By Sylvester Asoya
The average Nigerian politician embodies arrogance and ineptitude. It is unquestionable that curiosity and introspection would have been a way out, but many of them are lazy and unteachable. That is also why some of them are grossly inadequate, both in character and learning, to tackle real issues of governance. So, to the typical politician, everything must be politics and profit. Now, they have arrogated leadership role and the power to change governance rules to themselves and their friends.
The fear is that at this point, if we fail as citizens to address leadership crisis, today’s problems will become greater in size and scope, tomorrow; make no mistake about it.
But how did Nigeria lose the good politician and political trust, all at once?
At some time in the past, our politicians were indisputable champions in the world. Some of them attended great schools, had interesting mentoring relationships, worked in world class institutions and walked shoulder to shoulder with world leaders. Strangely, politicians from this part of the world once had a voice and influence on global affairs; they also fought for the honour of their country. Men and women with liberal ideas, courage and grace. How times change!
Today, young people are not eager to join politics because there are no political role models to look up to for inspiration. All that this generation knows about politics is thuggery. Politicians are in addition, currently teaching new lessons in divisiveness, corruption, looting, incompetence and vindictiveness. They have also refused to innovate.
The desperation and grandstanding you see everywhere at the moment, centre around the coming general elections. Now, they are busy wearing outlandish costumes from other cultures, acting compassionately in front of the camera, delivering aimless lectures and pretending to be busy. There are even those who blackmail us every day with their frivolous chieftaincy titles and bogus pan-Nigerian disposition because election season is right around the corner.
Nigeria’s story is beyond belief. So, after living through unimaginable horror in the last seven years, the All Progressives Congress, APC is still plotting to extend our woes beyond 2023? Wonders indeed, shall never cease. I am not sure those in power are aware that human suffering has reached staggering level in Nigeria. Do politicians even know that there is a sense of impending doom hanging over all of us on account of their irresponsible utterances and desperate political moves?
Nigeria is already in crisis. I just hope these people who think very highly of themselves, do not worsen our national crisis.
But why are there no voices of reason and moderation by women of power on the home front?
Many years ago as a reporter, I interviewed Mrs. Lucy Onabanjo, former First Lady of Ogun State and wife of Bisi Onabanjo, a past governor and one of Nigeria’s greatest journalists. I vividly remember how Madam Onabanjo regaled us (Idowu Ogunleye, Photo Editor and I) with tales about her husband’s interesting journalism career, life as the wife of a governor, womanhood, the good old days, etiquette, the role of education in the life of a country, the beauty of public service and her unforgettable life experiences. Of course, that was before incivility, lousiness and thuggery entered government houses.
Before Onabanjo, there were other great women like Flora Azikiwe, Hannah Awolowo, Adanma Okpara, Olayinka Ibiam and Nne Isong, women who behaved well and made history with their husbands.
Where are the first ladies today making history with their spouses?
Clearly, the gross decrease in moral values nowadays, whether in high or low places, is unacceptable for a country that wants to grow. I remember in 2019, shortly after the general elections, how a former governor’s wife took on a major tribe in the country for freely expressing their democratic choice in a democracy. Several months later, she almost fought like her Anambra State counterpart at an event in Lagos.
There are other worrying tales of waywardness everywhere among politicians, their wives, hangers-on, senior government officials and opportunistic clerics in politics. But it is instructive to know that many people in Nigeria today fully appreciate the fact that standards are now too low.
It is obvious that Nigeria needs national rebirth but that renewal is certainly not in the hands of outdated and professional politicians who favour gangsterism and orthodoxy. To save Nigeria, the country and her people must look in the direction of knowledgeable and broad-minded professionals in politics; men and women who have a grip on both local and international issues. In a borderless world and in this interesting age of enlightenment, we must stop electing idiots and charlatans. It is no good trying to escape from reality.
Therefore, I believe it is high time these absent-minded and thoughtless politicians without ideas and ideologies, gave way to those who can reshape our political discussion and participation. And it is in our common interest to get rid of all encumbering factors, including out of date officeholders that make us look pathetic before the world.
Time is too far gone but as they say, when a man wakes up automatically becomes his morning.
*Sylvester Asoya is a journalist and public affairs analyst