A letter all Nigerians must read

Fellow Compatriots,

The insidious bane of the practised Nigerianism remains a cause of proactive thinking for all transformational writers in our nation. The present situation of our country is what keeps us writing, blogging and broadcasting. It is the reason why we impress words on newsprints and flood the web with bytes of strings. The leadership, we have seen displayed at all levels of government hitherto, calls for more criticism, objectivism and commentaries on the part of Nigeria’s youth-centric stakeholders. We are concerned about the future and wonder if our leaders know of our concerns. And it is solely because we find responsibility in peacefully and civilly informing our thoughts and expectations to them that we do what we do; climbing steep rooftops and speaking to be heard. That also explains why James Lisandro Jnr. has written what you are about to read.

Now that recent examples have clearly proven that bagging degrees from some of the best universities in the world does not guarantee loyalty, it is thinkable that education alone is not enough to remove our country from the third world category. While leadership by poorly-literate persons will surely pull off more national catastrophes, our educated leaders are obviously in want of better ideas. And though we will not hesitate to give them some, we are very bothered that such insights may never be implemented. So, we ask ourselves why we should brainstorm for leaders who are paid by us to think for us and our unborn children, if in the end, our cherished efforts will end up in the national dustbins. Really, a typically loyal Nigerian leader will not only have good ideas but also fear God by demonstrating integrity. Whether or not he planned to lead or merely woke up one day to find leadership vacancy knocking at his door, he must brace up and lead. He should remember that both those who have shoes and those who may never wear one are affected by his decisions. He does not have to be rich nor does he have to bear the marks of paucity but he must think of the many unknown persons who suffer at the base of our economy’s pyramid, before appending his signature on documents that will enrich some and add more frustration to many other lives.

Our leaders must remember those who, unlike them, do not step from one air-conditioned compartments to another while earning a living for they were the very ones who struggled to cast votes for them. And in other cases, they remain the ones used as vices of electoral malpractices. Either ways, they put our leaders there and are watching and waiting. But it is quite unfortunate that those who sacrificed to put these leaders in place only have seen leadership betrayal in its hardest form. In this country where certain people, overcome by the spirit of poverty, live in kiosks and under bridges, certain frustrated youths called armed robbers now raid public markets and young entrepreneurs are struggling to live on peanuts made from promising businesses that lack running capital and reliable power supply, it is strongly disheartening that some amongst us see embezzlement as a manageable practice. And, it remains a bizarre reality that one of our promised New Year gifts would be fuel subsidy removal. Well, do we even feel the so-called subsidy being catered for by the government currently as those in other countries do? If 150,000,000 people would elect less than 5,000 people as leaders and certain among those elected by the majority would bear the effrontery to live sybaritic lives, coupling kleptocracy with democracy at the expense of that majority, then some serious questions must be asked.

This is the foremost question that bothers my mind: if corruption, which we need to fight, has become our currency in Nigeria, what will be our lot as a nation in twenty years’ time- if we miraculously make it beyond 2015 in unity? In April this year, we struggled and overlooked several personal preferences to vote certain persons into leadership positions. Amidst the distribution of rice, Ankara fabrics, plasma TVs, cars and cash, we resisted many temptations and reached a fair compromise. But again, if the performance of wrong thoughts seems practicable in the minds of our leaders, will we ever reach our destination? In truth, corruption is everywhere in Nigeria and I do not claim to be innocent. In-between the attainment of business goals and the presently evolving Nigerian culture lays the waiting snare of corruption, erect and alert, ready to put you in a dilemma. It is in the thin air we breathe in. Each day, I see it on the roads, in remote offices and on printed papers. It is in government, education, health, economy, labour, agriculture and even religion. But we have to change and it is not just about writing or reading this article and whoosh, everybody is changing! I have asked myself many times if this country is worth living in but the quiet responsibility of contributing my quota to her development has kept me hanging on. Besides, if we choose like our friends in the diasporas to leave the future of Nigeria to a few honest men and an immeasurable pool of thieves, to abandon the same country wherein our mothers shed the blood of our births, should we not be rebuked by certain unchangeable racists whose jobs we snatch on foreign soil?

Nevertheless, if change will emerge, can we still afford corruption in government and in leadership positions? While we are all somewhat at fault, should something not be done about our status quo? If our inward pictures of change will not be burnt by the fire of corruption, should we not change? Truly, if we do not change, not only will our national vision be burnt repeatedly, but our hard work too will know no better results. In the next decade, where will Nigeria be? After two decades of rigmaroles, would not Nigerians start wishing that South Africa and Ghana had visa lottery programmes initiated miraculously? Yes, God forbid! But, do we forbid? What is our will? Change is not just about gathering in religious assemblies and chanting complaints and intercessory curses. We must act! What exactly do we want Nigeria to become and what must be our input to initiating and sustaining such a process?

Those are not questions our leaders alone must answer. No, they are not questions for only those in government houses. Rather, they are questions which all Nigerians must individually answer. Whether or not you voted in the last elections, remember that you will be affected if a fire of revolution sets off from your neighbourhood! I have a family to protect, which is why I am concerned. But my Dear Mr & Mrs I-am-not-political multimillionaire, who would rather sit and restart home during elections, should you not also be concerned if your plane gets bombed by some lunatic Boko boys?


James Lisandro Jnr.

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