In Act-V, Scene-IV of William Shakespeare’s play, Richard III. King Richard III yells out loudly this famous phrase, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse”! In the middle of a battle, his horse was killed, while the king wandered to find it in the battlefield for hours, killing everything coming his way with fatalistic rage. In this play, Shakespeare shows that inconsequential things, like a horse, could become more important than a whole kingdom.
The sense in this line is ironic, as King Richard III wanted something insignificant to complete an important task. The king here meant that if he did not find his horse, he would lose his kingdom.
This play graphically captures the present wild goose chase of the PMB administration’s so called anti-graft war to the detriment of every other aspect of the nation. Right under our very nose, Nigeria is crumbling like a pack of cards, in a manner that is unquantifiable, unqualified and inexorable. Many Nigerians seem to be numbed and dumbfounded at this incongruity.
How come the most prosperous country in Africa, number one, as rebased by World Bank and IMF, with over $500b, in 2015, has suddenly been brought to her kneels in 16 months?
It is often said that nothing in this life is new, and that whatever that is happening here today has happened somewhere before. Says Ecclesiastes 1:9,”what has been done will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”. This is why many Nigerians are now clamouring for a paradigm shift of consciousness in how to think outside the box and vote meaningfully during elections.
To have leaders who are ill-equipped intellectually lead millions as a nation, in our present digital age, is very dangerous. This has been our quagmire as a people: our inability to elect credible leaders, devoid of primordial parochial interest. Lord Chesterfield (1694 – 1773), British statesman and writer, once said: “The perfect knowledge of history is extremely necessary; because, as it informs us of what was done by other people, in former ages, it instructs us what to do in the like cases. Besides, as it is the common subject of conversation, it is a shame to be ignorant of it.”
Many challenges we are facing in Nigeria today already have solutions provided for us by the history of other nations far ahead of us, but who had experienced such challenges in the past.
The problem is that our leaders lack capacity for research and a deep sense of world history, thus the ceaseless turpitude of misgovernance. A government that voluntarily promised us change, is suddenly changing the narrative – that “change begins with me”. No sir, you voluntarily promised us change.
We believed you. You cannot now rewrite history. We are suddenly being made to believe that it is a crime for a Nigerian to send his children abroad to study, a culture we have enjoyed for over 300 years. Government is suddenly telling us it is treason to ride good cars, live in beautiful houses, or wear imported clothes. Most of our nationalists of the 40s, 50s and 60s even schooled abroad. Indeed, Sapara Williams, the first Nigerian lawyer, was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple Inn), London, on 1st November, 1879. Herbert Macaulay studied Civil Engineering in Plymouth, England from 1891 to 1894.
Tafawa Balewa, former Prime Minister schooled in the University of London Institute of Education in 1944. Zik of Africa school in Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, and the University of Pennsylvania, in 1932 and 1934, respectively. Obafemi Awolowo (degrees in Commerce and Law from the University of London and called to the English Inner Temple Bar on November 19, 1946). Ahmadu Bello (Local Government Administration, England, in 1948). Odumegwu Ojukwu, was sent by his father, Sir Louis Ojukwu, in 1946, to United Kingdom at the age of 13, to study at Epsom College and Lincoln College, Oxford University, England.
Yakubu Gowon, (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, United Kingdom (1955 – 1956) and Ph.D, political science, University of Warwick, England, in 1983). Olusegun Obasanjo, (MONS Officers Cadet School, Aldershot, England, in 1958 – 1959 and at Wellington, India, in 1960s. Major Nzeogwu Chukwuma, (Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England). So, who is trying to convince us that it amounts to unnecessary foreign taste for Nigerians to send their children to schools abroad, when our same leaders’ children are all in ivy league schools abroad? Who is fooling who? It is now suddenly a crime to have plenty money in your account, or keep a domiciliary account.
The naira is on a free fall (N120 naira to one Ghanaian cedi) and almost N500 to one US Dollar! Because investors and other Nigerians panicked and withdrew their money from bank vaults in one fell swoop after they were given a temporary reprieve from an earlier ban. Voodoo economics! Government’s fiscal and monetary flip-flop has destroyed our naira. We are being told to embrace poverty and abject penury as virtues, to queue up for essential commodities (“Essenso”) as we did under General Buhari in 1984 – 1985. A leader should lead by example, not by precepts.
A leader commands respect, not enforce it. A leader says do as I do, not as I say. A leader leads from the front, not from the rear. Nigerians are being made sacrificial lambs for government indolence, cluelessness, ineptitude and directionlessness. We are worse off today than we were 16 months ago. The government has dragged us by the neck from prosperity to asphyxiating recession. Infrastructure has decayed abysmally, with virtually every national institution in tatters. The World Bank has just authoritatively pronounced Nigeria as a leading light in the unenviable league of the poorest nations on earth. Transparency International has even adjudged Nigeria as one of the most corrupt nations on the face of of mother earth.
All these inspite of government’s much celebrated and trumpeted anti-corruption war. Elections are either inconclusive or brazenly rigged in a most atrocious, ignoble and hideous manner.
Smiles have since turned to frowns, laughter to lamentations, plenty to want, joy to melancholy and hope to disillusionment. All these within 16 months! Nigeria appears to be on auto pilot.
God, please, come to our aid. You have always proven to be a Nigerian! At 56, Nigeria is still practicing psuedo “feeding bottle” democracy, where popular dissent, criticism and plurality of ideas are treated as treason, with incredible paranoia on the part of government. Deification, canonization, bootlicking and cult- worshipping of those at the helm of affairs have become the order of the day.
Ethno-religious crisis, mutual suspicion, historical revisionism, political banditry and social crimes and economic anaemia have heightened, with mass unemployment and inflation on a geometrically spirally ascension. Hunger, despair, disillusionment, hopelessness, haplessness, pauperization, witch-hunting, sensational media trials pains, pangs, blood ,anguish and gnashing of teeth have enveloped our people.
There is fear and gnashing of teeth in the land. Freedom, liberties, human rights, rule of law are decimated, nay murdered. A bag of rice has risen geometrically from N7,000.00 in 2015, to N23,000.00 now, fuel from N86.00 to N145.00 per litre, cement from N1,200.00 to N2,500.00, and still counting.
Stealing, even of pots of soup, garri, beans, rice, etc., has become rampant. The new talk by government to sell the remaining commanding heights of our assets and national economy is cheap. They want to sell Nigeria to themselves. They have sold our yesterday, mortgaged our today for peanuts, and now want to auction our children’s future. Nigerians must rise up and say no to this “Alawada keri keri”histrionics, theatricality and buffoonery.
SOME HISTORICAL LESSONS
We will now delve into the history of a few economically successful nations who, yesterday, were in such precarious situation as we find ourselves in today.
A leader does not lament. A leader leads. Let us see how other great leaders did it.
RUSSIA – GLASNOST AND PERESTROIKA
Glasnost and Perestroika (Russian words for “restructuring” and “openness”), were key elements of the campaign initiated by Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to reform and revitalize the Soviet system.
Hope Nigerians are eagerly awaiting part 2 of this Sunday Sermon from the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb.
• Follow me on twitter @MikeozekhomeSAN