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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Nigeria and her newspaper reading leaders – By Prince Charles Dickson PhD



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Let me start my admonition in this manner, in one village, there is a handsome and intelligent man named James. He is very clean and dresses well. He spoke English and French very fluently.

Usually, when someone dies, the whole village will gather, and able-bodied young men will dig the grave, bury the corpse and cover it very well. The women will prepare abacha’ while the men will come with kegs of palm wine. It is very well organized, communally. Everyone plays his/her part to make the burden light for the bereaved family.

Every time this occurred, James came with a newspaper. He would find a very comfortable position, sit, and cross his legs, reading the newspaper while others worked on the grave. There seemed to be nothing wrong with this, as there were plenty of hands on the job.

One day, James’ father kicked the bucket. What a day! The whole village gathered as usual. But there was something strange about the gathering. Guess what? Every young man came there well dressed, with a newspaper and a chair. They all sat down and were reading newspapers! In fact, Onyema who did not break slate way back primary school days also had one, even though he held it upside down.

There was an uneasy calm that enveloped the atmosphere. The environment was hot, even though it was early in the morning during the harmattan season. The dice was cast. It was payback time. James was about to receive the reward of his actions over the years.

And so, the corpse was there, but no one was digging the grave. James came out of the house and saw the situation. He was helpless. He is the only young man in the family. His other two siblings are girls. He broke down and wept like a child. He wept not for the dead but for himself. He realized that he was a living dead man. He pleaded for mercy to no avail. Finally, he dug the grave alone while others read their newspapers.

Did you hear the reporter say that we were basking in the euphoria of having exited recession, a second read of the newspaper, one dares ask, who exactly is the “we” that is basking?

Are we really basking, this country is on a downward spiral and the leadership are explaining it away, they are simply reading newspapers filled with bad news that are largely their own making.

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Let me tell you about those basking…in the light of all the troubles, problems, palavers bedevilling this nation, the politicians are basking, and their days may be numbered. The continued absence of good schools, medicare, leaves us plagued with sick political leaders, freedom is not given, it’s fought for and taken; I pray we don’t get there.

Leaders who bequeath debts in trillions to unborn Nigerians, are the same that have security of all manners; one soldier, policeman, and a civil defence. They live in houses that have interlocking tiles, well laid out with landscape, water fountain, electricity and a superb drive-in.

If we don’t deal with these people and address our collective amnesia all the discussion on restructuring, renegotiating, will be in vain because whether at federal level or state or local government levels, the problems are the same. We have weak institutions, and powerful individuals.

We have Ortom and Bala both governors denigrating each other like primary school lads while their followers jeer them on, I am sure that the drama between the current and erstwhile  Governor of Imo is not one that any five year old can understand, we are just not ashamed in our ways.

So what do you see when you read the newspaper NDLEA intercepts container loads of tramadol and you wonder how about those that were not intercepted. With the once small scale business of kidnapping, now growing into a multinational establishment schools are not safe and what do we get from our leaders; a bunch where the Senator and sitting governor exchange words on who is a champagne drinker and who is suffering from a protracted mental illness and schizophrenia.

While the Buhari led administration insists on military action, the visuals that the public are exposed to, simply portrays a government that is speaking from many sides of the mouth and watching as a nation slides.

Chasing shadows and leaving the substances, there is no nationality, we are divided by religion, by faith, by creeds, by languages, by professions, social customs and values, class and political identity, we mouth unity in diversity, but in practice our very own divide and conquer us, when we are our enemy, the establishment is a small foe.

It is currently a nation of kakistocracy, simply run by the least qualified or the worst qualified, free speech like this; makes you a guest of the State Department. The populace themselves have become sick with ultracrepidarianism, criticizing, judging and giving advice outside their own expertise, and this is when they even possess one. Imagine every Nigerian understands Fulfulde because the number one citizen has been threatening to deal with dissidents since 2015 and has failed in that one area amongst many. So, Nigerians are now storytellers of survival.

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Every turn you are greeted with shrewd, and unprincipled leaders, snollygosters of the first-class order, a look at the ongoing APC party registration speaks volume, I hear a party leader say that even if they have to register at night, another says they have registered some 120million Nigerians, indeed Nigeria is APC, a failed party, a non-existing opposition, a death threatened civil society, the nation is filled with grumbletonians and no one is listening to anyone.

You see, I end by relating to the story I started with, Nigeria can’t and won’t work, because we are not ready to work together, some of us see the other as useless, the nation is not a team of equal mates, contributing her quota, some are contributing, others are takers, the ethnic warlords make nuisance of some of us patriots, the state ridicule our love for nation.  Meaningful contributions to a nation we all belong to and work hard seems to make one the weakest link. So, rather than the group getting better, stronger and successful for everyone, the sad stories are on the rise.

Yet I dare say there is hope, we write, we speak, we criticize because this is not the nation we want to bequeath to our children, even if this is the one, we were bequeathed by our forebears, I am sure we can do better. My friend Elempe Dele puts it this way, we would love to have a president, and I add leaders that understand math, leadership, decency, equity, rule of law, empathy, service, kindness, diversity, humanity, honesty, friendship, family, unity, compassion, trust, peace and above all love. Unfortunately, I doubt if we have a president, and we certainly do not have leaders in most strata of governance. We are beseeched by blame dealers, and game willers.

If we are going to demolish our strongholds of bondage, we have to recognize the power that lies within us, we cannot keep reading newspapers, our leaders are bad news, can they disappoint us and do right—Only time will tell.

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