds, are now waiting anxiously for soap opera: the corruption prosecution that is to start in few weeks, as promised by Mr President himself, few weeks ago. So anxious I am to know the minister that sold a billion naira worth of oil per day, like bore-hole water in his backyard, under the watch of Mr President: the author of “Stealing is not corruption”.

Meanwhile, leadership integrity is desirable. However, integrity is not enough. Intellectualism and pragmatism are also desirable. What is change? In my research into what change is, I came about a prominent word: Different. Which means change must deliver difference. Now, the question is, what difference is this government making?

Yoruba elders would say B’omode ba subu a wo waju, b’agba subu a w’ehin wo. Meaning: If a child falls, he looks at the front; if an elder falls, he looks at the back. A child will look at the front because he has future to face. He’s been driven by future ambition. An elder who falls will look back and ask himself: “Why the fall? Have I not fallen before? Why didn’t I learn from my past mistakes? Why should I continue to fall, fall, and fall?”

Nigeria is 55 years politically independent. A fifty-year old person is not an infant. The question we should be asking is: why the fall, fall, and fall? The military intervened in politics on January 15, 1966, accusing the politicians of corruption. Brigadier Joseph Garba announced the 1976 coup, accusing Gowon’s government of corruption. Brigadier-general Sanni Abacha came on air at the twilight of 1983, accusing the politicians of the Second throne Republic of corruption. Abacha himself later became head of state, died on the throne, and was found to be a personification of corruption. Buhari is back again, doing what he’s best known and dreaded for: apprehending corrupt people. Revelations of monumental corruption so far. Is Nigeria a cursed nation? No. I am a man of faith, not easily submissive to fate. I believe in science, the study of human behaviour. Attitude is influenced by circumstances. Yoruba people would say: Ko si eniti ki se ole bi ile ba da. “There is nobody who is not a thief, if left alone in the house.”

When my wife is not at home, I eat three pieces of meat instead of two pieces she would normally give to me. It is the absence of my wife that turns me into a thief in my house. That absence is the circumstance that influences my behaviour. The Yoruba also say: Agbara ojo oloun o ni’le wo, onile ni o ni gba fun. Meaning: “The flood would not mind to destroy a house; it is the landlord of the house that will not allow it.” My dear compatriots, corruption is not the fundamental problem of Nigeria, it is the political structure of the present Nigeria that is engendering corruption. The endemic and monstrous corruption in Nigeria today is a child of circumstance, which could only be fought and phased out through political restructuring. What I am saying is that corruption that is killing Nigeria today is as a result of lopsidedness. Corruption is the headache, but the disease is hypertension. Without treating the hypertension, it would be headache galore. The present war against corruption is not the change. Buhari himself spent 18 months as military head of state, fighting corruption. So, what is the difference in what he is presently doing? President Buhari can only make a difference when he complements this war against corruption with political restructuring of Nigeria.

Wherever an architect discovers fault in a building, he recommends amendments. If needs be, he recommends re-construction. The question is: At what point did we get our political structure wrong? Was it in Berlin Conference in 1884/85, where Africa was shared like barbecue by the European countries? Could it be in 1914, when the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate of Nigeria were merged as a country, because of economic reasons? Are economic reasons enough to align nations? To those who are still asking why Nigeria is beleaguered by Islamic insurgency, I want you to realise that there is no Islamic dominated country on this planet that runs democracy instead of monarchy that does not suffer from religious insurgency. I also want us to realise that there is no nation that is truly of advanced democracy and of advanced economy that is multi-cultural and multi-lingual. My dear compatriots, are we not politically and economically doomed forever? Was 1914 not a mistake?

What do we say of January 15, 1966 grievous mistake, that is, the military intervention, with its  infantile liquidation of orderliness by the military and the configuration of political, social and economic awkwardness. I am of the opinion that we need to revisit these points of mistakes for correction in order to experience real change, peace and economic stability. Thank you. Let me end this write up with a stanza of my heralding poem for President Buhari:

Would he gauge the boil and extrude poison?
Would he face the hawks and tame them into cages?
Would he hold the scalpel and correct congenital mistakes?

Folu Oyeleye, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is an Ibadan-based poet and novelist.

Source: News Express

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