Nigerian leaders; dem don dey trek, buy groundnut and fry akara

August 27, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson



‘Let us separate quarrel before we separate fight’



I start this essay with the critics’ anthem, one that has always inspired me. It is by H.G. Wells and he says, “We are going to write about it all. We are going to write about business and finance and politics and pretences and pretentiousness, and decorum and indecorum, until a thousand pretences and ten thousand impostors shrivel in the cold…we are going to write about wasted opportunities and latent beauties, until a thousand new ways of life open to men and women. We are going to appeal to the young, and the hopeful, and the curious against – the established, the dignified and the defensive. Before we are done we will have all life within this scope of the novel.”


We at most, talk, write and discuss the Nigerian myth and leadership conundrum with a sense of fatalism. Sadly if only everyone thought as much as I did about justice and fairness, as a continuum and not some episodic spasm of pretense, life would be better.


I am a critic, but I am also the critics’ critic, the unrepentant believer that the best way to keep the government on its toes is to keep harping on their flaws so they can improve.


Often I say I believe the things I write on are important for our nation as they are for other nations, but when it appears to me Nigerians, especially those in authority, do not react to these issues as people in other lands do, I repeat them in new essays to remind old readers and recruit new ones to participate in the continuing dialogue.


The easiest and most attractive national pastime continues to be buck-passing, especially with the bunch of leaders that we have, a set that make mountains out of a mole hil and make simple moles become mountains. Their aides canonize simply going to mosque as rocket science, buying groundnuts as 5G wireless networks.


Not many of us want to take responsibility for anything from personal, family to national life. The blame is on the system. And we do not need to create demons out of our leaders because they are a specimen of demons, so we hang our sins on them appropriately and inappropriately too.


And unfortunately their behaviour has made it easy for the critic to descend on them.


As a critic, even my bitterest opponents, government disciples, apologist and crooks called politicians have to read me personally or have someone read me and tell them what I said and did not say, so that their anger can be kept burning hot.


Sadly this is Nigeria where nothing works and some people are walking, and no one cares, when it works, it is because someone’s interest is about to be served or being served not the people’s interest. So even the anger is temporal for leadership, one that lacks embarrassment; to know that the girl whom you are buying the groundnut from ordinarily should be in school.


We talk about our institutions despairingly and our leaders, so also heads of institutions. Whether we are discussing the charge de affair of finance on her NYSC certificate saga or the perspective of Professor Sagay, we are simply a little too lousy for civilization.


I am not an economist, not a finance expert, and I cannot claim expertise in juggling skills as a political juggernaut. I don’t criticize everything because it’s being criticized. Not everything the government does is wrong, but in these climes intentions are wonderful and the final product is misery. So removing Saraki because he is corrupt is fine, but the first question, which law court, found him guilty of corruption and are we removing him because we bring forth a better alternative?


A quick and random visit to the search machine Google will show the following; Saraki has about 10,500,000 results in (0.32 seconds), Oshiomhole has about 3,050,000 results in (0.33 seconds), while a combo of Saraki and Oshiomhole has about 240,000 results in (0.30 seconds), and Buhari walking has about 800,000 results in (0.34 seconds).


But type ‘Nigeria’ alone you have about 869,000,000 results in (0.69 seconds), and then check ‘good governance in Nigeria’, a paltry 22,000,000 results in (0.68 seconds) if you understand the context.


And then imagine that shaku-shaku song and dance has a combined 2,330,000 results in (0.25 seconds).


I acknowledge that I have a poor reading of the economy. However I tread with caution when there’s a thin line between political sentiment and economic sense. All the politicking has not done us any good, the lives of the ordinary Nigerian have not shifted from point A to B. I often say that the poor man during the last administration is still a poor man now, but the fact is, it is worse in terms of living standards and value for money.


Our problems have been over exaggerated, it is not that it cannot be solved, but really, do we want it solved? He that is cheated twice by the same man is an accomplice with the cheater. Where do we stand as part of this enterprise of Nigeria, is it ours, theirs or for all of us, and them? What we are afraid of doing is a clear indicator of what we need to do, our worries in the lack of leadership gradually becoming a master to us.


We need the character to act, and those who will act with character. In Nigeria a word is never enough for the wise, because he is really not wise in character.


We have all come to the conclusion that the problem of Nigeria is the lack of political leaders with the will to pursue the right path to success, some schools of thought feel otherwise – they say we have the men that can do it, the only problem is that these men do not have the money or the fraudulent political machinery to get to the top; in a phrase, “they are clean”, too clean. Others think that we deserve what we get, some feel we are confused and others see hope.


So again, our leaders are walking, buying and frying, while the immediate need for governance remains unaddressed, we perambulate and remain in the same spot, a movement that lacks direction, speed at the wrong lane, we are moving, we may not be where we want to be, but we are not where we once were, we shall overcome; when—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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