The courage to be reasonable (#NewLeadership Series by Chude Jideonwo)

Published:2 Jan, 2013

There is something that has happened over the past few years, and it shouldn’t be a surprise.

To many unfortunately, especially those in government, the concept seems too simple that they cannot wrap their minds around it – Nigerians are angry.

That is one fact. There is another fact: that anger did not begin yesterday, or under President Jonathan’s government, though it has certainly fanned the flames with its lack of direction.

Let me explain: Democracy is loud and lavish, and in its atmosphere of relatively unrestrained freedom, it is difficult for any such ‘lucky’ society to even imagine the darkness and misery that defined our lives before Abdulsalami Abubakar handed power over. But those times existed, and Nigerians learnt then that nothing good comes from government. Worse than that, Nigerians concluded that the military governments that had brought this hopelessness upon us would never leave – and so we settled in, and got used to it.

Fortunately, democracy arrived – popular governance came, and people allowed themselves to hope again. And Nigerians began to expect much from their democracy.

To cut a long lament short, it is more than 10 years since then, and those hopes have been dashed – again and again, and again.

The result is what we have now: a citizenry that thrives on the fertilizer of despondency. From the Benin-Ore Expressway to the oil subsidy removal shadiness, Nigerians look at democracy as an atmosphere, if you will, that has provided the fertile ground for the corrupt and the selfish to thrive unfettered, milking the nation and its people till they have nothing else to give.

Hence, the young people are angry. People are angry on reflex. The nation now hosts a thriving industry of anger.

Every single move made by anyone of note or any news item about our country these days riles up the anger. We get angry when we discover that the richest black woman in the world is a Nigerian, we get angry when we discover that the Federal Government has decided to appoint Nuhu Ribadu to help unravel the rot in the oil industry and he accepted to serve, we get angry because Aliko Dangote opened a new cement factory, we get angry because he seeks to provide gainful employment to Nigerian graduates by way of a driver’s academy, we get angry because a pastor invested in quality education, we get angry when we hear Olusegun Obasanjo is an election monitor in Ghana, we get enraged when we hear that a musician earns an honest income by accepting a booking to perform at a government event!

The Nigerian civic space is at present defined by an atmosphere of distrust, cynicism, and visceral frustration, unbridled rage.

This industry of rage is amplified in an age of social media – where everyone with the capacity for ‘noise’ and a Twitter handle is able to simulate enough anger and get enough Nigerians to join him/her in crying ‘burn them’.

Many Nigerian youth have now officially given up on their own country; believing that no one cares for it, and so they shouldn’t; resigned to watching Nigeria as a series of unfortunate events.

This industry of anger produced the rejoicing on the news that a Navy Helicopter carrying former national security advisor, General Patrick Azazi and governor of Kaduna, Patrick Yakowa had exploded and then crashed in the creeks of the Niger Delta. This industry has produced a lack of sympathy for an 82-year-old woman in retirement who was kidnapped from her home because her daughter is the country’s minister of finance, and people who react with a snort when President Jonathan reveals that his mother, in a heartbreaking case of infant mortality, lost eight of her children.

The debate has coarsened. Nigerians no longer have a conversation. The unintelligent and unreasonable have taken over the debate, forcefully driving the terms and eventually everybody along with it into an abyss.

As I have said, this is understandable – unfortunately, it can also be useless.

As history has taught us, even recent history everywhere from the ongoing Egyptian democratic experiment to the endless Democratic-Republican wars in the United States of America, anger is a trigger, but it is not a builder. After all is said and done, after wars are fought and lost, buildings attacked and burnt, people maimed and killed, societies are built (and rebuilt) on the basis of reason.

The Christian Bible speaks of anger that leads to sin and the more I think of it, the more I understand. Anger can’t be an end in itself, it shouldn’t even be a means to an end; it should be only the start of a process towards an end.

Even worse, because we have enough people willing to exploit this anger for no reason but personal aggrandizement, people whose anger can be false, and whose passions can be bogus, it becomes important, even crucial, as my friend the singer Omawumi will say, that as we dey cry, make we dey see road.

The task ahead now, especially for a new generation that wants to achieve results different from those achieved by the Biafra generation or the June 12 generation, is to learn to channel anger into results, the same way a man must channel his sweat into output.

The most important step in doing this is to revamp the way we engage; and the way we define the ongoing national conversation.

It is, for instance, a tragedy that former legislators and ministers who left office under a cloud of questions (and disgrace) find it easy to rehabilitate their images simply by displaying enough public anger at the government of the day – until they get back in.

This is because the best way to be seen as principled and “progressive” in our society now – again understandably given our history of government failure – comes from denouncing everything, everybody, everywhere. Every flag towards reason or balance in our new environment is seen as “selling out”, a broad unproductive term that stifles discourse, delegitimises dissent, and strangles common-sense.

It requires boldness in the Nigeria we now live in to move against this terrible tide, but we have to.

We have to resist those who refuse to be reasonable and constructive, or who are satisfied with the pulpit to grandstand, to say enough is enough to those amongst us who wish to limit our capacity to influence and to construct.

A new generation of young leaders everywhere from the private sector to civil society must find the boldness to resist this fruitless trend. This will involve dis-incentivising loud chest-thumping and meaningless battles. It will also mean standing the risk of staying away from what is popular.

As we have learnt, what is popular has not been able to help our country. If it did, we would not be here.

So we have to be pro-active. If someone says something outlandish, we should confront that person and the issues. We stand a real danger of allowing our values, our issues, and our collective voice be defined by those who want to burn down the world. Yes, the present cadre of representatives in government are not the ideal, but neither is the apposite that we find at present.

We must not run from the frying pan, and into the fire.

There has to be a third way. It is entirely possible to have a conversation about issues in a constructive fashion. It is not immediately rewarding, and not instantly gratifying – but as anyone who has created anything knows, building takes time. It requires grit, it requires direction, and it demands commitment.

That is the next stage of our engagement with the only country we have. Because it will also not be enough to withstand the tide of the destructive, but we will also need to evolve a plan to be constructive, as I will outline over the next few weeks.

As the calm and competent Hillary Clinton sagely said, to the loud and angry John Edwards at the Democratic debate in Iowa in 2008: “You don’t get change by demanding it, you don’t get change by hoping for it; you get change by working towards it.”

Another friend, Aziza Uko has told me, “Young Nigeria will end up staring into the abyss and all the abyss can do is stare back,” and this should worry any thinking Nigeria.

A new generation of young leaders who are terribly worried about our country and feel a burden to actually make a difference away from empty clichés and patriotism have an urgent duty: we will have to differentiate between those who want to build and those who want to burn down. We will have to join the builders.

*Jideonwo is editor-in-chief of Y!, including Y! Magazine, Y! TV & YNaija.com. NewLeadership is a twice-weekly, 12-week project to inspire action from a new generation of leaders – it ends on March 31.

  • Le___Reve

    Love this Piece by Chude. Insightful thinking and not one based on anger,hatred or bias would move us forward as a nation.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Oyo/Osun Customs Command Generates N14.59bn

The Oyo/Osun Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated N14.59 billion in 2015, as it prepared to build on its revenue generation and anti-smuggling activities.   The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Tope Ogunkua, made the disclosure on Monday in Ibadan when the Customs Zonal Coordinator, Zone 'A', Mr Eporwei Edike, visited the command’s headquarters in Ibadan.   Ogunkua, who assumed duty on Jan.11, 2016, said that what was generated in 2015 fell short of the revenue target of N21.83 billion set...

Video: Base One – Werey Re (Remix) ft. Phyno & Olamide

Headies 2015 Rookie Of The Year’ nominee Base One follows up his single release with the visuals for Werey Re (Remix), which features heavyweights Phyno & Olamide. Directed by Frizzle.   https://youtu.be/HbVfP93myS4

N500bn Social Welfare: 1million Poor Nigerians To Get N5,000 Directly – Presidency

The Senior Special Assistant on Media in the Office of the Vice President, Adeolu Akande, on Sunday revealed that one million extremely poor Nigerians would be direct beneficiaries of the N5,000 monthly cash transfer. A statement by Akande disclosed that a total of N60 billion would be directly transferred to one million extremely poor Nigerians in accordance to President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of building human capital. The payment which is to commence once the budget is approved by the...

Karrueche Tran’s New Makeup Line Angers Gays and Transgenders

Karrueche Tran recently launched her new makeup line in collaboration with ColourPop cosmetics. The new makeup line, called KaePop, features liquid makeup in shades and pigments targeted toward Asian, Hispanic and light skinned women. While Karrueche’s KaePop makeup line totally ignores 100% black women, it’s the transgenders who are coming for her neck on Instagram.com. Karrueche angered her transgender followers by including handwritten “notes of love” with every KaePop purchase. The gays and transgender community are upset that Karrueche’s...

Abuja Rail To Commence Operation December 2017 – FCT Minister

The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello has said that the Abuja rail would begin operation in Dec. 2017.   Bello stated this while receiving the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachichwu, who paid him a working visit on Monday in Abuja.   He said the commencement of the rail operation would complement the present mode of public transportation and reduce traffic gridlock often experienced at peak periods in the Federal Capital Territory.   "The...

Court Issues Ultimatum For Tompolo’s Arrest

Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday rejected the plea to set aside the bench warrant issued on January 14 against a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.   The judge, in a bench ruling, said the warrant of arrest issued against Tompolo still stood and ordered all the law enforcement agencies in the country to ensure that Tompolo was produced before him on February 19.   Tompolo is wanted by the court over...

Video: Beyoncé, Coldplay, & Bruno Mars’ Performance At The Super Bowl 2016

Bruno Mars hits the stage with his hooligans to sing his smash hit song “Uptown Funk” during the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show live from Levi’s Stadium on Sunday (February 7) in Santa Clara, Calif. Coldplay performed at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show on Sunday with Beyonce and Bruno Mars which was a very emotional performance with clips of former legends who have graced the super bowl half time show. Check out the video below! https://youtu.be/UoGTDEPfAyg

Crude Oil Slips As Saudi, Venezuela Meeting Yields Little

Crude oil prices eased in thin trade on Monday as a meeting between OPEC producers, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela showed little indication that steps would be taken to boost prices.   Global benchmark Brent futures LCOc1 were down 8 cents at $34.98 while U.S. crude futures CLc1 fell by 23 cents to $30.66. Both contracts firmed slightly earlier in the session on Monday in see-saw trade on low volumes as many Asian markets were on holiday for the Lunar New Year.   Saudi Arabia's...

We Put 2016 Budget Proposal On Website To Attract Comments, Criticism – Presidency

The Senior Special Assistant (Media) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, has said that the Federal Government will continue to welcome constructive criticism of its policies, budget and expenditure.   Shehu said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday that such criticism would assist the government in fulfilling its promises to Nigerians, adding that "it is the only way the change promised the country will have a meaning’’.   He said that it was on account of this and in line with...

Court Refuses To Stop Dasuki’s Trial, Orders Continuation

Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf of the Federal capital Territory (FCT) high court, Abuja, has struck out the application of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), to stop his trial. Dasuki had sought three prayers from the court, ultimately to stop his trial. He predicated his prayers on seven grounds implicit in the violation of his rights to bail by the federal government. However, Justice Baba-Yusuf held that the central issue to...

Zayyad I. Muhammad: How To Get Rich From Buhari’s Government

Some people oppose the Buhari government because they think people cannot get rich from his government. Some people love Buhari so much because they think that people cannot make a penny from the government.  They are all wrong, at the same time, they are all right depending on the prisms they are seeing things. Some Nigerians question whether the practice of self enrichment from government coffers that flourished in...

Court Fixes Feb 18 For TB Joshua, Engineers’ Arraignment

A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Monday fixed February 18, 2016 for the arraignment of the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, founded by Prophet T.B. Joshua.   The defendants were charged before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo on one count of building without the approval of the Lagos State Government.   The said building collapsed on September 12, 2014 leading to the death of 116 persons.   Also to be arraigned on 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter are the two engineers...

Kanu Nwankwo, Pele, Ronaldo Da Lima Named As World Football Legends

Kanu Nwankwo is officially a football legend. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) have named Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu in the list of top 48 legends of football worldwide. The body released the first phase of the list which also includes Brazilian greats Pele and Ronaldo da Lima. Other notable Africans who made the list are former World player of the year George Oppong Weah, Roger Milla, Rabah Medjer, Muhammed Aboutrika, Mohmud El-Khatub and...

FG To Raise N5bn Via Eurobond, Others To Plug Budget Deficit

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said that the Federal Government would raise about $4.5 billion from multiple external sources, including the Eurobond market, to plug its budget deficit.   The Minister speaking over the weekend at the KPMG CFO Forum held at Eko Hotel in Lagos said the aim was to overcome the country’s worst economic crisis in years through a record budget.   Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer is still reeling from the fall in crude...

NLC Laments ‘Artificial’ Fuel Scarcity In Katsina

Katsina State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has expressed concern over activities of petroleum marketers who create artificial scarcity of petrol in the state.   The state’s NLC said some of the petroleum marketers were in the habit of selling the product above the officially approved price. It therefore, called on the government to strengthen the state’s Petroleum Task Force Committee to deal with such unscrupulous petroleum marketers.   The state’s NLC chairman, Comrade Tanimu Saulawa, made the call over the weekend...

Electricity Tariff Hike: Workers Begin Nationwide Protest

Workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have started a nationwide protest against the recent increase in electricity tariffs in the country. The NLC had called for the protest after repeatedly calling on the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission to suspend the recent increase in tariffs.   The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who described the tariff hike as outrageous, said it was the fifth in a row since 2012 and unacceptable.   In a statement calling for the...

Etisalat Sues MTN Over Visafone Acquisition

Telecommunication company, Etisalat Nigeria has sued MTN Nigeria and Visafone Ltd, challenging MTN’s use of the 800megahertz (MHZ) spectrum following the acquisition of Visafone. MTN closed the deal acquiring Visafone in January this year. A statement released by Etisalat says the suit was filed in order to prevent the use of the spectrum by MTN at this time, as it will entrench the dominance of MTN in the retail data services market. The statement released by Etisalat's...

Ololade Ajekigbe: How To Survive And Enjoy Nigerian Twitter

Mudslinging. Witty comments. Slander. Egotistic Overlords. Muckraking. And downright gutter fighting. Welcome to Nigerian Twitter, the home of drama, melodrama and more drama. This is not to suggest that there are no upsides to this fascinating social media platform. I tell anyone who cares to listen that Twitter is by far my favourite online social networking site. There's just something about it that never fails to entertain or inform at any given time. For one, it projects...

27 Year Old Entrepreneur ‘BAGS’ British Fresh Air For Sale and Sells Them to Chinese Buyers

An idea dreamed up out of thin air appears to be earning one businessman some serious money. British entrepreneur Leo De Watts, 27, has made thousands of dollars selling bottles of British country air to Chinese buyers, but the price alone -- £80 ($115) per bottle-- could knock the wind out of many customers. De Watts says the 580 ml...

‘We’ll Locate Chibok Girls, Others’ – Chief Of Air Staff Says

Few days after former President Obasanjo said that the missing Chibok girls will not be found again, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar, has expressed optimism that they will be rescued alongside other Nigerians kidnapped by Boko Haram. The Chief of Air Staff said this when he inspected various on-going projects of the Nigerian Air Force at its Tactical Air Command (TAC) in Makurdi, Benue State over the weekend. “What I can tell...

Employees Set Chinese Boss’ House Ablaze After Stealing His N450k

months ago, Tom Wu, a Chinese businessman based in Benin, Edo State, employed Frank Chukwuneye, 30, and Abdullahi Zakari, 25, to serve respectively as his interpreter and security guard, on a monthly salary of N70,000 and N30,000 respectively But on December 29, greed got the best of them after Wu withdrew N450,000 from the bank and asked Chukwuneye to put it in his bedroom, after which he went out with him. Chukwuneye had conspired with...