For Nigeria: In Search Of That Man – Dele Momodu

Published:8 Feb, 2014

“A man of knowledge is free… He has no honor, no dignity, no family, no home, no country, But only life to be lived.” – Don Juan

Fellow Nigerians, one of the most frequently asked questions by friend and foe is: why do you want to be President and not a Senator or Governor? The answer is very simple. You need executive power in the hands of a committed and determined change agent to be able to regenerate Nigeria. The Governors can do as much as the omnipotent and ubiquitous President allows these days. Governors have to pay obeisance to Him on High in Abuja as frequently as possible or face the wrath of the almighty. The lack of proper Federalism has made it impossible for the Federating units to operate at optimal speed and value. Everyone looks at the body language of the President and must know how to decode the subliminal messages emanating from him lest something bad begin to happen to you and yours.

The Legislators also understand the game. In reality they can’t be too independent. They are regularly bullied or compromised by the omniscient executive. Is it not curious that no legislator has been able to reject the atrocious remunerations being allocated to them? That is the bait the executive uses to hook, implicate, placate and tame the shrew. The Judiciary has been struggling to free itself from the stranglehold of the executive arm of government but it has not been too easy. The executive has the power to hire and fire via subterfuge. Everything has become politicised and no institution is too sacred to be desecrated. I do not want to be specific but we are all witnesses to the deluge of contradictory judgments dissembled by our Judges in staccato fashion.

The story of the Fourth Estate of the Realm is almost similar. Despite the preponderance of electronic and print media, most organisations require government patronage to survive in a turbulent market. The situation is worse for the electronic media. You have to behave and tread softly or get yanked off the air. Government remains the veritable source of news in Nigeria. Most journalists have to camp inside and outside various government houses and make sure they are chummy with the government spokesperson or miss out on the goody train. Our job is too delicate. Societal expectations are not often realistic. Everyone goes about their businesses and expect the reporter to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the Earth. And when the media organisation dies due to lack of patronage the same society moves on casually and leaves the casualties to stew in their own juices. We’ve seen it too many times.

Where then do we turn? You would say the civil society. Even that is not an easy route. That road is paved and littered with thorns. There is nothing any one can do for his country that the likes of Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Mr Femi Falana (SAN) and others of their ilk did not try. Gani could not be made a President despite being called the Senior Advocate of the Masses while Femi could not become the Governor of Ekiti State. The principalities that control the levers of power in Nigeria cannot be easily uprooted and upstaged. They have their secret weapons that are so potent and recyclable. If they drop the spectre of ethnicity and it fails, they will drop the bomb of religion. If that fails to explode, they will try the whiff of money or throw all the three aces at once. Trust me, it works like magic. How many people can resist the lure of lucre in a largely impoverished environment? I’m sure these facts are known to you all.

I’ve answered my opening question so many times that I can almost write a doctoral thesis on it. I’ve come to the conclusion that majority of our citizens would love to have a good President in Nigeria. However, I’m not sure they want him even if they find him and recognise him as the one they’ve been awaiting all along, for several reasons I will explain shortly. Wherever two or more Nigerians are gathered the topic of discussion must dovetail into politics. We are all experts in political science and it is strange that we each shout about corruption until we’ve been tested. Those who have no opportunities of getting close to the national cake call everyone in government rogues. I often wonder why it is so easy for radicals of yesteryears to decay and disappear into oblivion. This has made the search for that special leader very cumbersome and frustrating. So where do we go from here?

Let us begin with definitions to be sure we are all on the same page. Who is a good Leader? A good Leader is that man or woman who was born to lead or acquired the skills along the way. He is not a Saint but possesses saintly inclinations. He loves unconditionally. He’s detribalised. He has religious tolerance. He has the ability to manage people and resources. He is a man of vision with a sound mind to see what most people find difficult to decipher. He is a man of modest means who has managed his life prudently and is humble in success. He is very educated not by just going to school but by being exposed to great knowledge about the complex world in which we live.

He is God-fearing without being a religious bigot. He is an ideologue who’s flexible enough to consider other principles of governance where applicable. He is charismatic and must be a good representative of his country wherever he goes. He is eloquent and can communicate with his people effortlessly. He is inspirational and can galvanise his people into dreaming big. He is trusted to the extent that his people are ready to make any necessary sacrifice required of them. He is a man of the people, in short.

Why do we need that one leader and not many leaders? The answer is simple. No nation is governed by a multitude but by one powerful and clear-headed leader whose ideas and ideals percolate down the entire fabric of society. He knows his onions and is ready to risk his all to succeed glowingly where others failed woefully. Other leaders would naturally queue behind him to tap into his uncommon wisdom, determination and resilience. History is replete with stories of such monumental figures.

My favourite example is Mao Tse-tung, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China. He was a revolutionary who’s often referred to as the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. The irony of his life is that he was never born poor being the son of a wealthy farmer who was greatly influenced by Marxist-Leninist theories. It is interesting to note that Chairman Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 under the control of a one-party socialist movement. Against all odds, and after several cultural, economic and political battles, he was able to build a new China into a super power. The lesson in his life is that change can never be a tea party. A leader who is only interested in enjoying the paraphernalia of office would never be able to transform his nation. The population of China alone was challenging enough yet he was able to put China on sound footing.

My next example is Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. Like Chairman Mao, he is also regarded as the Father of Singapore and was its first Prime Minister. At the time of his attaining power, Singapore was a miserable Third World Country but through discipline and determination he was able to rebuild a dilapidated nation into a First World country and a remarkable Asian Tiger. The lesson again is that a true transformational leader must be ready to put his nation above earthly treasures and pleasures. The story of Lee Kuan Yew is a must read for all aspiring politicians who wish to make the much-desired difference.

Mahatma Gandhi’s name can never be omitted in world history because of the sacrifice he made for the emancipation of his country. He was the major promoter of nonviolent civil disobedience and led India to Independence in August 1947. Interestingly, his birthday which is now a national holiday is on October 2. The man practically starved and fasted himself to death while protesting against man’s inhumanity to man. He was imprisoned on several occasions in India and South Africa. His was a life of sacrifice for the betterment of his larger society and humanity in general.

Please, endure one more example in contemporary history, The Great Madiba, Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Everyone is fascinated by the life history of Mandela yet we can hardly point at one African leader today who is willing and ready to make the necessary sacrifice for his country like he did. All those who went to shed crocodile tears at his funeral forgot his legacies as soon as they returned from the photo opportunity. The man would not have suffered in vain if his painful existence gave birth to others like him. Such is the irony of life.

Long before all these leaders, the world had men who became deified and whose names continue to reverberate globally. Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ remain the biggest iconic figures in religion. It is noteworthy that many of us call their names but easily forget what they stood for in world history. Their lives reflected how one tree can make a forest. The essence of my preamble is to demonstrate why we must continue the search for that elusive man or woman with the true capacity to transform our country from its penurious state to a prosperous haven.

Is it possible to have such a leader in Nigeria? The answer is yes. We tend to think our liberator would have to descend from heaven. It is never going to happen in that manner. The kind of man we want exists already but we are too blinded by many primordial sentiments that we can’t even see or identify such a person. Indeed, several of them exist. I will go into our sordid history to pick a few examples of how we missed the boat in the past and hoping such mistakes would not be repeated over and over again. The choices I’m going to pick will be controversial but so be it. In a country where everything is quotalised, I expect many people to kick but my choices are by no means exhaustive. They are just glaring glimpses of missed opportunities due to our collective myopia.

I will also endeavour to prove that apart from our wasted heroes we have many heroes wasting away at the moment. Until we unburden our souls and purge our minds of long-held prejudices, that man we need would continue to elude us. The land is filled with bitterness and volatile anger. Is this the solution? I sincerely don’t think so. Many are saying the country should break up. But this is a worse option. They tend to forget that the greatness of China, India, America and several others stems largely from their substantial population. The secret of America is in absorbing and tolerating people of all races. Our intolerance level is abysmal and extremely dangerous. We hate our next door neighbour with such venom and only God knows who would restore peace, love and joy to this land of great men and women.

I believe all hope is not lost. My duty is to pursue the line of argument that Nigeria has many great men and women who can lead her to greatness. Most times, politics is a game of trial by error. There are no hard and fast rules. Until you try a particular leader you may never know his capabilities.

I shall start with the living generation of potentially great leaders simply because they can make a difference whilst we can only rue what might have been regarding those that have passed on. Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State epitomises one of such miracles and positive accident of Leadership. He has confounded all those who queried the wisdom of the then Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he backed him with all his might. We must give Tinubu some credit more than his critics are willing to do. He knows how to identify good materials.

Our search for that man of our dreams must begin with seeking our best materials with a fine toothcomb. We must find and encourage them. Gold is usually rough before it is polished. We have a unique opportunity to turn ourselves into miners. If we do not participate in one form or another, we have no reason to lament later.

We shall continue our analysis next week, by God’s grace. The change may be closer than we think.

Chief Dele Momodu published this article in his PENdulum column on THUSDAY.

Views expressed are solely the author’s

Views

20140208-124746.jpg

  • Muhammad Bello Aliyu

    I completely concur with your piece. If truth must be said the likes of Governor Fashola can be true representatives of the above giants of change.
    This country is in dire need of such young personalities that God has endowed with wisdom and action(s)…They are agents of change not just for our dear and bereft country but Africa in general.
    Thanking you Mr Dele Momoudu as we earnestly awaits your next piece.

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Quit whining, no body owes you anything, Fayemi tells Nigerian youths

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has urged Nigerian youths to ‘quit whining’ and that no body owe them anything. Fayemi made this known in a lecture titled ‘The Successor-Generation: Reflections on Values and Knowledge in Nation Building’ at the 2017 UNILAG Convocation Lecture in Lagos, Monday. Fayemi who went on memory line told the graduating students of his Alma Mater that as a UNILAG graduate and a post-graduate student in the United Kingdom for...

Trump’s Philosophy And Greatness For America Is Delusional, Myopic, And Dangerous – By Dr. Wumi Akintide

You can only solve a problem you fully understand. I am not so sure that Trump fully understands the true meaning and importance of governing a complex country like America and making peace with his critics if the word “enemy” is just too strong. There is no question that Trump is a very smart man, but like Adolf Hitler, he is a devil in his heart. He thoroughly understands the twists and turns of running a business which is...

UK gets evidence against Diezani, as EFCC set to proceed with interrogation.

The United Kingdom (UK) is now in possession of a pile of evidence against former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, courtesy of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). A team of EFCC detectives was on standby yesterday to proceed to London to interrogate the ex-minister. Sources familiar with her investigation by the EFCC told The Nation that all the evidence gathered by the anti-graft agency on Diezani had been handed over to UK investigators. The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu...

The Righteous Nigerian And The Rationality of Corruption – By Pius Adesanmi

Can Nigeria overcome corruption? Will Nigeria survive corruption? The optimistic, overconfident Nigerian who offered me a “no shaking yes” to both questions was only able to do so because he successfully outed me as I tried to remain incognito and maintain a low profile at the hotel pool in Lagos. Retreating incognito to a hotel in Lagos to assess our war front strategies in matters Nigeriana is something I often do with Omoyele Sowore. This time in the summer of...

VANGUARD: How 21 States Spent N37.4billion On Pension For 47 Ex-Governors

 Former governors are exerting pressure on the finances of state governments with pension payments and other entitlements draining billions of naira every year from developmental funds for the states.   Over N37.367 billion was, according to Vanguard findings, expended on servicing 47 former governors from 21 states in pension payments and provision of...

Enyeama named among Ligue 1’s top African footballers of the week

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has been named as one of the top five African Players of the Week in the French Ligue 1.   According to the list ,published by France Football on Monday, Enyeama is the third of the lot.   His selection is as a result of his brilliant performance for Lille in their 0-0 away draw against Dijon on Saturday.   With the help of his two centre-backs, Marko Baša and Simon Kjær, Enyeama kept 11 consecutive clean...

EFCC nailed me with fake documents, says Jonathan’s former aide Waripamo-Owei Dudafa

Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, on Monday told a federal high court in Lagos that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) forced him to implicate the immediate past president.   Dudafa, who is standing trial for alleged corruption, told the court that the anti-graft agency obtained statements from him under duress, and “nailed” him with “fake documents”.   He said his oral and written statements were all extracted through the use of force during his detention in...

Barrow names Jammeh’s ex-minister Fatoumata Tambajang as vice-president

President Adama Barrow has appointed Fatoumata Tambajang as vice-president, Halifa Sallah, his spokesman, disclosed on Monday.   Tambajang once served as minister of health under former President Yahya Jammeh.   Tambajang is a prominent pro-democracy activist. She was the driving force behind forming a coalition of opposition parties that rallied behind Barrow during the December 1 presidential election.   Barrow, who is currently in Senegal, where he took his oath of office, will return to Gambia on Tuesday.   He is returning to the country after the exit...

Nadal survives Monfils fightback to reach quarter-finals

Rafa Nadal has returned to the Grand Slam big-time by fending off Gael Monfils 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-4 in a tense clash on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that former champion Nadal had not reached the last eight in a major since the 2015 French Open. This explains why he celebrated wildly after closing out the two-hour 56-minute clash at a packed Rod Laver Arena. It was not the most convincing of wins for...

President Buhari has released N72bn for Lagos-Ibadan railway – Amaechi

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has released N72 billion counterpart funding for the construction of Lagos-Ibadan modernisation railway project.   Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, made this known at the quarterly presidential business forum, which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential banquet hall, Abuja, on Monday.   The rail project, which was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, would cost about $1.5 billion (N458 billion).   Amaechi commended Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, for ensuring full release of the counterpart funds...

Buhari Begs Senate on Behalf of SGF Lawal

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a plea to the Senate to reconsider its stance that Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal should resign. He has also urged the upper legislative chamber to confirm acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, for the position, it was learnt yesterday. Acting on the interim report of its ad hoc committee on the humanitarian activities in the Northeast, the Senate indicted the SGF...

REUBEN ABATI: Once upon a time in Gambia

I have very vivid memories of my last visit to The Gambia. This was in 2013 when President Goodluck Jonathan paid a two-day visit to the country. In the course of that visit, President Jonathan commissioned the new Chancery of the Nigerian Embassy in Banjul, and also met with the Nigerian community, in addition to the usual bilateral meetings. Nigeria and The Gambia have very strong cultural and diplomatic relations.   We were quartered at a very nice, hospitable sea-side hotel,...

FG to sack teachers not registered with TRCN this year

The Federal Government has said it will sack any teacher found in classrooms without the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria’s (TRCN) certificate and licence before the end of this year. Minister of State for Education Prof. Anthony Anwukah said this at the maiden induction ceremony for teachers in Imo State University. Anwukah, who was the chairman of the occasion, said in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by Head of Information at TRCN, Ojewuyi Muyiwa, that there would be no...

Senate to focus on 2017 Budget this week

This week, the Senate is set to begin debate on the 2017 appropriation bill submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari. Both chambers of the National Assembly had last week passed the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Fiscal Strategy Paper for 2017 to 2019, paving the way for the consideration of the 2017 appropriation bill. In the Notice Paper for the week from January 23 to 27, issued by the office of the Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Senator...

Brazil inmates dug three tunnels out of Alcacuz jail

Police searching a prison in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte say they have found three unfinished escape tunnels. The discovery comes just days after at least 26 inmates were killed in a riot at the jail in the city of Natal. Officials said inmates at Alcacuz jail had taken advantage of heavy rains to dig the tunnels in the softened ground. But they insisted that none of them had been finished and that no prisoner had managed to...

I’m ready to help Gerrard become the best manager he can be – Klopp

Jurgen Klopp has labelled Steven Gerrard’s decision to join Liverpool’s Academy staff as “wonderful news for football” as he builds a base to enter management. The 36-year-old called time on a stellar playing career last November and will help shape his boyhood club’s next generation as a coach at the same youth system that developed his talents. The former Reds skipper will begin his duties at Kirkby in February, initially in a floating role, and Klopp commended Gerrard’s willingness to swerve...

Why Buratai Sued Premium Times – Army

The Nigerian Army on Monday said the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, sued the Nigerian online newspaper, Premium Times, for libel after it failed to retract a story published on its medium. In a statement on Monday by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, the Army explained that the suit “is between the person of Lieutenant General TY Buratai and the Premium Times and not the Nigerian Army” adding that the case had...

JUST IN: LAUTECH receives N500 million to pay salaries – Vice Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, Suleiman Gbadegesin, on Monday said the institution had received N500 million from Osun and Oyo State governments to pay the salary arrears owed workers.   Mr. Gbadegesin disclosed this in Osogbo when he appeared before the State House of Assembly to defend the university’s N9.9 billion budget for 2017.   He said the institution received alert of N250 million each from the two owner states.   While thanking Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun and his...

BREAKING: Donald Trump withdraws US from Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that covers 40 percent of world’s economy

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign. "We've been talking about this for a long time," Trump said as he signed the executive order in an Oval Office ceremony on Monday. He also called the order a "great thing for the American worker". In the same ceremony, Trump also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze and a directive...

Moses Doing Great Job For Chelsea – Alonso

Chelsea wing-back Marcos Alonso has paid tribute to Super Eagles forward Victor Moses for his impact for the English Premier League leaders so far this term. Moses has been a regular in the Chelsea team this term and has been one of the key performers in Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 formation. The Nigeria international had previously struggled to make much of an impact at Stamford Bridge but seems to have blossomed under the former Juventus manager, scoring three goals in 21...

Zambian police married to foreigners warned: Your spouse could be a spy.

Police in Zambia have been banned from marrying foreigners, according to a memo by police inspector general Kakoma Kanganja circulating on social media. The memo, dated 11 January, said those who were already married to foreigners should declare this within a week. It said failure to do so would "attract disciplinary action". Police spokeswoman Esther Katongo said: "Issues of security are delicate. If not careful, spouses can be spies and can sell the security of the country." Ms Katongo told the BBC...