Visionaries or Money Men: Has Nigeria lost political visionaries and leaders?
When Nigeria returned to civilian rule just over 11 years ago, I thought that there was glimmer of hope that things will start to get better in the country. Though there have been some changes since then, but it has been a very slow progress indeed. There are some politicians who sincerely have the love of their people at heart notably Gov. Fashola of Lagos State, who in recent times had make rapid progress in returning Lagos State to its glorious days.
To make this country a great nation, Nigeria needs visionaries’ not “hungry” moneymen and women so called politicians. Some people may wonder why am I writing on such subject. Like most Nigerian living abroad, I cannot stop wondering when our country will be as organised as in the Western countries. It is not all perfect in Europe and America, but the fact is that the Europeans and Americans forefathers had vision, and were able to make provisions for generations to come. They fought battles to protect the interest of their people, built great cities, created good social systems and societies that live together in harmony.
When I was growing up in the 70’s in Ibadan, we learnt about Nigerian great leaders who fought for our independence from colonial rule. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Awo), Chief Akintola (who was never given credit for his hard work) just to name the few. Under these leaders Nigeria prospered and was a good place to live. In the Western Nigeria under the leadership of Awo, we had one of the first Radio and TV station in Africa, Liberty stadium was built and many other landmarks across Ibadan and Lagos cities. Without prejudice, my preference to talk about Awo, as an example of the type of leaders this country currently lacks is that some of his achievements and legacy are still there to be seen. The current crop of politicians make those of the 60s look like virtuous leaders, as these new breed of politicians are nothing but a joke.
Awo and his party UPN (now AG), at least ensured that every child is this country have the opportunity to receive free education up to secondary school level. I am a product of free education and I am grateful to have benefited from such policy. It took Awo and UPN four years (1979 – 1983) to provide free education this despite not been elected as the president of Nigeria. Thousand of families today would have been unable to educate their children beyond elementary school stage. What notable legacy has the present administration done for Nigerians? Electric Power supply has gone worse since I left for Europe in late 1980’s. What happen to Nigeria Water Corporation and Nigerian Works and Housing? None of these government departments functions or provides any meaningful service to the public hence there is annual budget allocation that is shared among few senior civil servants.
So what vision does the present crop of politicians have for the people of Nigeria? I hate to judge this people but to me they are nothing but bunch of moneymen who invested so much in election “bribery,” buying local leaders, influential dignitaries, and mobilising thugs to win mandate. When their time in office starts, moneymen go on rampage looting government purse to recover all monies spent during campaign. They believe it is imperative to recover all the wastages spent during the election campaign and more importantly to secure the future of their immediate families and friends. This means stealing three times what they initially spent during campaign. There is something fundamentally wrong with the perception of these people in power. They simply lack vision, awareness, and wisdom. Some of these people in power cannot successfully run a small business let alone running a complex society full of highly educated and hardworking people. Some of these politicians simply do not have any ideas. I understand that competent and experienced people from all occupations in Europe and North America have approached the politicians to be turned away due to greed and lack of emotional empathy for the people they are to govern.
They only thing they offered in return for their lavish campaign is repairing damaged roads to pacify people. I wonder how many jobs this sort of project creates. Nigeria is producing graduates and PhD holders’ year on year with no real job prospect. I have travelled around Europe and I am always proud to see some Nigerians working very hard in every corner of Europe and North America from cleaners, to lawyers, business analyst, scientists, accountants and many more. Why are these people remained overseas? The answer is simply lack of opportunity at home. In the last few years, I read about (HSMV) highly skilled immigrant visa. Countries that issue such visa are looking for talents and productive people to build their economy and in return offer a better living standard. So what is wrong in Nigeria government offering a better living standard for her citizen? What exactly are the current politicians doing to encourage people to return home?
Perhaps there is more than eyes can see within the political circus. Something is fundamentally wrong with the selection of people we choose to represent us. Obasanjo and Atiku both built universities at the expense of ordinary Nigerians. I said at the expense of ordinary Nigerians because State and Federal Universities have been left under funded for years. Are Nigerians going to sit down and let this country go to the ground? We cannot continue to look after the interest of our immediate family and neglect our cousins and neighbours. Each time I have visited Nigeria in the last few years, my heart bled seeing people suffering due to the incompetence of our politicians. Most of which live in lavish houses and driving around in bulletproof jeep. What sort of conscience do this people have, driving past dead bodies on filthy highways in their N70 million Naira jeep while ordinary people on the street cannot afford to feed their family. They simply believe they have no obligations to serve their own people. After all, they used their own money to fight for election. I think ways in which political party is funded in Nigeria needs reviewing. That is a debate for another day.
Due to lack of job opportunities and poor infrastructure in Nigeria, both educated and uneducated Nigerians have left the country flooding the cities in Europe and North America. Nigeria is producing fraudsters and drug baron at an alarming rate. Though there is no justification for such criminal behaviour, but I see this has a desperate approach by some people to feed their family who simply have no opportunity to leave the country. Nigeria is become irrelevant in the World as other States such as Angola, Ghana are taking the lead in providing a stable and viable economy for their citizen. For Nigeria to become relevant in the World, we need a visionary, a strong leader and good people in the government that will address the economic issues in the country wholeheartedly and prevent the continue exodus of many Nigerians going abroad.