By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The 2023 presidential election is a make-or-mar moment through which Nigeria can either die permanently or enjoy a magical resurrection.
Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind in the age of digital democracy in which an analogue president will be totally out of place.
This is the argument of a boon companion of mine who just sent me a remarkable photograph of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in his heyday manning a laptop computer.
Some vociferous Nigerians adjudged poor Goodluck Jonathan as being so “clueless” that they replaced with an analogue oldie.
As they say, it’s only when a woman experiences marriages with two husbands that she can see the needed difference.
The word is out in enlightened Nigerian circles that the suffering-and-smiling country cannot afford to stay put in the dark days of computer illiterate-and-innumerate leaders.
Time was when all that defined the Nigerian leader was just his garish agbada and the sheaf of unread papers in front of him.
Now the leadership must perforce embrace the computer and the digital possibilities of the new age.
It had been Nigeria’s misfortune that since independence no Nigerian Head of State or President had been through the four walls of a university, except for the briefly tragic advent of the mourned ex-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and of course Goodluck Jonathan.
It has to be stated though that just being to the university does not necessarily make a great leader.
Even so, not having a proper education is definitely not the best preparation for modern leadership.
One tries as much as possible not to keep going back to the colonial masters to source the blame for Nigeria’s many problems, but the evidence is all too glaring that colonial Britain never really wanted educated and aware leaders for this country.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was avidly hated by the British who ensured that the independence election was skewed to favour the feudalists.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s promotion of the ideals of free education was a threat to the neocolonial plans of Britain.
Working in cahoots with the feudalists, the Brits ensured that even when a military coup was staged to oust the inept civilian regime primordial concerns were smuggled in to disorient the entire nation.
It is remarkable that the major makers of the coup, notably, Majors Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Wale Ademoyega were the intellectual lights in the then military.
Nzeogwu didn’t in fact reckon with the gumption of his advertised friend, then Major Olusegun Obasanjo; whence his decision not to inform him of the coup plans.
According to information now coming out about that first putsch, the coup plotters planned to bring Chief Awolowo from prison in Calabar and install him as the leader of the country.
The coup majors planned not to even take “No” for an answer from Awo; they would compel him to rule by decree!
Nigeria would thus have been offered an educated leadership such that laptops would have become the forte of succeeding leaders of Nigeria many moons ago.
We would not have needed to wait till way past the millennium to embrace the computer at the topmost echelons of Nigerian leadership, only to regress almost immediately after.
As events turned out, Major-General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi who dislodged the coup-plotters was as lacking in grooming as the civilian leaders.
He was grossly unprepared for power and soon fell to the bloody counter-coup of the vengeful feudalists.
Education was thereafter effectively put on one side while the country blundered into civil war, and concomitant kleptocracy and kakistocracy!
The soldiers who boast of winning the civil war on behalf of Nigeria were at one in their lack of education and grooming.
They ran a “lootocracy” that all but grounded the otherwise richly endowed nation.
When the military brass-hats organized so-called elections for the return of the country to civil rule, they ensured that power was put in the hands of a reluctant Alhaji Shehu Shagari, a man who only aspired to go to the Senate.
Awo had said then in the course of the 1979 elections that he could only discuss the subject of education with Zik but definitely not with Shagari who had nothing to offer in that field!
The tragedy of Nigeria is that the supremacists who claim to know all that is good for the country could in all their years not see anybody better than Obasanjo to saddle with civil power in 1999.
Stuck in analogue backwardness, the country wasted eight years in which she would have shot straight into the stratosphere given the humongous amounts of money earned by the most populous black nation on God’s earth under Obasanjo.
Yar’Adua almost accidentally came along but death would not allow him to stay long enough to embrace the laptop and all the computer age goodies.
President Jonathan came along, ever more accidentally, and latched on to the computer essence and the singsong of digital presidency but then the 2015 analogue change happened, and Nigeria was taken to the next level of going back to worse than square one.
Analogue backwardness can no longer fly now that the 2023 presidential election is on.
Nigeria can no longer afford a grandee principal knowing next-to-nothing about the gizmos of the laptop, internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on.
Nigeria does not need an analogue president lost in digital wonderland.