By Chris Ezeh – Publisher EuroAfrica Magazine Online
As the elections draw close and its bitter battle besieges all corners, I feel sad. I am filled with despair too because of our collective past electoral experiences. On the other hand, I feel a compelling thirst to appeal to the citizens of this country who still believe in our Nigerian experiment, to ponder a while for reflection before going to the polls.
When I despair in Nigeria and Africa which I often do, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. What surprises me is….many African leaders have never realized that leaders are made and remembered in great nations because of their public achievement in ushering change and not because of their private accumulated wealth.
Examples abound: Martin Luther King – Made it possible for every black man to move around in the US today without molestation, Abraham Lincoln – ended slavery in the United States, Otto von Bismarck unified Germany – he decreed a law allowing compulsory medical insurance for all citizens – thus making Germany the birthplace of social health insurance which we all enjoy here today! He made all Germans irrespective of their differences in culture and Languages (from Bavaria to North Prussia – today North Germany) to see each other as one people and one nation. Today, this Bismarck legacy ensures you as a German citizen or legal resident, irrespective of your state of origin, belief or colour, unlimited protection under the German constitution to live and work unmolested anywhere in Germany. Can we see this in Nigeria or in any African country one day?
Mahatma Gandhi – the preeminent leader and freedom fighter of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India, gave us the powerful tool of nonviolent civil disobedience, which led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Alfred Nobel – who invented the dynamite and later, regretted his invention and gave all his wealth to the promotion of peace in the whole World – thus the Nobel Prize was born!
If we remember the 6 great personalities who shaped industrial America placing the US where it is today: Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford; they all had one thing in common. They were men with new ideas and concepts which brought change and industrial innovations giving birth to business empires which revolutionised modern society.
When I despair in Nigeria, I always miss all of the above. I miss leaders who will give Nigerians the simplest basics. Many of our leaders (past and present) have travelled, lived or studied abroad in western countries at some time or the other. Which of these leaders have not enjoyed a functioning Metro line/underground train, a functioning civil service etc.? In my undergraduate days in the middle 1980s, I lived in one of the dilapidated chain-hostels called Zik´s Flats in the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. It was shocking for me to realise that the founding father of this campus built such a private facility close to the campus and rented same out to the University Authorities and at the same time, provided not enough hostels for students on the main campus. What a calculated personal wealth aggrandisement scheme!
Evil isn’t the real threat to Nigeria and Africa. Stupidity, greed, personal aggrandisement, ignorance, power-worship, lack of education and civil courage are just as destructive as Evil and even so common. My people we are in 2019 and not in 13th Century. Please my people wake up. Ask questions, Question the integrity of whoever presents himself before you as leaders! What we need is a crusade or crusaders against Stupidity and illiteracy, follow-follow mentality and lack of personal initiative for a societal good.
Each leader in the public or private sector must ask himself/herself “what I am leaving behind when I am no longer in this position?” The people and the importance of the nation should be paramount.
We cannot continue with this “promulgate and abrogate mentality” because of personal and partisan interests. We move one centimetre forward and then one kilometre backwards. Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.
And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.