Between Politics and Leadership, By Cynthia Mbamalu
On April 16, 2014 disaster befell South Korea with the sinking of a ferry with more than 300 people dead or missing. The grieving families expressed their grief and disappointment in the manner at which the disaster was handled by the government, “booing” the Prime Minister Chung Hong-won. The Prime Minister on Sunday, 27th of April, 2014 resigned stating that he thought he should take responsibility as he watched the families suffer with pain of losing their loved ones.
Back home, on the 15th of March, 2014, the Nigerian Immigration Service under the supervision of the Honorable Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro conducted a shoddy recruitment exercise with an avoidable stampede which claimed about 20 lives with many sustaining both physical and emotional injuries. The minster in his immediate response to the crisis attributed the stampede and the deaths on the impatience of the ‘[ resignation and/or removal and the inquiry by the National Assembly into the matter which has so far indicted the Minister of Interior, the Hon. Minister released a very suspicious apology for the incidence.
Unimaginably, the Minister was bold to state that his continuous stay in office will aid the investigation. Then a group of concerned Nigerians organize a protest demanding justice and accountability, they are arrested and reminded that human rights do have limits in some parts of the Federal Government Territory.
Recently, the Say No Campaign Nigeria, Centre for Democracy & Development, Brekete Family Radio and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa convoked a Citizens Public Hearing on the immigration exams stampede to gather facts and document the experiences of the victims. Till date, the demand for justice and accountability for the victims of the NIS stampede has not ceased. Surely, this demand for justice will not fizzle out as anticipated by Comrade Abba Moro and his cohorts.
Nigeria is such a blessed Nation with a people so forgiving not because our kindness knows no bounds but because our system provides us with no channel to truly ventilate our grievances and gain redress or justice. Forgiveness becomes more of a dosage for our peace of mind than a decision to let go of past hurts because someone has taken responsibility for our grievances. So we rant and vent and move on to the next issue because truly, No One Listens!
On 14th of April, 2014 the Federal Capital Territory was reminded that citizens in some states of the North East experience live terror each day when a bomb blast claimed over 70 lives in Nyanya area. We all called it ‘black Monday’ and the President took out some minutes to sympathize with the victims of the blast. The hospitals, the media, the streets, offices, schools, relevant Institutions, all felt the impact of the bomb blast.
Hours later the media had an interesting news; Politics in Kano state, a son was welcomed back home and a great feast followed. This was not so different from the beautiful fireworks that colored our skies in Abuja while tears rolled uncontrollably in Yobe over the death of innocent Federal Government College students in February.
Issues of insecurity, justice and accountability are played to the galleries with void political banters from one party to the next with no clear solution. So we are in this vicious cycle of; “citizens loss, promises for redress, political criticism for failed promises and back again to citizens loss”.
The demand for good governance is borne from our right as a people to a government whose primary purpose is the welfare and security of the people. Welfare transcends the recent declaration of the robustness of our economy and the glorious shades of our GDP to positive impact on the lives of the people and true empathy to the plight of the people governed.
So while adverts making reference to the leadership qualities and philosophies of great men like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King may grace our TV screens as a reminder of the potential in our President, it is also important that outstanding qualities be truly built that reflects a leader that truly makes efforts to warm the hearts of the people through his words and actions. A leader who places citizen interest and empathy above political ambition. A leader that represents Nigerians and not a political party.
When do we draw the line between politics and leadership? When do we realize that the reward for honor and integrity speaks louder than the words of sycophants?
Please while the tempo set is targeted at who occupies what in 2015, we must remember that 200 school girls are yet to be returned home. The thought of what they are going through is traumatic so imagine the level of trauma they face with each dawn as captives. I pray along with the families of these school girls for their speedy rescue and healing.
We must remember that the insecurity in some parts of Nigeria is a threat to the security of every Nigerian. What is 2015 without Nigerians?
Nigerians are asking for the very simple things…Welfare and Security.
May there be Peace and Justice in our Nation.
Cynthia Mbamalu, of the Say No Campaign Nigeria, tweets @DCynthiaM