From birth the average Nigerian child would have been taught to always be careful, to be respectful of elders and to above all avoid trouble. ‘Do not fight’ our mothers would scream, we got flogged in school for engaging in fisticuffs or for being rude to seniors and teachers, even the school cleaners and gatemen.
In 2007 I was 21, I remember my mother forcing me and my brothers to stay at home because the ballot snatchers where prowling the streets and gun shots could be heard just outside the windows.
In church we were told to wait for God’s time. Give what belongs to caesar to caesar the pastor screamed, turn the other cheek when slapped. We read stories of people like Isaac Adaka Boro, Dele Giwa and Ken Saro Wiwa; people who had dared to speak in the face of tyranny and where squashed mercilessly.
So of course we learnt our place in society, to be seen not heard, we are to cheer but not sneer. We’ve all watched wide eyed as politicians in our neighbourhoods got themselves jeeps so their tires do not get stuck in the muddy dirt roads, we watched as several motions for salary increment for legislators were made and heard the resounding ‘Ayes!’ as they were passed, we watch their impunity silently as we pray for change.
We scurry off when the high and mighty ply the road with their siren blaring entourages and why not? There are only a handful of Nigerians that are not yet recipients of hot slaps from army or police officers. We cow in silence and hope that one day it would be our turn, we pray that our friends enter power so we can at least sneak into the system and do our own; abi no be padi padi government we de run?
We all watch and pray in Nigeria when we should be demanding service from our representatives and public servants, yes SERVANTS, from the president down. Years of military rule should be blamed for this current state of affairs where we now fear those that should be subservient to us and carry our burden with the e go better mentality. The international community is even in awe of our ability to take so much in silence.
Most of us hope and pray for a messiah like Cromwell or Jerry Rawlings even Mao, someone to purge the nation and cleanse the system of all the rogues, bandits and looters running things. I personally believe that things are way better than they were in the military era, although today’s corruption is staggering and putrid I still look to the future when people of my generation with hopefully a more progressive mindset would be at the helm of affairs.
There are others though who look to the past. They now look at the military era with warm nostalgia in their watery eyes, they denounce angrily the saying that the worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship, like the children of Israel in the wilderness craving the grains of Egypt. When a new bomb goes off in Borno they wail and say this couldn’t have happened in Babangidas’ time and they wish Obasanjo was still in power to replicate the Odi massacre all over the north.
Many of these people are now clamouring for Buhari, they say he’s the man. He’s the only one we know that is not corrupt they pontificate. I look at them and wonder what they’re saying, and I’m left with no choice but to conclude that they’re are collectively suffering from the Stockholm syndrome.
Now I have nothing against Buhari as a person, I’m not aligned with any political party for that matter but what do we need another ex-general for? I wasn’t born when they seized power but I read stories of how the late Sani Abacha announced the end of Shagari’s government over allegations of wanton, unbridled corruption and how some of the coup plotters insisted on Buhari to lead the new military government alongside Idiagbon.
A lot of Nigerians were happy at the time because they expected a democracy to yield automatic results and when it did not they applauded Buhari and co who only destroyed a nascent, weak and unstable system without a concrete plan on how to revive the economy but went about instead with whips and executed a few peripheral projects that never stood the test of time. It’s quite puzzling that a country barely over a decade out of the bondage of military rule are proposing General number two, its pitiable indeed.
Many would say he was disciplined because army officers employed corporal punishment on sanitation day and on people who refused to queue up and other such trivial nonsense. I have been in Lagos since January, when I used a BRT bus I remember we queued up and were orderly because we knew more buses would come, these days its rare to find queues at filling stations and in most of Nigeria nobody needs a soldier to flog him line because people, mindsets and things have changed naturally.
As an elder statesman I honestly believe Buhari should be actively involved in the process of brokering peace in the north, but the old man obviously still feels cheated out of power and wants it back at all cost and has without consideration for the volatile state of the country made pronouncements that are incendiary to the polity surely because all this is a game and the name is power, we are the puns, when the bombs go off I’m very sure they call it collateral damage.
I applauded the APC when they came around, this country needs a vibrant opposition but it would be a sad day indeed if Buhari emerges the flag bearer, it would be an indictment of us as a people. What this country needs is a futuristic leader, a man of this generation not a relic from the past. We need 21st century leadership, don’t believe anyone that tells you our generation is lost or that there’s no one with the requisite integrity to lift us up from this quagmire of corruption we are trapped in, there are a lot of Nigerians that can do the job, we just exist in an unfortunate reality where idiotic self-serving crooks ride horses while princes walk barefoot.
The above notwithstanding, we shouldn’t look to the past for the solution, messiahs only come from the future.