In my view, the rebirth of “the Nigerian” will be a long and painstaking task. Luckily one of the ingredients in the pursuit of the rebirth is there presently, namely, having someone at the helm, together with his vice, whose integrity and morality are not in question. But that is not enough. There must be around them men (and women, of course) equally imbued with such high sense of noble values. Then there must be a collective vision, conscious and conscientious determination to set the country on the path of such values regeneration.
Pastor Tunde Bakare, who doesn’t know him?
It would be no exaggeration to define Bakare as one of the few credible voices left in Nigeria’s socio-political firmament. Fearlessly outspoken and a scourge of bad governance, he has captured the imagination and the hearts of Nigerians with his brand of activism whereby the pulpit – of his calling (he is founder and Overseer of The Latter Rain Assembly church) – becomes a tool, rather than a clog, in his relentless fight for a better country.
He dabbled into realpolitik in 2010 when he accepted to be running mate to General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 presidential race on the platform of the then Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). In the process Bakare added value to Buhari’s candidacy, helping to ameliorate the image some held of Buhari as an ethno-religious bigot, rather than Buhari adding value to Bakare. But, in the end, both Bakare and his principal lost the election to President Goodluck Jonathan. With that, Bakare promptly exited party politics but still stuck to his belief in Buhari as the man of integrity that could restore sanity to the polity.
Speaking recently during the 27th anniversary thanksgiving of his church, Pastor Bakare said Nigeria urgently needs a revolution. So ten months into the government of President Buhari, what could have driven Bakare to be calling for a ‘revolution’? Is there disillusionment with PMB and his capability to fix the badly wobbling Nigeria?
But lest anyone mischievously interprets his call for a ‘revolution’ as a disavowal of the Buhari government, Pastor Tunde Bakare was quick to explain that the revolution he calls for is one “that transcends politics or policies; a revolution that means far more than any change of government; a revolution that means a radical reformation of values as they impact upon the social, economic and political landscapes of our nation.”
To be sure, it would not be the first time an important voice in our country would be calling for a ‘revolution.’ At different times of recent, particularly prior to President Buhari coming to power, the call for revolution was on many a lip.
The country had dangerously tottered on the brink of collapse for far too long and the Jonathan years marked the worst in the governance of the country, not just at the federal level but virtually all over. They were truly years of the locust when recklessness, cluelessness, and impunity pervaded the polity. But, of course, there were those who did not believe the country was being run aground. For them, for as long as there was money being thrown around, for as long as there was a semblance of the ‘good life’, it didn’t matter what rot was beneath, and the cry of impending doom was mere wolf cry by ‘enemies’ of the government.
We are now in Buhari time, the Buhari upon whom so much hope was reposed – the hope of ‘salvation’ of a country facing imminent perdition. Then, all of a sudden (as I put it in my recent column) nothing seems to be working anymore. Worse, indeed, the country is confronted with a dilemma of the worst kind: iwaju ko se lo, ehin ko se pada si, as the Yoruba would put it. Simply translated, a point of abject despair where going forward is stalled and going back is foreclosed.
It is doubtful if the country has ever experienced, to the same degree, extent, and duration, a situation such as it has suffered in the last couple of weeks. The country is at a virtual standstill. Vehicular movement has been almost impossible in the political and economic jugular cities of Abuja and Lagos as a result of prolonged fuel scarcity with the attendant gridlock by vehicles queuing, nay, scrambling for fuel wherever there may be sign of supply.
What I saw on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, for two, three, days running this week made me wonder if it were not better for the country to have declared a two-week public or vehicular holiday, to resume when the situation is normalised as the petroleum minister, Mr. Kachikwu, has promised. The entire length of that vital business road was impassable, even to bikes, from as early as 6am till far into the evening. Workers, in suits and flowing garments – those who could find where and how to abandon their vehicles – were forced to trek to and from work sweating and cursing. Others stayed at home as there was no point venturing out. Businesses were shut for the most part as workers and their bosses could not get to work. It was a jungle of cars, for days and nights long. And I exaggerate not!
In the midst of this, power supply sunk to its lowest ebb to compound the suffering of the people. Generators were of no use as fuel scarcity ruled that out. Nature entered into conspiracy as the air was still and the weather became intolerably hot, day and night. The economy is in doldrums, no doubt by the savage onslaught on it by the departed brigands in power, whose exploits, with the revelations now tumbling out day by day, have broken all imaginable limits of brigandage.
No fuel, no power, no job, no money! And, to be honest, yet no end in sight! On many a mind was the worry that the climate was ripe for power adventurists of the military kind, since Nigerians are incapable of “Peoples’ revolt” of the Ukraine 2004 Orange Revolution kind. But such thought was quickly perished as anachronistic. Were these thirty years ago when military adventurism was still in fashion, then probably. We have seen the best of our military; we have seen the worst of them.
Unfortunately, the perplexity, even disaffection, of long suffering Nigerians at the turn of events and the slow pace of any transformation, play into the hands of Jonathanians who are missing the old ways and their “business as usual”, as they mock the “Changi-ers” taunting them: “See your change now.” Arguments that what obtains now, intolerable as it is, would have been a child’s play were Jonathan government to have continued one more day, mean nothing. They seek the here and now.
In truth, there is no magic wand to get Nigeria out of the rot. We are rotten through and through. Pastor Bakare listed structural deformation, institutional degradation, constitutional aberrations and governmental incapacitation as ‘fundamental errors’ that need to be addressed for the country to move forward.
I agree. Yes, the country needs restructuring; yes, we need true and fiscal federalism; yes, there is need for immediate liberalisation of the oil sector to allow unhindered private sector engagement within reasonable government guidelines; ditto for the power and the mining sectors. But, in truth, there is a more fundamental problem with Nigeria – the Nigerian!
And this is where Pastor Bakare’s preachment is apropos. Nigeria is in a state of anomie. As defined by online Dictionary.com: Anomie is “a state or condition of individuals or society characterised by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values.” Consequently, no amount of “Changi” can truly transform Nigeria into a developed and progressive nation of our dreams whilst the people remain the way they are: bereft of ennobling values; in perpetual state of mindless, destructive, ethnic antagonism; lacking in social cohesion; and sans sense of nationhood.
A childhood friend of mine, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, Mr. Kayode Ilesanmi, responding to my last column titled “A Long Road to Nationhood” wherein I indicated that the horrendous pillaging of the public till leveled against retired Chief of Air Staff, Badeh is something, in all probability, done across board by all high public office holders, Kayode is of the view that expenditure of legitimate fund allocations to offices of the topmost echelon of public agencies are largely at the discretion of the office holder. Concluding that Nigeria should focus more on changing the system “that permits these high public office holders such discretion.” He opined: “As a people we are just not good in handling discretions. Give a Nigerian opportunity to exercise discretion you can be 99 percent sure it will be abused.”
Pastor Bakare asserts that, “by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, the state of the nation calls for a revolution.” He went further: “In a three-dimensional strategic arrangement, this national rebirth process can go on seamlessly alongside socio-economic development.”
In my view, the rebirth of “the Nigerian” will be a long and painstaking task. Luckily one of the ingredients in the pursuit of the rebirth is there presently, namely, having someone at the helm, together with his vice, whose integrity and morality are not in question. But that is not enough. There must be around them men (and women, of course) equally imbued with such high sense of noble values. Then there must be a collective vision, conscious and conscientious determination to set the country on the path of such values regeneration. Those set of values, including of true citizenship, will have to be enumerated and methodically and systemically inculcated in the Nigerian from birth to adulthood.
In the end, unless Nigerians want Nigeria to work, Nigeria cannot and will not work. And that’s saying it the way it is!
Man: “Okada, okada”
Okada: “Where” (slows down)
Okada: “Who wan go Ajah? I dey craze?” (speeds off)