You remember back then when we still were in pre-school? You remember those good old days when we used to wear almost trouser-length baggy shorts and big shoes to school? When we used to play in the sand and when we childishly believed that Nigeria did very much lose 99-1 in a football match against India; that had been concluded only after Sam Okparaji had died on the pitch after scoring the only goal for the Nigerian team? The Indians wore no footwear throughout the course of the match as well and used “juju” to make the ball into a fiery lion anytime a Nigerian came to it. You remember all these don’t you?
Then perhaps you may remember one fine ditty we used to sing as well back then in preschool. We would probably initiate the singing of it at the nip end of‘assembly’ at school, subsequently continuing with the song while we happily’ marched into our various classes. You must have sung it too. It goes somewhat like this;
“Parents listen to your children,
We are the leaders of tomorrow….”
Surely you remember this immaculate song. Well I presume you did sing it at a time probably still very much remember it.
It’s funny though, but I am certain that you, like myself, must have- if you did give it any a thought as I did- assumed gullibly to an extent, that the supposition the good old song had made was the truth. You must have conceded that perhaps you were a leader of tomorrow after all. Well I did. I did see myself even back then accomplishing the ‘dream’ this good song so chiefly induced with its unrefined but precise assertion. I actual believed in its appealing, intellectually sound and logically valid proposition.
We were the future after all. Who else would be the leaders of that future? Someone should have told me that prospects like logic and intellectual validity were no more in truth than scrawny compromises the Nigerian existence has well against its norm to concede to. Somehow, I succeeded in believing in this suggestion even as I grew older, and up until fate or rather mother Nigeria decided to punch me wickedly in the face with a thing we sometimes call ‘reality’.
I was dazed, I staggered from the impact of this preposterous blow, but I survived and came out with something worthwhile- the truth. And deservedly the truth. We are no leaders of tomorrow,-at least not in Nigeria and ultimately India never gave us the sacred 99-1 thrashing. All those were pre-school gibberish.
‘Welcome to the real world sucker’ I told my emotionally wounded self in a very good imitation of Hadley Chase. And there probably wouldn’t be a Nigerian leader who is of “of tomorrow” yet. All we are ever proffered are gaffers of yesteryears creating intentional gaffes for themselves as they dance in a political pond they have far out grown. How could we become the leaders of tomorrow when our tomorrow is by all means today and today is still being made a fragment of yesterday, polarized subsequently by the preferences of yesterday? I came to realize this truth very recently. And by recently I mean like few years back.
One man was exceptionally instrumental in removing the outrageous scales that had clogged my eyes. They call him “Buhari” but I would rather, for reasons of respect (my culture teaches us to respect our elders and ancestors and to never call them by their name), call him ‘Grandpa’ throughout the course of this expose.
Men like Grandpa, are the elements of yesterday that have decided that the affairs of governance is their personal mandate. That they are entitled to power, and even should be so entitled in their death bed. They’ve made the control of the Nigerian political machinery some sort of birth right and we are suffering for it. Men like these are the Mugabes that consistently seek to polarize our political stratosphere with the miasmas of the past that we should long have outgrown. Miasmas that they had a hand in introducing and are all too willing to prolong and foster. Miasmas like corruption and gross governmental ineptitude. How is the ship of the future going to be progressive when it is over weighted by the stones of the past? What do men who have already had such a stomach full of the sumptuous cake of power, so much that they had developed an inevitable dysentery and subsequently made stool on the same arena where the cake lies (the platform of ruler ship that is) want in the same arena again? To relieve his troubled stomach again? What more does a man who has had his fair reposition of the diadem of political over lordship want with the same diadem he had being disposed of at due cause. They say the dog always goes back to its stool for reasons of sentiment. What reasons have such individual then? Sentiments? Just like dogs then? What need have we for messiah riding in horse backs? Sorry to say, but horse riding is at the time is strictly out-of-the-world-archaic.
We need a messiah riding a Bugatti. Such a messiah, who is in consonance with the “higi haga” of the present should be very well be able to procure initiatives for the purpose of advancing said present. A horseback riding messiah would most likely offer a way to procure a three pence vehicle! He rides a horse for goodness sake. He would be going out of his genius to offer a car. Ah! What nice incentive……only vehicles are now such routine acquisition that they could well be becoming no more than subjects of antiquity as well. The Bugatti owner could offer the way to aircrafts. That would be an agreeable preference. But no, we have horse and bull riders.
The young generation are consistently reclined to the bench. They are the budding promises…the prospects of the future… The gems of today. But they are reclined to the bench, like worn out untuneful players in a football game. And they keep budding till they shed even their worth in the process and we suffer for it.
Grandpa Buhari, born in 1942, is a retired Major general in the Nigerian Army who was the Military Ruler of Nigeria from December 31st, 1983 to August 1985. He was once the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources under the then head of state General Olusegun Obasanjo. Subsequently he served as a governor of the north east under the regime of Murtala Mohammed. He later became the head of the Nigerian national petroleum corporation in 1977. He had become the head of state through a military coup that saw the end of the 3rd republic as well as the demise of the newly procured civilian rule of Shehu Shagari on December 31ist 1983. While head of state, Grandpa Buhari alright succeed quiet well in effecting some positive changes to the Nigerian countenance. His
rule was not without its bad sides though. But he was no clear cut villain. At least for the most
part. While in power, he rebalanced public finances by curbing import, reliving Nigeria of huge piles of budget deficits that would have been quiet a pain in the behind. He also made sure the naira was not devalued by refusing IMF conditionalities amongst other things.
His distinguishing contribution to the Nigerian being however was perhaps was his unfailing dissuasion of and battle against corruption. As already known, 80 percent of Nigeria’s problems are direct products of gross and undiluted corruption.
He was overthrown as military leader by General Ibrahim Babangida, in the face of austerity measures and worsening economic conditions as well as an indiscriminate rise in corruption in the country. This final aspect may appear fascinating as corruption was rumored to bein its lowest ebb under his rule. He subsequently served as the chairman of the PTF under General Abacha before he retired from the military.
Everybody had conceded that indeed his was a thoroughly rich political career that had been rounded off with aplomb upon his retirement. Only it had not. It was just about to start. The 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 elections would see Grandpa Buhari still scampering about, wimping like an sagging old canine, whilst contesting vigorously for the presidential seat. One may be forced to assume that perhaps he forgot a nose ring or something in the presidential villa that he could only retrieve after becoming president. So much for nobility and chivalry.
As much as Grandpa did contribute the most to my sad and tragic discovery of the reality about the Nigerian politics as regards the position of youngsters, he is not the only Nigerian who is still hoping to or who is already dancing bare chested in the political square of our good old motherland, whose skin is already glistering with the putrid oil of age.
Men like good 72 years old notorious Murtala Nyako are still dancing the sacred dance (Or was still dancing up until quiet recently). Men like this are the biggest problem of the nation. It is of trite knowledge that the above named is almost exactly the very epitome of Nigeria’s political ineptitude. The very definition of unscrupulousness and gross incapability.
Atiku Abubakar, another equally old memory, is a Nigerian politician who was a product of our rustic military past, but who refused to go down with it. Senator David Mark for all intents and purpose is probably going to grow old in a political office and bearing one political diadem or another. He’s not specific. His dexterity ensures he will remain in politics for ever. And all these to the detriment of the younger ones. An old proverb goes thus; it is the man with the itch that should know where to scratch. These men are not with the itch. The younger ones are the ones who suffer the itch. They are the ones who benefit the least from the gross governmental incompetence Nigeria is so characterized with. They benefit less from the lax dissemination of the cake of power as well, if they benefit at all. They are the ones who push the trucks and hawk the cheap stuff in traffic jam. They feel the pain, and they are not to be consoled. They are to be represented. Bu they are not. Rather, they remain permanently side lined. But how would they not be so sidelined, when persons like Grandpa wish to become Abraham Lincoln, contesting 4 times in a stretch for a seat that would seem some impossibly length away from his reach. I wonder if Lincoln eventually became president at 73.
At this point, it would be quiet becoming to remember another bit from theold days (When we were kids). You must remember the humorous “Old soldiers never die” phrase. This seemingly harmless maxim would constitute a very accurate definition of the horror that now pervades the Nigerian entity.
Ol’ soldiers refuse to die, and they haunt us consistently like the undead nightmares they are. And we are left to suffer for it.
VINCENT CHIMOBI OKONKWO