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Nigeria, Here Comes Your ‘Messiah’ -By Fola Ojo

I am hounded everywhere I go by this question, “Who are you voting for in February?” The questions I often ask in response are these:  Who among the three leading candidates: Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, is the ‘messiah’ for this moment?

Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus first made the observation in 446 BC that “it is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man that makes us believe the oath.” In Nigeria, when political office holders place their hands on either the Bible or the Quran, they swear that they will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Federal Republic. They vow to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution; and bear true allegiance to the nation at all times. They also boldly vow to always place service to the nation above all selfish interests and follow the path of justice, honesty, and concord amongst all the people of Nigeria. Nigerians largely believe them.  Alas, later on when the comfort in the purlieu of power subsumes them, when money comes in bails, and cash flows in batches; and when the aroma of authority ravages their hearts and minds without control, they become paladins of perversion and palladia of corruption, oppression, and repression against the same people who elected them.

My friends, it is true that it is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man that makes us believe the oath. I stand shoulder-to-shoulder in agreement with Aeschylus. It is the innate character of men that makes valid or invalid every oath, not the oath itself. Oaths sworn to by our public servants are only languid and lousy lip service that are as fickle as homo-sapiens themselves.

I heard recently that outgoing sitting governors have begun making grand plans to deplete the state account and cart home the patrimonies of hardworking Nigerians who may have not been paid their salaries. These governors are now skidding into a mad rush to banks, requesting last-minute loans and overdrafts that they will not have the burdens and responsibilities paying back. The weight of the debt will have to fall on the shoulders of their successors and the bruised backs of hapless citizens. A big chunk of the funds gotten from banks will be heisted and shared among cronies of the governor who only came to steal, kill, and destroy. Public funds will thus become yams that will be eaten by last-minute mystery goats. Where in the oath sworn to by governors, or any public officer, is the liberty to steal and divert public funds?

There is too much stench in the Nigerian political system. The reason behind the blatant struggle to run for elections is not to serve. 1n 2019 there were 92 registered political parties in Nigeria. Same in this cycle until 74 of the parties were deregistered by the government. Today, 18 candidates want to be president. 1,803 candidates want to fill 109 Senate seats. 4,548 candidates want to fill 350 House seats. Are these guys thirsting to serve? No! They are hungry for power and unrestrained access to free cash that the Nigerian democracy offers. This is why Nigeria is hemorrhaging.

Let’s go down the memory lane. Not too long ago, Ex-Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Boss, Dr Ngozi Olojeme, was found guilty of fraud to the tune of about N62.3bn when she was in office. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seized her 37 houses, froze 37 bank accounts (each with at least N20m) plus a state of the art bathroom worth at least $2m. Nigeria is fundamentally flawed! And this woman was not even a governor. The continued eyesore in our legislature has been largely ignored, and nobody, including all our presidential candidates, is addressing it. Annual pension for ex-US president: $207,800 + a $50,000 expense. Average pension for ‘retired’ Nigerian governor: $549,450.60. Annual salary of US Senators, House Reps members: $174,000. Annual salary of a Nigerian senator: over $1.7m. 86.9 million Nigerians are extremely poor.

By 2050 Nigeria will become the world’s third largest country. Crucial sectors of our society may likely remain bruised and battered.  Funds siphoned through many sources and resources make it impossible to address other crucial sectors. For example, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Leke Mamora, recalled that the ministry recently conducted an audit of the department. The exercise revealed that out of the 30,000 primary health centres in the country, less than one-third of them are functional. The few considered functional aren’t equipped to heal even a migraine headache, let alone conduct an open-heart surgery. According to the minister, they are not fully functional.

And Nigeria remains an island of wealth; a trough of tintinnabulating treasures; a penstock of prosperousness; a depository of abundant and abounding natural resources. Nigeria is the home of innumerable sages; arsenal of intellectuals; harbor of highbrows; and human assemblage of geeks and deft double-domes. Nigeria is a nation of innumerable bright minds who aren’t brave enough to seek to lead. And across all crucial sectors of our government, birdbrains become the brain-box of government. Who will wake up our bright minds?

I am hounded everywhere I go by this question, “Who are you voting for in February?” The questions I often ask in response are these:  Who among the three leading candidates: Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, is the ‘messiah’ for this moment?

 Which one of them has the sincere zest to crush the head of the serpent of corruption and plug the valves of waste in government? Who among them has a stellar and steady gait in the hallway and walkway of power? Who among them has the cayenne to nurture and nourish our unemployed youths and give Nigeria a glorious future?

My friends, who becomes president at this time is not as important to me as the environment in which the next president will operate and function when sworn in. All of our leading candidates have their strengths and obvious weaknesses. No matter how enthusiastic you are about your candidate, I see no messiah for this moment.  He is still in his mother’s womb. A country may organise elections, rebuild its infrastructures, elect a good man or woman who will appoint savvy hands as co-labourers to help steer the ship, if the foundation of that nation is compromised and crippled, she will engage in witless shadow-boxing and end up a failed state. Nigeria’s hope for a great future is not in one election, but in a joint and determined effort by those who care to honestly and with sincerity of purpose find out what went wrong with our corporate existence, where did we go wrong, and how to fix what is ailing.

When we identify these in all sincerity, then we will be able to make true changes, not placating window-dressing noise and babbling that we are “one nation.”  Without changing the will there’s no changing the way. Whoever is waiting and hoping for the ‘messiah’ who will change Nigeria without first changing the fundamental wheels and structures that drive the country will wait forever, and hope in vain. May God give Nigerian leaders wisdom.

Twitter: @Folaojotweet



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